By Joann M. Ringelstetter
At the end of April, Ruth and I were on our way to Ohio to spend a week photographing on the backroads. We spent the first day photographing our way across Illinois. The following morning, after spending first light at Fowler Park near Terre Haute, Indiana, we began heading east toward Ohio.
Our first stop after the pioneer village at Fowler Park was a red round barn in Vigo County. As I began to photograph this barn, the sky began to turn a deep blue. After leaving the round barn, we pulled up to a stop sign and I glanced back to see the ever darkening sky. And then I noticed how dramatic the sky looked behind an old red barn. So I got out and captured a few images.
As we continued down the road, a few raindrops began to hit the windshield. But as we drove, it seemed as if we were getting ahead of the storm and the rain stopped.
We turned onto a gravel road and soon passed what appeared to be an abandoned house, although the grass had been mowed. Again, I looked back and thought that the dark sky behind the weathered old house would make a striking image.
I knew, however, by the rumbling of thunder that we were barely staying ahead of the storm. And we had plans to capture an abandoned brick school that we didn’t want to miss, so I wasn’t sure I should take the time to photograph the old house.
What made us decide to stop was what we saw next – a big tree with a tire swing hanging from it and a ladder for climbing up into the tree. This brought back some great childhood memories of tree swings and tree climbing, so we just had to stop.
Our next stop was the old brick school, which was overrun by vines and beginning to collapse. It had a wonderful bell tower that started at ground level and rose above the school roof.
By the time I got out to photograph this tired old school, I could tell that the storm was nearly upon us and the wind had begun to blow quite strongly. This meant that it would do me no good to try to use an umbrella. So I headed away from the car with just my camera and tripod in hand.
I worked quickly, especially when I saw lightning flashing in the distance. The entrance to the school was originally covered with a small porch-like structure, which had begun to collapse. There was also a concrete plaque on the front of the bell tower, but I couldn’t make out the name of the school.
I had hoped to capture a few more angles of this once lovely building, but a sudden downpour sent me running to the car. By the time I reached the car, I was a bit soaked, but happy that I had managed to capture a few images before the storm finally caught up with us. It continued to rain for the next hour or so, but the remainder of the day was a gift of even, overcast lighting, for which we were truly grateful.