Bumper Crop

One person's junk is another person's art.


August 16, 2022 :: Close Ups


North of the verdant farm fields of Washington’s Palouse Region, on a large parcel of land in a small town, a different crop flourishes. Old trucks stand in neat rows on a corner lot. They are classic trucks from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. And they look like they’ve taken root here.


Grill of 1940s GMC pickup truck
The grill of a vintage pickup truck is a graphic world of its own.

All the trucks are in some stage of decline. Windows are missing, headlights are broken, fenders are rusting and paint is fading. But they look content to live out their days at Dave’s Old Truck Rescue.


A slow wander among the trucks invites you to view them as art instead of eyesores. Soon you see details and colors, patterns and textures, symmetry and shadows. I found all these elements in the grill of a 1941 GMC. I was hypnotized. Even after I stopped clicking the shutter, I couldn’t stop staring at the bumper crop of compositions all around me.



MAKING THE PHOTOGRAPH


SUBJECT: Grill of a 1941 GMC pickup truck


LOCATION: Palouse Region of eastern Washington


CONDITIONS: Calm, partly cloudy, mid-70s F


EQUIPMENT and SETTINGS: Nikon D850, a Nikon 24-120mm lens at 120mm; Matrix metering, Aperture Priority exposure, Vibration Reduction, hand held.


EXPOSURE: 1/320 sec. at f/16 and ISO 1250


Hand holding a camera when I make a photograph is becoming a regular occurrence. That doesn't sound like a deliberate act. But it is.


There's still a pinch of guilt and a dash of anxiety when I do it. For years I believed I couldn't click the shutter unless the camera was attached to a tripod. Now I'm slowly acclimating to the feel and freedom of a handheld camera body.


Once I screw up my courage, I walk away from my tripod in search of a composition. The 1941 GMC truck is in the first row of old pickups. Its grill's paint, rust and design are worth exploring. I move in closer, crouch down a little and get my camera level with the truck's world. Who cares if it's tilted on its old tires?


The grid screen in my viewfinder helps me get square and level with the grill. I hold steady and scan the corners and edges of the frame. When I like the symmetry -- especially in the upper left and right corners -- I exhale, hold my breath and squeeze gently on the shutter button until if clicks.


I admit I wasn't sure I'd find anything pleasing to photograph in a junkyard. Even in an organized junkyard. But when the time came to leave, I knew I was just beginning to appreciate the bumper-to-bumper beauty.