Sunday, November 18, 2018
There are times that the weather is quite frustrating to me. I have spent a week at work under cloudy skies, although with a lot of rain. The minute the weekend gets here and I might be able to get out and shoot something the clouds all go away. Looking at the forecast, my only chance for getting some clouds was going to be on Sunday with decent cloud cover in the morning, and then clearing around lunch time. I got up early to take advantage of what was supposed to be a good sunrise, but the clouds were not present in any form at that point. I dozed for a little while longer and then I got up and started to evaluate the day. There was not a cloud in the sky which didn’t bode well for me at all. I decided to spend some time working on the website instead. I kept looking out the window and checking the clouds which were supposed to be thickening up through the morning. Occasionally I would see a bit of cloud, but it was usually short-lived. By 9:30, I was at the deciding point for the day. The clouds were starting to come in, but nothing like I was expecting. If I waited too long, it would be noon and that is not a great time to be out with the camera. I decided to give it a go, and the destination was East Bend to shoot some cars that Toni and I had seen a couple of months ago at some dealerships of all places.
I grabbed my gear and set out West. The clouds were there, but they were really thin and just provided a bit of diffusion for the sun. I was hoping that it would be enough to make the trip worth my while. When I arrived at the location that I was intending on shooting, I was not overly impressed with what I had to work with. The backgrounds were very cluttered and I just wasn’t feeling it at all. I decided to continue on down the street and look for something a bit more natural in appearance. Out here in Yadkin County you never know what you might find and I was open for just about anything at this point. It was all a matter of the quality of light and finding something to make use of that light.
As I was driving along something caught my eye on the side of the road near Booneville. It was a Mustang! I don’t get the opportunity to photograph many Mustangs because they are usually scooped up and restored pretty quickly. This one was a less desirable coupe car with a vinyl top. It had patina and character so it had my attention. Looking at the surroundings it was situated beneath power lines, in front of a multi unit car port with other cars parked under the shelter. There were mailboxes, and a business at the corners and houses across the street. This was not looking good, but something told me to stop and give it a try. I was out here, might as well have something to show for it…right?
I pulled out the camera with the 24-70mm lens attached and my ever popular Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer to deepen the colors of this old car. Next was the hard part. I needed to find a composition that worked with the light and the car while minimizing the distractions in the background. I splayed out my tripod to get close to the ground and ran the center tube horizontal to the ground keeping the camera really low. It was an awkward position, but the car blocked the house that was on the other side of the street perfectly while giving a very commanding presence to the front end. My worry was that the sky was filled with thin clouds and I wasn’t sure how the exposure was going to work out since the car was largely in the shadows. I checked the histogram to see if I would need an ND Grad and decided that while I was looking ok with nothing blown out or bunched up, it would be better to err on the side of caution here. I added a Singh-Ray, Galen Rowell, 2-Stop soft edge ND Grad to bring down the exposure in the clouds above. This seemed to work well as the histogram improved a good bit and gave me a more level exposure. My only issue at this point was a bit of vignetting at the corners based on my focal length. To correct that, I simply backed the camera up and narrowed the focal length a bit. That did the trick, and at 57mm it looked perfect from where I was sitting. All of this thought and working paid off as this is my favorite shot of the day (opening image).
Having gotten the composition that I was really after with this car, I started to look for some isolations on it. What I found was the most recognizable feature of these old Mustangs…the headlights and outer vents. This is one of those features that will identify the car with no problem at all. I moved around and got a different position and fortunately elevated the camera a bit. It is tough being old and trying to get down low with knees that snap, crackle, and pop. Since I was doing isolations I no longer needed the ND Grad so that went back in the bag. I found a composition that included the wheel which was period correct as well at the best parts of the front end of the car. I did a few shots that included the prancing pony, but in the end that was just too much and wasn’t needed at all thanks to those vents beside the headlights. An added bonus here was the tuft of grass right beneath the bumper. That really helped to balance out the tire in the composition. While this one was not nearly as dramatic as the opening image, a Mustang fan will surly appreciate this concept.
I tried looking for a few other isolations on the Mustang but quickly gave up since there wasn’t much else that was looking good. I did see an old Ford with a scoop on the hood which had incredible patina. I would have loved to worked with this truck in a field with nothing around it. It was just that cool, but unfortunately it was tucked in the car port and surrounded by a trailer and a modern vehicle. Shooting the whole truck wasn’t going to be a possibility in this setting. The hood and scoop, however, were looking really good and I decided to give that a try. I had to get in close to the truck because of the trailer that was directly in front of it, but that was fine as the 24-70mm lens is versatile enough to cover just that situation. I knew I would be doing this as an abstract so I shot it to get all the grit and patina in the paint while leaving the scoop to give visual clues as to what is being seen.
I really wanted to do more with this Ford truck and looked at the doors for potential compositions, but just didn’t find anything that jumped out at me. Since I was tripping over the trailer, I decided that it was probably time to pack things up and go and find another location to shoot. As I was going back to the bag, I took another look at the Mustang. I really liked how the road was running alongside the car and thought that added some drama and also let us see part of its story. My original concerns were still there with the houses in the background as well as a phone pole and a mail box. I studied the scene and found an angle that I could shoot that would minimize the distractions while still giving a good angle on the car. For this I was going to need as much altitude as I could get. I extended the Manfrotto all the way to about 7 feet to get the perspective I was after. Fortunately, my camera had live view which allowed me to still see what I was doing even though my eyes were nowhere near the viewfinder.
I got the shot set up and made the exposure. It looked good but there was a really bright house across the trees that was poking out from behind a few large trees. The sun was shining on it which made it that much brighter. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this once I started processing the image, but I had it shot and I liked the concept. As I was doing the editing on the images, I really didn’t want another picture of this blue Mustang since I already had two others of the dame car. What I decided to do was to convert the image to a monochrome to really take advantage of the patina on the hood and to mask the fact that this car had a vinyl top on it. The conversion worked beautifully and it looked more like a muscle car already. I had composed the image to avoid the mailbox and phone pole behind the car, but that house was really an eyesore to the image. I made the executive decision to do some cloning on the house to eliminate it once and for all. It didn’t take much and I was able to leave the trees that stood in front of the house. I don’t like doing this kind of image manipulation, but there are times when it is fully necessary for the sake of the vision and this was one of those times. I have to say though that the final image turned out quite well of this Mustang and I’m happy that I did what I did to make it a reality.
With that, I was done with the Mustang and decided to head back to the area that I had wanted to shoot originally. The clouds were clearing out and I was thinking that I would probably just keep on driving, but I wanted to give it a chance first. It didn’t take long and I was back in East Bend at the dealerships. I took another look and saw all sorts of interesting vehicles, but the setting was just not quite what I was waning. What got me to stop was a white Ford Falcon behind one of the businesses that looked like it had potential as well as an old rusty 40’s Ford sitting off on the corner of the lot. I parked and loaded the camera back with the 24-70mm lens along with the Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer and went to town working on three different cars. I started to have some really good luck with the Ford sitting at the corner, but since it was backed up to a fence and a building with a power pole and wires all around it, I wasn’t happy with the overall shots at all. I started to get in close and work the hood ornament a little bit. I found a nice composition that captured the wonderful patina of the car as well as the chrome bling on the hood. The best part was that I didn’t have to worry about all that clutter that was around the car. I was starting to get in a groove at this location but I was getting the feeling that I needed a tighter crop on my images.
In order to get a little more intimate with these cars I moved to the 70-200mm lens and kept the Singh-Ray Polarizer attached. This has always proven to be a great combination in tight areas. I moved over to the Falcon at the back of the business and tried a composition that I had done before with the wider lens, only stepped back about 20 additional feet and composed a shot with less background included. The tighter focal length reduced the amount of background and allowed for a narrower depth of field as well.
This seemed to do the trick as the car almost jumped from the screen when I reviewed the image. I was able to take full advantage of the angled trees in the background to frame the car. The trash that was on it I left since that told the story of the car. The shadow from the building provided a nice framework for the lower right corner as well. This worked out so much better than the shot I did at a wider angle. This just goes to show that sometimes a change of lens is all you need to make a difference in an image. I started to move around and shoot other compositions with the longer lens and I revisited the cars that I had been at previously. I even went back to the Ford in the other corner to work on the hood ornament.
I was able to get a much more intimate view of this very aged ornament. The textures in the rust really set the whole image off as do the warm tones to counter the chrome that is reflecting the sky above. I’m happy with the couple of pictures that I have of the hood ornament of this car as I love my collection of chrome emblems on these old cars. They just look wonderful with the rust in my opinion. I looked around on the cars for some more isolations but just couldn’t find anything that I liked. There was a tractor that had caught my eye earlier that I thought about working on before I called it a day. The sun was getting really bright at this point and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make anything work or not, but it was worth a try.
This was going to be difficult at best to capture as it was parked in line with modern cars and there was a bright yellow school bus in the background. I decided to have a repeat of how the day started and dropped the camera down low to the ground to get a slightly different perspective. I wanted to include the headlights, and the badging on the tractor in the composition. What I finally decided on was an isolation of sorts. The blue sky in the background balanced the warm tones of the rust, and the blurred tree in the background balanced the height of the nose of the tractor. While shooting this, I felt like a kid looking at Daddy’s tractor and thinking about the day I would be all grown up and could drive it. When I edited the image and found that I liked it enough to keep, that same thought came back to mind and the title was born. The small headlights on the front also look like inquisitive child’s eyes as well which cemented the title. It was a difficult shot, but one that I am happy that I made.
It wasn’t a terrific day and I was only out for a few hours, but I did mange to come home with 59 frames shot from two different locations. I had thought I would be lucky to get four images that I really liked out of this group, but in the end, I actually had eight that I deemed as keepers. Despite the lousy lighting for the most part, I was able to read the lighting and make good use of what I had and managed to get some really good compositions out of locations that were difficult to isolate your subject. It was a day of overcoming obstacles and those are the best days there are because they force you to be a better photographer.
It is also worth mentioning in this entry that I am doing things a little different. You will see that under the titles of the images I have the equipment that was used to capture the image. I figured that the blog was a great resource for me to be able to look back and remember exactly what the setup was at the time of capture. Yeah, I can go and check the exif data and get the exposure and lens, but I have been relying on memory for filters used and this way I no longer have to.
Speaking of filters and equipment, you will also note that I have provided some links on things like my lens as well as filters. As of this morning I am now in the Amazon Affiliate Program and every time you click on one of my product links and ultimately buy anything on Amazon I get a percentage of that sale. It costs you no extra on the purchase end, but greatly benefits my photography so I ask that you consider going through my pages when you purchase from Amazon. Also, as the case has been for some time, I am also an affiliate with Singh-Ray and if you purchase your filters from them and use the code “KISER10” at checkout, you get 10% off your purchase, while I get a little income from that as well. This is not much, but it should help my photography stay afloat and hopefully keep me from being a starving artist.