A Day of Decay

· Reading Time: 31 minutes

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Long time no see!  It has been a few hours since I last posted here in the blog about my sunset trek into the front yard.  I’m still tired from that long hike by the way.  If you will recall, I mentioned that I would be back shortly with some new images from today’s trek.  It would have been sooner, but the poor computer was struggling processing the large files from the 5DS R.  It got the job done, but it took a very long time to get things through Lightroom.  I am happy to announce that I am finished with all of the images.  Considering that I had shot an additional 119 frames in the six hours that I was out this morning, I’m actually doing pretty good on time.

With Saturday coming to a close and the weather looking promising for some fog and clouds Sunday morning, I was gearing up to head out for a long trek after I got done shooting the sunrise.  I didn’t bother doing anything with the images and just left them sitting in the camera which was staged by the door ready to go in the morning.  When the alarm rang at 5:30, I checked the weather and found that the fog that was supposed to be rolling in wasn’t quite as likely as it had been when I went to bed.  There were some high clouds forecasted to be coming in right around sunrise, but currently the sky was clear.  Since I was really hoping for some fog I kind of lost my drive to get out of bed that early.  I put the phone back on the table and rolled over to go back to sleep.  Of course, Toni was there to prod me to get out with the camera.  She was right, but I was so comfortable in the bed and didn’t want to leave.

However, Toni was not the only one that was good at motivating me to get up and moving.  As Sheldon once said “I’m the master of my bladder….I’m the master of my bladder….I’m NOT the master of my bladder!”  With that realization I got up knowing that once I was in motion I would get ready to head out.  I changed my gears from an early morning foggy shoot to a sunrise shoot with the hopes of some color in the sky.  The clouds should be just right for a nice sunrise, but I knew it would come down to a matter of timing as to whether or not they would enter into the area at the right time.  Add to that question one that was likely even more important…What was I wanting to shoot.  I had planned on doing some rural photography and had a few places picked out that would benefit from the fog.  I hadn’t done any thinking about anything that would look good under a colorful morning sky though.  In fact, that was something that I just haven’t really figured out yet.  Finding great places for sunrise and sunset photographs is harder that you might think.  There are a lot of considerations that have to be taken into account in order to get something that will look good with the bright colors overhead.  I really didn’t have anything in mind at all.

Since my end game for the day was to head up Hwy 18 and work my way into Traphill, I figured that I would start off the morning in North Wilkesboro as I have had some really great luck out there recently.  Plus, I am working on my own personal project of photographing the different landmarks, and history of Wilkes County.  I knew that North Wilkesboro had several places that might very well work out and if I played my cards right, I might just find something that worked under a colorful sky.

I was out the door at 6:30 which was about 45 minutes before sunrise.  I knew that it would take me about 15 minutes to get into North Wilkesboro and I was hoping that would leave me enough time to find a location to shoot.  I was working against the clock and that was for sure!  When I made it into the city I started to look for something that might work.  I could see some fog over the park and I kept chasing that fog to see if there was a way that I would be able to use it.  I kept turning down streets as the sun started to come up showing just a hint of color in the sky.  I kept telling myself that this color would fade out quickly and that when the light was good enough to photograph it would be gone.  I was trying to make myself feel better about the fact that I wasn’t finding anything at all to put under the sky.  I wasn’t even finding anything that would allow me to make use of the fog in the park.  I should have left earlier, but I didn’t know that I would be looking at a colorful sky.  I really had thought that I was going to be working with fog and clouds all morning long.

The Landscape Depot“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Galen Rowell 3-stop soft edge ND Grad

One of the roads that I turned down was just a little past the old gas station that I had shot a couple of weeks back.  I could see the sky starting to kick off to the East and my thought that this morning was going to be a dud was quickly disappearing from my mind.  This was looking really good and I was getting desperate to find something to put under the sky.  I saw some interesting greenhouses on the left, next to a red barn which I found out was the Landscape Depot of North Wilkesboro.  It had a really interesting look, but wasn’t quite what I was after in my mind.  I passed by and quickly came upon another scene off to the left.  This was a silo and I thought that there was some promise there so I turned down that side road.  When I got closer, I realized that the silo was a metal one and not particularly interesting.  The landscape around it wasn’t all that great either.  The sun was fast approaching the horizon and I needed to make a decision.  I could keep looking and miss the colors, or I could choose between the silo and the greenhouse in order to get those colors.  Remembering that old adage of “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” I decided to go back to the greenhouse because it was the more interesting of the two subjects.  It would also provide a leading line to the Eastern Horizon which was going to be very important.

I was back in the parking lot within a minute or two and pulled off out of the way.  I darted back to the hatch of the 4Runner and pulled out the tripod.  I grabbed the 5DS R along with my 16-35mm lens which I thought would be the best choice for the scene that I had in mind.  I plugged in the cable remote and mounted the filter holder since I knew I would be using ND Grads for this shot.  As I was getting the camera secured to the Acratech Ballhead, my phone rang.  Toni has this sense of timing that just can’t be beat.  I answered it and she started to tell me about a deer that she saw on her way to the gym.  I tried to listen, but I was watching the light changing and knew that I needed to get the camera all put together and find a composition quickly.  Once she realized that time was a luxury that I didn’t have she let me get back to it.  With the camera all built I went to the side of the greenhouse and started to set up my composition in a very rushed fashion.  I couldn’t help but think about the Behind the Camera entry I had recently done where I talked about my workflow and how to work quickly.  I was doing it all step by step here and was glad that I had that routine down.

I was able to find a composition that worked pretty quickly and got it all fine tuned before realizing that I was going to need a 3-stop ND Grad to keep the sky at bay.  The sun was creeping very close to the horizon and I wanted to keep all the detail that I could in the sky.  I was happy that I had brought my Lowepro bag because I really didn’t have time to run back to the truck.  I slid the filter in and did a final check of the composition and focused the lens.  I then started to make exposures with slight tweaks along the way.  I managed to get about four exposures done with slightly different compositions before the light became too harsh to continue here.  Once that happened, I moved down the building to look for a landscape shot of the sunrise.

I found a couple of compositions, but when I got home they looked very rushed and had no real story other than the sky.  Since there was no substance to those later compositions, they never made it to the actual editing phase.  There was only the one image from early on that I liked from this location.  I was fortunate to have gotten it under the stress of getting there much later than I would have liked, but I did manage to hit that perfect moment of light.  Not knowing exactly what I had in the bag, I didn’t know if I should be happy or not while I was still in the field.  I just knew that I had my first images in the bag.  It was time to move on to the next scene, whatever it might be.

With the color over, I started to feel a little more relaxed about my timing.  the clouds were moving in and that was going to mean nice and even light for the most part as the day progressed.  I was really enjoying the slightly different subject matter of the greenhouse and decided that I would go back into North Wilkesboro to see if there was something there that would fit my project of decaying history in Wilkes County.  I drove by the train station which I keep wanting to photograph, but I’ve never seen it in the right light to make for a good photograph.  I looked at some of the old stores, but nothing was really jumping out at me.  The light was kind of flat at this point, but the sun was creating some highlights behind the clouds to the East.  The clouds were not all that thick, so I was going to have to be careful with the direction that I was shooting from.

Under a Tobacco Sky“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Galen Rowell 2 and 3-stop soft ND Grads

As I made my way to the far side of town, I ended up in an old industrial section which I had been through once or twice before.  This time, however, there was a building that caught my eye.  It was an abandoned distribution warehouse with kudzu overtaking the asphalt around the docks.  There was a tall chimney that added to the interest here and I was seeing some detail in the sky that I thought might work well for an image.  I pondered it for a brief time before pulling off the road across the street and grabbing my gear.  This time, I went for the more standard view of the 24-70mm lens which would keep the building from suffering from too much perspective distortion.  There were so many areas of this building that interested me, it took me a little while to formulate the compositions that I wanted to work on.

I decided to start with a composition to the East because with the sun rising, I wasn’t going to have the right light for long.  I loved the junction between the two buildings with the different levels adding to the visual interest of the building.  Over to the right was the chimney which  intruded into the sky mandating the inclusion of whatever sky detail I could find.  From this angle, I was also able to capture the vines on the blacktop which I found oh so interesting.  Between those, and the broken panels of the bay doors, there was no question that this was no longer in service.  I found a location to set the camera up where the corner of the building blocked the sun which allowed me to get a decent exposure across the frame.  To help with that exposure, I added two different ND grads.  They were both soft edge and I staggered them so I would have a very gradual division line as the sky got darker towards the top. This is a trick that I have used many times with great success and according to my histogram it was going to work here as well.

While I was dialing in the exposure, I could see a hint of color in the clouds which I accentuated by changing the white balance from cloudy to shade.  That added a great deal of warmth to the scene and I knew that I could pull out even more color in Lightroom.  I had to work quickly though as once the sun cleared the corner of the building I wouldn’t be able to shoot in this direction again.  I got two images captured before that happened and they had just slightly different compositions.  I ended up choosing the first of them as my favorite because it had the most saturation in the sky.  As I was processing it, I found that my favorite trait was present here.  That transition from warm to cool tones really makes a colorful sky pop in my opinion.  It keeps it from looking like a filtered sky as the cooler tones are often a color anchor to prove the colors are, in fact, real.  This was the second sunrise image of the day that possessed that trait and I was very happy to see that happen.

The Weight of the World“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

After I had the opening composition figured out and shot, I turned my attention to the other side of the building where the office was located.  I swapped out filters for a single polarizer as the lighting was very even to the West now.  I captured about a dozen frames of different compositions of that side of the building to make sure that I had what I wanted.  The lighting wasn’t all that flattering though, so I wasn’t overly wild about that set.  As I decided that I had gotten enough of that composition I started to turn my attention to another building that was just across the street.  It was one that had caught my eyes before because the wall was actually folding under the pressure of the roof.  I hadn’t considered shooting it because the building itself was a little boring without a whole lot of points of interest.  There were also power poles and lines in close proximity.

I had convinced myself that this wasn’t going to make a good picture several times now, but there was just something compelling about standing there in the street with my camera at the ready that just said, give it a try.  I walked over there while still keeping an eye on the truck which was sitting there with the hatch opened.  There was very little activity around so I wasn’t all that concerned about it and I knew that the light was changing rapidly so I didn’t want to miss anything.  I got in position and up very close to the building in an attempt to undercut the power lines.  I was able to do just that, but the composition wasn’t good at all, not to mention the perspective distortion on the building was less than flattering.  I had to back away from it in order to get things to look right.  At that position the power lines were going to be included.  I decided that I would clone them out in post so I started making images from that point.

It wasn’t long before I realized that I was still too close and the converging verticals were bothersome for me.  I stepped back further into the street and recomposed again.  This time, I was including much more of the power lines and thought that they would be an extreme chore to get rid of in post.  I hoped that I could actually make them work in the composition and that when I saw them in the final image that I wouldn’t hate them.  As it turned out, the power pole to the left made for a great framing element for the image and helped balance the really cool tree to the right side.  The lines added a nice diagonal through the sky which only had a bit of texture in the clouds.  My hope came true and I actually liked the power lines, at least I liked them enough not to battle with removing them which would have been a job and a half…if I could have done it at all.  They do work with the image as does the road below the building.  In fact, those two elements frame the building on the top and bottom to finish what the power pole and tree had started.

After getting the overall image, I started to work some isolations of the two buildings here and thought that I had some really good images…until I got home.  Once I saw them on the computer screen I realized that they were not good at all.  They looked very uninspired which was a product of the rather plain buildings that I was shooting.  In the field, I had really thought that the best images would be the isolations, but when it came right down to it, the full on image with the power lines was the clear winner and the isolations weren’t worth keeping.  It seems that I am coming away with the wrong opinions of the good images while I am in the field as this is happening more and more these days.  At least I know that I am making some of the right decisions because I am capturing good images during my time in the field, I just don’t recognize it as such at the time.

Economic Downturn“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer, 10-stop Mor-Slo ND, 240 seconds

After my fruitless attempts at isolations of the two buildings I noticed that the sun was coming out a little stronger now and providing a bit more dramatic light.  With that in mind, I went back to the warehouse that I had started this session and worked on finding that favorite composition I had once again.  It was a very specific spot that allowed me to frame the left side right in between two bay doors, while keeping a large reddish orange weed in the frame.  I had to be careful of the placement of that weed because I really wanted to keep the trash visible in the vines, especially the toilet.  The right side of the frame needed to be cut close to the building to minimize the clutter of the roadway and power lines.  I needed enough room at the top to clear the antenna that was poking up from the roof, and I wanted to make sure that the trees in the background didn’t conflict with any fine details on the top of the building.

When I found the composition I dialed in the exposure and realized that the light was still very flat and didn’t require any grad filters.  I just left the polarizer on to remove the glare from the windows and add some saturation to the colors.  I started to make exposures and found that the sky was more interesting than it had been earlier which was a very good thing indeed.  I was liking the way that the sky looked, but I was wanting more.  I studied the sky for a moment and saw that it was moving.  In order to see exactly the path of the clouds, I went to the image review and looked at my last three images.  These showed that the clouds were moving directly towards me at a decent pace even though I couldn’t really make them out in person.  This was the perfect chance for a long exposure image since there was no breeze on the ground, and the clouds were in motion.

Since I had the base exposure already figured out, I went to my ND Filter conversion app and figured out what my options were.  I had been shooting at f/11 for 1/4 of a second.  I checked what a 10-stop ND filter would do for me and saw that it would give me an exposure of four minutes.  that should be perfect to show the motion of the clouds and would allow me to stick at the very sharp aperture of f/11.  I grabbed the Mor-Slo 10-stop ND filter and slid it in behind the polarizer.  I then removed the eye cup and blocked the optical viewfinder to make sure that no light leaked in.  I moved the command dial to (B)ulb mode and went to the bulb timer which was a new feature for me.  I set it for four minutes, dialed in the aperture of f/11 and got ready to make the exposure.  Thinking ahead and knowing that the light was increasing, I decided to play it safe and stop the lens down another 1/3 of a stop to f/13 to reduce just a bit of the light without having to recalculate my shutter time.  Once I had all of that figured out, I used my remote release to fire off the first long exposure shot of the new camera.

It was a very long four minutes, partially because I was holding my hat over the filters to make sure that I didn’t get any ghosting on the polarizer.  The hat wasn’t heavy though, but holding it still an inch from the lens making sure not to bump the camera made my arm tired really quickly.  It was so worth it though when I saw the image review pop up.  I had captured the movement that I was wanting, and the last second aperture adjustment did exactly what I wanted it to do.  The exposure was right on.  Just in case though, I decided to make a second exposure at f/11 to see if I could eek a bit more detail out of the shadows.  That one turned out a little hot so I backed the exposure down to 3:20 and let the third exposure go.  That was looked really good too, but in the long run, it was that first exposure that won the status of keeper.  The clouds were just perfect at four minutes and the design suited the shape of the building.

After I was done with the long exposures, I looked around briefly trying to find more subjects.  I had pretty much exhausted my ideas here though and decided it was time to move on to the next location.  I drove around North Wilkesboro for a bit more and tried to find other points of interest.  Nothing was jumping out at me though and I eventually got on track to Hwy 18 headed out to Traphill.  I was searching for old cars and trucks mainly, but I was also keeping my eye out for barns and old houses which would also look really good in the existing lighting.  As luck would have it, I wasn’t able to find any old cars through the entire day.  Well, I found a lot of them, but none of them were in positions that I could photograph them in.  I’ll admit that I am having a harder time than normal tracking down my old iron this season.  I’m sure that I will find my groove with it soon enough, but right now just isn’t the time.  I was having a lot of luck in the barn and old house department though.

The Giant and the Shed“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

It was an old farmhouse that caught my eye next, and it was one that I had passed by several time over the past few months.  it was a nondescript white, two story house off on the West side of the road.  It usually didn’t speak to me, but today the light was really nice on it, and the clouds looked interesting in the sky.  I went ahead and pulled over into the driveway before getting my camera out.  Since I had power lines to deal with, I knew that I was going to be getting in close to the house which meant shooting wide.  I selected my 16-35mm lens once again and hoped that I could keep the perspective distortion at bay with it.  I went ahead and fitted my Color Combo Polarizer as well so that I could get a little more detail in the sky.  With the clouds that were present at two different layers, I wasn’t concerned about the possibility of uneven polarization in the sky.  I was much more interested in controlling the glare in the windows as well as the roof.

I worked around the front yard trying to figure out the best vantage point to shoot the house from.  I tried several different compositions and just wasn’t happy with any of them.  While I was thinking about how to handle this problem, I decided to go around to the back of the house where I saw some old shelters that looked like hen houses under a really nice tree.  These proved much easier to photograph and I was really loving the tree.  Because of that tree, I shot vertical as that provided me the best opportunity to show off the structure of the tree while keeping the focus on the shelter.  There was just enough detail in the clouds to keep things interesting behind the tree.

I shot a handful of compositions back here in both portrait and landscape orientations before being satisfied that I had what I was after.  It was now time to go back to the front of the house and figure out how to get a composition that I really liked.  I had been in close, and had tried further away.  I had shot at varying angles on the house, but nothing was really coming together for me.  I didn’t want to narrow the focal length any more than 35mm so there was no need to switch lenses which was good.  It was just a matter of finding that right focal length and distance from the house so that I could avoid the power pole and associated lines while keeping the perspective distortion at bay.  It took some doing, but I did finally find that sweet spot and started to make exposures from there.

Farmhouse on the Hill“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

It was at 27mm I found the right combination for this scene.  it all worked out nicely and provided a composition that I thought was quite pleasing to look at.  I stayed here for about 10 minutes as the clouds moved and the lighting changed.  My favorite images came towards the end when the sun started to bathe the house in a warm glow which helped cause some shadows on the porch area providing depth clues.  It was also about this time that the sky started to break up a little bit and I was able to see much variation in the clouds as there were low level and high altitude clouds moving about.  It was this image that I was most happy with from the morning and felt the most confident about.  That was odd after all the issues that I had dealt with to get the composition figured out.  You would never know how much trouble this image gave me to look at it because it looks almost effortless.  There were a lot of stars that had to be lined up in order for this image to happen and I’m glad I was patient enough to see it all come together.

An interesting story about this location was when I got home and started to check my messages on the phone, I saw that I had a message on my Facebook Page from a young lady that had reached out to me once before saying that she had seen me photographing an old barn on Hwy 18.  It would seem that once again she had caught me working, only this time she knew it was me long before she saw the image on Facebook.  In fact, I was reading the message before I even knew what I had from the house.  I really like living in Wilkes County!  I haven’t even been here a year yet and already folks know my vehicle and what I am doing.  After more than a decade of doing that in and around Winston, I had never reached that level of notoriety among my neighbors. I believe it would be really wonderful if I can reach the stage in my career as a photographer here in Wilkes County where folks are just used to me being stopped on the side of the road and recognize me from seeing my work.  One can only hope, but it would appear that I am on my way to just that and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Faded Quilt“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

When I was done photographing the old farm house, I got back in the truck and continued driving up 18 until I started to climb the mountain.  I had no desire to go all the way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and was content just hunting down the side roads.  When I got to the steep part of the road, I knew that there were not too many side roads, so I got turned around and made my way back down to the road that would lead me into Traphill.  It wasn’t but a few feet onto that road that I found my next subject.  It was an old barn that I had seen before but never saw a photograph there.  this time was a bit different.  The light was right on the barn for once, and the sky was just interesting enough to pull off a photograph.  I could see a nice bare tree beside the barn which I knew would work as a complimenting element.  I got turned around and pulled off the road.  I opened the hatch and grabbed my camera and the 24-70mm lens which would give me plenty of flexibility.  I added a polarizer and mounted it all to my tripod before going into the field to find my position.

I normally wouldn’t go this far into a property, but there were no fences, and nothing indicating a want to restrict access.  It was not readily apparent what house might contain the owner so I decided to wing it and just be very respectful of the property.  I didn’t get too close, but did find a great spot for the composition that I had in mind.  The trick here was to get the barn off to the side slightly to show depth while keeping the tree along the right edge of the frame, just slightly cropped at the side so as to make sure that the road wasn’t included in the composition.  The tree fell in a place within the landscape where there was separation between it and the trees in the distance.  This helped the tree stand out much better.

The hardest part of this image was the barn quilt above the door.  I have found a love for these panels over the last few years and I was excited about this one as it was very faded which matched the age of the barn.  The issue I was having to work around was the fact that the panel was almost white and it was going to pull the eyes too quickly from the rest of the frame.  I knew that I was going to have to do quite a few local adjustments to get the exposure balanced with the rest of the scene while remaining true to the quilt.  I made sure that my exposures were slightly underexposed which ensured that the quilt didn’t have any areas blown out.  Once I got the exposure set and I was happy with it, I set about making different exposures as the clouds moved across the sky.

My favorite image was one where a large cloud formed above the barn and created a third point of interest in the composition giving a very nice balance to the whole frame.  it filled the negative space in the upper left, while the tree filled the right third, and the barn the lower left third.  This image was very simple to edit as well which was done by reducing the saturation through the entire image and adding just a tad of density to the clouds.  The quilt was the hardest part to deal with and consisted of a brush mask with a reduction in exposure, a boost to the white channel, additional clarity and saturation, along with a reduction in highlights.  This worked together to bring out the detail in the quilt while not making it so bright as to distract from the rest of the image.

Once I was satisfied that I had the image that I wanted, I decided to pack up and leave the area so I didn’t tempt fate any more than I had already by being this far onto the property.  I was happy with what I had for the day, but was still wanting to create something else.  I rode around into the area of Traphill and eventually found a nice old truck sitting beside some trees, and it shared a property with an old house situated between two really cool looking trees.  I got turned around and pulled off the road to look at things a bit more critically.  the more I looked the more I liked what I saw.  I decided that I would get turned around again and pull off on the other side of the road which had a wider shoulder.  As I was pulling out, I noticed a red truck coming down a driveway near by.  He just kind of stopped and watched me.  I knew what this was and was happy to see it.

I got turned around and came back to pull off the road.  I got out and approached the truck which was still sitting there. I introduced myself and let him know what I was doing before asking if he was the property owner.  He replied that he wasn’t, but it was his friend’s place.  I asked if it would be OK for me to grab some pictures from the road.  Now, the shoulder of the road is part of the public right of way and I don’t technically have to ask permission to photograph from the shoulder.  But, I was hoping that I would be able to sweet talk my way onto the property to get the better compositions.  I had a good feeling about this and asked with a big smile on my face.  His response kind of stunned me in a way.  He said simply “Ya’ll shouldn’t be taking pictures.”  Well….hmmm…that seemed rather to the point.  It was completely wrong as there was nothing at all governing my right to take pictures and he sure didn’t control what I did or didn’t do since this is still a free country.  However, I could also tell that he wasn’t in the mood to argue, and I knew that I wasn’t going to win any argument with him when it came to the property of his friend’s.  this was one of those times when even though I was in the right, it wasn’t worth pushing the issue.  I thanked him for his time and got back in the truck to continue on down the road in search of something else to photograph.

I totally understand the point of view of folks that don’t want me photographing things on their property and I do respect that.  There have only been a handful of occasions that I have pleaded with property owners for permission and I have mostly been successful with that.  This was not one of those times as the images were not going to be all that great from what I saw.  It was something that I had wanted to try, but it was definitely not worth wasting time and aggravating myself or the man I was talking with.  There were plenty of other locations to shoot, and despite him thinking that I shouldn’t be taking pictures that was just what I intended to do…albeit at a different location.

Chimney of Stone“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

That other location developed a short time later as I was cruising down a road I was unfamiliar with.  As I rounded a curve, I saw an old general store on the left, and an old house on the right.  The store was interesting, but the light wasn’t good on it.  The house, on the other hand, was looking really good in the soft diffused light.  It was up on a hill and I could see two trees right behind it that looked like great elements to add into the composition.  I pulled off the road and grabbed my camera with the 24-70mm lens which would allow me to shoot from both a distance and up close to see what worked out the best.  I also added a polarizer to reduce the glare off of the tin roof while adding a bit of contrast to the sky.  It was all mounted to my tripod and I started finding shooting locations.

When I got up to the top of the embankment I could see a pair of wheels on an old axle out front which I just loved as a balancing element for the bottom left corner.  I worked on framing the rest of the composition to try and make the most sense of out of the elements I had to work with.  I knew that the stone chimney was my favorite part of the whole scene so that was going to need to be a focal point for me.  The compositions that I was starting out with had the pair of trees to the left and another tall tree to the right.  Unfortunately that pretty much centered the house, and put the chimney too close to the middle of the image.  it was static like that and it lacked the visual tension that it needed.

I decided to get in closer and shoot a bit tighter.  This seemed to work well as I kept the left part of the frame about the same, but cropped in on the right quite a bit which put the chimney along the right third.  It was still too static as I was now shooting from the front of the house.  I needed to swing around to the side slightly so that I could get the back part of the house to show depth and to frame the chimney.  This worked well and still allowed the two trees to be included to the left along with the pair of wheels.  The chimney balanced the image with the shorter tree, and the sky filled the negative space above the chimney with some interesting subtle details.  The exposure was straightforward which was nice after all the adjustments made to the composition.  It took me more time than I would have thought to get this image, but it is exactly what I wanted when I saw the scene in the first place.

When I was done with this composition I decided that it was time to move on.  Actually I was getting a little tired and home was looking like a good option.  I also realized that everything works in cycles at this point as I started saying to myself “I am the master of my bladder” multiple times.  Knowing from experience that I was not, in fact, the master of my bladder I decided it was time to head home.  As I was approaching Boone Trail, I got side tracked just a little bit as I saw Toni’s car driving towards North Wilkesboro.  I knew that she was headed to a birthday party in Guilford County and I wasn’t going to see her for many hours so I changed my direction and followed her.  A quick call and I figured out that she was stopping for gas before getting on the road.  I followed her to the station so I could tell her goodbye.  It was also that moment when I stepped out of the truck that I realized I was certainly not the master of my bladder as my eye teeth were now floating.

I stayed with her while she pumped gas, gave her a kiss, and followed her out to 421 before making a quick run home.  That concluded this very eventful trek through a couple of counties.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I had in the camera, and I was cautious about having too much hope since most of the images that I had shot were not really my norm.  I was hoping for maybe four to six images out of the 119 or so frames that I had captured.  I was really quite surprised when I had eleven images that I chose to run through the edit process.  of those, I decided that eight of them were good enough to be keepers.  It was the early images from the day with the awkward lighting and power lines that were my favorites which really surprised me.  I will say that this new camera handles colors very well and I am really starting to appreciate what it has to offer.

I do hope that you enjoyed this trek and the images that resulted.  It is now about 12:30 in the morning and I am getting sleepy.  I did want to get this entry done before bed though as I was excited to get these images out.  Don’t forget that Christmas is just around the corner and there is still time to get a print made of your favorite image here at Greg Kiser Photography.  Any of the images that appear in the blogs or in the galleries are just waiting to be presented in a tangible form to be hung on your wall.  Just let me know the size and the title of your favorite image so we can get started with that process.  Art really does make a great gift.  Maybe you are working on creating your own art and you need a little help getting the most out of your camera.  I can help with that as well through workshops and individual instruction sessions.

Until next time…

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