Herculean struggle

photo: © David Moenkhaus - all rights reserved 773 612-4166

©David Moenkhaus














tree in silo – Nebraska

16″ x 20″  ed. 10


from high Plains Artifacts



When I first saw this old silo and it’s woody tenant, I liked that the tree was winning it’s Herculean struggle.

It probably took many years for that tree to rise above the top of the silo. I like that the tree will probably outlast the structure. At least I hope it does.

I’ve made some good images of the wood and stone duo over the years, but none 

that I liked better than this one. 

 One year I made it to the silo at magic hour and as I finished photographing the 

great metaphor before me, I realized I was surrounded by marijuana plants.

There were  6′  high pot plants everywhere around the silo!

That year, there didn’t seem to be anyone living in the house adjacent to the old silo. But the next year  I arrived 

well after dark and started photographing the tree like I had the year before.


I used a Nikon F5 with an open shutter and a  strobelight – painting the old stone

cylinder with light. I was so focussed on what I was doing with the camera though, that I hadn’t looked to see if 

anyone was living in the house by this time.

But of course, there was someone living in the house and they came out and they yelled at me and they told  me 

to get the hell off their property.

I was really stunned. That had never happened to me before. When I was younger and I was traveling and shooting, I 

usually just went wherever I wanted to go, especially out west. Incredibly, I never had a problem with that strategy – until that night.

It sucked but I didn’t blame them. I should have done the right thing and at least asked for their permission.

I’d be a little salty too if I saw some rough-looking dude with a camera, roll up in a 

black Jeep after dark, and start flashing lights at my silo. 

Then again, maybe they thought I was some government agent documenting their weed farm.


I learned my lesson though, and since that night in Nebraska I’ve always asked permission when I want

to photograph someone’s property – landscapes, cars, whatever.

I think I heard this at a workshop once but it’s much better getting to know someone a little first (and ask permission later) than it is getting yelled at by a stranger!


3-4 minute exposure on Velvia using the light of the full moon.

Nikon F5 with 50mm f2 lens




Mankind owns four things

That are no good at sea-

Rudder, anchor, oars,

And the fear of going down.

Antonio  Machado




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