Wednesday, July 10, 2019
So there I was, driving around at work and I came across an old truck that I had not seen before. It was plenty rusty, and sitting on the edge of the property under some trees. Of course, the clouds were perfect when I saw the truck and I was really wishing that I wasn’t at work, and that I had my camera. This is part of the curse of a photographer. The best light happens when we are unable to capture it, or at least that is how it seems so much of the time. I noted the address, and when I got back to the office, I started doing my online detective work to find out the contact number for the property. As luck would have it, there was a landline associated with the address at www.anywho.com which is a great tool for finding numbers if you know an address. I called the number and found out that the owner of the truck was not at the house, but I was given a number to call where I could ask permission to photograph it. Of course I called, and spoke with Paul Scott. Oddly enough, he recalled speaking with me back in November about this truck. I honestly don’t remember that at all, which is very odd for me.
Looking back on the time period, I am betting that I did speak with him but just got sidetracked with my Mother’s passing and forgot all about it. The truck had been sitting here for about a year and he was looking to sell it. He was happy to let me photograph it, and added that he would appreciate any assistance in selling the truck, so I said that I would put his number in the blog entry so that any potential buyers might be able to contact him. That number is 336-339-2779. I don’t know any of the details of the truck as I am not a broker for the deal. My interest is completely photographic. I let him know that I was hoping to get out there Thursday when I had my camera with me and I was hoping that the clouds would hold until then.
Of course later on in the day, I was back out on the road again and the clouds were still tormenting me with being almost perfect for this particular subject. As luck would have it, I realized that Toni would be coming to Greensboro later in the day. I asked very nicely if she would grab my Lowepro Whistler bag and bring it when she came this way. She really came through and in about a half hour, I had my camera and was ready to go back out to the truck after work. The next few hours saw the sky clear and the once wonderful clouds were moving out of the area.
I started to look at the weather forecasts and found that this was the trend for the remainder of the week. I really wasn’t going to have a good chance to shoot it again for the foreseeable future which was completely opposite from what I had seen in the forecast earlier in the day. When the work day came to an end, I went outside and looked. There were still clouds, but the sun was pretty bright. It was all going to come down to whether or not the clouds would shield the sun when I was trying to shoot the truck. I figured that I had nothing to lose by trying, so I set my course to the old Chevy sitting beside the driveway.
The entire ride out there was spent getting excited when the sun would get covered, followed by disappointment when it would shine through. I was crossing my fingers that the light would hold for me, just long enough to get the truck worked. When I got there, I pulled into the driveway and tucked the 4Runner out of the way. The sun was shining, but the truck was largely in the shadows and I was pretty sure that I could make something work. I pulled out the Manfrotto Tripod and mounted the camera with a 24-70mm lens which is a great lens for working this type of subject. I added my trusty Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer to keep the glare at bay best I could. I then went to work finding compositions. I started out low and close, but found that too much of the sky was getting into the image and the shadows were killing the images. I altered the compositions and decreased the amount of sky that was included. These were getting better, but it wasn’t until I backed away from the truck that I saw the composition that would ultimately be the keeper. It included two different trees in the background that framed the shot well. There was just enough sky in the image to break up the green of the trees, and it was looking pretty good except for the exposure latitude. There was no way to capture the bright sky and the deep shadows in a single image. There was also no way to add a filter that would work to capture it correctly.
My only option was to shoot a series of bracketed shots and blend them later in Lightroom. I ended up with a series of four images separated by a full stop each. These were all blended to give me a single image with enough data to get the exposure right. It was not the image that I had in mind from seeing it this morning, but it actually turned out quite nice with lots of detail in the patina of the truck. The warm rusty tones balanced nicely with the surrounding green too. I probably shot about a dozen compositions of the entire truck, but the one that I have posted here is my favorite of the bunch. I wasn’t done after shooting the entire truck. this one had a lot of interest to be captured in isolations.
Isolations are actually a lot of fun to shoot in the harsh sunlight because of how the highlights and shadows turn out. I hoped that this would work out for me as I started to frame up compositions. I went right for the chrome which is the best subject for isolations when the vehicle is this kind of rusty. The best chrome on the truck was the surround for the grille as well as the hood ornament. The hood ornament wasn’t all that impressive, but I really did like the textures and wear on the chrome. that made it very interesting and I really liked the dents and the pitting at the nose. I worked my camera in close to get a nice intimate shot at 70mm. I tried my standard straight on composition but that didn’t have much interest to it at all. When I moved over to the side, the hood came to life for me. The lines and curves all worked very well together to give me a very interesting composition with a lot of vibrancy to it.
I was feeling rather inspired about how the front end of this truck was working out now. That is not to say that I was confident that any of these would actually turn out. In fact, I was really worried about the lighting and figured that at the end of the day, I would possibly be trashing most, if not all of the images. That didn’t stop me from trying. in fact, it gave me a freedom to experiment more than normal since I had no expectation of success. I did more HDR images than I normally would, and this last image is another example of just that technique. As always, I wanted to capture the headlights of the truck, and I really liked the chrome surround as well. I tried a few different ways of capturing them together but nothing really had any drama. they all just looked like snapshots. It wasn’t until I got down very low and framed an image that included the entire front end, the broken windshield, and the Chevy Emblem that I really started to like what I had. However, it also came with a bright sky, and a tree that was very much shaded from the sky. I was back in the familiar predicament of how to capture this. Again, filters would not work since I needed to brighten a quarter of the image, darken a quarter of the image, and keep an even exposure over the lower half. My only option was to shoot another series of images to be blended later on.
Four images later, I was able to blend them all together and utilize the full stop interval between each image to get the image that you see here. I will admit that this took some massaging to really make work, but the end result actually turned out really fantastic considering what I was up against. There is gobs of texture with the rust, the headlights really pop, and the emblem is even highlighted by the sun. the sky and the underside of the branch all turned out well exposed and make sense to the eyes. I could have left it as an over processed HDR image that looked very fake, but that is not my preferred style when it comes to blended exposures. I like to have a very natural progression of tones, but with a very clean appearance. I think that both of the HDR images here fall into that category as they are very similar to what my eyes actually saw at the time of the capture.
After about 45 minutes, I decided that the sun wasn’t going to hide at all while I was out there. I had 41 images on the memory card and I figured that was plenty. There were about five different HDR series shot which represented about half of the images that I had captured. I still didn’t know if I had anything that was worth my efforts, but I had tried. When I got home, I was actually very impressed with how the images turned out. I found eleven of the images that I decided to work through. I started with my favorites and began processing them. I’ll be honest here, these all took some time to work out. I was spending about 45 minutes on each of the three images here to get them looking just right. The lighting didn’t do me any favors and I really had to work around that fact in the processing. Fortunately, I had captured the bracketed images on two of these and had a lot of information to work with for the final images.
I’m very thankful that Toni was in a position to bring my gear to me, and I’m glad that I ultimately decided to try to shoot this truck to make her efforts worth it. It wasn’t perfect, but I managed to get three keepers out of the bunch that I am pretty happy with overall. They are all here because of my “Photo Wench” who is always there in the clutch to help out however she can.