There are still explorers and places to explore. Less than 20 years ago Hugh Thomson found The White Rock, a lost Incan palace high in the Andes. Frederique Darragon has spent the last 20 years exploring the mysterious lost towers of western China. (She’s worth googling. She was an heiress, a socialite, and a bad ass polo player. She also has a hobby.) I‘m old enough to remember the rediscovery of the yellow-fronted gardener bowerbird in 1982 in New Guinea, a bird known only by its plumage since the 19th century. The age of exploration is far from over.
Still, I don’t think you need to travel to someplace exotic to discover things. You are visiting lost places in Iowa. What are they? What were they? What happened to them? Were they always lost? Were they once cities, towns, hamlets or homesteads? Were they settled in waves or as random infill? Who built them? Who owns them now? What forces do you see at work?
It is tempting to just wander about and look for pretty. You have a photographer’s eye, so what you capture, you capture well, but you need to capture more than just light. Some of Berenice Abbot’s best photos were done for the property tax bureau in New York City, then later for science text books. She did most of the ones you’ve seen that “Doc” Edgerton didn’t. Alfred Eisenstadt was a news photographer whose pictures told stories. Cindy Sherman did a famous series of photos of herself as if they were production stills, capturing the cinematographic tension.
I’m trying to challenge you. You know how to take pictures, but what are you seeing? What are you trying to say? You could be saying old wood gets a lovely patina. Alternately, you could be explaining that once there was a time in a place called Iowa.