View from behind pump looking out into the woods

Rusty Pump House

Oval pump name plate

Today’s One Picture a Day is actually a series. I was inspired by this recent post of a visit to an abandoned mill at the Quirk’n It blog. I love old machinery. It’s a window into a bygone era of heavy iron that was reality for generations of our ancestors, but has faded away. Much like the rusting remnants such as this old water pump in an abandoned pump house. The pump house is located on what once was a huge dairy farm, but is now a nature center. The cows are gone, and the nearby pond that I understand was once here is long dry to become a brushy forest.

Manufacturer on cast iron pump, The American Well Works

These old machines have a sense of life. In their heyday, they moved, groaned, had personalities and flaws. Steam engines in particular carry this quality. But even this big old pump has some personality. I tried to capture that in the shot of the pump from behind, gazing out of the large doorway into the forest. It faces the sun, standing tall, like it’s waiting for someone. One day, decades ago, the operator turned off the pump, and never returned. Does the pump wonder why he’s never come back?

View from behind pump looking out into the woods

Forlorn Pump

I suppose others might be tempted to go black and white for these shots, as though the picture were taken in 1940. But I decided to keep the color, because in 1940 the pump was not rusty and abandoned, it was in its prime. Today, it is rusty, and today, we have color!

I used my Nikon D90 with an 18-55mm lens for the flexibility of wide angle, portrait, and close focus in the tight quarters of the tiny pump house. This series nicely highlights all aspects of that focal range. This lens is often dismissed as a kit lens, bundled for the unwashed masses, exchanged for something better right away by the prosumers. But I like it. Image quality is fine, it’s light as a feather, and it focuses closely. I like it better than bulky do-everything lenses like an 18-200, which I have owned, and 18-300mm’s that is popular. It’s the most affordable wide angle solution, as well, and that utility trumps a 40mm or 50mm prime (though those lenses have other features to recommend them, of course.)  I have more praise for the Nikon 18-55mm AF-S DX VR in this blog post.

Axle cover with three bolts and an arrow indicating rotation direction

I’m really enjoying the winter sun, too. The low-angle light gave me lots of working time shining straight into the pump house. I’ve been here in summer, and the high sun and vegetation made it more challenging. Even two hours before sunset, the light has a warm, sunset-approaching quality to it. All of the shots except for the “Forlorn Pump” shot above were taken in available light. For the “Forlorn Pump” I decided I wanted more than just a black shape silhouette of the pump; I wanted the viewer to have a better sense of what the thing was. I backlit it with the onboard Nikon D90 flash, dialed down two stops so it only gave only a little illumination, like a reflector card would.

Arrow on pump housing, indicating direction of rotation