So Much Potential, So Little Luck

· Reading Time: 11 minutes

Monday, December 2, 2019

Sometimes things just don’t work out.

You win some, you lose some.

Into every life a little rain must fall.

I’ve heard them all, and I kept saying these things to myself throughout the middle of the day today.  You see, I was down in Salisbury helping an Uncle with a few things before Toni took him for a surgery…that didn’t happen.  Long story there and way off topic.  However, since she was going to stay with him for that, I drove down separately so that I could get back in time to get Sierra from school.  I figured that I would have a few hours to play with between when I was done there and when I needed to be back.  Since I was going to be in a different area than I normally travel in, I decided to take my camera and take the long way back home.  It worked out great since the clouds that were forecasted actually showed up and looked great!  When it was time for me to be on my way, I set my course for Hwy 601 which I knew would eventually get me back to US421 which would take me home.  I knew enough about 601 to know that it spurred off into many different rural areas and that was what I was after.  Specifically, I wanted old cars and barns.

It didn’t take long to get out of town and start seeing the clues that I was looking for.  I’ve gotten really good at sniffing out old cars and barns.  I know the types of road names to look for, and I can usually spot something rusty from the main road that will lead me down a side road.  I was doing my thing and finding a lot of great potential, but it seemed that everything that I ran across was not in a setting that would work compositionally.  That is the most important final step when I find a subject.  It has to fit in a square or rectangle frame, or it just won’t work.  Most everything that I found was jumbled up with other irrelevant elements that I couldn’t deal with.  I refused to get desperate though.  There were too many potential subjects for me to get in a hurry.  I wanted to find that right subject in the right light.

One of the side roads that I pulled off on had all the clues there, and about a dozen or so houses in I saw what I wanted to capture.  There was a primered sedan sitting out all along with an interesting tree nearby.  This was the perfect setting with great colors and light.  The car was the right vintage, but not necessarily one of the most fantastic finds I have run across.  It was good enough that I wanted to stop and see if I could shoot it.  I pulled into the driveway and saw two cars there.  Both were currently registered, but neither looked like they had been driven in some time.  I knocked on the door and heard a dog bark.  That is usually a good sign, but not this time.  There was no other indication of movement from inside, and nobody ever came to the door.  I walked back out to the driveway and looked at the scene.  I could shoot it from the driveway, but that was really getting too far into the property for my comfort.  Instead, I decided to mark my map so that I could remember it for later.  I also snapped a quick picture with my cell phone to remember the scene.

There would have been a good bit that I could have done with this, but in order to really make the image pop, I was going to have to get in close and use a wide angle lens.  The cell phone shot did show the potential though.  I was now getting in my groove, and feeling better about the trek that I was on.  I got back in the truck and continued on down the road.  I was coming through one of the small towns out that way and saw a Mustang trapped in the brush down below the road.  Scratch that……I saw several Mustangs littered in the field.  The house that was to the side had more old cars, with some old trucks off to the right of the house.  I didn’t see any compositions right off, but I knew that I could easily spend an hour or more here.  I got turned around and pulled into the driveway as the owner of the home was going in the door.  I finally caught a break.  I got out of the truck and approached the door where she was.  I heard the door lock and the window slats started to open.  OK, this is not starting off on a good foot.  I kept my distance and with a smile introduced myself.  I explained why I was there and asked if she minded if I photographed some of her vehicles.  She didn’t give it a second thought and turned me down.  I came back with another plea asking if there was anything that I could do or say that might change her mind.  Again, I got a polite “no”.  I started to turn around as I was telling her thank you and good bye, but quickly added “can I leave you a card in case you change your mind?”  She wouldn’t even go for that.  I’ve been in this situation many times before and I knew that it was over at this point.  I bid her farewell and marveled at the collection on the way back to the truck.  I was regretting this already.  What a shame I couldn’t even get a single image from this goldmine.  But, I’m not in the business to argue with folks, and she held all the cards in this discussion.  Maybe another time.

I started back on my explorations not feeling as good as I did before.  Time was ticking by quickly and I only had about another hour to play with before needing to be back on my way home.  I turned down this street and that street seeing all sorts of really cool stuff, but nothing quite rising to being picture quality.  Then I saw a few old cars in the woods, and when I got to the house, I saw a bunch more all around.  This was just as good as the last place.  Maybe I was going to get my chance at a treasure chest after all.  I pulled into the driveway and saw two registered cars in the driveway and the garage was open.  To be fair, I don’t think that the garage door would close if they tried it, so that didn’t mean anything.  I announced myself just in case anyone was out working on the property.  With no answer, I went up to the front door and found it blocked by a bench.  Obviously this was not used as an entrance, but my only other choice was to go into the garage and knock on the door inside.  This was probably the main entrance to the house, but I knew that by walking into the garage as things sat, I would technically be committing a misdemeanor B&E which I had no interest in doing.  I knocked on the front door and awaited instructions to go to the garage door, but they never came.  There were no signs of life in the house.  I went to the garage and looked in to see if there was any indication that the interior door would be a customary entrance.  I saw no clues to that, so I looked at the two vehicles in the driveway.  They hadn’t been moved in a while based on the leaves on the hoods and windshields.  I went with the newer of the vehicles and left a business card on the side window with a quick note and my number.  I still haven’t heard anything from them though.

I got back on the road and started to look for something else.  I was not allowing myself to get desperate over this.  I only had a couple of hours to play with and I knew that the chances of finding something were going to be slim.  I had found a lot, but had just not had the luck needed to get the pictures.  I had about 30 minutes to work with based on the GPS estimate to get home.  I wasn’t desperate, but I was getting determined (looked up synonym for desperate) in my quest.  I had such a tremendous sky that I hated to have it go to waste without finding something to go under it.  I continued on my path of left and right turns until I saw a barn looming on the horizon.  It was missing bits of the siding which automatically caught my eye.  As I got closer, I saw more potential with it.  To make matters even better, the sun was hitting it, and the clouds were amazing behind it.  The downside was a barbed wire fence around the front of the barn which wasn’t the prettiest of fences.  There were interesting shadows from the posts though, and that was a nice tradeoff.

I went ahead and pulled over to see what I could do with it.  I got out of the truck and looked at the lay of the land.  I found a composition that I thought might work and checked it with my phone camera.  It was decent enough to try, but I wasn’t going to have long.  I had maybe 20 minutes to work the scene.  I went back to the truck and grabbed my camera.  I already knew that my 24-70mm lens would be the one to use here, and I added  a Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer since even on the wide end, there were enough clouds in the sky where the banding wouldn’t be a problem with the filter.  I got it all set up on my Manfrotto tripod and got into position where I had scouted originally.  The composition wasn’t as strong as I had hoped and there wasn’t that much sky included.  I needed to go wider, and get closer.  I did that, and found a nice strong anchor with one of the fence posts.  The wide angle of the lens allowed me to get more of the sky for a bit of drama, and I found that the tree to the right would frame the image decently.

Time is Meaningless“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

The composition was working out well, but I ended up raising the camera just a tad to get some separation between the fence posts and the roof of the barn.  This seemed to work well in the live view as far as the composition.  The clouds were looking good. I only needed to wait for the sun to peek out from behind the clouds and give me some nice directional light like I had seen driving up on the barn.  It didn’t take but about five minutes for that to happen and I was able to rattle off several shots as the sun’s intensity changed.  With that series out of the way, I had the composition that I liked and the sun had done its thing.  The clouds above were great, so I felt that I had it in the bag.  It was time to roll on and head home, so I didn’t try any other compositions.  I just hoped that the one composition that I had put all my hopes in would work out.  I had nothing else to show for the day.

When I got it home and started to look at it, I was less than impressed with it.  I picked out my favorite iteration of the composition and started to process it.  Still not happy with it.  I put it on the shelf and we went out to dinner when Toni got home.  When I got back I had all but decided to trash the image, but needed to come back to the office to get a metal print ready for delivery tomorrow.  While I was back in the office, I cranked the computer up once more and pulled the image up in Lightroom.  It was better than I had remembered, but it still wasn’t what I wanted.  I sat down and started to play with the image a bit more and I tried to find the right formula for it.  What ended up working was changing the color rendering and then dropping the saturation levels quite a bit.  Sometimes I get in those modes of desaturated images and this was apparently one of those times.  That seemed to help it quite a bit.  I then started in with some local adjustments and some dodging and burning.  The end result was an image that was actually pretty close to my vision at the time of the capture.  It is far from my favorite image from recent times, but it was a decent one and I figured it was worth keeping.  My favorite part, aside from the sky, was the shadows from the fence posts.  They reminded me of sun dials, but they all appeared to be going in slightly different angles.  With them all telling different times from the same sun, I got the inspiration for the title of this one.  With that, it all came together and it had a life.

It was a long day, and I only got a chance to shoot a single subject, but I saw so many great things that I want to go back out there and dig deeper.  I know there are better subjects out there, and with the right time and frame of mind I will be able to do some incredible things out in that area.  I just need to wait for the weather to work with me so I can give it a try.

Until next time…
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