Everything Including the Orange Barrel

· Reading Time: 32 minutes

Sunday, July 18, 2021

I can’t believe that it has been a week since I last went out with the camera.  This week has gone by quickly it would seem because it feels like just a couple of days ago that I went into North Wilkesboro to photograph some architecture.  I’m sure that I surprised a few of you with that trek, especially so close on the heels of a fairly typical landscape outing to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  As we’ve been seeing my photographic tastes have been all over the board for the last couple of months it seems.  This is a pretty normal thing for me if we look back through the blogs as I will go through periods where I will photograph all sorts of “odd” things as I try out new techniques.  In some cases, I’m just wanted to satisfy an artistic curiosity.  By the time you finish reading this blog, you are going to see just what I mean when I say I’m satisfying an artistic curiosity.

Don’t read ahead!

I mean it, get back up here!  You will get to the rather unique image soon enough.  I just hope that you don’t judge me too hard for the subject matter and can appreciate it for what it is.  Now that I’ve got your interest up, I need to reel you back in for this trek.  It is one of my regular treks in the way that it went covering a lot of area and shooting in different locations.  I have to admit that I have been really happy shooting single locations and subjects here lately.  It has given me an opportunity to really commit to compositions and images.  While I have enjoyed it, there is something wonderful about going out early in the morning and going until I get creatively exhausted.  I get to try out a lot of different things along the way when I do these kinds of treks and I was itching to get out and have one of those kinds of days after a week away from the camera.

As with all of my treks, I had to figure out where I was wanting to go and when that was going to need to happen.  I first looked on Friday evening to see if I could go anywhere on Saturday morning.  The weather was partly cloudy with a chance of some rain in the mid afternoon.  The forecast was looking a bit more promising for Sunday though with some more consistent clouds through the day.  I decided to do some yard work on Saturday and plan on heading out with the camera on Sunday morning bright an early.

The Purple Mountains“, Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, No Filters

I started to look for places to go where I thought that there would be few people.  With the cloud cover forecasted, I wasn’t expecting a colorful sunrise which tended to limit my choices.  I thought about doing some moving water photography at Big Creek, but the more I thought about that, the more I was thinking that I would be using the exact same compositions as I’ve done many times before when I have gone there.  I could go to a new waterfall, but I was going to have to research one to visit and then hope that the clouds were at least as thick as they were forecasted.  Considering the low clouds and the possibility for fog in the area of Boone on up to Laurel Springs I thought about trying to capture some mountains with deep clouds below their peaks.  It is a shot that I have often visualized but haven’t really gotten the chance to photograph it.  I wanted to go somewhere that I don’t normally go where I knew that there was a chance for this kind of situation to develop.  The best that I could come up with Jumpin’ Off Rocks in Glendale Springs.  I have shot from here a few times and got a fantastic sky there once, but the composition was not all that strong.  I could see some different types of images being created from here with different weather patterns in case the forecast was incorrect.  Hey, I have to plan for the very slim chance that the weatherman will lead me astray with a forecast.

The nice thing about this location is it is only about 20 miles from home so getting there wouldn’t take forever.  I still had to wake up at 4:15 to get out the door in time to get to the overlook and hike up to the viewing platform.  My plan was to get there before first light so I could take full advantage of whatever popped off in the sky.  When my alarm rang, I checked the weather in my sleepy haze and saw that the current conditions were reported as fair, but the clouds were still supposed to come in through the morning.  There was actually a slightly better chance at seeing some color in the sky with the forecast that I was seeing.  I didn’t really want to get up, but I realized that if I was going to do anything at all with the camera today, I needed to get moving and get out there.

I slowly got rolling and was on the road just before 5am which was the plan.  Looking at the sky I could see stars which was not a good sign at all.  It was good that I wasn’t headed off to a waterfall at least which would just not work under clear skies.  I could do landscapes under clear skies if necessary though.  The question was what was waiting for me at the overlook I was headed to?  It didn’t take me long to figure it out since I was relatively close to it.

When I arrived, I could see over the distant mountains that the viewing conditions were very clear and I could make out the distant horizon.  There was just a little bit of fog and clouds in the valleys below, but the sky was pretty well empty.  It wasn’t looking good for my plans and I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to get that nice foggy start to the day.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to get anything from here or not, but I was here and I might as well get a nice morning hike out of the way.  I grabbed my gear and started the short hike out to the viewing platform looking over the valley below.

Layers of Color“, Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, No filters

When I got up to the overlook, there was a bank of clouds that was hovering in the distance and there were two slivers of light within the clouds.  It wasn’t a great sunrise, but it gave me hope that I might have something to work with.  I started to pick out a composition in the dark which wasn’t all that easy to do.  I knew that I was going to want my 70-200mm lens so I could pick out patterns in the distance under the clouds.  If I was lucky the sun would peak through one of those openings and light the sky up for me.  I still had lots of time before I would know the answer to that question though.  When I got the camera set up I made a three minute exposure to check my composition.  Yeah, it was that dark that I really couldn’t tell what I was looking at through the camera so I made a test exposure to check things.  When the image popped up on the LCD I knew I was on the right track but I needed to shift my position a bit in order to really pull the shapes together.

I got in the new position and framed up the shot based on certain landmarks I could make out.  I started making shorter and shorter exposures as the light levels were increasing quickly.  It wasn’t long and I was out of bulb mode and shooting at 30 seconds or less.  The clouds were blocking most of the light, but there was a hint of color coming through which I was hoping that I could capitalize on with my images.  I just kept making exposures and changing the composition in hopes of capturing the right mix of light and color.

As sunrise approached, I could tell that the clouds were going to snuff out the full light show so I abandoned my original composition in favor of one where there was a slight bit of color hanging over the most dominant mountain in the field of view.  It was a little more of a standard composition, but it was what the sky was dictating so I framed it up and made some exposures as the light levels increased.  About five minutes before the sun actually crested the horizon the colors all but left and I was standing there looking at a very flat scene in front of me.  The sunrise hadn’t really panned out and I was left with about 25 images that I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to use.

As luck would have it, the images from sunrise really weren’t all that great, but I was able to do a little work in Lightroom to bring out some more of the colors and salvage two of the compositions.  Neither of these will likely end up in my portfolio, but they do make for a good illustration of the morning to help tell the story here in the blog.  With those images in the bag, I packed my gear up and made the short hike back down to the truck.  In the last couple of treks that I have been on, this would symbolize the end of the trek, but I had already decided that I was going to stay out until my creativity waned.  The lackluster sunrise had done nothing to quench my thirst to create so it was time to head off to the next location to see what I could find to photograph.

House at Doughton“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Galen Rowell 3-stop soft ND Grad

I had a rough plan of working my way into Yadkin County to photograph a couple of houses that I had seen while out driving a while back.  With that in mind, I chose to head North on the Parkway which was towards Doughton Park.  I love that area of the Parkway and usually have really good luck there in the mornings.  I kept my eyes open for any other targets of opportunity along the way but nothing really presented itself until I got into the park itself.  I remembered photographing an old house just off of the Parkway a while back during a foggy sunrise and I have always checked it out as I’ve passed by since.  As I was approaching it, I didn’t see anything all that interesting about it this time, but as I passed it I happened to look back and saw a very interesting sky to the opposite side.  I got turned around and pulled down the road that brought me to the driveway.

This house has several notices of no trespassing so I made it a point to stay a healthy distance away while I was considering how I was going to photograph it.  I pulled into the driveway which was largely overgrown now and pondered my options.  There was a large tree on the left side which was fully in the shadows.  On the other side of the house was the sky which had been so interesting.  The house was also on the shaded side of things which was going to make this a difficult exposure if I found a composition that I liked.  Figuring that I would stay in the driveway I knew that I was going to be shooting rather wide in order to get the tree and the sky along with the house so I fitted my 16-35mm lens.  Since polarizers don’t usually play well with wide angles, I left that filter off and concentrated on getting a nice and simple exposure.  When I found my first composition I could tell that the sky was much too bright for a single exposure so in order to keep detail in the shadows and the sky, I went back to the truck and grabbed my wallet of ND Grads.

I pulled out a 3-stop soft edge one and added that to the lens cocked over nearly 45 degrees to just capture the corner of the image and bring the sky down slightly.  Once I had it in position the histogram looked much happier than it did and I was ready to rock and roll.  I started to make exposures and adjusted my position here and there to try and find the right balance.  I found quickly that by including the tree and the sky I was placing the house in the dead center of the frame which then took emphasis away from the supporting elements and left the image rather static.  It was the best angle for the house though, but I still didn’t like it.  I opted to crop out the tree since it was mostly in the shadows anyway which would allow me to focus more attention on the sky in the background. This helped to brighten the image overall and it provided much more depth than what the original composition had.

I really liked the composition that I had ended up with and that was the one that I ended up processing in Lightroom.  I had a rough time with the crop though because the flow of the image was just wrong.  I decided on a 1:1 crop which had a great balance, but eliminated most of the background which I didn’t like.  After I was done editing it, I went back to the crop and looked at things again.  I tried different ratios and nothing really worked for this composition.  Not wanting to abandon this one because I really did like the composition, I opted to flip it to get the house on the right side of the frame.  The second I did that I could see the composition working as intended.  The eyes were entering the frame from the left and pursuing through the image as I had intended.  I just needed to get the house off of the left edge of the frame to make it work.

Edge of the Landscape“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, No Filters

I was feeling pretty good about the house and was thinking that this image was going to be much better than the sunrise I had shot shortly before.  I was now fueled to find more subjects to photograph.  The sky was looking really good and the quality of light was still great.  I made my way through Doughton Park and decided to go into the picnic area to see if any of my favorite compositions would work with the existing sky.  I didn’t have to go far as the light was looking really good there at the entrance by the meadow.  I pulled off on the side of the road and grabbed the camera.  I loaded up the 16-35mm lens once again and left the filters off so that I didn’t introduce strange tones in the blue sky which would be unevenly polarized.  I left the hatch up so I could grab any additional equipment as needed and started to find the right place to set the tripod.

My first subject was going to be the group of trees which were growing from a line of large rocks on the ridge.  I’ve often photographed this scene and find it rather soothing to look at with the meadow in the distance.  I got everything dialed in for the composition and started to work with the exposure.  I needed to expose for the sky as I was going to wait for the sun to light the foreground which would bring it in line with the sky easy enough and that way I didn’t have to react to the sunlight on the trees when it was time to capture the image.  The one problem that I ran into was the high winds here.  The tree was blowing wildly for the most part and I didn’t want that motion in the frame.  With no filters, I was exposing with quicker shutter speeds than normal, but it wasn’t quick enough.  My test shot had too much motion in the tree.  I had to boost my ISO to 200 in order to get a 1/200 shutter speed which was sufficient to freeze the tree.  All that was left to do was to wait on the sun to illuminate the foreground.

While I was waiting, I noticed someone walking from the field across the road from where I was.  He was carrying a tripod it appeared which put my mind at ease about his intentions.  As he got closer I could hear him ask if I was Greg Kiser.  This happens occasionally, and every time it does I’m really surprised and flattered.  With the hatch on my truck up, none of my identifiers were visible so I suppose he just recognized me.  He introduced himself as Michael Hull whom I was familiar with from Facebook and we started to chat about different things.  It was nice talking with a photographer that shares some of the same values and views that I have which are largely getting outdated in this creative field.  After a few minutes he continued on his way and I was back to working the scene.  I managed to get the right light for the scene a few times and that left me with options on cloud placement when I got the files home to work with.

Flowers in the Meadow“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, No filters

With the lighting this good, I didn’t want to give up on any other potential compositions so I started to look around playing the “what do I like” and “what do I not like” game.  I loved the yellow flowers that were blooming in the field and wanted to get an image or two with those in the frame.  I just had to find out the right mix of elements to make a composition that worked.  The first one that I started working was the fence which was just inbound of the trees that I had shot.  The flowers were on my side of the fence and the meadow that I have spent so much time on was just beyond the fence.  Since I was interested in a strong foreground presence and the inclusion of the sky I knew that I was going to still need that wide angle lens which I left on.  I was still shooting without any filters and there was a part of me that was starting to feel lazy for not using filters.  I just had to remind myself that there was no need to add them if they were going to bring no benefit to the image.  The lighting was good enough as it was that I really didn’t need to try and finesse the images any through the use of filters.

I was actually having a lot of fun at this point.  I was working scenes that I was reasonably familiar with and I kind of knew what I was going to to want as I progressed through the scenes.  I was still having a difficult time with the wind and was finding myself staying with an ISO of 200 for most of what I was shooting.  Fortunately, I have yet to really see a difference in quality through ISO 200 with the 5DS R.  Beyond that, it starts to get a little dicey depending on the available lighting, but I felt reasonably comfortable with adding that bit of sensitivity to make the shutter speed a bit quicker.

The Rusty Gate“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, No filters

I continued to work the scene while paying attention to the sky which is something that I am always interested in capturing.  I could see a nice composition developing which could include the old rusty gate at the corner of the field which I have photographed several times in the past.  I moved over to that corner and framed up a shot that I liked which had the meadow offset from the gate to pull your eyes through the frame.  The exposure wasn’t nearly as tricky here though since I wasn’t concerned with movement in the tall grass.  Since there were not spots of bright color, some movement here wasn’t going to be a problem.  I actually tried to force some movement here with a longer shutter speed, but for some reason the wind wasn’t really affecting the grass all that much.  It did make for an easier time to get the image and I didn’t have to make that many exposures in order to get the image that I wanted.

When I was done here, I looked around to see if there was anything else that I wanted to photograph.  Feeling pretty satisfied that I had it all, I made my way back to the truck with the intentions of putting the camera away and heading on down the road.  Just before I got back there I happened to look over my shoulder.  I saw a tree sitting beside the field of yellow flowers.  The sun was lighting the tree with that warm morning light and I thought that it needed to be captured.  The sky was still looking good above it as well which made for a pretty nice overall appearance to the scene.

Closing Clouds“, Canon 5DS R, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, No filters

I walked back over to the tree and started to size up how I wanted to capture it.  The shadow from the tree was making a nice complementing diagonal to the field on the left side of the tree.  The clouds were broken up over the tree and filling in on the left as if to balance the scene just for me.  Things had been working so well with my wide angle lens that I didn’t even think about swapping it out for another lens.  I just went with my tried and true formula and framed up the shot.  Once again, the wind was causing me great difficulties with not only the flowers but the tree itself.  I had to boost my ISO up to 200 again in order to get the shutter speed of around 1/200 of a second.  That seemed to do the trick and I was able to see what appeared to be sharp leaves and flowers in the image reviews.

I didn’t stay here long because the lighting was really good when I started working the scene and I could see it getting no better before the clouds completely overtook the background which I didn’t want to happen.  Now I was ready to call it quits here at Doughton, but not for the entire day.  I still had more creativity in me and I wanted to find some subjects to work that creativity out on.  I didn’t really have any other destinations in mind except for East Bend where those two houses were I wanted to photograph.  When I got back into the truck I checked the weather reports and found that the clouds were much thinner than I had expected there as well.  I was really glad I hadn’t gone to do waterfalls because these were not just the right conditions for that.  I was also doubting that I would have good conditions in Yadkin County for what I was wanting to do.  It did give me a destination though and I knew how I was going to get there easy enough.  I just had to stay on the Parkway for a bit longer until I came to Hwy 21 and then I would just follow it South through Elkin and into Yadkin County.  I also knew that there were some potential subjects along the way that might work with the existing conditions.

As I was driving South my early morning was starting to catch up with me.  I was yawning steadily and my eyes were getting heavy.  I was finding it hard to stay focused on the drive as well as scouting.  It was getting to the point where I was seriously considering just heading home.  I had a bunch of image already and while I was still feeling creative, the sky wasn’t really cooperating with me for what I wanted to have for those two houses.  As I was about to make my official decision to call it a day I saw a very interesting building on the left side of the road.  I had to have seen it before, but for some reason it was really sticking out to me.  It looked like a little castle with a very interesting brick façade on the front.  I slowed and pulled into the driveway.  Yeah, this was interesting and it fit with my recent desire to photograph architecture.  I could see a truck pulling out and I backed up to get back in the road.  I was a little confused here because there was a For Sale sign out front and a commercial sign that made me think that this was a business.  The driveway made it look like a house though.  I pulled in beside the building in a service station parking lot and got out to get my gear.

As I was getting my camera set up with the 24-70mm lens that truck stopped at the head of the driveway and the driver got out.  He came over to me, but not because he recognized me.  As it turned out, this was actually a home and his wife was still in there.  He thought I might be there to buy some of the property that was being sold, but I told him what I was wanting to do.  He agreed to let me photograph the building  and he was on his way.

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

Unfortunately the sun was behind the building so it was all backlit.  The sky was really nice above it, but there was no way to get a good image shooting into the sun with the details all in the shadows.  That wasn’t really a big deal since the doors to the building didn’t really fit with the look of the front.  I started to look for isolations that captured the spirit of the building which I thought would make for better images anyway.  I kept looking and ultimately found a small alcove to the left of the main entrance.  There was a bunny statue standing guard to a flight of stairs that wrapped around to nothing.  It was just so interesting and posed so many questions that I knew this was going to be my story.

I got the camera into position shooting over a wall in order to get the stairs.  I used the rabbit as my foreground and the turret to the right as a framing element.  The stairs I had positioned to where you really didn’t know where they went and they just kind of disappeared into the curve.  It was an interesting composition but one that I was hoping wouldn’t bee too complex.  I wanted to have a very easy path to follow through the image.  I had added my polarizer to remove the glare from the roof in my first idea for a composition, and as it turned out I was including a section of the roof here as well.  The polarizer came in very handy for keeping the glare on the shingles down which gave me another great framing element on the top part of the frame.

I only shot three variations on the composition before deciding that I had what I wanted here.  I made a quick search of the rest of the building and found nothing else that would work with the existing lighting.  Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I went ahead and called it a day here.  I loaded up my gear back in the truck and got back on the road headed South.  I was awake now which was a good thing and I was pretty sure that I had some more creativity in me yet.  My plan was to work my way into Yadkin County and hope that the clouds would work for what I was wanting to do.  It wasn’t seeming like it was going to work out, but I was not too far off at this point.

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

Just a couple of miles down the road I came into the town of Elkin proper which I am fairly familiar with after many time of driving through the town.  I always remember it for the time that I shot a former CSX locomotive which I am still really happy with to this day.  Because of that, I always look over at the repair shop for the Yadkin Valley Railroad when I drive through.  I was expecting to see another Blue and Yellow locomotive there which I probably wasn’t going to bother shooting.  However, when I got a sightline on the area I saw a bright red locomotive sitting there where the other train had been last Fall.  I had never seen one of these locomotives before and the color was just too bold to pass up.  I pulled into a parking spot just South of the train and grabbed my gear.

I wasn’t sure what the KLWX markings were so I had to look that up later on.  It was a restoration firm out of Knoxville that brought these old engines back to life and they got their start in 1999.   The best I could tell, this was a display piece for that company.  Whatever it was, it was unique and something that I wanted to photograph.  Fortunately, I already knew the basic composition that I was going to want and I knew how I was going to set it up.  I loaded up the 16-35mm lens and added a polarizer to it.  The lighting was fairly simple and I just had to wait for the sun to illuminate the train to the right degree which would balance the exposure with the sky without the need for any additional filters.

I played the waiting game with the sun which was over my left shoulder behind some clouds.  As it found thin spots in that cloud I would get an exposure in the hopes that it was the right light.  Not wanting to mess this shot up, I stuck with it for a while to make sure that I had what I wanted before I left.  You might be wondering why I was using a polarizer for this composition with the wide angle lens when I hadn’t done so before.  Well, the clouds were different here and there was very little blue showing through for the most part.  The uneven polarization of the sky wouldn’t be a problem with the clouds and I actually needed all the contrast help that I could get to add definition to the sky.  The polarizer did a perfect job here and the clouds looked amazing overhead with just the right amount of blue to counter the red of the engine.

Urban Angles“, Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, No filters, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

I worked the train for roughly 20 minutes as the light changed.  When I was finally happy that I had what I wanted with this subject I put the camera away and started back to the truck.  As I was walking, I started looking around Elkin which has interested me for some time now for the quaint charm that it possessed.  My eyes landed on the back of an old building near the train which I had considered photographing a few times before when I’ve driven through here.  The building had this great staircase crisscrossing up the rear wall and those stairs had some great rust on them which contrasted to the pale beige of the paint both on the stairs and on the building.  With the building in the shade of the diffused light from the cloud cover now, I saw a really nice geometrical composition developing so I went back over that way to see if I could make it work.

When I got over there I started to look at the lines and I began to pick out what interested me about the stairs.  I found the pattern that I wanted to capture and knew that I was going to need my long lens for this one so I fitted my 70-200mm.  With this scene in the shade and showing no glare, there was no reason to add any filters for this shot.  I just framed things up and fine tuned the camera position before making an exposure.  I was shooting in color, but I was 99% sure that I was going to be converting this to monochrome when I got it home.  I wanted it all to be about the lines, and the light.  There was really very little color to the scene anyway so I wasn’t going to miss anything at all by getting rid of the color all together.

Finding Triangles“, Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, No filters, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

My first composition was vertical because that was what felt right with the scene to start with.  After I made two exposures I started to see a composition in a horizontal layout dealing with the same basic view.  I rotated the camera and recomposed to find a slightly different take on the scene.  They both worked very well and showcased the strong lines of the stairs as well as the difference in lighting between light and shadow.  With the diffused light the shadows weren’t overly deep which allowed some very good detail to shine through.  The rust gave the harsh contrast and the darker parts of the exposure which worked well.

I actually really enjoy working these types of compositions.  They take a little bit of a different approach to my typical subjects which helps to exercise my brain.  These images are all about patterns and how the shapes interact on essentially negative space.  I’ll be honest here, these two images really excited my creativity and I became very interested in seeing how these were going to come out.  It actually took my mind off of the houses that I had been working my way towards.  All of a sudden, I wasn’t in the mood for that style of photography.  What I was wanting to capture was more geometrical compositions and minimal imagery.

I was looking back on my day and realized that I had started out shooting the very typical sunrise landscape scene which rarely holds much excitement for me.  that transitioned into capturing an old house which got my creative juices flowing and allowed me to capture a scene that is a little closer to my preferred subset of landscape photography.  From there, I was back into the landscape shooting scenes that I had captured before.  It was fun, but not nearly exciting for me.  After that I had found a rather unique house which I found a really interesting isolation of that told a story unlike anything else I had captured in Western NC.  Moving on from that, I found myself photographing a rather pristine looking locomotive which is a nice side interest for my photography.  That ended up morphing into some very hard lined geometrical compositions in monochrome.  In case you weren’t keeping score…I was all over the place with my subjects for the day.  I had moved freely between several genres of photography which is a real treat when my mind will let me see so many different ways.  I was finally satiated in my quest for creativity for the day.  I was just wanting to get home to see how these lase few images came out.

Remember when you started reading that you wanted to scroll to the bottom of this entry to see the really odd picture that I teased.  I hope that you didn’t read ahead, but I figure you probably already did.  I wanted you to have the same surprise as I did when I came upon my next and final scene from the day.  I was done, and that usually means that I am completely finished with the captures of the day.  When that switch flips in my head and I realize that the creating part of the day is over I just don’t see things as photographs as easy as I did before.  My focus is now on processing what I have captured….at least that is the way things typically go.

As I was making my way back to the truck I looked at an old blue building which I had considered using as a contrasting color for a future Miata shoot.  There really wasn’t anything special about the building, but it was old and the siding was in pretty poor shape which made it interesting to me.  Near the corner of the building was a single construction barrel standing.  You know…..the orange barrel that you get to dodge going down the highway when they are doing maintenance or construction?  Well there it was.  I had seen quite literally hundreds of thousands of these stupid barrels over the years and I had no love for them at all.  However, seeing this one in the soft diffused light of the sun against the blue building I was able to see past the subject and was able to concentrate on the colors and the lines in the scene.  It captivated my imagination and forced me to turn that creative force back on which hardly ever happens.

Before I knew it I was putting the camera back together again with the long 70-200mm lens so I could get some good compression to the scene.  I added a polarizer to remove glare and to increase the saturation of the colors.  I got down low to the ground so that the pavement wasn’t an important part of the scene.  I started to frame up the shot as a vertical image for simplicity but ran into a problem of where to place the barrel.  There was a conduit pipe on the side of the building just to the left of the barrel which was going to have to be included.  I didn’t want to just arbitrarily place things at certain points in the frame because I needed these two elements to work together.  The way that they were, the conduit was actually forming a visual barrier to the barrel because your eyes came to it first.  I had to work this out or it was going to be just a snapshot of an orange barrel which wouldn’t be any fun at all.

A Study in Lines“, Canon 5DS R, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

What I ended up deciding to do was to flip the image.  Since there was no writing anywhere it was easy enough to have the barrel and the conduit change positions.  I could then put them collectively in the center with each element slightly offset from the middle.  The eyes would now enter the frame and see the barrel first.  The conduit would then take the eyes up and to the right before hitting the dark edge of the top forcing the eyes to bounce back down and go towards the brightest element in the composition.  I had the composition worked out, now it was just a matter of getting the colors to line up just right which was handled in Lightroom.  I went with a bit more of a teal appearance to the building to compliment the orange a bit better.  I loved how the background was all about vertical lines which was punctuated with the gray conduit.  The barrel on the other hand was all about horizontal lines which were thicker and more bold.  The simplicity of the scene is kind of deceptive when you start to really look at this one.  There are so many little details and points of interest to look at whether it be the scuffs on the barrel or the faded and worn areas of the wall.  I know that this will not be a popular image, but I’m quite taken by how it all came together.  I love reminding myself that anything can become a photograph.  It doesn’t have to be a sunrise over a mountain vista, or an old house under an interesting sky.  A bunch of rusty stairs or even a plastic reflective barrel can be a successful composition.

After that little lesson that I reminded myself of, I was officially done.  My creative energy was drained and I just wanted to get home to see how they turned out.  I had 127 frames captured for the day which had been going for some six hours at that point.  When I was done culling the images down and selecting the keepers I ended up with these dozen images which was about twice what I expected from the day.  It was a nice change to get back into this kind of rhythm and routine of shooting pictures in a day, but the downside to that is the time that it calls for after the trek.  Here we are approaching 11pm now and I’ve been working on these pictures and this blog entry since roughly 12:30.  It goes so much quicker when it is only a single image (unless it is a panorama!), but it can be just as rewarding to have a collection of new images at the end of the day.

I do hope that you enjoyed the trek and the photographs that resulted.  Who knows, you might even like the silly orange barrel as much as I do.  If you are interested in having a print done of any of these, just let me know or you can order the basic sizes right here in my gallery store.  There is just no better way to enjoy anyone’s photography than to see it in a tangible form that can be enjoyed without having to open up an app or start a computer.

Also remember I have two upcoming workshops that you might be interested in.  The first one will be in August and is an introduction to Lightroom which will take you through all of the basics as well as spending some time on local adjustments. This is a virtual workshop so you can learn from the comfort of your own home while being able to ask questions along the way.  My next in-person workshop will bein September and will be a mini-workshop in the evening where I will teach you how to paint with light which is a great little technique for simplifying a scene by carefully placing light exactly where you want it over a long exposure.  If you are wanting to learn something different, I am still offering individual instruction sessions where I can cover topics that you are specifically needing help on.

Until next time…

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