Ever since I visited Old Car City in White, GA, I have this strange attraction to photographing old, rusty cars. I have been searching for a similar locale closer to home. Old Car City is truly a unique location but I did find a trucking company nearby that has a collection of about 250 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s era trucks on their property. I just had to check it out!
I called the owner ahead of time to make sure it would be fine to spend a couple of hours exploring his property making photographs. When I arrived I spoke with him and he directed me to start in the field farthest away from the shop. I thanked him for his advice and made my way to the field. When I arrived I thought I hit the jackpot; there were about 75 old, rusty trucks lined up in a row that were soooo photogenic! This is where things got interesting….
As I mentioned, these trucks were in a field. In the far distance (picture several rolling hills) was a small herd of cows. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Aww, cows! That reminds me of my home or my childhood…” Not me; the closest cow to my childhood home was at a petting zoo (not counting McDonald’s of course). The first time I remember seeing a cow in person was in college. Ok, I am a little scared of cows but they were way off in the distance and there had to be a fence at the bottom of the rolling hills that I couldn’t see. Besides, why would someone tell me to go into a field with cows???? That just doesn’t make sense!
I gathered my confidence and opened the gate to seize the photographic riches before me. I walked about 50 yards to the first truck. The whole time I was stepping over cow pies and thinking to myself, “this is an old field they don’t use anymore because this is where the trucks are, besides there has to be another fence”.
Friends, these were the most beautiful, rusty old trucks I have ever seen. The photographic possibilities ran through my head too fast to comprehend. At that point, I swiftly unfolded my tripod, attached the perfect lens to my camera and set up for my first shot. That is when I heard a noise…
So, to help set the scene I have included the diagram below. In front of me was the lineup of trucks. About 20 yards behind me was a barn/storage building. I entered the field from my left and to the right is where I heard the second noise.
To my left I heard the sound of a tractor. (I knew what they sounded like from the movies). At first, I was concerned because the driver would think I was trespassing on his land. He quickly addressed my concerns by waving as soon as he saw me. I immediately waved back to acknowledge his greeting and continued to adjust my camera for my first epic shot. About thirty seconds passed and I looked up to my left again to find the farmer was moving around bales of hay. That’s when I heard the second noise…
To my right were cows. (Yes, cows! The ones that were supposed to be in another field that was separated from this old field they didn’t use any longer because of the trucks by a fence I couldn’t see!) In an instant I realized what was going on: it was feeding time. Positioning yourself between food and a hungry beast is not the best place to be. In the moment, it sounded like hundreds of hooves were bearing down on me. I did what any reasonable person would do: I grabbed my camera, darted between two trucks and hoped they didn’t see me as they stampeded by.
Thankfully cows are card carrying vegetarians and left me alone. After the dust settled I decided I couldn’t work under these conditions. I packed up my equipment and decided that I would be better off outside the pasture photographing the other trucks. I had one problem though, the gate in which I entered was to the left and the cows were now to my left.
I started inching my way to the gate (and the cows) when the man on the tractor turned and drove towards me. This man had a big smile on his face and asked me, “How are you doing”? I said I was well (big fat lie) but I would be doing better if I was on the other side of the fence (that part was true). I was a little reassured when he said the cows probably wouldn’t hurt me. Since these cows generally follow the sound of the tractor, he offered to drive away so the cows would move out of the way of the gate. I told him that was a great plan. As soon as the last cow was out of my way, I sprinted to the gate; tripod and bags in tote.
When I was safely separated from the cows by a fence, I looked back and wondered what could have been. In the brief time I was near those trucks I saw at least 10 pictures I wanted to make. Unless I overcome my fear of cows, I will never make those images. Maybe I could ask the owner to put up a fence and stop using the field??? Seems reasonable to me :-)
For now, those trucks are my photographic white whale.
I did manage to find other great subjects on the property. Below are a few of my favorites from the day I almost “Ran with the Cows”