Rust Hunting in Danbury

· Reading Time: 11 minutes

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

After this past weekend, I was left feeling a little unsatiated when it came to my photography.  Yes, I was able to go out and I spent about an hour in the field, but when it was all said and done I had only worked one composition.  It turned out nice but I was still wanting more.  As luck would have it, I had a meeting Tuesday evening and that meant that I would have a little bit of time in the morning to go out with the camera.  To make matters even better, the forecast was calling for clouds and even a possibility of rain.  After all of the rain that we have had recently, this meant one thing…WATERFALLS!

I started to look at the time that I would have to work with and that put three locations in range for me.  That was Hanging Rock, Styers Mill Falls, and Widow’s Creek Falls at Stone Mountain.  Any of these would look good right about now but just thinking about them caused me to yawn.  I’ve done some fantastic waterfalls here lately and I do enjoy them…but the ones that are close just weren’t exciting to me right now.  In fact, after working so many waterfalls in the past couple of months I really didn’t feel like that was where I wanted to focus my attention.  Add to it the fact that I’ve been to each of these falls more times than I can count and know every composition available for them.  I wanted to be creative and shoot something different.

American Textures

I looked back to a previous trek that took me out to Stokes County when I found three different rusty treasures.  I remember driving out to that location that I passed by Priddy’s General Store which made me look back.  Thinking about the low clouds I was going to have got me considering a long exposure on the store for a little dramatic flare.  I was starting to get a little excited.  I also recalled seeing an old Mustang behind a house coming back home from the previous shoot as well as what looked like a parts car storage behind a shop of some sort.  All within about 10 miles of each other I had three possible locations to shoot rural and rusty subjects.  This excited me, and gave me the thrill of the hunt which was missing from waterfalls.

French American Stalemate

I started to plan out my morning which would include dropping Sierra off at school and then heading to Danbury.  I wasn’t quite sure what order I would work things in, but was really interested in shooting the General Store.  However, looking at it on Google Maps, I was a little concerned about compositions and felt that this might be a long shot subject.  I was going to be close and figured that I could at least give it a second look if I didn’t shoot it.  The Mustang would be a sure thing as long as the owner was home as I would need to get fully into the property to shoot it.  The shop was a bit of a question mark since I had only seen it for a fraction of a second driving down the road.  I saw rust, but didn’t know the compositions or even what types of cars would be present.  Based on all of this I decided to start with the Mustang and then decide from there where to next.


After dropping Sierra off, I took stock of the sky.  It had been phenomenal at the start of the day and the clouds were still really great but losing the definition.  This was going to be just fine for the automotive stuff and I didn’t feel bad about putting off the store since the sky wasn’t good for long exposure work just yet.  I made my way out to the area where I remembered the Mustang and the shop to be.  It was going to be difficult to find the Mustang coming from this direction as I would have to look behind me so I figured first come first served.

Car of the People

As luck would have it, I found the shop first and slowed down.  I could seen about a half dozen old cars in the back and a couple of them I didn’t recognize the makes of.  They weren’t quite the rusty messes that I like to work with, but I saw some potential.  It was a shop they were behind and I could see that the doors were open.  This was going to work out very well I thought.  I pulled off the road and took stock of the cars in the back once again before finding a place out of the way to park.  As I was parking, two guys came out of the shop with that look of questioning on their faces that I know ever so well.  I got out of my truck and introduced myself and shared why I was there.  They seemed cautious of me, but were willing to let me shoot some pictures which was all that I needed.

Double Dubs

I grabbed my gear and went around back to see what was there in detail.  I saw four cars up against the tree line that were definitely American and I was able to determine that these were Ramblers.  I just don’t see that many of those around anymore, and it was a pretty cool find for me since my Grandfather had driven one many years ago.  On the other end of the lot there were two cars that looked German and turned out to be Volkswagons.  In the middle there was a modern Mercedes V12 car which I cared absolutely nothing about, but beside it was a blue car I wasn’t familiar with.  The emblems were long gone from the back, but doing a little further looking I realized that this was a Peugeot 405 which was another really cool find!  The last car was some type of personal car which held no interest to me, but was cool at any rate.

American Decay

I went with the easiest to work with first, and that was the pair of Volkswagons on the far end.  For these, I opted to fit my 24-70mm lens and the Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer.  That gave me a great deal of flexibility in composition.  I found that there was a great tree that was behind the cars which I tried to include in several of the compositions.  Also, I saw that the clouds in the sky were getting much better so I was able to do compositions from down low that included the sky.  What I had to worry about was a shelf and a couple of trash cans on the far side of the cars.  Fortunately with some creative compositions I was able to block them out with the cars.  I was even able to shoot from both sides relatively easily.

Ramble On

As I ran out of compositions I moved over to the Ramblers and started to work them for a while.  I tried to get them individually, but that was very difficult to do with how close they were.  I found that the better compositions included several of them at once.  The trees made for a nice back drop for most of the shots and the sky cooperated with me in the other direction.  The held a lot of interest, but I was running into exposure problems.  With the front of the cars in deep shadows the sky was overexposing too easily.  I added the Lee Filter Holder and then started to work my Singh-Ray ND Grads to keep the sky under control.  I started with a 3-Stop and found that was not enough and added an additional 2-Stop.  That still didn’t give me what I was after, so I swapped that out for another 3-Stop which seemed to work well.  I had the soft edge one down lower to soften the line of the hard edge while keeping the cars exposed properly.

Classic Peugeot

This seemed to be the key and I moved over the Peugeot and had to get real creative with compositions since the Mercedes was parked right next to it.  I worked low so that the smaller in comparison Peugeot would completely block the large Benz.  That put a lot of the sky in the picture so I was having to use the ND Grads here as well.  I was able to drop down to just a single 3-Stop grad though which was nice.

Moby Dick

I was about ready to call it a day and go find the Mustang when I started to consider other options.  I went crazy and slipped on the 16-35mm lens with the slimmer B+W Polarizer for vignetting concerns.  I started working all three sections once again and found that I was getting some very dramatic compositions that included the sky.  Of course with the sky, I was having to add combinations of ND Grad filters to keep the exposure right.  Regardless, I was getting some very different feeling images while working on the same basic compositional ideas from earlier.  I was really on a roll, and loving getting in close and adding a lot of perspective distortion to the images.  The fun did eventually dry up and I found that I had run out of compositions.

Double Vision

I started to pack things up and saw the 70-200mm lens sitting there looking all pitiful.  OK, I’m a real softy and wanted to show it some love.  I attached it to the camera and added the Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer once again and started to work some isolations.  It got rolling with a shot of the taillight on the Rambler wagon which I found quite interesting.  That lead to other isolations of emblems and rust.  I even started to shoot head on shots of the Peugeot since the front end was quite a bit different than anything in my collection and it was just cool to look at.

Needs a Second Chance

After roughly an hour and a half on location, I had run out of creativity and the sky was starting to get a little active with some movement.  I would be able to shoot long exposures with this sky, but the only way to do that here was to include trees which were blowing too much to try several minutes worth of exposure.  I packed up my gear and thanked the guys once again for letting me shoot the cars and headed off to Priddy’s.

Rambler Flare

It didn’t take but about 15 minutes to get there and the sky was still pretty good.  The problem that I immediately saw was that there was a Tesla parked in front of the store.  That wouldn’t fit my vision at all.  I did take the opportunity to look at how the compositions would work out.  Honestly, I wasn’t all that happy with what I as seeing.  The sky would be a great element, but to include that I would need to include a lot of power lines and some other clutter that I didn’t like.  The store wasn’t all that interesting on its own, although it did have a yesteryear feel to it.  With all the things working against a picture of this, and not much really going for it, I decided that this was not worth my time.  I looked at my watch and wondered if I had time to try and find the Mustang at this point.  I really didn’t since I was going to have to talk with the owner to ask permission.  The day was done, and it was time to get to work.

Spotlight on Decay

I spent the day not really having a clue in the world about what I had captured through the morning.  I was hoping that I had about six good images out of the bunch.  I wasn’t quite sure how many I had captured since the last time I looked I was at 60-something frames.  When I got home I went right back to the office to upload the pictures from the day.  I had to wait a bit because there was an update ready for Lightroom which needed to be installed.  That took a little while, and then I finally was able to upload the images from the day.  I was surprised to see that I had 83 frames captured in less than two hours.  My hopes were for eight or nine keepers to turn up out of the bunch.  I went through the culling process and kept tossing images out and when I was finally happy with what I had in front of me, I was looking at 21 images!  That is a 25% hit rate which was amazing.

French Patina

I eliminated a few others as I was doing the processing and finally came away with a total of 14 keepers from this trek.  I would say that is a pretty good haul for a morning.  It definitely satisfies my creative desire from the previous weekend.  I am very happy at this point, and can now look forward to the next trek to see what I will capture then.

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