Shoot gone Bad

I always feel a little like an impostor when I say I'm a photographer.  Why?  Because well, photographers do certain things that I don't necessarily do.  In particular: they take photographs.  This year, I have done -or rather, TRIED to do- precisely TWO shoots.  Yep, that's it.  One of those shoots was supposed to take place yesterday, and you can probably tell from the tone of this paragraph that it didn't happen.

Abandoned, late-victorian style house south of The Dalles

Abandoned, late-victorian style house south of The Dalles

Some months ago I made a date with Betsy to drive out to an abandoned house south of The Dalles.  The house is not a mystery; there are lots of photos posted online of this place and one of my students drove out there last year to do a shoot inside the house--the inside space is gorgeous, and I was so excited to go out there!  I packed a bunch of props, a ladder, chairs and tools, and we left Portland around noon.

Google tells me that the drive from Portland to The Dalles is an hour and a half.  With a potty break and the extended distance south, it was actually a bit longer.  By the time we got there it was after 2, so it took maybe 2 hours and 15 minutes.  The house was not hard to find, but it was fenced off and there was a sign posted:  No Trespassing.  OH BUT...I have this secret belief that such signs don't actually apply to me, plus I just drove a million miles to get there, AND one of my students got in less than 6 months ago, so yes...I AM GOING.  I found a place in the fence where I could pry the wires off, and I was in, striding through the wheat field towards the house.  Betsy came after me, but I could see right away that she was reluctant, and as I began closing the gap between myself and the house, I looked back.  Betsy was frozen in the she had simply stopped coming and was standing there watching me go alone. 

As I got to the door, I could hear movement inside the house and the most amazingly beautiful and truly GARGANTUAN owl flew out of the roof, and perched on a protruding board.  He and I stared at each other eye-to-eye, for some moments.  I don't think I ever realized how large owls are, or how pretty, or how strong.  Every photo I've ever seen of an owl has diminished the majesty of that breed of bird.  When he flew off, it felt like he left in a small sonic boom. 

I then looked back at the frozen Betsy.  She was in the exact same spot she'd been earlier.     At which point a local person drives up in a pick-up truck, and shouts:


and so I shout back, "PROBABLY NOT."

The driver started saying other things, but she was too far away and I couldn't hear her, but I wasn't confused about was this:  The deal was off.  Yup.   I'd packed and planned and driven to this destination and that the best thing to come of it is meeting my owl. 

I walked back to Betsy.  She was staring down at her feet and said, 
"I'm scared of rattlesnakes."  but there were no rattlesnakes.  I looked at her feet; she was wearing nearly flip flops or something equally unserviceable.  Anyhow, that was the extent of the shoot, more or less.