I hadn’t picked up a camera since the seventies when my children were small and I did my best to boost Kodak film stock prices. Three decades later and retired, what prompted me to return to photography was largely happenstance.

My wife and I had just finished building a vacation home near Lake Tahoe. Acutely aware that there would be vast expanses of wall space to decorate and lacking an art budget, we weighed “cost-containment” options.

I had recently bought my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D60 (since superseded by newer models). Casting an eye at all of the farm and ranch land surrounding our getaway cabin, Pat said, “Why don’t you go 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 that might be suited for wall art. Within a fifty-mile radius, there are literally hundreds of candidates. I didn’t take pictures willy-nilly, however. For one reason or another, most barns didn’t meet the criteria. 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 own wall but any wall. In the quest for barns I not infrequently stumbled 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.”

Although as the galleries indicate, I have traveled coast to coast, most of the shoots to date have been in California. Indeed, some of the best finds have been no more than a day’s drive from my home in the East Bay. Wherever I travel I always keep an eye peeled for photogenic objects depicting Rural Americana. Few finished images are “literal,” meaning what you see is what the camera saw. Almost without exception, what is transferred from memory card to computer is edited, sometimes only lightly, but far more often than not, the images are moderately to severely modified mechanically, hence the moniker interpretive photography. Many of the close-ups of cars and trucks are manipulated in the extreme, resulting in what is intended to resemble abstract art.

Besides the adventure entailed and, now and then, capturing images that put a smile of satisfaction on my face, one of the things that I enjoy most about photography – particularly that we are now in the “digital” age – is that one is constantly learning, experimenting, pushing the boundaries of one’s creativity.

Although there is much more for me to learn, I am pleased that in the short time since the photography bug bit, others – some with a far more discerning, trained eye than my own – seem to think my work shows merit. I have had several gallery exhibits, won numerous awards in juried competitions, been published domestically and internationally, and had selected images featured as a slideshow accompanying a video promoting a country-music album titled “I Miss Dating That Truck” by Nashville singer/songwriter Shantell Ogden 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

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