Mr. Rural Americana

bio The Man Behind The Camera and The BlogI hadn’t picked up a camera since the seventies, when my children were small and I did my best to boost Kodak stock prices.

What prompted me, three decades later and now retired, to return to photography was largely happenstance. My wife and I had just finished building a vacation home near Lake Tahoe.

Aware that there would be vast expanses of wall space to decorate and lacking an art budget, we weighed “economy” options.

I had recently bought my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D60. Casting an eye at all of the farm and ranch land surrounding our getaway cabin, Pat said, “Why don’t you go out and take pictures of local barns with the new camera?” Indeed, why not.

Over a period of months – fall through spring – I drove about, looking for barns I might deem suitable for wall art. Within a fifty-mile radius, there are hundreds of barns. I didn’t take pictures willy-nilly, however. Most barns didn’t meet my criteria for one or more reasons. I was in search of barns ranging from slightly run down to ramshackle – barns with undeniable character, barns that “spoke to me.”

What began as a means-to-an-end lark rapidly grew into a serious hobby. I told myself I wasn’t going to take snapshots but rather photographs that would look good not only on our wall but any wall.

In the quest for barns I would not infrequently chance upon discarded cars and trucks, many of them literally put out to pasture, left to decay into oblivion.

Because I have always been a car buff, the possibility of finding serendipitous old vehicles whetted my desire to pick up my camera and go exploring for what I have come to call “abandoned art.”

Most of my shoots have been in California, and some of the best finds have been within a short drive of my home in the East Bay. Wherever I travel I always keep an eye peeled for photogenic objects depicting Rural Americana.

Few end-product images are “literal,” meaning what you see is what the camera saw. Almost without exception, what gets transferred from the memory card to the computer is edited, sometimes only lightly, but far more often than not, the images are moderately to severely modified mechanically, hence the term interpretive photography. Many of the close-ups of cars and trucks are manipulated in the extreme, rendering images meant to resemble modern art.

Formal training? None; entirely seat-of-pants.

I hope you like what you find in these galleries. Comments are more than welcome.

Thank you for the visit. Come back soon, as new photographs are added regularly.

~ Thomas F. Black

4 Responses to “The Man Behind The Camera and The Blog”

  1. admin says:

    Thank you, Sally. Birdhouse photo to which you refer (Barn Interiors gallery, frame #1) is one of the most popular. As is true with many of the pictures I take, it was a chance encounter. I was driving the backroads outside of Bellingham, WA, in summer of 2009 when the barn in question caught my eye. I hopped out of the car, snapped a few shots, and didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I saw the image uploaded on my monitor that I knew I had a winner. Wonderful montage of colors. All I did in editing was to boost colors.

  2. Sally says:

    Incredible website! I enjoyed reading your journey as a photographer. I don’t think I have a favorite photo, for just as I think I am decided on naming a winner, I scroll to several more I like just as much.
    One of your framed photos (the birdhouse) draws a great deal of attention at my office. I think anyone who works in an office and rarely sees the outside should buy at least one of these amazing photos to remind him/her of fresh air and the joy garnered in the pursuit of a childhood hobby turned professional career.

  3. admin says:

    Thank you, Paul. I know the blog runs long, but bear in mind, as you know, I am a one-time writer paid by the word. Not literally, of course, but it’s an excuse, anyway.

    For benefit of others, “Paul” is the professional photographer who urged me to start taking photography seriously and start offering my work for sale.

    Hadn’t considered turning blog blurborama into a book, but it’s a thought.

    Thanks, Paul, for all of your continued mentoring moral support. You’re the Man Behind the Man Behind the Blog. :-)

  4. Very nice web site. Thank you for the nice words. Your blog is endless. Why not turn it into a book with Blub. Put a bunch of pictures and edit down your text and you will have a wonderful coffee table art book for the galleries to have when they exhibit you work. Keep up the good work. p

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