Friday, July 26, 2019
I’m still enjoying the images that I shot from the week at Topsail Island, but I do need to get back in the swing of my normal photography rhythms. That can actually be one of the hardest things to do after a successful outing with the camera. You would think that after you come home with all sorts of great images and things are just flowing well while you are editing them that you would want to get back out there and keep that going. Well, that is not the case with most photographers. Most of the time, when you have that experience when everything kind of falls into place, you want to revel in that for a while and you just don’t want to go back out because you know that the chances are you won’t have a repeat. For me, I am only as good a photographer as my last time out. I was exceedingly happy with my coastal images and I didn’t want to ruin that for myself, but at the same time I knew I had to get back out there and start making more images again. The question was, what did I want to photograph?
Since returning from the beach, the weather really hasn’t been all that great with mostly clear skies, especially in the morning when I like to go out and shoot. That pretty much eliminated most landscapes off of the menu as I do like to have warm light and interesting skies for my landscapes. I could shoot some decay photography in this weather, but the harsh light is difficult to work with. The vegetation is also a little thick right now for most of the subjects that I might come across in my travels. I was left just looking at the weather and hoping that the sky would work for something that I was wanting to shoot while I was not at work.
As if an answer to my wishes, Toni was out in McCleansville, NC earlier in the week with Sierra. I have been out there before, but it has been quite some time ago. She was going down some roads that I wasn’t familiar with and started to send me pictures and videos of some of the old barns that she saw along the way. It sparked that creative bug in my mind, and gave me a destination to go explore a little more. The only question was when to go and give it a try. Looking at the weather, the clouds were non-existent in the mornings for the duration of the week, through the weekend. However, I was seeing on my cloud app that there would be some mid level clouds around mid day on Friday. It was not idea with the time of day, but the clouds would be perfect for some rural exploration. I just hoped that there would be a little diffusion in the sunlight from the clouds as well as giving interest to the sky.
It was an odd morning as I woke up just before sunrise, but had no intention of going out just yet. Instead, I sat down at the computer and started to write my Behind the Camera Feature which will be published on the first of the month. This actually took the majority of the morning to put together and when I was done with it, I happened to look and and saw that the clouds were moving in just like the forecast had predicted. The problem was, it was just after 11am which meant that the sun was going to be at its highest and harshest for the time that the clouds were in place. I could just stay home, but then I would have another day that I was putting off getting back in the saddle with the camera.
I decided that if I didn’t get anything, at least I went out and tried. If nothing else, I would be able to explore an area that I knew might have some potential subjects which was a good use of my time I figured. I grabbed my Lowepro Whistler bag and my Manfrotto tripod bag and loaded the truck up. I wasn’t far from McCleansville and I think it only took me like 45 minutes to get there. Not a terrible investment in time if I were to get nothing. I found the road that Toni had sent me all the pictures and videos from as well as the one barn that had sparked my attention. Sadly, it was not quite ready for a photo. The grass was a bit grown up around it and it was surrounded by just green trees with very little clouds above it. I could see it in the fall with some color behind it though with the grass much shorter. I put this one in my book to come back to later to see if the composition improves any. I kept riding up the road and saw several other barns that looked really good, but suffered from the same problem. There was just not enough color and interest around to really make the images work. I wasn’t feeling bad at all though because there were a lot of different subjects that were jumping out at me with potential. I can see spending some time out here in different seasons capturing the barns. I even saw an old dump truck that looked really nice, but the sun was on the wrong side of it to really work out.
I drove aimlessly for a while which is something that I am pretty good at doing when I am doing these rural road trips. The idea is to get totally lost on the back roads in order to find things that are not easy to find. I actually did just that when I passed by a field with a small cabin home sitting at the top of the plowed field. It was just interesting enough to capture my attention and it had just enough color to make it stand out against the green background. The clouds were actually looking really nice overhead as well. I got the truck turned around and I pulled off the road. This was a maintained and fenced property so I didn’t want to go up to the cabin which would have been my ideal solution. There was no indication of where the property owners might be, so there was nobody to ask for permission to get in. That was fine, I could shoot this from the road well enough I thought.
I pulled the camera out and fitted my 70-200mm lens which gave me the reach that I needed to capture the cabin in a composition that I liked. I didn’t like the compression of the image from this distance, but I wasn’t able to get in any closer for a different perspective. To add a little pop to the clouds and to take some of the glare off of the roof, I added my Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer which did just the trick for me. From there it was a matter of framing up the composition that I wanted. This was not as easy as it should have been. I had to deal with the roof of a house to the right of the cabin just over the ridge. There was very little to work with for a foreground, so the only thing that I had any control over was the placement of the front door in relation to the vertical post of the porch. I found a place that kept it from obscuring the door completely while still giving it enough contrast to show up. The sky was a little bright,
It was a very simple composition featuring the chimney and the quarter view of the cabin. I liked it as both a horizontal and vertical composition and ended up keeping both since I have run into occasions where clients have wanted options with orientation of my prints. They both have a different feel to them thanks to the design of the clouds which was what actually dictated the composition choices at the time of the captures. Of the two, my favorite is the vertical composition and that is actually my favorite from the day. I probably spent about 15 minutes here with about 15 frames captured. There wasn’t much else that I could do here limited to a single lens. I wasn’t sure how I would like these images the best, but I was leaning towards monochrome because dramatic skies like this often look best in B&W to really show of the textures and tones.
From there, I got back in the truck and started driving again. I ultimately ended up in Gibsonville which is a neighboring town. There were more rural subjects there which grabbed my attention, but the lighting was wrong for so many of them. The one that I drove by that seemed to be decent was an old horse trailer sitting in a field all by itself. It was a well worn patina which spoke to my love of rust. It had a slightly warm tone that went well with the blue in the sky and the different shades of green kept the balance for the image. I have been wanting to photograph an old rusty horse trailer for a while now, but haven’t found the right one to get. This was as close as any with the setting, but I was faced with the same problem I had with the cabin before. It was in a large field that was fenced off. I couldn’t get nearly close enough to it for the compositions I had in mind. Once again, I was going to have to settle on using the long lens and being very limited with my options.
There were just a couple of different compositions that I could come up with since there was no real foreground interest to the scene. Again, the trees in the background were not all that helpful since they were all pretty much a uniform color. While I really liked getting the details of the trailer in the tight composition, the whole image lost some impact for me when compared with the more open image that included the sky. Neither of these I was really all that excited about, but the color of the trailer was the saving grace for the scene I think and prompted me to keep it. I spend another 15-20 minutes here shooting this trailer before I left with another 15 images in the bag.
I did some more driving around and ended up in Julian before I decided to call it a day and head home. I hadn’t really come across anything that really excited me, but I had gotten out with the camera and come back with at least some pictures which isn’t always the case. I just keep comparing them to the images that I had recently shot at the beach and they really didn’t compare which left me feeling a little let down by the experience. I did start processing them when I got home to see if maybe I was being hard on myself.
I found these four images that I thought had merit and started to process them. The cabin turned into a black and white composition as I was suspecting. That was mainly due to the harsh lighting which works better in images without color since the shadows are so deep. The trailer went better in color, but neither of the subjects did I really get excited about even after doing rough edits. I was finished with them in time to get the blog entry done and the pictures posted online before the end of the day, but I just wasn’t convinced that I liked them enough. I wanted to wait until Saturday to make my final decisions on the images.
When I woke up, I decided that I would actually go out again to get some different images which I will cover in my next entry. When I got home, my mind was completely cleared from yesterday’s rural road trip and I looked at them once again. They were better than I remembered them being, but they were still not fantastic images. The opening image here is really the only one that I am considering putting in the gallery. The rest of them are here for your enjoyment and as a record of what I shot over about four hours of my Friday. I was happy that the sky cooperated with me, but sadly, it did that at the wrong time of the day.
Summer is a difficult time for a photographer. Everything is green and overgrown and the light is usually quite harsh through much of the day. There is usually only a haze in the sky and the clouds are rarely seen unless there is a storm coming. I’m ready for Fall to get here, and then Winter. Those are probably my favorite times of the year to get out with the camera. It seems that things get much more interesting during those seasons.
I’m about to get to work on what I shot this morning which should be quite interesting in its own right. I was able to bypass all the green of Summer and take advantage of an empty sky. Or at least I think I was able to do something with those elements. Time will tell here shortly.