Classic Lemonade

· Reading Time: 35 minutes

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Lemon Falls“, Canon 5D Mk3, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh Ray Color Combo Polarizer

For those who have been keeping track, as of Monday I am unemployed.  No…wait a minute…I’m a professional photographer!  Uh wait, I haven’t sold anything this week…I’m a starving artist.  Yeah, that’s it, I’m a starving artist.  For those who are now worried, I assure you I am getting plenty to eat.  Toni wouldn’t ever let me starve.  Wow, I just went down a rabbit hole really quick at the start of this blog entry didn’t I?  Just trying to set the stage for how important this particular trek is to me.  You see, this is the first day that I have gone out for a bit of photography where I wasn’t trying to juggle it around my day job.  It was a very different experience for me, and one that I actually enjoyed.  The entire process took on a different feel from start to finish.

As with my other adventures, this one started out with a bit of planning.  I had been looking at the weather since my last day as a Police Officer and had seen that we were expecting pretty much nothing but clear sky days for the week and into the weekend.  By the time I really got to looking on Tuesday I saw that there was actually some cloud cover developing for here and into the mountains.  There was even a chance of rain Tuesday night which kind of came up suddenly.  With that in mind, I knew that my best chance for getting out with the camera would be on Wednesday, I just needed to know where I was going to go.  There are a couple of places close to home that I have been working on in my mind, but I wanted something more for this first adventure as a starving artist.  With the rain overnight and the clouds through the morning on Wednesday, I was automatically drawn to waterfalls.

Waterfalls really benefit from completely overcast days as the light is very soft and non-directional.  The fact that there was rain forecasted overnight would hopefully cause a bit more water to flow to to keep things interesting.  I just had to figure out where I wanted to go.  I went through all of the standard locations that I like to shoot and wasn’t really excited about any of them.  I had a bit of interest in going to South Mountain State Park, but I’ve shot that a good bit and in varying conditions.  The ideas I had for compositions were just slightly different versions of what I had already shot.  While that is not a bad thing, I wasn’t really looking to have a remake of something that I’ve done many times over.  I needed something new!

I broke out Kevin Adams’ Waterfall Book and started to browse the hundreds of waterfalls that NC has to offer.  I wasn’t looking for anything overly difficult to get to, and I wanted it to be very pretty.  One of the problems I have with many of the waterfalls in the state is that they are just basically slides with very little interest for me.  I like having character in my waterfalls, and that limits my potential candidates.  I landed on a few that I wanted to photograph and saw that they were including creek crossings and wading which was more than I wanted to get into for the moment.  There were a few other ones that I looked at which were too far away.  In the end, I settled on just going to South Mountains for the morning and then doing a little rural exploration afterwards.

That wasn’t going to cut it though, I needed this day to be special and I wanted to do something that I wouldn’t normally do, like go really far away.  I started to reconsider some of the waterfalls that I had nixed earlier and landed on Lemon Falls which I had never even considered before, but there was something about it that caught my eye and excited my photographic mind.  I checked the weather for the area and saw that the clouds would be fine for waterfall work until around noon or so.  There was rain that would be moving out of the area around 8am which was just perfect.  It was looking really promising, but it was going to be a 3.5 hour drive for me.  That means to photograph this waterfall, I would be in the truck for a minimum of seven hours.  That is a long time for what could be just a single picture!  But it broke the mold of what I was used to and I wanted to capture different subjects than I have in the past to commemorate my new life as a photographer.

The Moment of Impact“, Canon 5D Mk3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

When I woke up at 4:45 the first thing that I did was check the weather.  It was looking pretty much like I had remembered it from the night before.  It wasn’t currently raining, but I could see some cells moving around the area so there should be a little bit of extra water in the ground.  I was going to have better clouds at South Mountain, but after getting my mind set on something new, I decided that Lemon Falls was going to be my choice for the day.  I did a quick posting on social media as that is my morning routine (hey, marketing is part of this whole pro thing).  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to interact until much later in the day if at all, so I kept it to a single image as opposed to my standard two for a weekday.  I grabbed some breakfast and I was out the door headed West.

My mindset was a little different than it would be normally.  I was excited about the prospects, but wasn’t putting any pressure on myself to get images since I was able to go out pretty much whenever I needed to with weather conditions.  No longer would I feel like I wasted a day if I went out and didn’t get any images at all.  I was telling myself that if I got a single good image from the day that I would be absolutely fine with the day.  That image didn’t even have to come from the waterfall.  It could be anything that I passed by which added to my excitement.  I had very few preconceived ideas about today.  I was going to a place where I hadn’t really spent any time and was going to explore and enjoy!

I will say that the trip out there was quite long.  It was nice that I left when I did and not at 3:30 or something stupid like that when I am going out for a sunrise.  There was no need to beat the first light since the clouds were going to be thick and low all morning long.  There was absolutely no chance for any color and I was fine sleeping in a bit because of that.  I could see the clouds in the sky when I was leaving home and could see where we had had a few showers overnight.  I was just hoping that the mountains were having a bit more rain than we had.  I needed that swell in the creeks to make the waterfall really stand out.  It wasn’t until I started getting into the foothills that I started to see rain hitting the windshield.  This was actually very welcome as it was what I had been seeing in the forecasts.  It meant that I was on track to have the conditions that I had been planning on.  That doesn’t always happen, so I get excited when it does happen.

The GPS took me directly to Lemon Falls which is on Lamance Creek in the Pisgah National Forest.  There is no parking for the waterfall, and no signs to let you know you are there.  When the voice in my head said “You have reached your destination”, I just found a spot on the shoulder of the road that was big enough to pull off on and parked the truck.  I got out and listened.  I could hear the water, so I knew that I was at the right place.  Before I grabbed my gear, I looked for a small footpath through the woods that would lead me to a “scramble path” as Kevin Adams put it.  Sure enough, about 8 feet from where the nose of the 4Runner was parked there was a hole in the woods.  I looked through and could see different layers of rocks and roots that appeared to be the “scramble path” that he had been talking about.  It was tight and looked sketchy as could be, but I could hear the waterfall and knew that it was close.  If nothing else, I had gravity on my side to help me get down to the water.  Getting up would be a problem I would deal with later on.

Lamance Creek Spill“, Canon 5D Mk3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

I grabbed my Lowepro Whistler backpack which I secured on my back so that I could safely negotiate the scramble to the bottom.  I would have normally secured my Manfrotto Tripod to the side of the bag, but this time I felt that I needed a hiking pole for that added bit of stability.  By holding onto the Acratech GP-SS ballhead, I had a decent pole to help steady myself as I made the descent.  It really didn’t take long to get to the bottom and I’m happy to say that I did it in a controlled manner and nothing got broken.  This really isn’t far enough to be considered a hike, but it is very technical and require a bit of thought about where to step and how to proceed.  The good news is it is really self explanatory, and you can’t really get lost unless you try.  In a few minutes I was faced with the waterfall that I had only seen in a single picture to that point.  The water flow was a bit less than I had been hoping, but there was enough water to make it interesting and very worth photographing.

I had previsualized a few compositions based on the image that I had seen, but the water looking nothing like that here, so those ideas were all eliminated.  Not knowing exactly what I was going to do, I decided to load up my 24-70mm lens and start to experiment with some compositions.  This is the best walk around lens that I have, and it allows me a great deal of flexibility with different subjects.  I started looking for compositions that I liked and found one that was very similar to what I had seen in the book, but wasn’t quite as impressive without the full force of water.  I found myself working around the wide end of the focal length and wanting to back up further which changed the perspective of the rocky surfaces that I wanted to use a foreground.  This meant that I needed to swap out to my wider 16-35mm lens which I did.  I went ahead and added my Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer which I find so useful for waterfall photography.

The composition was looking much better at this point and I was starting to really like what I was seeing.  There was a problem though.  It was starting to rain.  I had been wanting it to rain all night, and now that I needed it to stop, it was actually starting.  It was just a light mist which wasn’t bad.  The fact that I was under a pretty thick canopy helped as well.  I used my hat to shield the front of the lens from the rain which left me only one hand to operate the Acratech ballhead, fine tune the compositions, and set the exposure.  It was clumsy, but doable.  I was getting some pretty good exposures based on the histogram on the back of the camera.  They were a tad underexposed, but I wanted to make sure that I didn’t lose any detail in the cascades, and the histogram was telling me that I had achieved that goal.  It was very dark with the thick clouds and lush trees above, so my exposures were between 10-30 seconds which would normally be a bit too long.  However, with the slow moving water, this was actually just about perfect to get that silky look on the cascades.

I spent some time moving around to try and get different compositions but quickly realized that I was only liking this one angle and the compositions were all very similar to one another.  It was time to switch things up.  I was seeing some isolations that I wanted to shoot and for that I was going to need my telephoto 70-200mm lens.  I went ahead and swapped that lens in and transferred the Polarizer which was a piece of cake since it was mounted to my Lee Filter foundation kit by the 105mm adapter ring.  With the reach of the long lens, I was able to isolate the areas that I had found interesting at Lemon Falls.  I was shooting a mixture of color and black and white images depending on the color palette I was seeing.

As I was wrapping up on that, I could see that the light was changing and allowing for a bit quicker shutter speed, or more depth of field.  Not to mention, the rain had slacked off to nearly nothing.  I had been very happy with the wide angle views offered by the 16-35mm lens, so I decided to give that another go with the different light.  I was still shooting from the same general areas as before, but I was liking how the light was looking much better now.  After a few exposures, I was pretty sure that I had everything that I needed, and was pretty sure that I had made a worthwhile trip out here today.

After I had been there for a bit over an hour, I realized that I had 31 images in the bag from this single waterfall.  It was time to pack it in and see if I could make it back out of the hole I had found myself in.  I had never been so close to the road and as concerned about getting back up to it as I was that morning.  It really wasn’t that bad at all.  I found the same path that I had descended on and just started to pick my foot holds to return to the top.  When I made it back to the road, I realized that the rain hadn’t stopped at all.  It was just the leaves were blocking the drops from hitting me.  It was actually raining pretty good by this point.  I got things back in the truck and got into the driver’s seat.

The question now was where to go next.  It was only about 11am at this point and I still had time that I could dedicate to photography.  I had no internet connection so I had to go somewhere I knew.  I had passed by the main road from Brevard into the PIsgah National Forest earlier and knew how to get back there.  I knew that there were several waterfalls along that road that I had not photographed before.  Since I was here, might as well give them a go, right?

It was about a 30 minute drive to get to Looking Glass Falls, and when I got there I saw a bunch of cars on the side of the road.  This is the problem with the waterfalls in this area.  They are so well visited and photographed that I lose a little excitement about them.  Nevertheless, I was here and wanted to see if I could make an image of the waterfall.  It was an easy hike down the stairs and to the dedicated overlook.  Much different than my experience with Lemon Falls a half hour earlier.  There were people there and they were spread out along the stairs taking selfies and enjoying the morning.  The rain was back and there was a mist in the air, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone.  I sure didn’t care.  What bothered me was the actual waterfall.  For me, this is a very boring waterfall, and all of the good compositions have been shot hundreds of times over.  Did I really need a copycat composition of a basically boring waterfall?  Nope, not at all.  The camera never came out of the bag, and I was headed back to the 4Runner.

I still had time, and I wanted to find another place to shoot.  I knew that Eastatoe Falls was in Rosman which was where I had just been.  I remembered that it was going to be closing down at some point, so I figured I would try to get out there.  This is another waterfall that has been photographed quite a number of times, and actually graced the cover of Kevin Adams’ 3rd edition book.  I was able to get internet connection when I got back into Brevard and keyed in the coordinates for Eastatoe.  It was quite literally where I had been before.  Oh well, it was only time, and I had plenty of that.  I set my course back into Rosman for a chance to photograph this soon to be forbidden waterfall.

Rusted Custom“, Canon 5D Mk3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

While I was enroute to the waterfall, I saw at one of the turns an old Ford Truck that Really caught my eye.  It had this wonderful patina to it, and I could tell that it was hot rodded a bit.  Unfortunately though, it was sitting in front of a trailer that kind of killed the setting for me.  I just turned and continued on my way.  It wasn’t too much longer after that when the GPS said “You have arrived at your destination”  There was a bit more fanfare with this destination though.  I could see a gravel pull out on the side of the road, and I could see a driveway that led through the private property to get to the waterfall.  I could also see a sign.  It told me that I was in the right place, but the sign also said that the waterfall was closed and the property was under new owners.  Well drat!  I wasn’t batting a thousand with my choices.  I was just hoping that I had something good from the first waterfall I had been to.  That was looking like my only hope for images for the day.  I had told myself that as long as I got a single good image from the day I would be very happy. Guess I was going to have to be ok with that after all.

I looked at the time and realized that I had enough time to swing by South Mountain State Park on the way home and shoot the couple of compositions that I had considered earlier.  I went ahead and set the GPS to that destination and started back down the road once again.  As I came into town, that Ford jumped out at me once again and I thought to myself.  Why not stop and see if I can do anything with this.  I’m here, its here, I have a camera.  I pulled off on the side of the road and started to look at the truck in detail.  I loved the truck, and there was no denying that.  The trailer wasn’t terrible as it was just tall enough that I could use it as a backdrop with my 70-200mm lens attached.  There was lattice work propped up against the side of the trailer that added some texture and visual interest to the white background that just might work.  I went ahead and pulled out my tripod and set up the camera with the 70-200mm lens attached.  I added my Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer to reduce any glare and add a bit of contrast to the scene.  From here it was all about finding that perfect composition.

That was a bit harder than you would think.  I moved around a lot and tried different focal lengths considering a 16:9 or 16:10 crop in post to help with cutting out any sky, or extra grass below.  I tried a broadside shot that really didn’t appeal to me because it was just too structured.  I went with an angle shot from both sides of the road and neither one actually hit a home run with me.  What I was wanting was to include the door to the trailer for some added visual interest, but I was wanting it to line up with the rear of the truck rather than appear haphazard in the composition.  For that to happen, I was going to need to set up right in the middle of the road.

Well, what you are seeing above is the result of three attempts to dodge the traffic that was turning through the road that I was standing on.  I finally found the right place and dialed in the shot really quick and released the shutter before having to move again.  The thought of reading an obituary that sounded something like this came to mind.

While out doing what he loved, Greg Kiser was run over when he had to stand in the middle of the road to get that perfect shot.  This tragedy marked his first outing as a professional photographer.  Maybe he shouldn’t have quit his day job after all.

I had survived and was pretty sure that I had gotten the shot that I wanted.  I started to look at other compositions, but there just weren’t many others.  My only other option seemed to be cropping off the bed of the truck and concentrating on the cab.  That worked, but I was pretty sure that the entire truck would be much more effective in the final image and I was pretty sure that I had captured just that shot.  I did look at some isolations on the truck, but since t was in somebody’s yard, I didn’t want to get too deep into their property.  Fortunately, I had that long lens on which made reaching out and touching compositions easy.

Super Deluxe“, Canon 5D Mk3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

I have always enjoyed the twin snouts on the front of these old trucks and I always consider it a bonus when I find the FORD lettering still in place.  This time I was really impressed to see the Super Deluxe badge still in place between the chrome.  This was a first for me, and I had never actually seen this emblem before.  That was going to be my composition.  I got into position at the edge of the property and framed it up before shooting the image.  I only need two slightly different compositions here because I had shot this design several times before and was familiar with how it would look in an image.  With that, I was done with the Ford.  There just weren’t that many options on how to photograph it with the elements that were around it.  I was satisfied that I had something workable, and if nothing else, had a great isolation on the front of the truck with that rare emblem.  It was time to move on.  I still had time to sneak by South Mountain on the way home, but it was going to have to be a quick hike out and back to the area that I was wanting to photograph.

I was back on the road again and feeling pretty good about my day.  I was pretty sure that I had two images that would work and possibly another one or two if I was lucky.  You don’t need to go back and count the images that I have shared so far.  I have a total of five images from the day at this point which I felt were keepers.  Yeah, I’m always like this on my treks.  I think that I have nothing decent and get home and actually impress myself.  It annoys me, but I am very used to it at this point.  Anyway, I digress, I am headed to South Mountains State Park, about an hour and a half away.

Squirrel!!!

My photographer’s ADD kicked in as I was headed out of Brevard when I saw a barn to the left of the road.  I got turned around and circled back to the side road where the barn was.  On second look, it wasn’t all that great and I didn’t see much in the way of photographic potential out of it.  I got back out on the road and was headed to the park once again. Things were going well until

SQUIRREL!!!!

I don’t even know what caught my eye except I could see on the GPS map in the 4Runner that there was a long road with a couple of different branches to my right.  Something told me that there was something down that road to photograph.  I made a quick turn and started to explore down the road.  I knew that this would more than likely eat away at the time I was wanting for South Mountain, but I wasn’t going to lose sleep if I didn’t got to that park.  I was hunting something new, and I didn’t know yet what that was.  The first branch I took turned up nothing, but the second one had several barns that looked decent…but not quite photo worthy.  I continued on my path realizing that this road was quite a bit longer than I had originally thought.  Just as I was about to decide to turn around something caught my eye.  It wasn’t a squirrel this time.  What I saw was a post war Pontiac sitting in a field.  There was  a lot of clutter around it, but if I saw it correctly, the patina was perfect on the old GM.  I got turned around at the next driveway and returned for a second look.

No More Recreation“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer, Galen Rowell 2-stop soft ND Grad

It was just as awesome as I had thought it was after seeing it briefly.  The RV trailer in the back wasn’t really all that great though. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to capture the image that I would want with the clutter, but it was worth considering my options for a bit.  I slowed down and pulled off on the other side of the road to get a little longer look.  As I came to a stop I could see a car backing out of the driveway next door.  One of the occupants exited and came towards me.  I got out of the 4Runner and greeted her.  She said that I was parked on the wrong side of the road which threw me a little bit, but I recovered quickly and explained what I was looking at, and why.  I asked if she was by chance the property owner while I was at it.  She said that it was her Uncle’s property and that she had no problems with me taking some pictures out there.  That was the best news that I could have received because I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to capture anything from the road that was worthwhile.

She let me park in the driveway to the empty house that was attached to the field and I grabbed my gear and set off through the very tall grass to find some compositions to shoot.  I started off with my go to composition down low and to the front quarter.  From here, my standard 24-70mm lens shines and that was just what I mounted to the camera.  Of course, I also added a Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer to really make the rust tones pop on the car.  It was a pretty straight forward composition with the exception of the RV in the background.  That caused me quite a bit of grief as I was setting up the shot.  I had to include it to get the perspective that I was wanting with the amplified front end.  I also wanted to include the sky which had some very faint textures in the clouds.  I tried a number of different combinations, and ultimately settled on the one that is shown above.

Why I went with this position and composition was that I decided to embrace the trailer and use the brown stripe to actually provide some contrast for the hood ornament which really helped out there.  The white siding gave a bit more contrast to the front of the car and really helped it stand out.  Since it was mostly white, it became a background rather than a competing element which was nice.  The windows just helped break up the siding and provided just enough interest so that it wasn’t a distraction with a sea of white.  I still had the sky, and I was able to use the tree in the background to frame the composition to the right, while still cropping out the house just to the right of the frame.  It was a balancing act of compromise after compromise, but in the end I really liked the composition.  It wasn’t until I got it into Lightroom that I really found the voice of this image.  While I was looking at the color profiles, I stumbled on one that I have started using a fair amount recently that really worked for this image.  It dulled the greens in the grass and gave it a more vintage feel, and also blurred the seasonal lines just a bit which I was all for at this late stage of Summer.  The final image really did capture what I was after with this composition and I was quite happy with it.

Building Excitement“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

I also started to look for isolations on this car, especially since there was so much of the brightwork still in place.  I love the waterfall chrome on the Pontiacs, and since I was here to shoot waterfalls, I decided to give them some attention.  I started off on the front of the car getting in close to the nose.  The more I worked the composition, the more I realized that I was not getting much of the waterfall at all.  I was getting the Pontiac Logo on the hood and the bumper details more than anything else.  It was working out, so I was content with staying the course.  The patina on the hood wasn’t all that great here and it was pretty uniform.  The story here was the chrome bits and the textures.  This made me shoot the image as a black and white (at least in concept as I was still shooting color) which would highlight those elements that I really liked.  The image that I ended up liking enough to keep was an abstract of sorts with shapes and textures holding the spotlight more than recognizable elements that would immediately tell you what you were looking at.  It captured everything that I was after with this front end, and after the conversion I knew I had a keeper that held true to the reason I shot the image in the first place.

Give it Wings“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

I wasn’t done with the isolations with the front.  I had already noticed the really cool features on the rear of the car and moved my attention to that side.  Again, the chrome was intact on the rear and was looking property aged with a much better patina on the trunk lid.  I kept the same setup and framed up an image that included the Pontiac emblem as well as the waterfall with the “8” stamped on it.  The keyhole cover balanced out the composition just under the wings and this one was done with a single shot.  It is easy when all the elements come together so well in an image.  I loved the textures of not only the rust, but the pitted chrome.  It was a prefect decay piece I thought.  I was also thinking that I was having a lot of fun working the isolations on this car.  With the front and the rear done, I needed to move to the side and see if there was anything with the chrome moldings that I could work with.  The styling was awesome, I just needed to find a way to capture what I was seeing.

Pontiac Curves“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

When I started to look at the lines on the side of the car, I decided that I loved the hips on this sedan.  The patina was great, and the chrome flowed around the body lines to add interest to the side of the car.  Even the rusty wheel with the nest attached added character.  It was a very large section of the car that I liked, and I dropped the camera down low to try and capture it.  It wasn’t all that easy to compose an image that really made sense, but I finally ended up with something that I was figuring I would crop down to a 16:9 aspect ratio or something.  As it turned out, my single grab shot from the side of the car turned out to be a really cool composition and it even got the seal of approval from Toni who normally doesn’t like my old car pictures all that much.  That meant that the image was probably better than I thought it was, so I didn’t even crop it down.  I just processed it as it was shot.  It did turn out really well, and even the oddly cropped windows and chrome at the top seem to work well to add balance to the image.  It works, and I wish I could tell you it was a finely crafted image, but this one was pure instinct when I composed it.  I really couldn’t settle on a composition and only shot one frame because I wasn’t able to reconcile some parts of it.  This was the outcome of that single attempt.

Rip Van Winkle“, Canon 5D Mk3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

You would think that I would have been done by this point, but I had an idea.  I wanted to try and get the car isolated from all of the clutter around it, and I figured that the best way to do that was to pull out the long 70-200mm lens and get over on the side of the property.  The compression might just be the best idea to capture the entire car.  I got in position and started to do the balancing act of excluding elements while getting a pleasing angle on the car.  It was very difficult and involved me going back and forth a few times to get the right focal length.  In the end I had the image that I wanted with very little distractions.  However, when I got it home and into Lightroom, I found that the image was a little bland.  The color palette was pretty much rust and green.  It balanced well enough, but it just lacked any punch.  Initially, I trashed the image that I had shot in favor of the earlier composition I had shot with the RV in the frame.  However, on a second look, I still liked the composition but the color was getting in the way.  That meant that I needed to try this as a black and white image.  A quick conversion in Lightroom later and I was in business with an image that really captured the lines of the old car.  The textures of the grass really shown through in this image as well.  I don’t like it better than the color version, but I think that it stands well on its own merit which is enough to prompt me to add it to my keepers from the day.

I was about to pack it in for the day, but I wanted to get one more composition of the rear of the car which I had tried earlier on but didn’t really like.  Now that I had the long lens attached, I figured that I might be able to get something a little bit different.  The compression that I achieved with the front of the car should also work from the back.  I got into position much further away from the car than I had been previously and set the shot up.  It was actually looking very good on the back of the camera so I did a couple of different variations on the composition.

Auto Club“, Canon 5D Mk3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

What I ended up with was pretty good actually.  It suffered a little from the same color issue that I had just faced from the front shot, but this one had a couple of things working in its favor.  First of all, there was a patch of trees growing just off of the front of the car which helped to give a background interest.  There was also a large plant growing in the lower right corner which gave a little different tone of green in that corner.  There was enough visual interest that the color wasn’t a distraction in this particular image.  The part that I loved about this shot which ultimately prompted me to keep it was the AAA badge on the back.  I remember many a night sitting behind a broken down car waiting on AAA to arrive with an ETA of several hours.  This car had obviously been waiting a bit longer than that, and I was wondering if the membership dues were still up to date.  Regardless, that badge on the back of the car was a big part of the story I was telling with this car and I wanted to have this image in the collection from my experience.  It would also be the last image that I shot of this old Pontiac.

Before I packed up everything, I waded through the very tall grass a little further into the property to see if there was another angle on the barn that was not too far away from the Pontiac.  As I rounded the corner, however…

SQUIRREL!!!!!!

I had not seen the Corvair sitting under the tree before, but when I came around on the side of the property there it was.  I forgot all about the barn and started looking at the car.  They are not the most beautiful cars out there, but they are quite distinctive which can be more important for an image.  I went over to it and started to size up the composition possibilities.  One of the aspects that is very characteristic of this car was the headlights and the lack of a front grill.  They were air cooled with the engine in the back, so no need for openings in the front of the car.  I noticed immediately that the passenger side headlights had been removed, but the driver’s side was still in place.  The Corvair emblem was also still on the hood above the remaining headlight.  I have a love affair with headlights on these old cars, so you know that was the first composition that I wanted to shoot.

Corvair“, Canon 5D MK3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

I framed up two slightly different compositions that capitalized on the leaves on the hood as well as the headlights.  They were similar in layout as they were both vertical orientation shots.  I knew that I would be cropping down to either an 4:5 or 5:7 in post so that the image wasn’t overly tall.  I ended up going with a 4:5 crop and felt pretty good about it until I showed it to Toni who immediately said that she didn’t like it.  She actually explained why she didn’t like it which was quite helpful for me.  It made me look at the image a different way than I had been looking at it.  The more she talked, the more I realized that she was right and her points were very valid.  The initial crop wasn’t bad, but I had a feeling that she was onto something with her logic.  I started to look at a 1:1 crop and found that I was able to include just enough leaves at the top to keep that important element in balance with the rest of the car, and I was able to lose the grass below the bumper as well as the marker light.  It became a more power and dynamic image by going with the square crop.  I owe any success that this image has to Toni for setting me right during the post processing phase.  Sometimes, my mind just gets a little tunnel vision when I am working on images and it takes a little shock to get my eyes back on track again.

With One Eye Open“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

Having shot the one isolation that I wanted to get on this car, I started to turn my attention to the entire thing.  It was in an odd position for an overall shot since it was sitting under a tree which was actually obscuring the view from the passenger side.  Also, the missing headlights detracted from a passenger side shot.  My best chance was to go with a shot from the driver’s side front quarter.  This would put me in the tree line and I would have a hard time getting much angle at all.  To keep the shot interesting, I opted to go back to the standard 24-70mm lens which would give me a bit of perspective distortion on the front of the car and add a little impact to the unique front end of this rear engined car.

I had to play with the camera position for a while before I could actually get the angles that I wanted without it appearing all strange with the distortion.  The second concern was the final presentation of the image.  I wasn’t really liking all of the Summer green around the car which was in the shadows.  I wanted there to be a bit of a different mood to the image, so I started looking at color profiles once again.  I ended up selecting that same one that I have been using recently on my decay subjects.  It really affects the greens and gives them a much yellower feel and creates a Fall type appearance which I really liked for this image.  I worked on the other tonal relationships with the rusted surface and what was left with the paint on the car.  When it was all done, I had an image that had a very Fall type feel.  The tones were warm and inviting which I thought worked well for this image and provided a good bit of color contrast throughout the scene.

When this image was finally shot to my satisfaction, I realized that I had hit that point where I was done.  I had no more interest in shooting anything else at this point.  I’ve mentioned this phenomenon a few times here in the blog before, but when I am in a creative place, I can shoot for hours and hours, but when my creativity is exhausted, and I have shot all that I want to shoot, I am done.  There is no looking for more inspiration, or seeing if there are any other compositions that I might want to shoot.  When that switch flips, it is time to pack up and go home.  I had reached that point, and with good reason.  I had been here for a bit over an hour, and my final frame count in the camera was just shy of 100 images shot.  I had been around Brevard for four hours now, and had been on the road for nearly five hours at this point with another three and a half left to go.  It had been a fantastic day, but I was tired and done creating images.

The ride home went well with some heavy traffic along the way.  Not once did I see anything and think that I needed to stop and take a picture.  I was very happy with how the day had gone and figured that I probably had about 5 images or so that I was going to want to keep.  I had no idea that I was going to end up keeping a total of thirteen images from the day.  In hindsight, I am really glad that I didn’t start processing the images when I got home because I would have ended up staying up all night to get them done.  Part of the beauty of doing photography full time is that I have a lot more time to do the computer end of things.  I took that ability and started working on the images at 8:30 the following morning.  What I was expecting to be a quick process actually took until 3:20, nearly seven hours to complete.  That was just doing the culling and editing of the images.  Here we are at 11:30 at night, about five more hours into the process where I have been writing this blog entry and getting the images uploaded to the website.  That is about 23 hours worked over the last two days with a couple more hours to go before I am completely caught up from the trek.

I know I just started working for myself, but these long hours are criminal.  I need to report me to the labor board!  I had much easier hours as a Police Officer I think!  It is very true that when you work for yourself, you will work harder than you ever have before.  I’m seeing that now, but I’m still elated at being my own boss and doing something that I love.  I’m so happy to get to take you along on my journeys as well, which makes doing these blog entries so much fun.  I also enjoy having them to keep track of what all went into making the photos that appear in my gallery and on social media. These dear diary moments are always a lot of fun to look back on later when I want to remember what a particular shoot was like.

If any of these images speak to you and you would like to get a print, I would like to remind everyone that all of my images are for sale as prints. I would also like to remind everyone that I will be offering a Winter Waterfall Workshop in the beginning of December at Hanging Rock.  If you are needing any gear or equipment, please check out the retailers linked throughout this blog entry as well as the following banners.  Take car, and I’ll see you on my next adventure!

www.singh-ray.com
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