Night Lights of the North Coast: Old Willys & the Night Sky
Post by David Wilson
In our rural county there are some sights so far in the sticks you may never see them. And there are some sights which, once seen, some folks might say they’ve seen them all. Take the “lone tree” motif for example. It’s hard for a photographer, or other artist, to pass up doing something with a lone tree. Why, I even capitalize Lone Tree in my mind. And almost as iconic as the Lone Tree is the lone old truck. Have we really seen them all? I knew of one old lone truck, and I set out to find out if seeing this one really meant I’d seen them all. I don’t think it did.
Known as the Brute, in its younger days this Willys truck had its original 4-cylinder engine replaced with a V-8 powerful enough to twist its innards if it were pushed too hard. It spent its final active days as a solid ranch vehicle, parking for the last time almost three decades ago. Since that day, the sixty-five year old 1953 Willys pickup has stood watch beside the old private dirt road, a mute observer to the passage of the seasons.
The Brute’s long, lonely vigil attracted me, and finding myself nearby one night, I yielded to the attraction. But how to photograph it? There was no moon, and it was too dark to see the Willys without adding some light of my own. I would have to use a long exposure to bring out the stars, meaning I would leave the camera’s shutter open for an extended period to capture as much light as possible. I could then take advantage of the time that the shutter was open to paint my own light into the scene.
I photographed the Brute from two angles. The first image shows its face peering through the grasses beneath the north end of the Milky Way, while the second photograph shows more of its surroundings with the more prominent part of the Milky Way, the Galactic Core, overhead. The annotated versions of the photos label the more prominent celestial features visible.
To see previous entries of “Night Light of the North Coast,” click on my name above the article. If you’d like to keep abreast of my most current photography or peer into its past, you can follow me on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx . I update my website mindscapefx.com less frequently, but you can contact me there.