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Nobody Home


I was out taking pictures one day when I drove past this old abandoned building. It sits on the bank of the Salmon River and probably at one time or another was some sort of factory or business. (And no doubt polluted the heck out of the river.) I’ve driven past this building many times before, but never explored it on foot. For some reason having a camera on board makes you want pull over and go poke around places you never thought about exploring before.

I took several bracketed photos with the idea that later this winter, when I have some time to kill, I can try a little HDR magic with them.  When I’d taken maybe a dozen or so photos I suddenly heard someone yelling. “You’re on private property!”  I looked around. Huh? Really? Hm. I walked into what I hoped was more of a clearing and peered in the direction of the voice. About 200 yards up the road was a house. A middle-aged woman stood on the back stoop and peered in my direction. “I’m sorry!” I hollered, “I was just taking a few pictures!” I held my camera aloft and wiggled it, thinking my reply would ease the woman’s mind that I wasn’t about to steal her bricks or an old rusty axle or something.  “You’re on private property!” she hollered at me again.

Sheesh! Alrighty then! I thought about walking over to the house, introducing myself (I live about five minutes up the road) and asking the woman if she would grant me permission to take a few more pictures. But I didn’t see anything that begged me to stay so I hollered another apology, picked my way back to my car and left.  As I drove home I thought about this experience. I realize it’s important to get permission to take photos of certain things and whenever possible, I try to be sensitive to that and get permission first. Being a private person I understand how intrusive a photographer can seem from the other end of the lens. However, I really have to wonder if this lady did in fact own the property I was on or the building I was shooting. For some reason I tend to doubt that. I think she just didn’t like the idea of me poking around the property next to hers. I’m sure she’s had to deal with trespassers on that site before …  I saw signs that someone has used the spot for a place to drink and party. But it was 9:30 on a weekday morning and kind of unlikely that I was a vagrant (with a camera) out looking for a place to go have a snort.

Oh well. I suppose if I wanted to explore this site more I could ask for permission. The worst the woman can do is say no, in which case I’ll borrow a damn kayak and shoot it from the middle of the river.  She doesn’t own the water!




2 responses

  1. Marc

    First, good counsel, Cheryl. Getting permission is a fine idea, when possible. That said, I really enjoy pictures of this ilk; they get me thinking about what the building was for in its heyday. What was it they produced there, during the period in this country when we actually made things. And that is what good photography is supposed to do, methinks. Bring us somewhere we haven’t been. As for me, I’m going back to the picture to climb through that gaping hole in the wall…screaming lady or no screaming lady…

    p.s., I love how the branch of that tree is reaching through the window to drink in a bit more light.

    December 4, 2010 at 8:11 PM

  2. I would have done the same thing. If I see anyone, I’ll ask permission. If not, I push on until someone stops me. Looks like a great candidate for HDR, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    December 5, 2010 at 11:18 AM

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