The Dusty Trail

The Dusty Trail
The Dusty Trail

Welcome back!

I was itching to get out to further a portfolio project I have been pursuing.

This project is based on Urban Exploration, UrBex for short, and entails creating art work with a rural nostalgic sensibility.

There are numerous areas where this can apply but my current focus is based on many variabilities and these culminated in my recent travels this past week.

The weather has been quite damp throughout June with near constant storms rolling through our area due to a couple fronts settling in and neither able to gather enough pressure to resolve the other’s intent and us right here near the middle. This has given me other opportunities for bolstering another gallery portfolio but it being June I was hoping for a slightly foggy morning slowly giving way to blue skies with big white puffy clouds that would back-drop this project.

Finally after a couple false starts I was blessed with such a day and headed out quite early to take advantage.

This current project is an effort to capture regional covered bridges before they all fade away. I am attempting to do this in such a manner as to bring my artistic visions of these structures into fine prints.

Growing up in rural America I have watched numerous examples of my Americana fade away and of late the rapidity of such destruction has intensified.

My home area now has only one single covered bridge remaining so I was pleased to uncover a number of structures in my current county and the several surrounding ones.

Thus begins these reflections of an artistic adventure that builds upon my last blog of finding my muse.

Hickory Sunrise
Hickory Sunrise

Initially, I gathered up the locations of these bridges and created an itinerary that would minimize backtracking. I even had geographic coordinates for most structures and had upgraded my GPS to use these coordinates for locational purposes.

So much for the best laid plans…..

Early on I was quite pleased with the day’s evolution. Early fog that maintained its luminosity as the sun’s rays continued their oblique angles and slow warming of the landscape found me on a very rural hilltop that had a surreal evolution. I pulled over on the road and hopped out to develop a composition from here that would convey this sense of emotional elegance and sense of myself and reflect this in as good a composition as possible as the scene continually swirled and evolved in front of me. I found the spot my tripod legs required and captured several scenes as the dynamics visually hit me.


The shapes and colors fueled by my state of mind allowed my sensory nature the recognition necessary to capture what my vision wanted to create.

Quickly it was over and I wound down and stowed my gear.

I find that just getting out to areas where inspiration takes hold such as this is quite random yet keeping my mind and heart open allows me to quickly recognize the potential of a scene, especially ones that have developmental possibilities.

I pulled back on the roadway and dropped down into the valley in search of my first covered bridge of the day.

Soon I discovered this structure amidst the foggy-bottom with the ever rising sun pulsing rays through the surrounding ether. The emotional and spiritual message conveyed of this scene was elemental to my baser emotional structure and my world was totally serene.

I began to ask myself how I could convey the complexity of the scene and distill it into the visual literacy lofting about my consciousness. I always intend for these to be art even if I cannot define it. It seems that I get a trigger or something clicks in my head when I am at places like this that I love.

I began by taking a visual inventory of the scene prior to pulling out any camera gear. I walked the scene for a while as the elements were not evolving very rapidly and I felt it necessary to best understand the visual relationships between all visual elements and then place the best emphasis on the composition(s) I was drawn to.

To me this is a fairly consistent process and I have several base compositions from which a covered bridge can brandish its essence. I just have to explore each structure’s space to find “it”.

I have a natural faith and confidence in my scene visualization yet understand that it is rare to get that “great image”.

I work deliberately at framing the essential elements and continue to visualize keys and patterns that give me a holistic feel from the view finder.

Foggy Valley
Foggy Valley

I am very deliberate these days which is quite an evolution for me. I work to internally provide an explanation of the scene to myself first yet often this is more of an intuitional process these days after so many similar situations. I still try and assure my awareness and constantly work to evolve the composition in between shutter clicks.

I also realize that once I get home this scene is most likely gone forever so I tend to capture several of each composition since often back in the studio I find certain captures that did not respond optimally at the moment might also be the ones that I am taken with later.

Light Reflection
Light Reflection

As I drove away in search of the next covered bridge the complexities began to hinder my progress.
I found that several of my GPS coordinates were incorrect and I spent considerable effort in locating them.

On one search a tree had fallen across my small gravel road and it was impassible. Finding a route that brought me to the bridge from the opposite direction was a maze of back country roads. Being an old country boy this was just a cruise and enjoyable.

I found several in park settings that were well maintained and I was pleased such was the case. In these locales I just had to be patient and wait for the white clouds scudding the skies to target the sun and provide the diffuse softness I required and working to be able to do this from angles that optimally allowed polarization of the skies to derive the blueness and cloud definition that I prefer.

Hours passed by relatively quickly and I ended up locating and capturing 14 bridges this day. Several I found never had the skies develop to my satisfaction and I spent some time trying to locate two bridges that never revealed themselves. I also located one in a farmer’s field that was not listed on any registries I researched and was pleased to add this one to my archives.


Late afternoon arrived and the skies were deteriorating, the heat index had increased considerably and my muse decided we should head towards home.

Back on the Dusty Trail soon….



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