Play It Again #13416

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The Story

Early one morning, I found this abandoned piano outside at a small country truck stop after having breakfast there. It sat in a parking lot corner, in the mud and weeds at the end of a line of parked trucks. High summer heat, plenty of sun and rain, and deep winter snow had left it badly weathered and broken up. It stood as the crowning centerpiece of a small, grungy junk pile of assorted debris and common trash.

Yes, there is indeed a hierarchy in rubbish.

The piano was probably dropped there under the cover of night and certainly not left for live music at back-lot trucker parties. Every black key had split at the root and every white key was uneven, chipped, or missing its plastic cover. The keyboard was framed by the warping, waving veneer which had let go and everything had a layer of chunky grit caked onto it. Obviously, this was some very good natural decay to photograph. I was very careful not to disturb any of it, wanting every bit of grunge on this coming-apart carcass of an upright piano.

Working in the muddy semi-gumbo, I set up the tripod to make a few full-color shots and others to make into a hand-tinted black and white like this one. Trying for different things, another interesting keyboard close-up called Last Refrain #13507 was created on this day too. I lingered there taking pictures to my heart’s content while the direct summer sun was starting to crank the temperature up. As a result, I got a better idea and feel for what the elements had done to this instrument over time, year in, year out.

Being fairly close to home, I’ve returned to photograph this abandoned piano several times. It’s been interesting to go with different treatments, even after it had been pushed over onto its back. Fun challenges are good. Sometimes I used things found in that first-class junkpile of whatever grunge, like a broken plate glass mirror. Have a look at the brainteaser Mother Nature’s Greatest Hits #13926 to see the mirror in use. Bringing in other elements from home, I created More Song And Dance #13932 with an entirely different look and feel.

Location: Munster, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Picture and text © Andrew Dierks

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