Roadside dialogue

Stone wall, red leaves, Middlebury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

Stone wall, red leaves, Middlebury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

I have a folder in Photoshop titled “Roadside” where I have been tucking images like this. The criteria are loose, basically they are images I have found literally beside the road, not broad landscapes taken from the shoulder, or photographs of buildings, but subjects I could reach out and touch. Some have been in black and white, some like this, in color. They include flowers, trees, items left for sale, signs, and sometimes, sadly, roadside memorials for people who have died in automobile accidents. Frequently I have difficulty explaining just what it is that has caused me to stop (most of the images were found while driving), and on more than one occasion I’ve had to try to explain to good samaritans who have stopped to offer assistance, thinking I was having car trouble. Such was the case here.

I had seen this image as I drove by on the other side of the road. I had found a spot where I could turn around and then pulled off the road to park. I had walked maybe fifty yards from the car and was on the opposite side of the road when a fellow driving by saw my car pulled over. He slowed and pulled in behind my car…he still hadn’t seen me…with the obvious intent of offering aid. I had my camera, which he hadn’t noticed, and was waving to him, trying to get his attention so that I could indicate that all was well, when he finally saw me. He got out of his car…leaving it running…and came over to ask what I was photographing. I showed him the image on the back of the camera, but it failed to convey to him what it did to me. He just didn’t see what I saw, but then I knew what I was going to do once I had the image in the computer.

I believe that’s what art is; seeing something common, banal even, and through skill, rendering it in a way that helps others appreciate it. Sadly, the gentleman who stopped will likely never see this image, and even if he does there is no guarantee that he will understand what I was trying to convey. As it was he was polite, but I had the impression he was a bit miffed that he had bothered to pull over. I on the other hand, am glad I did.

Olympus OMD EM1 with 40-150 f2.8 zoom, processed with NIK Color Efex Pro and Photoshop CS4.



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