Friday, October 16, 2020
And here we are once again back in the blog writing about a recent trek out into Wilkes County. I have been having some really good luck here with the camera for the last week or so. The weather has been great and I have been finding some really interesting scenes both in the landscape and rural departments. In fact, I have been having so much fun with the camera lately I have been spending a good bit of time here in the website getting some spring…..uh…fall cleaning done. There have been several things that I have been needing to address here to make things a little more organized and up to date. If you have been visiting the galleries here over the past few weeks, you will notice that there are several new rooms to peruse though. I have added categories that include Winding Roads, Tractors, Textures, Lone Trees, and I’ve split the Old Iron room into Imports and Domestics. The reason is actually quite simple. I have been cramming galleries too full with images lately and I needed to find other ways of displaying them here because many of them I was not ready to pull out of the gallery. Making these new rooms allowed me to reduce some of my larger galleries while bringing back some of my favorites from times long ago. I think it will also aid my clients in finding images that they are more drawn too as they are getting a little more specific.
I’ve also been doing some work with my 1 on 1 instruction product page, which has now been broken up to two different categories for tutorials with the camera and then post processing tutorials through Lightroom. I’ve started doing more work with the individual instruction as the COVID requirements are easing up and I felt that I needed to make that service a little more clear. I’m still working on the way that the workshops are presented, but that will wait until next year’s calendar is opened up before those changes will be seen. I can tell you that I have been working with a three time participant to my workshops in order to improve what I am offering and the way that it is delivered. I am always very thankful and appreciative of constructive criticism when it comes to my teaching process. I’m really looking forward to how the workshops will be going next year, and you can expect some different locations as well.
There have been some other subtle updates to several of the pages here, one of which is representing a change that will happening in the next couple or weeks. Thanks to the prodding from another friend of mine and fellow photographer, Michael Surratt, I have kind of made a decision on my next step in equipment. I have mentioned that thanks to the pandemic, my earnings from photography have been less than I had hoped by a pretty good deal over the previous year which has prevented me from updating my entire system to either medium format or Canon’s new RF platform. I had conceded to keeping my current kit for the foreseeable future which didn’t bother me all that much since it is doing what I need it to do with the exception of making HUGE prints which I haven’t done in a year anyway. However, B&H Photo has now offered a deal through Canon on the now aged 5DS and 5DSR camera bodies which are being cleared out of the shelves in favor of the new RF mount bodies. These bodies are now $2400 off the list price which is the best price they have ever been. That makes the entry price for getting into a 50mp body less than my current 5D Mk3 when it was new. I will be able to keep all of my lenses and batteries for the new body, and it will operate the same way with only minor changes. The only thing that I had to upgrade to make this body work was the RRS L-Plate that I just can’t live without. Both of these are showing to be out of stock currently, but after speaking with B&H Photo, they are getting a fresh shipment of them in at the beginning of November and will have plenty. I have put my money down and have one of them earmarked for me. I should be shooting with the new body early in November and I am really looking forward to seeing how this camera compares to my current one. I do know it has to be handled very much like a medium format camera in order to get the sharpest pictures possible which is fine because that is how I shoot anyway. If this is a deal that makes sense for you as well, be sure to use the links here as it won’t cost you any more, but it will throw a few dollars my way which I could sure use.
So that brings you all up to date on things to this point which brings us to a short trek that I took this morning which wasn’t exactly planned. The weather was supposed to be rainy all day, and then it went to cloudy with scattered showers through the day which I still wasn’t all that fond of dealing with after my wet adventure last time. I did keep an eye on the weather to see just what I had to work with, and when I woke up this morning around 8am I checked to see how things were going outside. The rain chances had all but disappeared and the clouds were looking to be low clouds transitioning to high clouds afternoon. The rain was looking to be stuck on the other side of the Eastern Continental Divide which made me very happy. I quickly considered my options and started with the fall foliage. That would be the thing to do do as the weather was perfect for it, but with it being peak along the Parkway, I had been reading where the traffic was bumper to bumper and there were more people than leaves which automatically turned me off from wanting to venture out there. I’m sure I missed some really nice views, but it just wasn’t worth it to compete with others for the same shot. I would much prefer to go out and find something that hasn’t been photographed by 783 people….just today.
I recalled a fun little drive that I had taken Northwest from the house a few days ago. I wasn’t really scouting locations as much as I was having fun on the road with the roadster. However, you just can’t remove the photographer from me entirely and I did made several mental notes along the way of places that might look good for photographs. There was a lot of great potential out there and I will be back at different times of the year to see how things change and when the photographs are ready to be made. There was one scene that caused me to come to a stop in the middle of the road though. It was just a simple barn with a very long and sloped roof with a fence that lined it. The barn was relatively interesting, but it was the single tree to the left and above it that really pulled the image together. There was a large grove of trees to the right of the barn that would provide a nice framing element for the image as well. Of course, I didn’t have my camera and the sky was pretty much crystal clear and totally blue which wasn’t going to work for a photograph. It was one that I wanted to come back for on a nice cloudy day to capture as I just knew that there was a composition there.
With the weather that in place over the area, I decided that today would be the day that I would go out there for real as a photographer and see what I could manage. I was figuring that the leaves were still green, but I knew that the sky was going to be good for the composition that I had in mind. The direction of the sun was also going to be just about right for the image. It wasn’t far from the house, only about 12 or 13 miles or so. Looking at the weather, I was going to be clear of rain for pretty much the entire day so I was all set to go. I grabbed my gear and started down the road checking out the other locations I had seen the other day. None of those were going to work out just yet, but I was seeing more potential for future outings.
It wasn’t long before I arrived at the barn. Just as I had suspected, the lighting was right and the clouds were looking really good overhead. I got the truck turned around and pulled off the road at the gate by the lower entrance. I was hoping that nobody was going to need to get in here, but knew that I wasn’t going to be here long. There was one basic composition that I could shoot since the barn was deep in a field that was surrounded by a fence. You can see from the cell phone shot above kind of how things were set up. I already knew what I liked about the scene, but now was the time to figure out what I didn’t like about it. First and foremost was the power pole and the associated lines which further reduced my possible angles on the barn. I didn’t like the house that was behind the large grove of trees to the right, and didn’t really like how the road was interrupted by the tall tree beside it. Other than that, I still liked the barn, the lone tree to the left, and this time…the clouds. I also liked the shadow that was stretching across the ground in front of the barn. This would actually make for a great foreground interest and add a bit of depth to the image. I wasn’t sure exactly what lens I was going to use so I started with my 24-70mm which gave me more options for compositions. I started out without the tripod and walked around to find where the elements lined up the best. I found that spot and started to make a composition. I was right at 70mm when I found the right perspective on the scene. It was in need of just a little tighter crop though so I switched over to my 70-200mm lens which would give me that bit of a crop.
I added my Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer to remove the glare from the roof of the barn and some of the glare from the trees while adding a bit of contrast to the clouds above. I set it all up on my tripod and got back in that rough spot that I had found a few minutes earlier. I ended up finding that perfect balance within the scene at 110mm which was even tighter than I had suspected that I would go. I had everything that I had seen the first time that caught my eyes as well as the new elements that the current conditions introduced like the sky and the shadows. The exposure was really even through the whole scene so there was no need for any ND Grad filters here. You can see the histogram on the LCD above that shows just what I was seeing at the time of the capture. Well, to be more accurate, it was captures as I shot 17 frames with this same composition. Why so many of the same image? The light was ever changing with intensity and contrast so I wanted to make sure that I had exactly the right set of conditions. That was the easy part though, it was the breeze that had all of a sudden kicked up that caused me more issue. With the trees such a big part of the composition, I had to make sure that the leaves were still which forced me to wait for those magical lulls in the wind which seemed to never arrive when the light was right.
My solution for that was to bump up the ISO which I don’t like to do as a rule. I found that ISO 200 gave me just enough edge in my shutter speed to freeze the trees during the regular gusts of wind and that shouldn’t introduce too much noise to the image. It was a fair trade I thought. The exposures were consistent throughout the 15 minutes or so I was working the scene and I did no changes at all, just waited for the light to do what I wanted it to do. This was one of the last images that I shot after I had it all figured out and was getting better at reading the transitions of light as the clouds moved over the sun. What I really loved about this composition was that the structure of the tree to the left was clearly visible through the leaves which usually isn’t the case. The contrast between the greens and the wood of the barn actually worked quite well and potentially better than a tree in full color. I could see this as a good scene in the winter with no leaves though as the trees to the right follow the slope of the roof, but they are harder to see with the leaves. All in all though, I am really happy with this one as it has a blend of sun and clouds which is always a treat when it works.
I didn’t stay here long though since there was really only the one composition to shoot. While I was waiting for the sun to do different things I was looking around like I always do. Something that caught my eye was an old Ford Falcon stuck in the woods at a property next to the barn. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the car or location, but since it has been a very long time since I have photographed an old rusty car I was really drawn to it. When I got done with the barn I packed everything back up and headed over to the other property. There were two cars in the driveway, but neither of them had tags, and it didn’t look like the house was occupied. I kept going trying to figure out if one of the other houses appeared to be a part of this same property. I was really trying to find the owner of this car as I was going to have to get in at least to the driveway in order to capture the composition that I had in mind. There were just no houses that looked to be related to this property at all, so I came back and drove up the driveway. I got out and went to the front door. The interior appeared to be getting stripped and there was a lot of debris on the front porch with no indication of residency. I knocked really quick and there was no answer. I looked around and saw nothing indicating no trespassing, although there is a certain expectation on private property. I got back in the truck and backed down the driveway.
As I passed by the car I really wanted to give it a try. It was far enough away from the house and close enough to the road and driveway that I felt better about trying it. I parked on the shoulder of the road across from the house so as not to look like I was hiding. I grabbed my camera and just what I was going to need to capture the image that I was after. I fitted the 24-70mm lens and added a polarizer to control the glare and mounted it all to the tripod. I made one last look around and crossed the road while staying in the driveway. I framed up a shot that I thought would work which included a thin tree to the left that became my foreground interest. The exposure was simple and I released the shutter. It was ok, but lacked something. I was going to need to get in closer in order to get the perspective that the image needed.
I crossed into the woods being very careful not to disturb anything. I set up the new composition and found this much better, but it still wasn’t quite right. I had to drop the tripod down pretty low in order to get the angle that I was after and to be able to shoot under the brush. This worked out well, and I shot several exposures here to fight the breeze. It wasn’t nearly as bad here as there was more shelter from other trees compared to the open scene with the barn. I didn’t need to boost the ISO here, just be patient and wait for the breeze to fade. I ended up with an additional nine frames from this car and decided not to push my luck any further. There might have been some isolations to shoot, but since I didn’t have permission to be there, I wasn’t wanting to get in any closer. I went back out to the truck and put my gear up.
I continued down the road to see if there was anything else to get in this area. There was actually very little to see other than curvy roads from this point forward so after several miles I got turned around to go and check out another location closer to home that I was considering with an old bus beside a trailer. Shortly after getting turned around, I noticed rain falling on the windshield which wasn’t good since the truck was freshly cleaned after my last wet road trip. I checked the weather radar and it appeared that the rain had crested the mountain and was coming this way. I was right on the edge of it. I stepped up the pace a little and got down the mountain without any issue. When I got to the scene that I had in mind I turned down the road and looked at it a bit closer. The lighting was better now, but I was now able to see that there was a truck pulled up right to the front of the bus that officially made this scene much too cluttered. I wasn’t going to do anything with that scene, and I was noticing that the rain had caught up with me. I put it in the wind and headed home as the rain got heavier and heavier. Fortunately, the roads stayed dry, but the truck got spotted up. Oh well, at least this time I had pictures to show for the trouble.
There were only a couple of images from today’s trek, but considering that I hadn’t planned on going out that was pretty good. I’m really happy with the barn picture and it turned out just as well as I had hoped when I saw it the other day. I just have this soft spot in my heart for barns and now that I live among them I really enjoy seeing them in photographs. If either one of these images, or any that have appeared here in the blogs speaks to you, please consider a print to hang on your wall. Those purchases do help keep my photography financed and keep me able to move forward with my photography. Plus, it is a part of the creative process that I don’t get to do that often and I love making prints of my images so that I can see them in their tangible form as intended from the time I press the shutter button.
For those of you who are photographers, keep in mind that I have three more workshops scheduled for the remainder of this year for October 30, November 14, and December 5. There are spots left in each of them so grab your place today! The workshops are always a lot of fun and I think that there is a lot of information presented through the days.
Until next time…..