This photograph deserves much of the credit for the entire PlainSky, Nebraskans project. It is the image that most defines the project’s commentary on the present and future of the High Plains.
Shot in Dawes County in 2010, I had walked through more than a half mile of high plains grass along the rails as I searched for a possible combination of graffiti, the distant Pine Ridge, and a farm or ranch to sit in the window created by the rails and coal cars. I was searching for a statement about the impending encroachment of industrialization and urbanization on the culture and landscape of western Nebraska, and when I found this car, “change” emblazoned on its flanks, a distant windmill and tractor against the Pine Ridge, and blackbirds on the fence, I began to compose. And as I worked to create the shot, the blackbirds departed and completed the scene.