Ghost Town Firetruck

I’m trying a photojournalistic post here, as suggested by @Merv in a prior post.

Shaniko, Oregon was first settled by pioneer August Scherneckau after the Civil War. The local native Americans pronounced his name Shaniko, which became the town name.

Shaniko’s heyday was the first decade of the1900s. The train station became the place to collect enormous quantities of wool being produced in central Oregon. The town grew to over 600 people, but by 1911, a new railroad trunk bypassed Shaniko and drew business away.

Today, this almost ghost town supports a population of 20 or so people. There are still plenty of things to see here including the Shaniko Hotel, City Hall, and several other small businesses maintained in the old west style.

The main subject of this photo journal is the retired fire truck sitting in a small field on the outskirts of town. There’s no information about the fire truck that I could find.

I’ve been out to this town many times over the years and regularly plan a trip in winter to experience the snow, frost, fog, and chilly temperatures.

The following images are mostly from my most recent visit, with a few sprinkled in from previous visits to round out the story.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any comments appreciated.

Technical Details

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A real nice collection, David. The first and the firetruck and bare tree images are definitely my favorites. In the first, I might try to figure out a way to put some margin between the top edge and the tree top, but that is getting picky. Real nice work.

Wow, David

This is really impressive!

I am away from home on a short day trip so this is from my phone.

I will write more when I return home where my normal size keyboard is at.
My fat fingers don’t work well on this tiny keypad. :slight_smile:

Well done!!

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Great series and conditions you had. Such frosty goodness. I really like the smaller slices of the scenes you got - like the hose and window with the rear view mirror in the center. Really great processing, too. The only change I would have made would be to get lower and get the trees behind the firetruck. What a great experience.

A wonderful collection of images, David. The strong contrasts between the dark and light really provides some super nice detail overall… :sunglasses:

Super wonderful!! I love them all! And B/W is perfect for them.

@Harley_Goldman, @Merv, @Kris_Smith, @Paul_Breitkreuz, and @Diane_Miller thank you for the comments. This was a fun little project. I have another series for the flatbed truck that I will post shortly.


Thanks for pointing me over to this project. The tonal quality in the B&W conversions is perfect which is so hard with snow. The story is intriguing I want to visit the town.
This brings up a thought in your description you used the term photojournalism for this project. My question about a project where does photojournalism differ from an art project? With Brooks Jensen about to do AMA I have been thinking about this lately.

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Hi again, David,

The first thing that struck me about this series (photographically) is the heavy overcast sky, that alone adds a lot to the “Ghost Town Story” in my opinion.
Remember, everything I say is always “Just my opinion”, there are no rules, there may be some loose guidelines maybe, but no rules and it’s always subjective.
Ten People can see things ten different ways which brings me to the term “Photojournalism”, that term used to be heavily associated with bad things like war or devastation from a tornado or a hurricane, etc. but artistic images like the ones you have here can be presented in a photojournalistic “Style” where the images tell a story on their own, but some amount of commentary always helps with context.

This still living and breathing ghost town has a great story that deserves some factual and historical context and the commentary you provided here done a great job of describing what things might have been like for the community during its heyday. I can now imagine what it must have looked like to have wagon loads of wool coming into town from the whole of Central Oregon so they could sell their wool or trade it for other goods they might need back on the ranch.
I imagine travelers coming in by coach or horseback needing a rest, a bath, a good meal and a refreshing spirit or two (or three or four :slight_smile: ) Or…maybe just a good sarsaparilla.

Commentary and presentation Well Done IMHO.

Photographically, I really like all of the images as they are, the perspective, framing, consistent tonal range from one image to the next, all well done!

I like the wide open shots at the beginning for a good sense of the environment as well as a glimpse of what coach and horseback travelers might have seen first when the town started coming into view.
The fire truck with the lone tree is great, and the one from the right side of the truck with the buildings in the BG is really good too because the truck is the most prominent thing in that shot.

The two vertical tight shots from 2009 and 2012 are awesome and not just for their perspectives but also for the amount of frost and ice build-up that really does well at showing the relentless and blistering wind coming from the side. BTW, it took me a minute to figure out that the image above the headlight was of the pressure gauges at the water inlet and valves on the front (a little mystery is always good :slight_smile: ).

Personally, I like the tight shot of the left window with the mirror to the side, to me, it shows better what the driver might have been faced with as he or she needed to get in the truck to go out and help save a home or business.

The tight shot of the hose reel is awesome as well because it shows the simplistic and practical way it was used as well as an artistic quality with the subtle highlights and shadows. The progressive light to dark under the hose reel frame really shows the depth well.

And the bottom wide shot with the ominous sky has a unique feel of it’s own, it’s like I know that the truck may soon not be visible from either heavy snow or just be totally obscured by the impending storm itself.

This is all great, especially since you didn’t take the shots with any story telling commentary in mind at the time.

Love it and I look forward to the next part of the story! :slight_smile:

Did you happen to get a shot of the old horse drawn paddy wagon by any chance? Just curious.

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Merv, thanks for the wonderful response here. I truly appreciate it. This town is one of my favorite haunts. :slightly_smiling_face: Even though it takes a little over three hours to get there, meaning leaving home at O’dark thirty. It’s still worth it every time. I always come back with one or two keepers.

I have shot the Paddy wagon many times, but passed it up this last time…here’s one from 2009. Hard to get this without the overhead wires.

Thanks again, Merv. I truly appreciate your thoughts.

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Wow, David

I’m sure if I lived anywhere near this town I would visit there frequently, great choice for making your visits in this kind of weather (photographically), be safe in your travels.

I’ve seen many images of this paddy wagon and yours is by far the best one, especially with the heavy frost and B&W treatment!!
BTW, I don’t have any special connection that fuels my interest in this paddy wagon like being in law enforcement or anything of the sort, I just enjoy the history of the old west and I like the way these wagons are shaped.
I looked at a fairly recent image of this wagon and the tongue is laying off to the side now but there were children playing in it and on it,

The overhead line is more of a feature than a fault since it’s a modern day image. It would be different if you were going for a “Retro” image, which is a thought to keep in mind.
This is a printable image with marketing potential IMHO.

Thank you much for digging this out and sharing it!

And I’m very happy to have a small part in making this project an enjoyable one for you and others. :slight_smile: