A Wet Workshop and Redemption

· Reading Time: 17 minutes

Saturday, April 24, 2021 and Monday, April 26, 2021

Glad to see you again!  I was kind of expecting to be writing a bit earlier than today because I had my Spring Decay Workshop on Saturday and typically I will have pictures of the group that I will share here as well as a picture or two of my own.  That didn’t quite work out for me though as the weather was dicey at best.  There was a huge chance of rain throughout the day and I was hoping to get things rolling and get all of the stations done by 11am when the major chance for rain was scheduled to come in.  With that kind of time constraint I wasn’t worried at all about getting pictures for my needs or the blog.  I did get a single image captured while we were there as part of the demonstration at the beginning of the workshop.  This is something that I have started to do thanks to a client of mine which has attended three of my workshops over the years.  Joe suggested that I start doing a demonstration of my workflow to show how I arrive at an image and I think that has turned into a very good addition to the workshop.  I’ve decided that the image that I start the day off with is the one that I will use for my Lightroom follow-up editing session which will come a few days after the workshop to show how I edit the images and give a chance for questions to be asked about that phase of the process.

Anyway, I quite literally got a single image exposed during the workshop.  There were no fine tunings, and no second chances.  I just talked about the composition and how I was setting the camera up and fired off a single shot which appeared to be exposed correctly and I got my gear out of the way and let the participants begin working on their own compositions.  We worked at a very fast pace through the morning and started dodging rain drops just before 11am.  By noon, the rain was falling too heavy and we stopped for a lunch break.  After lunch, I put up my new 10x10ft canopy which was suggested by Rick, one of the participants.  It worked out fantastic and allowed Rick, Rick, Barry, and myself to seek shelter while I talked about finding these subjects and then the legalities of getting into position to photograph them.  After that, the rain broke for about another hour and we did some more work on isolations before the rain came back with a vengence.

It was a wonderful workshop despite the weather and I was fortunate to have three highly motivated photographers with me which worked very hard and very fast to get the different concepts learned.  I wish that I had more time to work with them, but the rain prevented that luxury.  I’m so very thankful that it held off for as long as it did though as we were able to have a successful workshop.  When I got home, I didn’t bother looking at my single image because I really wasn’t all that excited about it and was going to be editing it later on anyway.

Olds Timer“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

Things changed though because I was still reeling from my failure with the infrared filter that I had used on the previous Thursday at Outlawed Restorations.  I had talked to Dean about it and he was very gracious in letting me come back later in the week to try out the other filter to get used to how it worked in lieu of the color one.  I had some compositions I really wanted to see in infrared, and if black and white was the only way I could do it then so be it.  I started to look at the weather on Sunday and figured out that the conditions would be good on Monday with clear skies and a minimal breeze.  I decided to head back out there for a third time in five days to give that filter a try.  When I got home and started to download the images onto the computer I figured I would go ahead and bring the one picture in from the workshop and work it to see how I wanted to go with it for the tutorial later on.

I had shot it with color in mind, but with the heavy clouds and flat lighting on the car, there wasn’t as much interest across the scene as I had hoped for.  Surely I wasn’t starting to like the higher contrast of sunny days for this type of photography.  That would be crazy talk!  Regardless, the even lighting wasn’t doing much for me for this old car with a slight green tint to it from the moss which was growing on the metal.  I decided to see how it would look as a black and white image and I was hooked.  It immediately captured the lines and the shapes of all the trim.  The excitement was back in the image for me and I worked the image out looking at how to capitalize on the contrast of the scene which was there.

I was actually pretty happy with the single image that I had shot on Saturday, but it was more or less an extra in this trek because going on today was all about capturing some infrared images in black and white using a different filter than before.  I was really hoping that the first experiment that I had done with my new camera and this filter hadn’t been a fluke.  The hot spot issue that had really bothered me originally with the I-Ray 830 filter hadn’t shown up with the series that I had done with the Dodge recently.  Of course, I had fallen for that and thought I had the I-Ray 690 filter all figured out.  I figured out rather quickly that it was beginner’s luck on the Dodge and I was feeling pretty let down by my latest experience with the filter.

Field of White“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray I-Ray 830

I really wanted to get out and give it another go with the dedicated IR filter because I was really looking forward to seeing the foliage all dressed in white and I was interested to see how the filter would do with wood and metal with the patina of rust on it.  I arrived at the shop around 10am with a bright sun in the clear sky.  This was one of those days that I would have usually stayed home for, especially this close to mid day.  However, for IR photography, this is the best time to be out for pictures.  This is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to get into IR photography.  There are times when the weather is clear and bright for days on end and I want to get out and shoot something.  This will give me the ability to do just that in the Summer months and that gives it a good deal of value to me.

The first subject that I went for was one of my favorite trucks on the property which has a stump attached to the rear bumper.  I’ve shot this truck from all angles and during all kinds of light, and even in the absence of light.  Today, I was going to be photographing it using light outside of the visible spectrum.  I knew that my 24-70mm lens was the best suited for this type of photography and it was still not perfect.  I knew that it had hot spot issues, but had recently found that at f/8 or below it wasn’t all that noticeable with the 5DS R body I was now using.  I go the shot set up very similarly to how I had it the other day, but made a slight change to my position that kept the corner of the bed out of the back glass that bothered me when I got home last time.  Once I had the image composed like I wanted it, I added the filter.  This made it to where I wasn’t able to see anything in either live view or through the viewfinder.  I had locked the focus down and decided on my exposure before adding the filter.  I made several different exposures until I was happy with the overall luminance as well as confident that the hot spot wasn’t too bad.  My end exposure was with a with auto white balance.  That gave me a magenta image as opposed to a solid red one and I was thinking that might convert a little easier to the black and white I was envisioning.

The problem I am finding with IR photography is that there is not that much contrast built into the scene because the IR band of light is much smaller than the visible light spectrum so there really isn’t much contrast in that spectrum.  That means that the wonderful patina that I love on these old vehicles is kind of hard to pick out, but the overall appearance is something rather interesting and engaging.  I think that it is a fair tradeoff, but I have learned that the rust can’t be the main subject of the image for IR shots.  It has to be the overall vehicle in a large area of green to really be able to succeed in my opinion.  This is exactly why I wanted to do this experiment and work out what the filters and style of photography could actually do.  I was now getting some very valuable data and that was great!

Hey Stumpy“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

Before I moved away from this favorite truck of mine, I decided to go with another composition which I had seen one of my participants use a couple of days before.  I can’t remember who it was that shot it, but I would have a 66% chance of being right if I said Rick.  However, it might have been Barry.  Anyway, I was checking on them to see how things were going and they were working on this angle.  I remember being very impressed with how everything flowed together with it and I liked it better than the other composition that we worked on which was similar to one that I had shot here a couple of days before.  Not wanting to be a sniper and take a composition, I worked a little bit of a different angle and used a different lens for this image.  I wasn’t all that interested in shooting this one as an infrared because the main subject was going to be the patina of the truck and I wanted to make sure that all of that good stuff came through in the final image.  I swapped out my lens for a 16-35mm and added my polarizer to the front of it.  I then moved out of bulb mode and back into manual for this shot.  It was very straightforward and didn’t require anything special.  My main consideration was to get rid of the vehicles in the background as well as the engine over to the left.  By getting in very close and going wide (22mm), I was able to accomplish those tasks and create a composition that fit how I was seeing this scene.  The harsh sunlight in my shot was going to be a big difference between the two images and I liked the pop of color that the sun allowed for.  I’m still concerned that I might be starting to like photographing in the harsh sunlight.  That is very much unlike me, but I can’t argue with the results.  The colors are really coming to life in the sun and I am actually enjoying it quite a bit.

Chopped and Dropped Shell“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray I-Ray 830

Not wanting to get side tracked with images that I have shot before, I moved back to the other side of the property where I had started the previous Thursday.  There were a couple of compositions that I had only shot with the IR filter and I wanted to try and get those right with the 830 filter this time.  I knew the compositions that I wanted and went to get set up.  The sun was now high enough that my shadow wasn’t coming into the frame as I was very close to the old rat rod that was sitting there in the yard.  My concept for this one was fairly simple with it being surrounded by the white grass so that the easily recognizable shape of the car would come through.  I knew that the shadow from the house to the left was going to come into the frame and I embraced that as a counter element to the car to fill some of the negative space and actually point to the main body of the car.

I got everything set up with no filters in place and then once I was sure that I had what I wanted, I slid the filter on the front of the lens.  I made several exposures starting with my settings from the last IR image that I had shot.  I ended up with a slightly different exposure for this one to test the noise issues out.  I dropped the ISO to 100, and opened the lens up to f/6.3 which forced an exposure time of 210 seconds.  There were no trees in the frame and very little movement in the grass that concerned me so the long exposure wasn’t a problem at all.  There were some strange bands of light that I couldn’t explain here, but they were easy enough to dodge and burn out in post processing.  It wasn’t a hot spot, but it was too uniform across the car to be something which should have been there.  It was only the pictures from this position that showed those odd bits of light so I am just not sure what was going on.  In the end, I was quite happy with the way that this turned out.  I liked it much better than the color IR shot that I had tried the other day.

Once Upon a Time“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray I-Ray 830

Speaking of the color IR shots from the other day, one of my two tolerable images had been a composition of two of the cars with the old house and the barn in the frame.  I loved the composition, but I didn’t care for the execution.  I wanted to give it another try so I got the camera into the same position as I had been in before and set the shot up without filters.  Once that was done, I put the filter back on and started to try different exposures out.  I was trying to make sure that I had enough depth of field to show things sharp throughout the scene while not getting a hot spot.  I ended up capturing this one at ISO 100, f/6.3, and 150 seconds which seemed to do the trick.  The processing on this one was the most fun out of all of the images because I had many different types of element to work with including rusty metal, wood, grass, trees, and painted door art.  I was able to see just how this filter worked and that was pretty cool.  There was a bit of a hot spot in this one which required a minimal amount of work to deal with, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had dealt with before using the 5D Mk3.

When I was done with this composition I decided to head on home to see what I had.  I didn’t want to spend hours working pictures again to get home and find that they weren’t working out.  Fortunately, that wasn’t the case this time.  I actually felt really good about how these worked out when I got done editing them.  They weren’t the dreamy color images that I had in mind, but they did possess qualities that made them stand out from other images that I had shot here over the years.  I learned a lot about the filter and how it worked.  I’m ready to incorporate this one in more of my treks now and that is exciting to me.  It makes me kind of look forward to Summer photography which is usually one of my slowest times behind the camera because I just don’t care for the dried up green and the heat of Summer.

Speaking of Summer, I am starting to get my second half of the year’s workshops lined up and I have gotten one worked out so that I can begin planning it.  Just to give you an idea of what is coming, I have gotten Dean’s blessing to offer a light painting workshop here one evening in the next few months.  It will be a full on light painting workshop where I will demonstrate the full technique and then work with probably no more than three participants as they work three different stations on this property.  I’m really excited about it because I have had several folks express interest in a workshop like this.  I’ll be calling it “Rust at Dusk” and you can look for it in my Workshops coming up in the next few months.

Farming in the Spring“, Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk 2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

As I mentioned, I was ready to get home to see if I had botched this session up as badly as I did the other one.  But…before I did that I wanted to check out a house that Dean had told me about off of Farmington Rd.  I found the house and it was quite a looker sitting back off of the road.  There were just too many power lines to really present itself well as a composition.  I’ll have to work on that in my head a bit before I commit to trying to photograph it.  It did put in well South of the highway so I decided to take 801 to 601 which would get me back to 421 and home.  As I was coming up 601 near the highway I passed a barn which I had been interested in photographing for a few years now.  Every time I have passed it, the barn has caught my eye, but the setting has been less than stellar.  It was always just a solid green background, or it was a tangled mess of trees and brush during the winter.  I could never really see a composition developing here even though the barn was really interesting.

This time I was looking at it there was something quite different.  The greens of Spring were very flattering to the barn and there was a dominant tree that still showed it structure.  There was enough interest in the background to get me excited about a composition.  I was wanting clouds because I was pretty sure that there was going to be a good portion of the blue sky included in the shot.  There were no clouds, and I knew that it was going to be several more days before the clouds would come back again.  Not wanting to lose the Spring colors, I opted to get out and get the shot with the blue sky and bright sunlight.  Again…am I drifting away from cloudy day photography?  I’m really starting to wonder what is going on with that.

Anyway, I grabbed my camera with the 24-70mm lens and a polarizer before carrying it all into the field where the barn was.  There was nothing there indicating that I couldn’t be there and I was right in line with the power lines so I felt comfortable with my location.  I was a little more concerned with my truck which was parked in a driveway since the grass was very tall on the shoulder of the road.  The last thing I wanted to do was to start a fire underneath of the exhaust.  I wasn’t blocking the driveway, but I didn’t like where I was parked.  I had thought about doing this as a IR image since that had been the theme of the day, but since it was the Spring colors that had captured my eye that was what I was out to capture with this one.

I worked a couple of different versions of the composition and shot about eight frames here.  I didn’t stick around long and I was finished in less than 10 minutes.  I wasn’t sure if I had gotten anything good here, but I was glad that I had stopped.  The resulting image wasn’t bad.  It was better than I had expected and I was glad that I had stopped to get the pictures.  It rounded out the short day and I finally had a picture of this barn which I had been passing for years now.

I hope that you enjoyed this trek and maybe even learned a little about IR photography.  I’m feeling much better about this experience over the last one and I think that I have redeemed myself with what I have created with the I-Ray 830 filter.  I will be using it more often I believe and I look forward to exploring my options with it.  If you happen to like any of these image, as always please let me know.  I would love to help get you connected with your own print.  Also, keep your eyes out for the upcoming Rust at Dusk Workshop and don’t forget that I have a Landscape workshop coming up in a few weeks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I hope to see you there!

Until next time….

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