A Quick Test for New Equipment

· Reading Time: 7 minutes

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Well, a few days ago, I was picking Sierra up from school and passed by a property that had an old Chevy truck next to a barn in the back yard.  I had seen this property a few times and had even stopped here several weeks ago to see if I could ask permission to go back and photograph the truck.  Well, there were no signs of anyone at home when I went by that time.  However, on this particular day, I saw a gentleman out in the driveway so I did what any crazy man would do and turned around to go talk to him.  He was nice enough and I explained what I was wanting to do with the truck and he was fine with me coming back out over the weekend to shoot it.  The caveat was it was not going to be there much longer as he was about to transport it to another location for a full restoration.  It looked like I was just in time to get this truck.

I learned some of the background to the truck which turned out to be his Dad’s.  it had been in the family since the son was a small kid with the exception of some time when it was sold to somebody else. It has since rejoined the family and there are still quite a few sentimental ties to this truck.  It seemed they were genuinely appreciative that I was wanting to photograph this truck, and saw beauty in it while it was in its current state.  I had yet to get up close to it to check it out since it was so far back on the property.  I wished I had time to get out and check it out, but I was running late getting Sierra and didn’t want her to have to wait on me.

While all of this was going on, I was waiting on a few orders to come in.  I actually have revamped my filter system from what I had been using before.  After a lot of struggling with whether or not to make any changes, I decided to go with a larger polarizer that would mount to my Lee Filter Foundation Kit which would allow me a much greater deal of flexibility with my ND Grads.  In a nutshell, what I ordered was a new 105mm Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer, a 100x100mm 5-Stop Mor-Slo Filter, two wide angle adapter rings by Lee, the 105mm accessory ring by Lee, and a pack of lens caps to allow me to leave the adapter rings in place.  It doesn’t sound like much, but this has allowed me to get rid of my B+W vario ND filter and thin mount Polarizer which I only used with waterfall photography if the ND filter was needed.  All of my filters now fit in my filter wallet with the exception of the polarizer which I leave in its own case to avoid finger prints when digging it out of the sleeve.

I was able to pick up the filters this evening after dinner and I got everything put together in the camera bag.  With plans of possibly going out in the morning, I really wanted to see if I could do a trial run with the new equipment and see if it worked the way I thought it was going to.  Looking at the clouds, there was a lot of interest in them, and the lighting was nice and moody.  I thought that this was a great opportunity to go and shoot that truck that I had recently gotten permission for.

I headed out and drove the nearly 3 miles from the house to get to this location.  It always surprises me how much great subject matter there is close by that I haven’t ever photographed before.  I guess that is what keeps it all fresh for me.  When I got there, I grabbed the gear and started to walk back to the truck.  I didn’t want to bother anyone, so I didn’t knock in case it was dinner time.  The closer I got to the truck, the better condition it appeared to be in.  The vegetation had also really filled in since I had scoped it out originally.  I wasn’t as excited about this shoot as I had thought I would be.  However, I was here, the truck had a lot of character and I really kind of liked the growth around it.  It added a different quality to it.

The lens of the evening was the 16-35mm  because I was needing to get in close to the truck due to the landscape around it.  I also wanted a nice dramatic picture that only a wide angle approach would yield.  I put the Lee Holder on and screwed on the really big Color Combo Polarizer.  I meant to get a picture of the rig, but with the light fading quickly, I wanted to get to the business at hand more than I wanted to get pictures of the new equipment.  I started making some exposures and found that there was a bit too much exposure latitude for a single shot.  I was able to get detail in both the highlights and the shadows, but I knew that most of the image was in the shadows and that would mean noise.  I made use of the new rig and went to get a 2-Stop Galen Rowell ND Grad which I slid in and found it to not be quite strong enough.  I switched it out with a 3-Stop, soft edge ND Grad and that seemed to do the trick.  It took the bite out of the sky while not really affecting the main focus of the image.

The Big Lug“, Canon 5D Mk3, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo, and Galen Rowell 3-Stop, soft edge ND Grad

I worked this truck from several angles over the next 15 minutes or so and ended up capturing 25 frames.  Since I wasn’t shooting any isolations on the truck, I knew that I was only going to keep one of the images more than likely.  But that didn’t stop me from trying a lot of different points of view.  Most were rather boring when I started looking at them on the monitor.  This one really caught my attention though and seemed to have the most drama to it.  I had dropped the camera down to the base height of the tripod with the legs all retracted.  It was the perfect height to show the white flowers at a complimenting height to the truck.  It was also a perfect height to show off the big Swamper tires and the lift that the truck had.  There was just a hint of the barn behind the truck, and there was just enough warm tones thanks to the rust on the hood and the dirt by both front tires that the balance with the sky was just perfect.

This truck is a bit newer than most that I would photograph, but there was no disputing that the setting was beautiful and with the Spring growth quite interesting.  It seemed to all fit together and maybe it is that I knew the story behind the truck, but I really thought that this image told a very detailed story of the truck.  It seemed to at the ready to leap forward into its next stage of life.  There is a definite optimism here and a power that has not yet diminished.  There is a lot of interest in this one picture, and it just really shut out the other contenders for the honor of being the one and only keeper from this set.

When I started to process the image it really came to life with lots of vibrant colors and plenty of textures.  The polarizer filter did just what my old 82mm one did and really added some pop to the colors.  My intention to have it much easier to use my ND Grads worked flawlessly.  There was no fumbling with rings and mounts.  I already had everything in place leaving only dropping in the filter of my choice.  It was seamless and took only a few seconds.  I think that this will really help me in the field because there are times when I avoid a filter because it just isn’t quite worth putting on all the needed gadgets and losing my beloved Color Combo Polarizer in order to use my only thin mount filter.  Now, I don’t have to compromise with my images, and I can get the effects that I truly want with the filters that I love.  I’m looking forward to really putting this new system to the test in the field.  For now, I’m really happy with this stump jumper of a truck being a standout in my “Old Iron” images if for nothing else the size of the tires.

Thanks for joining me on this really short trek, and I hope to have you with me tomorrow if the weather cooperates.