Rust Therapy at Outlawed Restorations

· Reading Time: 22 minutes

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lacking Motivation

It has been several weeks since I’ve been able to go out with the camera.  In fact, it has been several weeks since I’ve been able to do anything at all normal.  With my first day at work looming in the very near future I decided that I really needed to get myself leveled again.  My mind has been all over the place and I knew that I wasn’t centered and was going to find it very hard to focus at work.  The best way to real in my mind was to make myself think about photography once again.  I was also needing to start the healing process in earnest.  I really didn’t care where I went, but I wanted it to be somewhere familiar to me so that I could feel at ease and could concentrate on the photography end of things.  As the weekend approached, I was a little upset to see that there was nothing but sun forecasted until Monday.  That pretty much meant that I wasn’t going to bother with the mountains this weekend.  There were several places locally that I could go where I had spotted some cars, but that would possibly mean trying to locate owners which I really didn’t want to mess with.  I was at a stalemate with myself as to where to go and what to shoot.

As the weekend got here, I was able to see that there was the possibility of some clouds forming on Sunday afternoon, into the early evening.  This could be promising, but wasn’t going to leave me enough time to travel far.  After losing an hour of daylight in the evening, I was looking at having about 3 hours of good light and that wasn’t worth driving all over creation for.  My first thought was to go to East Bend where I had found some old cars.  The problem was they were in some tight areas surrounded by other cars, and well within somebody’s property.  I wasn’t looking to get into all of that, so I started to think about other areas I could shoot nearby.  I don’t know what sparked this idea but I thought about asking Dean at Outlawed Restorations if I could shoot at his shop.  I was familiar with it, and having been there a number of times I was comfortable getting back in the swing of photography with that location.

A Tangled Web

Dean was happy to have me come out to do some shooting around 2pm when the clouds were supposed to hit.  I was excited and at the same time a little nervous about going out again.  I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to my creativity.  There was a very real chance that I would get out there and flounder until I just gave up.  Of course, I was hoping that the light would be right and the subject matter would be interesting.  Time would tell, and I was on my way to East Bend around 1:30 as the clouds were just starting to pass over my house headed that way.  The closer I got, the clearer the sky became.  This wasn’t all that worrisome because I knew the clouds were moving West and what was over my house should be in East Bend shortly.

When I arrived, Dean came out of the shop to meet me.  We chatted a few minutes as the clouds started to roll overhead.  I talked with him about doing an upcoming workshop there and he was thrilled to let me have a small group come out in the Spring.  This is one of those places where so many different compositions are possible, and there is just so many different things to shoot in one place.  Just thinking about doing a workshop there was starting to get my creativity flowing once again.  I had so missed that part of my brain.  I started to look at the quality of the light and what subjects I had to work with.

Delta Decay

Speaking of subjects that I had to work with, Dean told me that Ole’ Stitch was inside the shop but if I wanted him to, he would bring it out and park it for me.  Not wanting to be a bother, I opted to forego shooting the old Chevy.  That was ok because I have gotten a really great image of that truck before and was more interested in what else he had lying around in the yard.  As we parted ways and he headed home, I started to go to work.  He had moved an old rat rod over to a different area and that was one of the subjects that I was interested in shooting this time.  I started out with that rat rod and found a composition that I liked…Well, one that I liked good enough to shoot.  There was a power pole in the background and power lines in the frame as well.  I decided that I could deal with them as the composition was really good with the family house balancing the image.  I got down low and fitted my 24-70mm lens with my Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer.  This allowed me to get all the warm rusty colors as well as the blues in the clouds above.

I found out really quickly, like before I even took a shot, that the exposure latitude was going to be too much for me to deal with.  I thought about adding an ND Grad filter to balance the exposure but the horizon was well below the subjects in the shot.  This left me with one choice that would work.  I ended up shooting a multi image HDR which was blended in Lightroom during the processing phase.  This gave me plenty of detail from the shadows to the highlights.  At the time of capture I really didn’t know what I was going to get, but I liked the composition and really wanted it to work.  After processing this one, it became an early favorite of mine from the entire trek, and it was the first series I shot of the day.  Most importantly though, I had found my creative flow once again.  I was thinking like a photographer for the first time in nearly three weeks.

The Other Side of Grieving

I started to move around in the area while the light was still good.  I found myself at an Oldsmobile 88 which I have shot a number of times previously.  It just has so much character!  I started trying to do some different things with it.  I decided to shoot through the driver’s window to capture the spider webs that were taking over the interior of the car.  These shots are fun, but very difficult to work with.  It is just not easy to balance the exposure for the bright outside while the dash is in the shadows.  I was very surprised when I started to look at my histogram and found that there was workable detail in both the shadows and the highlights.  I wasn’t going to need to do an HDR series, and didn’t need any additional filters.  I just very carefully exposed for the highlights and made sure that my shadows weren’t blocked up too bad.  I made two different exposures, but the one that I liked the best had the point of focus dead on the steering wheel allowing me to see the webs in complete detail.

I wasn’t done with that 88…no sir!  I wanted to showcase the cracks in the passenger window once again.  I had shot a really good straight on version of this view back in the spring.  Today, I wanted to try a different angle quite literally.  I looked at the back shooting forward, as well as from the front shooting to the rear.  With the current lighting I decided that front to rear would be my best composition.  I positioned the camera so as to capitalize on the diagonals brought in by the trim.  That helped to give it a dynamic presence and an interesting look.  With the car pretty much in the shadows, I didn’t have to worry at all about the exposure.  Everything was nice and even throughout the frame.  Clouds are great for that as they act as a really large softbox.

Autumn Classic

I wasn’t done with the Olds just yet though.  I wanted to get a shot of it with the Fall trees in the background.  I played around with my compositions and just didn’t find anything that I really liked.  I decided that I had the wrong lens for what I was wanting to accomplish.  I swapped out to my 16-35mm and set it up for a slightly different filter combination.  I used my B+W polarizer since it is a slim mount and then added my Lee Filter Holder to the front of that.  I set up the shot that I wanted in portrait orientation and looked at the exposure.  I was going to need a 2-Stop soft edge ND Grad to control the exposure so I reached in my bag of tricks and got my Singh-Ray Galen Rowell Grad and slid it down until the exposure was dead on.

Honestly, I shot this picture with full intention of making it a color image.  However, when I was processing it I didn’t like how it looked.  I almost trashed it, but started to look at the contrasts in the scene.  I decided that a monochrome image might just be the way to go here.  I did a quick conversion and really liked what I saw.  I played with some of the tonal relationships to separate the elements a bit better and found that I had a winner in black and white.  As I was thinking about this image and how it went from a failure to a success with a change in perspective, I started to think about a comment that was made recently about my Behind the Camera entry a few days ago.  This was the shot that fit the concept of “the other side of grieving.”  I had lost my creative energy and had to change my perspective which resulted in what was looking to be a very good series of image.  This image turned out fantastic from what was originally a trash bin image.  I was healing, and my image had healed.  It fit the theme of the day so well.

Forbush Fire

I left the wide angle lens on and started to move to different areas of the property.  The big fire truck was still sitting by the barn and it is always a lot of fun to shoot.  I started to work on different compositions here and decided that I liked the horizontal approach to it.  Yeah, I know I have shot this truck many times in similar fashion but this time was a bit different.  The lighting was great and the tree directly behind it was rather colorful which added a lot to the image.  The clouds in the sky were also a nice addition, but required a bit of finesse to make work.  I used a Singh-Ray, Galen Rowell 2-Stop soft edge ND Grad to control the exposure with this one as well.  I was fortunate that I could compose the image in a way that the filter would work without dimming the truck itself.  I wouldn’t know until I got home if this was as good an image as I thought it was going to be.  I only saw in the histogram that I had plenty of digital information in the scene.  When I started to process it, I knew I had something special and it was probably one of the best ones I have of this truck.

Another reason I needed to make sure I shot this truck was that it was probably not going to be there that much longer.  The owner is getting ready to put it in the shop for a project.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what this becomes in the future.  I’m also looking forward to shooting his existing truck when he is ready to post it for sale.  I’ve been thinking about that shoot for a few months now and am ready to get that series shot.  It should be rather cool and it is of a truck that I have not shot before, and will be doing it around barns that I haven’t shot either.  Look at me, already getting excited about being creative once again!

Autumn Tears

With my wide angle lens still sitting on my camera I moved to the other side of the bar where I knew of two trucks I wanted to shoot.  The first one I have yet to get a good image of because of the lighting.  I was determined to make it work this time though.  I didn’t need the ND Grads this time, but for simplicity I just left the B+W filter on the lens.  I started to work out compositions around this old volunteer fire department truck.  I found getting down low allowed me to grab a branch that was above the truck which made for an excellent frame for the upper part of the image.  The problem that I had here was the breeze and a weed that was growing up through the bumper.  I had to time the shot just right to make sure that the weed was relatively still.  I lucked out and manged to get one good shot of this out of four attempts.

The truck that was sitting beside of it I had shot several times before but wanted to try it again.  I had a great composition of it in the Spring showing the pink flowers in the trees behind it.  This time, there were warm Autumn colors in the background that I found even better than the first attempt.  I didn’t like the perspective distortion from the wide angle lens though, so I switched back to the 24-70mm and added my Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer once again.  This did the trick and allowed a capture that I think was better than the original shot earlier this year.  At any rate, I now have two seasonal images with this same truck and composition.  Who knows, I might get one of it in the snow here in a few months.  I think it would look great in that setting as well.

Stormy Stance

I looked up and realized that the sky was doing some really interesting things and figured I might as well take full advantage of this.  I moved out to the other side of the property once again and found my favorite rat rod fire truck.  I’ve shot this guy several times and just absolutely love it.  The clouds above it were adding some serious drama to the scene and made it an image that I really wanted to capture.  I got down low and flipped the camera on its side.  The lighting was good enough that I didn’t need to worry with ND Grads which was fine by me.  There was a tree to the right that had a bit of color to it that I wanted to capture.  Adding an ND Grad would have darkened the branches too much.  The rat rod which was sitting behind this one got in my way a little bit, but I was able to compose in a way to block most of the view with the rear wheel.  It isn’t completely covered, but it isn’t visually problematic for the image.

Oldsmobile Sorrow

Not wanting to miss out on this incredible sky, I moved over to my Oldsmobile which I had shot just a few minutes before.  This time, I was looking at that cracked window from the rear and wondering how I could get the sky in the shot.  I decided to crop in very close to the car focusing only on the patina of the quarter panel and the broken windows which would lead the eyes to the clouds in the distance.  I was really happy that there was an orange tree in the distance to give a little color balance to the image.  I used a shallow depth of field to add a little mystery to the distance and soften the clouds ever so slightly.  It worked like a charm and even Sierra liked how this one look mysterious.  For me though, as I was editing it, I was feeling sad for the old car, and the tones that I was bringing out in the image were amplifying that for me.  There was a sense of longing with this image for me, and that is the emotion that I really worked with for the final rendering.

Peeling Chrome

I wasn’t quite done even though it was starting to get dark.  I moved over to the side of the shop where there were a few interesting trucks.  The problem with them was they were sitting up against the side of the shop which limited  compositions as I didn’t like the wall as a background.  I was able to get some isolations of the one Chevy that I liked.  I have found over the years that I really like this body style of Chevrolet for the lines and curves around the front clip.  The headlights sitting on the fenders always grab my attention and the grill itself is a lot of fun to work with.  I set about shooting both fenders as well as the grill itself which still had the Chevrolet Emblem in the middle.  The patina was wonderful all around the cab and front clip so I was having a lot of fun with this one.  A nice bonus was the chrome was in such bad shape that I didn’t catch myself in any reflections.

Worse for the Wear

By this time, I was starting to get tired and was thinking that I had better get on the road.  The other end of that was I was here and the light was great for the next little bit.  Since it had been so long since I’ve been out shooting I decided to stick around and see what else I could get into.  Oddly enough, I found myself back at the rat rod fire truck that I like so much.  This thing is just so cool and was Dean’s first build years ago.  He has altered it from time to time, but I really like how it looks right now and hope that he doesn’t mess with it any more.  It has so many interesting touches that just keeps your attention as you look at it.  I am still finding little Easter Eggs all over it that I had not seen before.  I guess that is why I love photographing it so much.

Standing at the Ready

This truck photographs very well from down low so that is where I went with the camera.  I still had that stupid power pole in the background that I needed to deal with.  I didn’t like the idea of cloning it out since then I would have to remove several power lines that were connected to it.  I don’t like sitting in front of the computer that long, so my best option was to deal with the obstacle here in the field.  I found that I was able to use one of the exhaust stacks to cover the majority of the pole and what was left at the top was masked by the tree.  Yes, you can still see it, but the visual weight of the pole is greatly minimized.  The power lines are still not my favorite thing, but since they went with the texture in the clouds they were not that problematic at all.  The setting was just too good to let escape.


While I was over on this side of the yard I decided that I would start working with the Ford Starliner which I had only shot sporadically and usually as a supporting element for the Oldsmobile.  This time, I was determined to get a shot with the old car in the forefront of the composition.  I realized that the sky was still rather interesting in the background and decided to shoot just the headlights as a foreground interest for the sky.  I liked the image, but wanted more of the car.  I included the front clip back to the windshield and I liked that one too….but I still wanted more of the car.  I worked really carefully to get my position just right to where I could include the entire car without me having to sit on the Oldsmobile.  The sky took second fiddle to the Ford, but I figured that nobody would care too much.  The paint color was quite warm and I was worried about the color balance in the image, but looking at it on the LCD review I didn’t see a problem.  The sky was blue as well as the barn behind it.  The chrome took most of the visual attention in the image anyway so that worked out very well.


While I was playing with the sky, I decided that I would try the rat rod once again using the sky as the background.  I have wanted to shoot the grill on this car for some time since it just lies on the ground.  As I started to compose the image I found that the grill was taking the forefront of the composition.  I decided to embrace that and focused on the grill entirely.  I elevated the camera just enough so that the cowl and the roof would be visible above the grill.  There was just enough sky behind the car to give some much needed coolness to the image and the tree gave the perfect upper framework for the image.  Cropping out the wheels in the composition really emphasized the lowered stance of the car which I was so interested in capturing.

Lamenting Days Passed

I turned my attention back on the Ford and Oldsmobile after shooting the rat rod.  I wanted to get a picture of the pair with the Ford in the foreground.  I started to look at my compositional options and found that the rat rod was in my way.  Well, it was sitting where I wanted to be shooting, but I saw an opportunity to get creative.  I wanted to get elevated with the camera so I extended it all the way up.  I then placed the tripod between the framerails at the rear of the rat rod and stood on the frame to get to the camera.  This was perfect and allowed me to shoot over the roof of the rod.  The lighting was not nearly as tricky as the last time I shot these two cars from the other side.  The exposure was simple as could be and I really like how this one turned out.

Chopped and Stacked

Not wanting to say goodbye to the rat rod fire truck or the other rat rod, I set out to get one more composition with the both of them.  I went with an angle that I knew to work with the fire truck and then extended the shot a little to the left to include the other car.  The sky in the background between the tree and the ground was just perfect to bring the attention to the smaller rat rod in the background.  There is just so much to like about both of these cars and I was very happy to get them both in the same frame like this.  I was also happy about coming in the Fall when the trees were in color.  This would not have worked quite as well with solid green trees, and the fallen leaves on the ground helped as well.

Mossy Filler

After all of that I decided it was time to move on to something different.  I wanted to shoot an old Chevy that was sitting under a pine tree which I had shot in the Spring with great success.  The lighting wasn’t nearly as good this time and the compositions that I was after didn’t seem to work.  I tried doing some isolations, but those weren’t inspiring either.  I even went for a shot of the door art on the driver’s side door.  I liked the concept but the result looked more like a snapshot than anything else.  I was just about to give up on this truck when I walked around to the back of the cab.  There wasn’t much going on there, but I did see some really nice patina around the fuel filler neck.  It was the isolation I was going to go with.  I framed up a tight shot on the neck and set the exposure to really get the colors in the rust and paint to show up.  When I edited it at home, I gave myself a lot of liberty with the sliders and boosted the colors that I was drawn to.  It might be a little over the top, but I was going for a piece of abstract art so I allowed myself to have fun with it.


From the old Chevy, I found myself looking at a truck that sitting next to a bright red Pontiac Firebird.  It was situated in a way that would prevent me from shooting the front, and with the late model Pontiac sitting so close, I wasn’t sure I would be able to capture it from the rear either.  However, the patina on the old truck was so good I decided to give it a try.  I left the 24-70mm lens on and situated far enough away that I could zoom in to 70mm to compress the image.  I cropped out the back of the bed and got down low to obscure the bright red car directly beside of the truck.  This seemed to do the trick.  I set the exposure and fired off one shot.  It was all that I needed.  I liked what I had captured and saw no other ways of shooting this old truck.  I picked up and moved over to another Chevy Truck that was in pieces with an S-10 hood covering the empty engine bay.

Quite Dashing

This truck caught my eye but there wasn’t enough left of it to really capture in a photograph.  The interior, however, was really interesting.  The dash had been painted red and the instrument panel was that lovely teal from the 50’s.  I wanted to shoot that dash!  I got the tripod set up inside of the truck and used the “V” under the speedometer as the foreground interest.  The dash trailed off diagonally while you can see the fall colors and other vehicles on the property.  The lack of a windshield makes for a crystal clear image outside of the truck’s cab.  The red provides a great deal of visual excitement as well.  There is lots of evidence of the wear and tear on this old truck, and you find yourself really focusing on the dash more than anything else.  Of particular note here, I shot this image as a series of bracketed images for an HDR rendition.  It was the only way to get the detail in all parts of the image.

Pump Operator

Having had such a good time working the dash, I decided to pay a little attention to the details on the big White fire truck.  I found a cluster that really caught my eye and framed up a tight image that highlighted the age of the gauges as well as the rust on the side of the truck.  This would be my last image of the evening.  The sun was pretty much gone by this point and there was no signs that the sky was going to give a color show.  I wanted to get the images edited before bed and hopefully added to the website as well.  I was surprised to see that I had shot a total of 110 images in the 3ish hours I had been out at Outlawed Restorations.  I was really hoping for six good images as keepers knowing that I was a bit rusty after so long without a camera.  You can imagine my shock and amazement when i realized that I had twenty images that I thought were good enough to keep.  I guess my creativity was back, and I am very happy about that.  I hope you enjoy the new images, as well as the new website!