Saturday, November 30, 2019
After yesterday’s goof with the filter, I was ready to go out and redeem myself in my own eyes. I had been very lucky to have come back with two decent images considering that the vast majority of what I had shot had failed due to my own negligence. Needless to say, first thing this morning I was going through my filters and cleaning them all up and checking the filter wallet for any more debris. I had been hoping that it was going to be cloudy for the first part of the day so that I could go out and reshoot the little store that I had been so excited about. However, the weather had other plans for me. When I woke up at 4am because I had a pre-sunrise idea in King, I checked the weather. It was already raining outside. There was no way it was going to hold off until lunch time like it was supposed to. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Well, my mind was going so there was no sleep for me. I actually ended up getting up around 5am and getting started with the day.
I had to come up with another plan because I was still itching to photograph something. I was looking at the weather, and it looked like my best bet was to go to South Mountains and work the waterfalls there. In my mind, I was already going through the same compositions that I always shoot there. That wasn’t going to work. I wanted something new and interesting. The rain was heavy North of I-40 though, and that meant that I was going to have to travel South to get out of the rain. I started to weigh my options and decided that I would go back out to Randolph County where I had been just a couple of days ago. I had seen a lot of potential out there, but really hadn’t been in the right headspace to take advantage of it. Plus, I had been pointed out there by another one of my friends who had mentioned a couple of places with some old cars that might interest me. It was what I was wanting to capture, so I decided to head South towards one of the yards where there were a lot of cars.
When I got there, the business was closed even though Google said it was open. I spent a few minutes looking through the fence to see if there was anything worth coming back for. I didn’t see much else other than some isolations that I would be able to work with due to the open boundaries of the yard and the tight quarters that the cars were in. I abandoned that and started hunting subjects. I came across two different barns that interested me, but the sky was not right for either of them. There was a solid overcast, but at least it wasn’t raining. I kept driving around until I found myself going through Asheboro. That was no fun at all. When I got to the other side, I started looking again, and then came up on another small town. There was just no rhythm at all here and I was having a hard time sniffing out the scenes that I wanted. I decided to set the GPS to Randleman where I knew that I would have better luck finding subjects.
It actually didn’t take long as I was driving down the main drag of Randleman. I happened upon an old gas station that looked to have been converted to a different kind of store. There was a ’60 something Cadillac out front next to the pump pad under an overhang. The car really caught my eye, and the warm tones of the rust and the building worked well with the sky. I just had to be able to find a composition that didn’t include the overhang which was well over the car and the building behind the car. It was not going to be easy, but I decided I would give it a try. I pulled into the parking area and got out with my cell phone. I used that to check the possibility of the different compositions that I had in mind. It looked like it would work if I stayed around 24mm and got in close to the car while I stayed really low to the ground. I grabbed my gear and fitted the 24-70mm lens to the camera since that was going to be the ideal lens for the situation. I added the Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer to saturate the colors and provide a bit of contrast and glare reduction. I mounted it all to my Manfrotto Tripod and set it down really low in front of the car. I was able to accomplish all that I set out to do with the low position, but the car looked funny with the perspective distortion. I had to back it up just a little bit and raise the camera just a tad. It allowed some of the background building to come into view, but the tradeoff was a much better looking car which was the centerpiece of the composition.
I worked this angle for a bit and fine tuned the composition and what was included in the frame. I ultimately decided on this front quarter shot that cropped the car just at the rear of the driver’s door. The painted whitewall tire made for a fantastic visual anchor at the corner which balanced very well with the red roof of the store. The headlights were prominent just like I like them to be. The sky above had just enough detail that I was going to be able to pull that detail out without much hassle in post, so I didn’t bother with any other filters. I was getting excited about how this image was going to turn out, but I still wasn’t convinced that it was going to have the interest that I needed it to have with the rather pale yellow of the car with only a little surface rust. Just in case that this composition didn’t check all of my boxes, I decided to get in and do some isolations of the car. It was the headlights that had captured my attention the most, so that was what I decided to focus on next.
I looked at both sides and found that the passenger side had more character because the hood was slightly lifted and the tire on that side was flat. I really liked the long flowing nature of the fender as it led the eyes to the headlights, so that was the angle I decided to work with first. I set the shot up with the headlights being the focal point on the right side, but I wanted the eyes to enter the frame from the left and follow the lines of the fender to get to the lights. The tire, like in the other composition was going to be my visual anchor and complimenting element for the lights. I knew that I would be doing some dodging and burning with this image to really get the shape of the fender to show up. I wanted it to be gritty and intense so I was happy to have lots of shadows in the image. The RAW file wasn’t all that great, but I could tell that the exposure in the histogram was good and that was all I wanted at this point. I was going to let myself have fun in Lightroom later with this image. I shot two other compositions just to make sure that I had the angle right before I decided to move on.
My next thought was to get a straight on shot of the headlight buckets. I started with the more uniform driver’s side, but there was a lot of visual clutter behind the car. By opening the lens up to f/2.8, I was able to blur the background sufficiently, but there was still a power pole directly to the right of the composition that kind of messed with the flow. I moved back over to the passenger side and lined up the same shot. I liked this one a little bit better for the more simple background. There was still a tree that was coming over the top of the fender, but I decided to use that as a background for the garnish at the top of the fender so that it would show up better than if the sky was behind it. I liked this image better than the first one, but it wasn’t getting what I loved about the headlights. I tried a couple more things and eventually decided I had done the best that I could with it.
When I started to look at the images when I got home, I still really liked the concept, but it was lacking something. I decided to give it a monochrome conversion in Lightroom to see if that would do what I wanted it to do. Almost immediately, I saw the direction I wanted to go with this image. Not only would I go high contrast, I was going to add a heavy vignette and do a lot of dodging and burning of the image. The end result was one where I let myself go wild in Lightroom which is a lot of fun to do occasionally. It is still true to the scene, but the light on the subject has changed greatly which I really like for this. It is a stylized image, but one that I think fits the car and the look. Of course with the popped hood, it has a bit of a rocker attitude to it with all of the dark shading all around it. Since the King of Rock and Roll liked his Cadillacs, I really had no other choice when it came to the title of this piece.
Considering when I first saw the car, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get the one shot that I was after, I was really thrilled to see that I had three keeper images just from this one vehicle. I was actually feeling pretty good about it after seeing the images in the LCD review and was getting stoked about finding some other subjects to work with. I made a last walk around the car to see if there was anything else that I could work with before leaving. Satisfied that I had captured all that I wanted here, I loaded my gear back up in the Lowepro and put it back in the truck. I was back on the road in no time at all.
I had been through this section of town the other day and remembered a really cool store that was pretty much an antique itself. There were a couple of cool cars in the parking lot that I remembered seeing, but hadn’t really bothered with photographing that time. Since I was close, I decided to stop by and see if there was anything different. Other than the business appeared closed now, nothing had really changed. The parking lot was still full of cars, and some of them were late model cars. The one that I really wanted to photograph was a Chevy that was sitting right beside a pickup truck that really didn’t fit with the scene. On the other side was a bright yellow Camaro which was many decades younger than what I was wanting to capture.
This obviously wasn’t going to make a good picture. There was no uniformity to the subjects. I did want the Chevy though. Looking at the scene, I figured that I could get in close and work with my focal length until I was able to shoot down the side of the truck, and crop out the front of the Camaro. If I was lucky, I would be able to get the Newman sign above the store. I started out with a horizontal shot that worked well for the car, but I wasn’t able to get the sign in the frame like I wanted. I flipped the camera vertical and was able to get the sign and the car. I also included the sky and trees which wasn’t a terrible thing, but the visual weight was off in the frame. I needed more weight on the car. The only way to do that was to crop down heavily, so I opted to see what a square composition would look like. Wouldn’t you know it…it worked!
The composition worked flawlessly. I had the sign which complimented the front of the car. The Camaro and the truck were not factors, and I had the odd number of supports for the roof which worked well to frame the car. I would have liked for the background to be a little less messy, but considering what I was dealing with, I think that this image is a home run in terms of composition. it tells the story that I wanted it to tell which is always my goal. I was now getting kind of excited about this car, and I started to look to see if there were other things that I could capture. I thought about the headlights, but the compositions on those were not all that interesting. The emblem in the grill was a different story though. I could see a very intimate portrait of the badge with the vertical and horizontal components of the brightwork. I moved in close to get the composition figured out.
I found the composition that I wanted and determined that the best way to capture it was in a 16:9 crop which I did in camera to make sure that I got my framing perfect. There was very little color in the scene which was just fine by me, but I had no plans of doing this as a monochrome image. I wanted that blue bowtie to show up right in the middle of the image. The chrome would contrast nicely with the shadows behind the grill and the focal point would be the oval in the middle. I have done images like this before and know that they work very well. I was excited about how this one would turn out.
When I got done capturing the grill, I looked around to see if there was anything else that I wanted to get while I was there. I was pretty well satisfied with the photographs that I had captured. In fact I was feeling pretty good about the day as a whole even though I had only shot two subjects. I drove off halfheartedly looking for something else to work. I found a few barns, but the more I looked at them the less I liked them for photographs. I think that by this point, my mind was done and it was time to go home. I had 38 images in the bag for the day which wasn’t bad at all considering the day started out with “finding where there wasn’t going to be rain” rather than “what did I want to shoot?” I was pretty sure I was going to have three, maybe four images that would be keepers. I was very excited to see that I had a total of five images that made the final cut. I’m very happy with all of them, and I’m glad that I went out on the road this morning despite it being a very rainy day and a good day to stay at home.
Remember, if there are any images that you find particularly compelling here in the blog, consider getting a print made of it so that you can hang it in your home or office and enjoy it any time you want to. Making prints is the best part of the photographic experience for me, and I am always very honored to share that experience with you.
Until next time….