The Dalles, Oregon, USA by James Miller

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Picture Story

I was in Oregon exploring old farmlands and looking for barns and abandoned homesteads to photograph, and as the sun dipped lower in the sky and the light started to get really nice, I turned my attention away from an old schoolhouse I was photographing to look directly behind me and discovered this scene. The light was very soft due to some smoke in the air from forest fires burning up in the mountains and the way the huge tree stood in silhouette against the soft orange glow of the sky behind it caught my eye. I loved the way the light also played off the old farm truck and tractor under the tree and just knew I had to wait for the sun to partially slide behind a branch in order to keep everything from being washed out in the shot.

I have always been drawn to photos of those lone trees sitting on a hilltop, or out in the middle of some huge field with fog rolling in or amazing light. Living in the Pacific Northwest, those kinds of shots are very hard to come by because we generally have forests of Evergreens and very few lone trees to shoot.

Maybe that’s why, even though this wasn't the kind of photo I had started the day in search of, it was my favorite shot of the day by far. It was a reminder to me and hopefully to others, to always remember to look back over your shoulder when you're photographing anything at all. You really just never know what might be directly behind you that you're missing.

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