Driven to create, inspired by old stories and rust, my search for "Mendo" continued.

In the early days of COVID-19, when tight restrictions were beginning to ease, I had found my spark with photography again after a long hiatus. Several times per week, after work, I would hop in the car and take off into the hill country of Mendocino County. Those old, dusty roads were places where I could "practice" social distancing but also be free. Shooting beyond the coast was something I had rarely done in my prime, so it was nice to be able to start adding more trees and mountains and rivers and such to my vast collection of photographs.

In late May of last year, after passing it time and again, I made a point to take a quick trip north to Long Valley in order to photograph a derelict '30s pickup. The jalopy was always in the back of my mind. For a long time actually. However, I could never find the right light, or was in a hurry to go somewhere else. On that May afternoon though, I had nothing else to do. Why not, right?

On my way out of town, I stopped by the music store and grabbed Iron Maiden's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album. Both old favorites and new curiosities were beginning to fuel my revived passion and quickly became soundtracks for these journeys. With my windows rolled down and power metal thumping through my speakers, I headed out.

Upon reaching the jalopy, I was excited by the natural light shining down through the trees and onto the rusty old truck. It was perfect! I grabbed my camera and walked down to the truck; walked around it and away from it, in search of just the right angle. I made some test shots, underexposed some, found some "artsy" perspectives and then went through those images to see what looked best.

I know, that sounds a little redundant, but I had the time to spare and a vision of exactly how I wanted to make this. And then the light changed just enough to illuminate exactly what I wanted it to. I had my spot and pressed the shutter.

There it was.

I nailed it!

If you're a photographer, or any creative type really, then you've had that feeling where you knew you created something truly special. It's a combination of giddiness and peace. It's like being covered by a warm blanket on a cold evening. Its comfort. A quick review of the image captured affirmed it. I think I actually voiced out "YES!" too.

After the shot, I got back in my car and headed to Willits. There was nothing else to photograph. I got the only thing I came for and was satisfied.

Back in the office, I downloaded my frames, loaded Photoshop and opened my image. Crisp, clean, well-lit and vibrant. It could have worked just fine in color. But my vision had other plans. I converted the photo into black and white and then tweaked my shadows and highlights a little before laying a little heavy on the contrast. My aim was to make the image feel as old as the subject matter. In the end, I was ecstatic!

This day also continued the roll I felt I was having each time I ventured out into the world in 2020. I always came back with prime photographs for my updated portfolio, and that drove me to push myself even further.

Oddly enough, the pandemic was a blessing for me.

Go figure.