'Old Iron' Encourages Inspiration

It's probably because my husband loves everything "car." Over the many years I've followed him to car shows, a wonderful car museum, watching (and very occasionally helping) him 'mechanic-ing' on the many projects he's done for others, and the personal project he's been putting time into more recently, I've picked up quite an assortment of incidental knowledge

Black and white photo of the headlight and grill of a vintage Ford
"A Little Age" - vintage Ford

about old vehicles. I've also gotten to see (and have looked up online) many vintage vehicles in various stages - from 'junker' to beautifully restored, to all sorts of points between. My favorites to admire are the very old, beautifully restored classics; think of a 1914 Stutz Bearcat, the gorgeous coachwork aesthetics on a 1929 Duesenberg Model J or a 1930's Rolls Royce Phantom II, the experiments in streamlining and Art Deco styling as was found on the 1929 Bugatti Type 46 Coupe, or the more modern, clear power of a muscle car like a Roadrunner,

Hood, grill and headlight of an old Ford pickup with rust and several paint colors
"Harlequin Ford"
Hood, grill guard and headlight of an old mining truck in Marble, Colorado
"Marble Mining Truck"











Charger or Chevelle SS. However, these have never been what I want to photograph. My own images are of the humble, ordinary working man's cars and trucks. When I'm looking for beautiful 'old iron' to add to my image collection, I'm drawn to the obvious patina of rust and scratches and wear-and-tear on a beaten-up vintage workhorse, the evidence of a long and useful life and a perhaps less-than-ideal retirement.

Rust patch on an old pickup reminds viewer of cartoon character
"Sylvester"

I particularly love the details - rust patches and color fades, cracked and peeling paint, grills and headlights, emblems, patterns and oddities that make me think of something else. I'm always intrigued by the story an old vehicle can tell by the way it inspires me to crop, select color or texture, or how it encourages me to 'make up' a story in my head to go with what I'm working on. For example, in the image here, a worn patch on the old Ford 4x4 pickup box makes me think of the cartoon character Sylvester (my husband often accuses me of having too much imagination!). But I didn't 'see' it until I'd played with various finishing ideas for the image.


So many people love old pickups, trucks and cars in all their states of disrepair or restoration, that it's really sad, and frustrating for photographers like me, that so many have been crushed and destroyed in recent years because the quest for iron to recycle seems to be never-ending. In just the past two years, we've seen several places where old cars used to be found that have been completely denuded of anything potentially photogenic.

A line of old pickups rusting away in a field
"The Line-Up"

Unfortunately, too many vehicles made after about 1975 have so little that I can find attractively eye-catching that I simply bypass them. I look back at the images I already have in my collection and hope I can keep adding to them, but many opportunities are now lost and can't be regained. I do still have some images to work with that need to be finished so their 'stories' can be added to my website for others to enjoy. I'd love to hear from you about old cars and trucks rusting away in odd spots around Colorado that are simply waiting to be shown and recognized for their contribution to the everyday lives of people in the past. I'd love to be inspired by old vehicles that are in places I haven't explored yet!


An old dump truck with rust patches and broken windows
"Old Workhorse" - Dump truck showing vestiges of previous owners

I hope you'll check out the rest of my website, www.denisedethlefsen.com, for images for your home, office or commercial space. I'm available if you have questions, comments, critiques or just want to say, "Hi." Please use the Contact page, or enter your email in the Sign Up to Stay Connected space. #vintageautos #AutoArt #AutomotiveArt #ClassicCars #junkyard #carlove #art #interiordesign #interiordecor #interiorstyling #wallart #photoart #artforsale #buyart

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