Against a Coming Storm
On January 27, 2020 at 10:46 am, I rested my camera on some stone marker, framed the top of the old building in the lens, zoomed in through the bare trees as if peeking through something. It was a cold, overcast day in late January. The weather was not able to decide if it wanted to be rain or snow. So it was that grey time of in-between things. Maybe like a twilight zone. I shot the picture in High Dyanmic Range then mixed and edited three shots in a software program on my Mac. I’ve shot a lot of HDR photos over the years but this is one of my favorites. A certain look of that in-between time and things.
We had driven north through Ohio and then into the winding road north over the border and through a number of small towns. We could see that things had not gone all that well financially for the people living in the country on both sides of the small two-lane road. The homes of most people we passed consisted in little more than trailers with a few rusted cars around them. Maybe an attempt at farming the land.Some of it which has laid fallow for decades.
It once was a big farming area before car production in Detroit an hour to the east pulled everyone away in the 40s to the 90s. They started returning back to this area when the auto industry went belly-up. But the fields had been abandoned for so long that many fields had fallen into poor conditions. Farming now was harder than ever and few of those who returned remembered how it was done when by their grand parents in the 40s.
The little town we finally arrived at was little more than a symbol for the entire area. A railroad track intersected the main street of the town. I had read somewhere the railroads used to be big in the town. There was the town square you’ve seen a thousand times and on this cold Sunday afternoon we passed through it there was hardly anything stirring in the town. But then it looked like the kind of town square where not much ever stirred. Buildings were boarded up here and there. Every now and then there was the fresh colors of an attempt at some new enterprise in town.
I had come to visit some good friends who lived in this little town and they had arranged for us to stay at a place in town during the few days we would be up here. The next morning, our friend took us on a short little tour around town. That’s when I shot the picture of the top of the old building above. The old building was somewhat of an icon in the town. Had seen the growth and decline of the town. The tower of the old building represented this spirit of the town to me that day in January. As only a real symbol can do.
Not standing tall against another religion or nation or political party. But standing tall just yourself against the stormy times we live in. Maintaining your own course amongst the siren winds of popular culture and social media. This is what the photo was able to capture in my mind. The spirit of a small town. But the spirit of each one of us.