A Hazy Morning in Hiddenite

· Reading Time: 14 minutes

Saturday, July 31, 2021

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve been out with the camera which is odd since the last time I was out things were really falling into place photographically.  I had all sorts of inspiration and creativity going on.  However, life happens and through the week I spent a good deal of time doing services on vehicles and taking care of the yard which I guess got me out of the photographic frame of mind.  I still wanted to create, but I was having a difficult time coming up with a subject to work with.  I was really enjoying the geometrical subjects that I had been working with lately, but they are few and far between out here in the country.  I have also been plagued with lousy weather for the most part with the exception of a few passing storms that I wasn’t able to take advantage of.

As I looked ahead, it was looking like Saturday morning would have the possibility for some clouds until just before lunch time and that was better than I had seen in a while.  I still didn’t know where I wanted to go though.  I decided to take Friday as a scouting opportunity and went driving down into Alexander County for a bit to do some more exploring out there as I haven’t been through all the areas yet.  It was just a nice drive out in the country and I saw a lot of potential, but nothing that just really jumped out as a composition which was a little disappointing.  I kept looking though, and as I was about to enter Iredell County I saw an old shop on the right side of the road and what looked to be an old pickup truck next to a building.  I got turned around and looked a bit closer.  It wasn’t really a pickup as much as it was a tow truck.  To make it more interesting, it was a Chevy Apache which I had not seen in this configuration before.  The trim on the truck was painted orange which worked well with the greenery around it and I could see it linking up to color of the building beside of it.  Since tow trucks were Toni’s favorite, I decided that this was going to be worth coming back to shoot in the early morning before the light got too harsh.

I continued scouting around and really didn’t find much else that I had high hopes for as a composition.  I wasn’t quite feeling inspired, but at least I had something in mind for the following morning.  As I worked my way back home I was looking for different clues that might indicate some other good areas to branch off on when I came back.  I found a few areas that had promise, but since I was in the convertible I didn’t want to get too far off of the main roads where I knew I could stay on pavement.  I would save the deep dives for the truck as that is its specialty.

Cardinal Towing“, Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

My plan for the morning was simple.  I was going to wake up shortly after 5am which would get me heading out the door just as the sun was rising.  With about a 40 minute drive in front of me, I would get to the tow truck with the sun still low in the sky, but high enough to provide the crucial light that I was going to need on the scene.  I grabbed my gear and off I went.  The trip out was uneventful and I didn’t really see anything along the way that jumped out at me as a potential photograph.  At least I had the one location planned which was hopefully going to make this morning worth it.  When I got there, I pulled off the road and into the driveway of the shop.  It didn’t look to be a functioning shop at all, and the house next to it looked to be vacant as well.  Nothing had changed from the day before and I felt pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be in anyone’s way.  I looked for any signs indicating that they didn’t want anyone on the property and didn’t find anything.  I grabbed my camera and loaded up the standard lens along with a polarizer.

I walked over to the truck and framed up a shot which turned out to be at roughly 70mm which was the long end of this lens.  I shot the image with that lens and decided that I was going to go in closer.  As I got ready to move in closer, I saw a sign on the side door to the building indicating that they didn’t want trespassers.  I had a decision to make here and I needed to make it quickly.  I could go in closer to get the shot that I was thinking would work, but that would put me well into the property while I was still pretty much in the driveway at this point.  Looking at the elements, I didn’t think that going any wider than the 70mm would help the balance of the composition so I opted to go back to the truck and swap out lenses for my long 70-200mm lens.  That would allow me to get the shot from the driveway, well out of sight of the “No Trespassing” sign.  If pressed, I could realistically say that I had not been in a position to see the sign.  My goal was to be in and out long before I would have to answer that question though.

With the long lens now on, I was able to get further back from the truck and I framed up a composition that I thought had a pleasing balance with just enough connection between the truck and the building to show the relationship.  I grabbed two different images here with slightly different exposures bringing my total to three frames.  Not really seeing any way to improve on the photograph, I decided to pack it all up and head back down the road.  I was gone in probably less than five minutes from the time I opened the door on my 4Runner.  I had three images in the bag and I was now out of planned locations.  I might just have the three images when I got home and that was going to be fine.  I was feeling pretty good that one of the last two frames would work out quite nicely.  As an aside, I hadn’t noticed in my haste to get the picture that a Cardinal had dropped in to visit me while I was shooting images and I just happened to capture him on the corner of the building.  It was a nice treat to see when I pulled the images into Lightroom.

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

As I drove around in parts of Iredell and Alexander Counties I was seeing lots of potential, but nothing was looking good in the morning light.  The clouds that were supposed to show up were very thin and hazy clouds which really added nothing of interest to the sky.  It did diffuse the light which was still quite nice across the landscape.  It was that light quality that prompted me to continue looking for subjects.  I was feeling like minimal was going to be the way to go with the sky looking like it did.  I have a few concepts in mind for some minimal compositions, but I have yet to find the subjects for them.  I was kind of hoping that something would jump out at me which might work for one of those concepts.  Sadly, nothing really presented itself and the light was getting progressively worse as the sun got higher in the sky.  It was looking like those three images were going to be all I was going to have for the day.  I was heading back towards home and I was not overly confident that I was going to be ale to find anything else to shoot.

As I was coming back into Taylorsville, I passed some old buildings that had caught my eye before, but I had never really found a composition that I liked.  I pulled off on the side road to look at them once again, but the sky really wasn’t doing much at all for the scene.  I did notice a couple of signs which I had not seen before which caught my eye.  I could see some minimal compositions with the signs and since I really hadn’t done much photography to justify the drive out here, I decided to pull into a parking lot and see what I could do with the signs.

I grabbed my gear since I really didn’t know what I was going to do and went over to the closest sign to me.  It was a sign giving notice that the station was just ahead.  There was a nice patina on it that had an orange tint to it.  The sky was very hazy, but I knew that I could bring the blues out in it easy enough which would go with the warm tones in the sign.  It was a fairly low sign and I was going to have to get it at an angle to avoid the trees and buildings in the background.  For this, I selected my 24-70mm lens and added a polarizer to help saturate the colors a bit more.  I found the angle and the composition which was a basic horizontal one with negative space to the right.  I fired off a couple of shots here as I gave myself exposure differences to work with.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I had given it a try.

From there, I went to the other sign and realized that I was going to have to include the background unless I wanted to get a very awkward angle on the sign.  I pondered my option and realized that the old building which I really liked could be situated in the background quite nicely and since the sign said “City Limits” it would contrast nicely with the rusty tin building.  Some things that I didn’t like about the scene was that the sky was very boring and there were blue trash cans out front by the door to the building.  The far background was also the rears of commercial buildings along the main stretch which I liked, but not so much for this photograph.  Despite the problems with the image I shot a few frames here just in case I decided I liked any of them when I got home to look at them.  I was thinking that I would do it as a black and white so that I could deepen the sky to draw attention to the building.  As it turned out, I just didn’t like how it was looking and even Toni was not impressed citing the need for a more interesting sky.  She was right and since I wasn’t all that happy with it, I just trashed it.  That left me the one minimalist image of the sign that I started out shooting which turned out fair.

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

The morning wasn’t going quite like I had hoped that it would and the images that I was capturing were just not what I was after.  I was pretty sure that I was done at this point as the sun was getting rather harsh.  I got back on the road and went through the main part of town.  When I came up on the antique shop there was an old Dodge out front in the parking lot which I had thought about getting a photo of a few times.  I pulled in to look at it a bit more in detail.  I loved the patina and it was even positioned with a vintage and rusty fuel pump with the hose in the gas filler.  It was a staged scene, but it was just cool enough to captured my imagination.  The problem I ran into was that there was way too much clutter around from the surrounding commercial buildings, not to mention that the doors on both sides had the business’ logo painted on.  I just didn’t see a photograph here and started to leave but saw an old blue Ford in a lot to the side of the shopping center.  I drove down to check it out.  It was parked in front of a fence at some type of service business.  I didn’t see any gates or signs so I moved in closer to get a better look.

It was obviously a commercial property and there were lots of vehicles parked in what I would consider a parking lot.  I pulled in close to the fence and got out to look at the car.  There were some folks at the business next door so I figured that if I wasn’t supposed to be here they would let me know.  I looked at the car and realized that it was positioned in a way that I wasn’t going to be able to get an overall shot of it.  That left me with some isolations which might work out.  The hood ornaments looked really good and the lighting was in good shape there.  I also liked the side chrome trim, but would have to shoot the side in the shade because the well lit side had a red Nissan Pulsar NX parked right next to it and the chrome was reflecting that bright red way too much for my liking.

I turned off the 4Runner and grabbed my camera.  I knew that the 24-70mm lens would be perfect for this so that was what I loaded onto the camera.  I also added a polarizer because that is just the right call to make when photographing these old cars.  I got into position to photograph the hood and found a couple of compositions that I liked.  They were simple enough and I probably took less than five minutes to get the images.  I then moved to the side to look at the trim there for some potential photographs.

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

It was the side that took a bit longer because I don’t normally shoot these compositions and figuring out how they work takes a bit more time.  That being said, I had a working composition figured out in just a few minutes and was dialing in the exposure for a couple of frames.  I really liked the two tone paint on the car broken up with the chrome and the contrasting rust made it all pop so nicely.  When I was done with that composition I moved to the back of the car and started looking at the tail lights to see if there was anything there to work with.  Sadly the bumper was in too good a shape and all I could see was myself in the reflection which I didn’t like at all.  I moved back to the front of the car and then happened to see a faded sign on the fence that said “No Trespassing.”  I completely missed it on my first survey of the property, but having seen it now and working in close proximity to it I figured that my time here was going to need to be done.  I packed up my gear and was back out on the road after maybe 10-15 minutes of photography.

That was pretty much the end of it for me.  The sky was still featureless and the sun was getting strong enough that I was needing sunglasses which is a pretty good indication that the light is no longer good for photography.  It had been a morning with a lot of driving around, and very few images captured.  In fact, I only 20 frames by the end of the morning which was very low for the number of subjects that I had shot.  I wasn’t sure what, if anything would turn out, but I had run out of good light so all that was left was to see what I had ended up.

When I got the pictures into Lightroom, I found five that I kind of liked and started working them out.  None of them were exactly what I was hoping for and that kind of took the wind out of my sails as I was going through the edit process.  I even told Toni that at one point I was kind of happy with the trek, while minutes later I wasn’t happy with the images at all and just wanted to trash them all.  Then I would look at them and think that they were passable.  I recognized most of this internal dialogue as being overly negative and my own insecurities rearing their head again.  I decided to put on my professional britches and really look at the images that I had and compare them to what I was trying to capture at the time.  I ended up justifying four of the images because they succeeded in my goals for those scenes.  The one that I ditched, I realized was a decent image, but it was uninspired.  It was going to need different conditions to work as I had envisioned it.  There was no reason to keep this image as it was only good enough to be called a test image for the compositional concept.  It was ditched and I fine tuned the remaining four images which you see here.

I do hope that you enjoyed this kind of short trek into Alexander County.  It was good to get back out with the camera again, but this one left me wanting more which I guess is a good thing.  Tomorrow is the first day of August and the weather is looking to be a bit more exciting than it has been so I might be able to get back out again for either another try at the old tin building in Taylorsville, or it might be good enough for some landscape work.  It might just be a day of sitting and reading a book.  I’m just not sure.  I do know that I have a new Behind the Camera scheduled to be published in the morning, so keep your eyes out for that.

Until next time….

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