TN Small Towns…
Saturday morning I wanted to get out for a shoot and decided to visit a few small towns in the area. I mapped out the four communities I planned to explore…Adams, Cedar Hill, Orlinda, and New Deal. I had never been to three of the four, but I had discovered Orlinda earlier in the year. The town intrigued me and I knew I wanted to explore with camera in hand.
I awoke early and reached my initial destination, Adams, TN prior to sunrise. As I entered the town, population 637, I was immediately drawn to a small restaurant housed in an old gas station, Adams Station Bar-B-Q. Even though we were 30 minutes away from sun-up, the eatery was hoping. Trucks filled the parking lot and the smoker was already smoking. I setup the camera and shot a few test shots. I realized that I needed some light in the sky, so I climbed back into my car to await the morning glow begin. After a bit, the light began to appear in the sky above the restaurant, time to get out and shoot. I re-composed and adjusted my settings. I set the timer and tripped the shutter, 3 images, one under-exposed, one over-exposed and one as metered. I reviewed the results via the camera monitor and prepared to take the final image. Just then, a little boy rode up on his bicycle. He stopped and stared at me wondering what I was up to so early in the morning. I shared his thoughts, what was this boy doing up at the crack of dawn on his bike? No matter the reason, the image was enhanced with him in the frame. But, before I could fire a shot, he dropped his bike and sprinted into the restaurant. Best I could do is capture him in motion.
Before I left, I also took an photo with my cellphone and posted the picture to Instagram and Facebook. Later in the day, I received a comment from my son-in-law letting me know that the building I had shot was the old gas station his grandfather had own for 50 years!
My next stop was a nearby town called Cedar Hill, population 315. I was drawn to a collection of homes near the train tracks on the south end of the town. Almost every home had a porch and chairs on the front, leading me to imagine evenings with families sharing stories of the day as neighbors strolled by. A little too Norman Rockwell? Maybe, but the chairs definitely looked to me more than decorations. One house I drove by had two sentinels standing guard. I had to take their picture and they proudly posed for my image.
I set Orlinda(pop. 867) as my next destination and began the drive east. I was getting a little hungry and was looking forward to a breakfast biscuit from the Orlinda General store at the towns main intersection. The day was shaping up to be grey and overcast with featureless cloud cover, not the best conditions for photographing the old buildings that I wanted to shoot. So, I made my way on the back roads to see what I could find. I came across a tobacco barn, doors open, filled to the rafters with drying leaves. I had to stop and shoot it.
After 30 minutes or so, I moved on down the road to New Deal, TN, an unincorporated community of 368 residents. This area was different from the others, with more commercial business, but less houses and churches. I was drawn to an area that had a few industrial buildings where I captured a few images.
Exploring some of the small roads spreading out from the community’s central 4 way stop, I came across a truly unique structure I have never seen before. It was another tobacco barn, but without walls and 8-10 times larger than the previous one I shot. I had to get some images of this, so I stopped at the house next door and asked for permission to shoot. The lady who answered was more than willing and I made my way through the field.