It Has Been a While

December 6, 2014

A Silent Whisper
Yes...it has been since late August since I've been out with my camera on a Trek.  I have had a very good reason for that though.  You see, I have been steadily getting further and further out of shape since my activity level has dropped, so I went out and got another bike.  I've been concentrating on getting my weight down, and working on my cycling once again.  After three months of intensive training, I'm back better than ever and its time to stretch the legs of the tripod once again.  I've been wanting to get out for the past few weeks, but the time and weather just haven't been working in my favor.  This set of days off, however, I decided that I was going to go out one way or the other.  The weather for today was rain, off and on with solid clouds above.  This seemed like it might work out for some waterfall pictures.

Of course, I had a lot of options about where to go and what to shoot when it comes to waterfalls.  The catch is, most of the waterfalls I like to visit are hours and hours away from home.  Not wanting to be on the road all day long, I opted to go to Hanging Rock which was only about 40 minutes from home.  There are five main falls in the park, but I decided to concentrate on the Lower Cascades because I just wasn't quite satisfied with what I came back with the last time I was there.

The entire ride to the park was rainy.  It was not a steady downpour or anything, but there was enough in the air that I was going to have to take that into consideration when I was setting up the camera so I didn't get the front element wet.  I was happy that I remembered to bring my hat which doubles as a lens shield in light rain.  I was hoping that the rain would keep the crowds down to a minimum while I was there, and it appeared to have done just that.  When I arrived, there were only two other vehicles in the parking lot.  As I was hiking to the falls, they were on the way out.  I was going to be all alone, and that was a very good thing.

Rooted Flow
When I made it to the waterfall, I was pleased that the water flow was pretty good.  There was plenty there without being overpowering.  The rain was my biggest issue at this point, and I chose to work my way to the far side so I could use the rocky ledge to provide a bit of cover for me.  This seemed to work pretty well, and I was able to get several vantage points under cover from where I could shoot the waterfall.

The Lower Cascades is an often photographed waterfall at Hanging Rock and one that I have worked from many different angles before.  On this visit, I wanted to play around with some different shots.  The first that I tried appears directly above and makes use of the landscape to frame the water.  I normally try to keep the full waterfall visible, but I kind of like the peeking from behind aspect of this shot.  The contrast between the dark shadows and the bright water help to give the picture a degree of drama as well.

Water Symphony
In continuing with my goal for different shots than I normally take, I went in for a close up of the water framed in the nice texture of the rocky ledge.  I was still able to stay out of the rain for this shot which made it even better for me.  The idea here is the juxtaposition of the flowing water against the static rock.  This shot is all about extremes and I think it turned out really well.  Plus, if you look at it long enough, you start to see the lower portion of a face leaning in to look at the water.  Its all about visual trickery here.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to grab some of the standard shots from this waterfall as well.  With the rain reduced to a fine mist, I was able to leave my shelter and work some locations that have been too deep in the water the last few times I have been here.  With the water levels down a bit today, I had a lot more available options from which to stand.

Gentle Journey
This is one of the more classic views of this waterfall.  The flowing water seems to be mirrored by the rocks to the right, leading up to the tree.  Everything works in unison here, and is contrasted by the more horizontal aspect of the wall to the left.  The vegetation provides a splash of color here and there as well, which makes for a nicely balanced piece.  While this is the more typical shot of the falls, I actually liked it better today in the portrait orientation as seen in the lead piece A Silent Whisper.  The more intimate depiction suits the flow of water and the lighting better in this situation.  I would have liked to have worked this location a bit longer, but the rain was falling a bit too hard to be out in the open.  It was time to move to some cover.

Release
The cover that I was after was in the form of overhead trees. It would provide enough deflection that with my hat over the lens, I should be able to get a few more pictures.  The secondary cascades here are usually just as impressive as the primary, but if the water flow is heavy, it is very difficult to get into position to capture it.  Today, there was a perfect amount of water on this section.  There was enough that the white water was very pronounced, but not so much as to flood the whole area.  As a bonus, there were a couple of loose rocks with a nice reddish color to them which were perfectly spaced along the path of the water.  The composition really worked itself out on its own because of these focal points.  After just three exposures, the rain was coming down too hard to continue without fear of equipment issues.  It was time to pack it up and start back to the truck.

I found a sheltered area and broke everything down, wiping it down before I put it back in the bag.  The rain was coming down even heavier at this point and I knew I had made the right decision.  I started the long climb up the steps back into the woods along the trail.  As I got deeper into the trees, the rain began to be less and less of a problem.  Because of this, I started to search out other options to photograph before heading home.  There was a nice section of trail where they had built a split rail fence alongside which has always caught my attention in the past.  Today was no different, only with the rain, the colors were super saturated and I decided that I was going to try and find a composition that suited it.

Intertwined
Ironically, the composition that I found that made the most sense was on the back side of the fence looking at the trail itself.  This was the least disorganized view I could find.  There was just enough of the trail exposed beneath the leaves that you can follow it through the picture into the trees in the distance.  The aged wood of the fence is the story here though, and what I wanted to capture the most.  I was lucky that I was able to get a corner where the wood overlaps and goes in two different directions.  The diagonal lines from this play nicely with the verticals of the trees in the top portion of the frame.  Because of the rain, there was a good bit of inherent contrast to the scene which otherwise would not have worked as well.  I was glad that I stopped and gave this subject a try today.

After spending a short time with the fence, the rain started back with a vengeance.  It was time to pack it in and head home.  Fortunately, I wasn't too far from the truck and within a few minutes I was back in the cab and headed back home.  The rain kept coming down increasingly hard reinforcing the fact that I had made the right decision to head home.  I had been wanting to try either Hidden Falls, or the Upper Cascades when I was finished with the Lower Cascades, but they will have to wait for another time.  At least I have quite a few pictures from both of those waterfalls which I still enjoy to this day.

From the day, I ended up with 35 frames, of that I have found 6 that I am keeping.  Considering how long its been since I've been out with the camera, I have to say, I've very impressed with that ratio of keepers.  Its in line with what I have come accustomed to with other Treks.

Just Down the Road

August 25,2014

I was hoping that this entry would contain some nice scenic landscapes from Rough Ridge along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but things didn't quite work out that way.  I made it to the mountains yesterday and drove around for a few hours but found that the constant rain and low level clouds were making any photography near impossible.  With the hourly forecast not really showing any significant rain at all, I was a bit confused, and had no idea when things would change.  Not wanting to waste the whole day just waiting for the rain to stop, I decided to cut my losses and head home.

As they say, my batteries were all charged, but there had been no need for them.  I was determined to find a need for them at some point on these days off.  As luck would have it, I had to return to the mountains again in order to deliver some framed prints to a client.  The weather was actually pretty good for a trek, but the forecast has not called for these conditions so my equipment was at home.  It was just as well, since I was on a little bit of a time crunch.  Shortly after getting home, the same clouds graced our skies and gave me the idea to try photographing an old house that was nearby.

By nearby, I am talking about a mile away, 1.09 miles to be exact.  This was much too close to worry about driving to, so I made it simple and walked out to the house.  Yeah, I probably looked kind of strange walking through the neighborhood with a large backpack and carrying a tripod, but oh well...its what I was going to do.  It didn't take long at all to get out to the house, and find that the clouds which had been overhead were now gone, save for a handful here and there.

You know, I'm really starting to hate weather changes.  It always seems to work against me these days.

At any rate, I was here, the lighting was good, I was just missing a little visual interest in the sky, and also had some power lines to deal with which ran very close to the overhang over the porch.  I'm never fond of power lines in a photograph, unless they add a geometric quality that helps to lead the eyes into the picture.  In this situation, they didn't really help anything on that end, and were just a visual distraction.  What this meant was I was going to have to get creative with the compositions I chose.

If Walls Could Talk
My first thought was to get in close and shoot a wide angle shot of the house.  This was able to successfully camouflage the power lines in the tree to the left which you can make out if you look closely.  They are there, but do not prove to be distracting at all.  This vantage point allowed me to highlight the chimney and the wall around it which was going to be my focal point for this picture.  The trees in the background followed the visual rules set forth by the shape of the house which was a very nice plus to the composition.  I was hoping for a few clouds in the sea of blue to the top left, but that just never did materialize.  With the polarizer attached to the front of the 24-70mm I was able to deepen the blue in the sky sufficiently enough to set a mood, and to add to the visual pop of the siding.

I tried many other compositions which I liked to varying degrees, but none were quite as good as this original one, and another one that incorporated a large tree to the right of the property.  The tree provided some nice visual balance to the whole image and allowed for a bit more scene coverage.  The house became a little less predominant, and more of a supporting element instead of the full feature.

Summer Home
 Honestly, I'm kind of torn between these two images.  Neither is exactly what I originally had in mind, but They turned out pretty good anyway.  Its the lighting on the scene that is the real story here.  Without the sun hitting the siding at this angle, there is just no visual pop at all.  I've watched the house in different lighting over the years and oddly enough it seems to be most favored by the sun a few hours before sunset.  If I were to have waited for the golden hour, the house would be in the shadows from the landscape to the left.  Any earlier, and there is too much contrast.  Of course, at the beginning of the day, it is severely backlit and lacks any real detail at all.

I still have a picture in my mind that I would like to create with this house.  I don't know if the conditions will ever present themselves to make it happen the way that I am seeing it, but I will continue to try and make it happen from time to time.  The nice thing is this house is very close to me, and I can go out to it just about any time.

An Overgrown Truck and Home

August 16, 2014

I will admit, it has been a long time since I've been on a Trek.  Like I alluded to in my last entry, I have had a lot on my mind lately.  One of the big things is that I have been missing my cycling side, and I have finally made peace with the fact that I need it in my life again.  So, for the last little while, I have been working on making that a reality again.  With things settling down on the bike front, I had the opportunity to go out this morning for a quick Trek.  When I woke up, I looked at the sky and found that the early light of morning was showing some promise to the cloud cover for later.  I went ahead and got dressed and quickly loaded the truck up.  By the time I was pulling out of the driveway, the clouds overhead were all but gone.  I had started, so I might as well keep it going.

I made the half hour ride out to King where I had seen this old Blue truck mostly covered with weeds several times before.  I had previsualized this picture with some very interesting clouds overhead, but that wasn't going to happen today.  When I got there, there was a bit of overcast off in the distance, but nothing like what I was wanting.  The truck was still cool, and I wanted to give it a shot or two since I was here and had the time.  I opted for my wide angle lens which might sound like a strange choice for this subject, but I figured that in order to keep some of the blue in the sky, I was going to need to get in close and go wide, otherwise, the distant overcast would be a dominant factor in the scene.

Overworked and Overgrown
As it turned out, the blue sky played quite nicely with the faded blue paint on this old truck.  The overcast in the background provided a nice visual barrier to separate the blue subjects and give the truck a little more pop than a straight blue sky would have allowed.  With all the cool tones in the picture, I needed some warm tones to balance things out.  As it turned out, there was a little bit of rust on the door and bumper that I was able to boost just a little bit through saturation.  That gave just the right bit of color balance to the entire image.

While going through the editing/culling stages with this old truck, I found that I really liked a vertical image of it, but there was just something missing from the image.  I had thought about doing monochrome conversions while in the field with this subject, and thought I would give that a try to see how it looked.  The straight conversion was ok, but rather boring.  When I started to play with the color tones, the image started to take on a whole different look.

Not Quite Ready
When I got to the preset for an IR conversion, the image just popped right away.  I did a little bit of tweaking with the tones, and contrast and found that the white vegetation really stood out and framed the now subdued truck against the subdued sky.  A quick check with Toni, validated that this was a pretty cool image, and one that was worth hanging onto.  The title comes from the fact that it looks like a heavenly scene, but the truck doesn't quite fit in.  Just because its old, and obviously long since out of service, it just doesn't appear like it is ready for that final journey.

When I got finished with the truck, I moved my attention across the street to where an old house was sitting right at the treeline.  The house was mostly intact, but was really showing its age, and appeared that it has been unoccupied for many years.  The paint had all fallen from the siding, and the windows were pretty much all gone.  However, there was still a homey feel to it with the warm morning's sun striking the face.  The reality of the scene was in the shadows however.

Family Heirloom
In addition to the actual scene and lighting, this is also a story about texture.  I just love pictures where I think that I could just reach out and feel what I'm seeing.  The first thing that jumps out at me is the almost carpet like fuzziness in the trees.  There is so much depth in the image, and such uniformity of shades, all that is left is texture.  Your eyes then fall down to the house where the worn siding has a roughness that only time can produce.  I can feel the splinters entering through the pads of my fingers as I am sliding them across the wood.  The grass below is recently cut and promises a soft place to lay down while the sun warms the morning chill.

It was a pretty good morning despite the sky letting me down.  That is just part of the realm that a landscape photographer exists in.  We are very dependent on conditions that are completely out of our control.  The test comes in how you deal with adversity.

Falls in the Clouds

August 2, 2014

For those of you who have been following me for the last few months will remember that I have been wanting to get out to Roaring Fork Falls for some time now.  I've actually tried a half dozen times or more, I think.  Since this is located a full three hours from home you can imagine how frustrating it has become.  I've run into sunny days where I didn't even try after driving up there, rainy days with the same result, and once I got there and there was no room to park.  This has become a very difficult waterfall to visit for me.  At least in the trips where my goal was Roaring Fork Falls, I have been able to photograph both Dugger's Creek Falls, and Crabtree Falls.  I still wanted to get back to Roaring Fork though, and after looking at the weather, I decided that I would give it a try this morning.

Things were looking pretty good with heavy cloud cover forecasted until well after lunch.  A side benefit was that the ceiling was going to be pretty low so that meant I might have the opportunity to grab a landscape shot or two.  Since I was foiled on my last trip to Roaring Fork by a parking lot full of sightseers, I decided to get an early start and try to make it there before 8am.  That meant that I was going to try and leave before 5, which is awful early for a Saturday!

The day started out as I had planned, but I left a little later than I intended.  It wasn't that big of a deal, I didn't expect other visitors to arrive until after 9 or so.  There was a light mist in the air, and the clouds were low.  This was going to prove to be pretty good conditions for waterfall photography.  I wasn't exactly jumping for joy though since I have had a lot on my mind lately.  This trek was more an excuse to get away and think than anything else.  I did a lot of thinking in the hours it took to reach the area of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland.

From Behind the Wall
From Behind the Wall in B&W
As I was making my way South along the Parkway, I couldn't help but notice that the clouds would break up every now and again, showing a clean blue sky above.  Interestingly enough, all the low clouds that I had been driving under on the ride up were well below me now, down in the valley.  This could possibly mean that Roaring Fork Falls was going to be in the sunlight when I arrived which wasn't a good thing.  On the other hand, it meant that I had some interesting picture opportunities right in front of me.  At the risk of loosing the ability to photograph the falls, I opted to find the first place I could to grab a few shots.

As luck would have it, I was having a very hard time finding a place that would work for pictures.  The sky was amazing, and the distant mountains were great, but there was nothing to really tie it all together.  I could see that things were changing quickly, so I ducked into the first overlook I could find.  I surveyed things quickly and decided that there wasn't much there for foreground interest.  The problem was, if I didn't capture what I was seeing right then, I would lose it forever.  I decided to pull the camera out and I picked a section of the stone wall to use for my foreground interest.  Since it was not set up in a way I could use it as a leading line, I decided to make it a shallow diagonal line to show drama, and lead the eyes to the distant mountain that would then draw the attention to the low clouds in the valley.

I framed the shot quickly and found that the sky was way overexposed, more so than I was expecting.  I went back to my bag and grabbed the Lee filter holder and a 3-Stop ND Grad to help control the exposure.  That was the ticket for this image, and the sky was now properly exposed in relation to the foreground.  I was noticing that there were a lot of different textures in place here, and also noted that there was a broad range of tones from light to dark.  I actually created this image with a monochrome conversion in mind.  I'm happy to say that I like this one equally as well in color and in black and white.

The Eye in the Sky
With the initial shot out of the way, I started to move around and try to find other potential compositions.  One thing that I'm not usually wild about doing is shooting a distant composition without anything prominent in the foreground.  That's all well and good when I have time to plan a shot, but this wasn't going to be a planned picture at all.  I wanted to capture the distant, cloud encased mountain and the sky above it.  The best way to do this was to flip the camera and use the crisp trees below the overlook as the foreground.  It works in this situation because the green is a complimenting color to the blue above, and the fact that there is no visual softening due to clouds.  This allows the eyes a chance to fixate on trees, which gives a sense of scale and distance.  The mountain was positioned to emulate an eye in the distance.  All of these aspects were determined in a matter of seconds as I was setting the shot up and framing it just so.  Within two minutes after this one was exposed, the clouds completely covered the mountain up, and the sky became washed in white.

The Roaring Fork Falls
It was time to move on down the road and see if the Roaring Fork Falls was in the shadows of the clouds, or in the bright sun that was peeping through from time to time.  When I arrived, all of my questions were answered.  I had great cloud cover, and there were no other cars in the parking lot.  It was shortly after 8am.  I figured that I had maybe an hour or so to work, so I grabbed my equipment and started on the short half mile hike that puts you at the base of the waterfall.

What I love about this waterfall is that it is a very long one, and it snakes its way through a fairly dense section of forest.  The pool at the bottom is accessible and usually not so deep as to keep you from standing in it.  I've shot this waterfall several times in the past, and kind of knew what I needed for the first shot.  I went ahead and swapped in my 16-35mm wide angle lens, and added a polarizer and ND filter.  I finally found my spot in the pool that captured as much of the waterfall as possible. I dialed in the exposure and bracketed several different shutter speeds.  While I really like a very slow shutter speed for waterfalls, this one is not one to go too long on because you end up loosing all of the detail in the rapids.

After I was satisfied at the effect that I had recorded with my camera, I decided it was time to try something a little different from the norm (for me at least).  I swapped out my wide angle lens and mounted my 70-200mm telephoto with only a polarizer which would allow me to pick this waterfall apart.  This one really does lend itself to intimate captures of its bits and pieces, and I intended to do just that.

Smoothed Out
The first section I picked apart was the lower portion.  At 70mm, I was able to highlight the final drop of this waterfall.  What drew my eye to this section was the slippery smooth rock to the left which has been smoothed by countless gallons of water spilling over the surface.  There was also a lump of a rock which stood out in stark contrast to the feathery water rushing by.  For a bit of visual balance, there is a small bit of runoff to the upper left which keeps everything in balance.  I wasn't sure how I would like this shot, but after doing the final edit on it, I can safely say that it turned out pretty well.

Symphonic Drop
The intimate shot that I was really looking forward to was the section near the top.  I had done this one a long time ago with marginal results.  I really wanted to try it again, and This was the perfect time to do it.  I zoomed the long lens to about 135mm and flipped the camera on its side.  Now it was all about how to frame the picture.  I was torn about how much of the foreground to include, but finally opted to just give a small diagonal sliver with a bit of greenery.  In order to do this, I had to elevate the tripod all the way for every inch of clearance over the rock.  I dialed in my exposure and started to take a few test shots.  I was looking for a very specific water effect, and finally found the right exposure.

As I was tweaking the composition for a final round of shutter releases, a large group arrived.  Actually, they kind of snuck up on me as I was fully engrossed in what I was doing.  I got the sensation that I was being watched and looked over to the right and saw about 10 different people standing there.  Oh well, they wouldn't bother me standing there so I went back to what I was doing.  When I finally got everything set up, I started a 20 second exposure and in that time, I kept seeing several flashes go off....yep, they were snapping pictures.  Far be it for me to gripe that somebody wants a picture of a beautiful waterfall, but the flashes were going off in front of my lens and causing some serious flare to happen.  This wasn't good at all.

I would speak to the one snapping the picture and request that they hold off for 20 seconds while I grab the shot and they would agree.  Then, without fail, while they were standing down, and my shutter was open, another one would fire off a flash.  After three times of this routine, I had to stop and make an announcement for everyone to chill with the flash for a minute and let me get the last shot of the waterfall.  They agreed, and I fired off one last 20 second exposure with no lens flare.  I finally had the image I was working on!

As I was packing up, I was talking with the guide for the group.  They had come from a ranch about five miles away.  He said that he brings a group out here about twice a week to see the waterfall.  I can't say that I blame him.  The hike is but a simple nature walk and isn't but a mile round trip.  This is a great waterfall to visit if you don't want to spend an entire day hiking over rough terrain.

The Hurt Locker
While Making the walk back to the truck, I passed the old bunkers that used to hold the explosives for the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I have made a few exposures of these buildings in the past, but thought that the darker of the two was asking to be photographed again.  I pulled the camera back out and mounted my 24-70mm lens which would give me the focal length I was after for this shot.  It took some doing to find the proper composition which flowed logically.  I wanted to emphasize the concrete construction and the open door more than anything else.  I liked that the doorway was nothing but shadows.  What is inside is totally up to the viewer.  I tried to give this a sense of remoteness that was not actually the case.  The trail is maybe 15 feet from the doorway.  I'm still not convinced that the picture captures what I was wanting, but it does strike an emotional chord with me, and I wanted to showcase it here at least.

After I was done with Roaring Fork Falls, I decided to hop back on the Parkway and see if anything else caught my eye.  I started my way back North and in about 30 miles I found myself at Linville Falls.  Since it was still very cloudy, and I wasn't having any luck with landscapes, I decided to pop in and see about working the upper falls.  When I got to the parking lot, it was jam packed!  I decided I wasn't ready to fight crowds for a few more waterfall pictures.  There would be plenty of time to come back and work Linville Falls when the crowds weren't as dense.

I did try to set up a few compositions on the lower sections of Dugger's Creek Falls which is just off of the parking lot.  As is usually the case, nobody bothered to stop by and look at this little gem.  While the water level was great, and I was able to get several interesting points in the lower section, I just couldn't get a composition that I liked.  After about 15 minutes of trying, I decided to pack the camera up, and eat a little lunch before continuing my Northbound journey.

After getting a little food in me, I started driving through some pretty dense fog, clouds, and the occasional shower.  Yeah, this was a typical NC mountain kind of day for sure.  My hopes for more landscape opportunities were dwindling quickly.  I did find it interesting to see no less than an dozen or so cyclists braving the conditions to ride on the Parkway.  I've put over 190 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway behind bicycle tires over the years, but I don't think I would have wanted to ride in these conditions today.  My hat is off to each of them!

Hillside View
As it turned out, as I got close to the Hwy 421 junction, I started to see that there was some interest in the sky to the West.  My attention started to focus to the landscape to the West in hopes of finding something to put under the sky.  I managed to find just such a place after about 20 minutes of driving.  As with every landscape shot I had tried today, time was of the essence.  The sky was changing very quickly and I wanted to capture what I was seeing.  I pulled off the road very quickly and parked on what was essentially a ramp for the MST trail.  I grabbed my gear and decided to leave the 24-70mm on to save time, and I thought that it was probably what I was going to need anyway.  I went ahead and screwed on the Lee Filter mount and grabbed a 3-Stop ND Grad before finding a location to shoot from.

What had drawn my eye to this particular location was the strong diagonal elements in the field ultimately leading up to the mountains in the rear.  I found a composition that worked to highlight that element that used a tree line as the foreground, also in a diagonal form.  There was a large tree to the left which I used as a visual block to keep the viewer's eyes in the frame, and jump them to the next diagonal.  This next diagonal stopped at yet another large tree on the right which forced the viewer to continue along the horizon line.  That same large tree to the left stops the eyes and they then move into the clouds.  Overall, I am very happy about the composition on this one!

Hillside View in B&W
Unlike the one from the beginning of the day, I wasn't thinking about monochrome with this image, but when I was looking at it while editing, I started to see some potential.  I did the conversion, applying a strong red filter in the process.  The sky immediately jumped to life, and there was a lot more separation of tones than I was expecting along the landscape.  The end result was very pleasing, and one that I was very happy with.

All in all, it was a very good day in the mountains.  I was able to get a lot of thinking done, and come up with several very good images in the process.  Now comes the hard part.  Which of these images makes it into the gallery rooms?  I think that a few will find their way into the White Water Room, one might make it into the Landscapes Room, and I think its a safe bet that one will end up in the Monochrome Room.

A Quick Visit to King

July 20, 2014

A few days ago I was driving through King and saw a barn that I had seen some time before.  I wasn't able to do much with it at that time because it was completely overgrown with vines and weeds.  However, this last time I drove by, I noticed that not only were the weeds gone, the siding had been stripped off of the shell as well.  This was a little odd to see a barn at this stage and it made it rather interesting to me.  I wanted to come back at a time when the sky was interesting, without waiting too long in case they were coming back out to finish the removal of wood.

Based on the forecast and what I had been watching the sky do all day long, I thought that I might have a good chance at getting some interest in the sky after work.  Without giving it much thought, I went ahead and loaded the camera up and headed out to King.  When I got there, the sky was a little bit blah on the side that I was interested in, and much more interesting on the other side.  I decided to shoot from both sides and see what I could come up with.

I started with my 24-70mm which is a great lens for shooting barns, but for some reason, I wasn't getting the "look" I wanted with this one. I needed something more dramatic, so I swapped the lens for a 16-35mm for a little more perspective distortion and a sweeping feel.  I added a 3-Stop ND Grad to round out the optics to help keep the detail in the sky.

The Forgotten Corner
Against my better judgement I spent some time on the left side of the barn which put the sun in the background, as well as power lines, and a newer house.  There was also the street and a street sign.  These are usually very big no nos in my photography.  However, this time they seemed to play a certain role in showing the age of the old barn.  It was in that juxtaposition of physical conditions that I found a nice balance to the image.  It's still one that breaks my mold quite a bit, but sometimes it pays to work outside of one's comfort zone.

The better lighting was from the other side of the barn, but the trade off was a much less interesting sky to work with.  The ND Grad helped a bit, but I needed something to punch up the contrast even more.  I started to think in terms of black and white and I could see the tonalities working rather well in that visual realm.  I shot the scene in color, but I had full intentions on converting to monochrome and applying a red filter to boost the contrast a good bit.

Only the Framework
I think that black and white really suites this subject with the current conditions.  There is so much really great texture to be examined throughout the image that it almost seems to be a waste to clog up the visual receptors with all the color.  I really think that this is the best side of the barn, and one that does hold its own in a composition consisting mainly of just the barn.  There is just so much to look at, whether it is looking beyond the framework to the inside, or looking at the vines that are still clinging to the fascia above the doorway.  Even the roof offers several layers of texture standing out against the deep tones of the trees in the background.  While this isn't the image that I set out to capture, I have to admit, I really like this one.  It is the one that I am most satisfied with I believe.

Magnolia Manor by Flashlight

July 17, 2014

There are Treks that are planned for months, there are treks that are planned because of the weather at the time, and there are treks that are not planned at all.  Tonight was one of those treks that wasn't really planned at all.  Well....that wasn't entirely true.  I have scoped this location out before, and even shot many a frame here before.  I have been thinking about going out and giving it another try using a technique called painting with light.  So I guess you could say that this was planned, but the actual part where I got up and went was unplanned.  Toni got called into work for a few extra hours this afternoon, and I decided to go in and lend a hand to help out.  I figured that when we would be done, it would be about dark, and we would have to come back past Magnolia Manor anyway.  With that in mind, I loaded up the camera, and a flashlight along with the tripod and we went to work.

We got done with work a little early, stopped to get a bite to eat and then it was out to the location to get set up.  I still had plenty of daylight left and I had plenty of time to find my compositions and get the camera set up for the first one.  Things went very smooth, and we actually found ourselves sitting and waiting for over an hour before the lighting got just right...and by just right, I mean waiting for it to almost go away completely.  There was a good bit of sky visible behind the tree and I needed it to render a color other than white.  Using a minimum of a 30 second exposure made that rather difficult to say the least.


So, what exactly is painting with light?  Simply put, it is the practice of using a light source to illuminate exactly what you want to during the exposure.  Sunlight is broad reaching and will illuminate evenly except for shadows.  When I paint with light, I am adding light to precisely what I am wanting, and at the intensity that I am wanting.  The really cool thing about this technique is, no matter how many times I trip the shutter, I will always get a different image.  Its a creative technique that just can't be readily duplicated.  As you see in the picture above, I was using a maglite to "paint" the tree in nearly dark conditions.  While using a long shutter speed, 30-90 seconds in this case, I was able to paint light where I wanted it on both the foreground and the background.  I was able to control where the shadows were, and what appeared the brightest.

Complexity
My first composition focused on the rather unique structure of the tree.  This is what has made this a favorite portrait setting for when Toni and I did portrait shoots years ago.  The branches are strong and each one seems to dominate the other.  There is a level of complexity here that is just not normally seen in trees around here.  Because of that, I really wanted to focus on just that quality.  To do that effectively though, I needed to get low to the ground and shoot up.  Obviously, the sky was shining through the leaves above which during the day would have left me with bright white areas that were blown out.  In order to get the sky to appear blue, and to have a good exposure on the trunk, I was left with only one good option, and that was to wait until the blue hour (the hour after sunset) to paint the tree with light, while exposing the sky as a deep blue color.

It took several exposure to figure out just where I needed to put the light, but once I did, I was able to get the image that I had in mind with about a minute exposure.  In that 60 seconds, I lit the tree from two different places, one on either side of the camera.  This is another benefit to this type of photography, I choose the direction that each element gets lit from.  Talk about complete control!

From there, once I was satisfied with my image, I moved to my secondary location which took in much more of the scene.  The tree was now going to become just an element in a larger composition as opposed to the sole focus of the composition.  For this, I wasn't as concerned with the sky because I would be shooting from an elevated position, and there would be much less sky showing through the branches.

Ghostly Greetings
As you can see here, the tree has a nice little platform built out to the front of it.  With the long reaching branches on the right, I chose a position to the left of the entrance to let the platform balance out the longer limbs.  When I framed the shot, I knew I had it spot on with what I was seeing in my mind.  It was getting quite a bit darker, so my exposures were getting longer and longer.  I shot as long as 90 seconds on some of the shots, but nothing was under a minute.  This gave me time to really paint the scene slowly and meticulously.  One thing that I realized about midway through my session from this location was that the tree seemed to benefit from me lighting it off to the right.  This provided a strong sense of side light, and a lot more visual drama.  I was going for an image that send shivers down a spine, and this lighting was looking to give the best chance.

When I got home, I started to fight with color temperature and such, only to find that I wasn't overly happy with any of them.  Something was missing, I just wasn't sure what.  On purely a whim, I decided to go in and do a monochrome conversion to bypass the whole color dispute I was going through with myself.  At first, I was mildly excited with the outcome, but when I started to adjust how the tonalities were relating to each other, I saw much more potential.  Ironically, I applied a preset for infrared to the image, and the tree and stone steps seemed to jump from the background.  The shadows became much more intense, and the feel of the picture....well....gave me shivers.  This was what I was going after with the image all along.  I abandoned my color information and decided to make this a dedicated monochrome image.  Of the two images that I shot tonight, I think that this one is my favorite of the two simply because it captured the mood so well.

It wasn't a long trek, and it was one that kind of fit in with other things going on today, but I have to say, I'm glad that Toni and I decided to give it a try on the way home.  We both had a lot of fun working the scene, even though there was a lot of just standing around waiting for the sun to go down.

Hiking in the Pisgah National Forest

July 9, 2014

Its been far too long since I have gone and done a long duration Trek in the mountains.  It seems that I have only been able to get out there for a few hours at a time.  While that has yielded some really good pictures, I have not had the time to work on any sunrises, or to hit multiple locations that require hikes.  There were several places in the Pisgah National Forest that I have been wanting to go for a while now, and I decided that today would be the day.  The first order of business would be a possible sunrise since the weather was calling for 45% cloud cover, and I wanted to get back to the Brown Mountain Overlook where I had done an impromptu sunrise shoot some years ago.

The problem with doing a sunrise set this time of year was that sunrise was happening shortly after 6am, which meant that I would need to be there no later than 5:45am.  Since the overlook is about 2.5 hours away, I started to do some math and realized that I was going to be waking up at 2:15 in the morning.  Hmmmm, that is more like a time to go to sleep than to wake up...but that is part of being a photographer I suppose.

I started the night before going to sleep while it was still light outside, and well before my 9 year old's bedtime.  There was just something wrong with that!  I didn't sleep all that great since I was preparing myself to need to wake up that early.  Somehow though, I did manage to get a fair amount of sleep and when the alarm rang at that unholy time, I was able to get up and start my day.  Of course, I did check the weather first before I got up.  It was holding steady with 45% cloud cover till about 8am, and then increasing to 70%.  My plan was to do the sunrise set, and then move on to work a couple of waterfalls, namely Roaring Fork Falls and Crabtree Falls.

Red Sky in Morn'
The drive out to the mountains was uneventful except for the fact that I remembered incorrectly that Hwy 181 intersected with I40.  Needless to say, I missed the exits I should have taken, and had to consult with my GPS to get back on track.  I ended up taking about a 50 mile detour because I didn't plan the way I should have.  Fortunately, I left early enough that I could handle a problem or two on the way.  I no longer had any extra time to play with so I was really hoping that the rest of the drive was smoother and more direct.  I guess my leaving a little early paid off because I arrived at the overlook at 5:30, right when I was wanting to.

I was a little disappointed though because while driving up Hwy 181 I was starting to get rained on a little bit.  It wasn't much, but it did indicate that the cloud cover would probably be too much for the sun to peak through.  Oh well, I was here, might as well pull off and rest until daylight when I could start working on the waterfalls.  As luck would have it though, shortly after pulling in, the clouds started to break over Chestnut Mountain and I saw an opportunity.  I quickly set the camera up, but with a very different composition in mind from what I was anticipating.  The weeds had overgrown the edge of the parking lot and obscured the valley below that I was looking forward to capturing.  Instead, I decided to fit my 70-200mm lens and use the tops of the mountains as my visual anchor and concentrate on the sky.

True Colors
As I started to dial in my compositions and exposures, the sky continued to open up, and I could see that the clouds were at several different altitudes.  This was really good news because that meant that there was a good chance I would get some color in the morning sky.  There was a lot of color to be had in the upper elevations, but there was a very thick bank of clouds that was looming on top of the mountains and continuing out to the horizon.  This effectively blocked most of the color that would appear close to the mountains, so I really had to be careful with my compositions in order to keep everything unified.

I probably shot nearly 60 frames of the sunrise since I wasn't sure how good it was going to get and I didn't want to miss the peak colors.  Surprisingly, I got a good bit more color than I was expecting from how I was watching the sunrise unfold.  It wasn't what I had in mind, but it was very much worth getting up early and making the drive to see this one.

With the sunrise over it was time to figure out my next step.  I had been planning on going to Roaring Fork Falls, but the way the sky was looking, I really hated to waste the textures by shooting waterfalls.  The clouds at various altitudes called for some grand landscapes.  I had an alternate plan in my back pocket and decided that I would move forward with that plan.  I was off to Hawksbill Mountain.

Its been a number of years since I have hiked Hawksbill.  The last time it was a mostly sunny day, and I did it after hiking Table Top so I was there at the middle of the day.  The weather conditions were far from favorable that time, and I have been wanting to try it again for some time.  The clouds I was seeing were setting the stage for what I thought was going to be a perfect opportunity for a return visit to Hawksbill.  I wasn't impressed enough with Table Top to want to go back today.

Peeling Away the Layers
I was less than 10 miles away from Hawksbill, so the drive over there took no time at all.  The only delay came from the slow speeds needed for the forest service road I had to drive down to get to the trailhead.  Even so, I was ready to start my hike around 7:30 or so.  It was hard to tell what the sky was doing from beneath the canopy, but I was convinced the clouds were going to remain as I had seen them, at least for a little while.  I set off with a purpose and started the mile hike.  While a mile isn't that hard to cover, this is a rather strenuous trail and it represents about 1000 feet of climbing in that mile.  There are also no markers for the trail and several places that you just kind of guess at which direction to turn.  Somehow though, I managed to make it to the top without getting lost.

I was very happy to see that the clouds were still overhead, but they quickly became a secondary concern for me.  The minute I left the shelter of the trail, I was assaulted by winds that could only be described as tornadic!  To the best of estimation, I would say that the sustained winds were around 20mph, with gusts nearing 30mph.  This presents so many problems for a photographer I was starting to wonder if it would be worth staying or not.

On the plus side, I had some amazing skies to work with.  I was in a place that I haven't had much of an opportunity to shoot before, so it was new.  I was also alone, which is always a nice thing for a landscape photographer who doesn't want a bunch of people in his pictures.  On the negative side, trees, grass, and bushes were going to be very blurred unless I timed my exposure just right.  I was going to have a hard time keeping dust off of the front element of the camera.  I was going to have a hard time keeping the camera steady on the tripod to ensure sharp images, and in fact I was going to have a hard time keeping the camera upright.  I've been through gusty conditions before, and have damaged a lens when the tripod toppled over.  Lastly, with the gusts, I was actually worried about keeping my own balance.  My hat was already trying to blow off of my head!

Pisgah National Forest
I decided to go down to the lower section and hope that the wind was blocked a little bit so I could get the camera built and on the tripod.  Knowing that I wanted to include sweeping views of the sky where I could, I opted to work with my 16-35mm wide angle lens along with my Lee Filter Holder.  I used several of my ND Grad filters to keep the exposures under control and make the most out of the beautiful sky above.  I managed to get everything put together, but I could tell that the camera wasn't going to be very stable.  Where I could, I kept the legs spread out very wide for a bit of extra stability.  I kept one hand for the camera, and one hand for my hat.  The exposures became waiting games for when the winds would die down for a brief time and allow my to press the shutter release.

I found myself rattling off a bunch of exposures trying to make sure that I got usable images without a lot of motion blur in them.  I would check in the LCD, but it is very hard to determine if a bush is blowing in the wind by looking at a 3" screen.  All I could really do was hope that I was capturing images at the right time.  In addition to the vegetation blowing, I could tell that the wind was causing all sorts of vibrations in the camera.  I ended up having to apply pressure on the tripod to help keep it stable.  Of course, this is not a great way of doing business, but it was a lot better than the alternative today.

Linville Gorge
As I realized that I had reached the end of my options in the lower section, I grabbed by bag and carried the camera up to the upper section.  It didn't seem as windy up there as it did before.  I decided to give it a go and see what I could find to work with.  Because of the sky conditions on my last visit, I had not done any photography on this section, so it was all new to me today.  I found all sorts of compositions, and kept putting my anti-wind techniques to use in order to execute my ideas.  There were a few compositions that I wanted that would have put me close to the edge.  Under normal circumstances, I would not have thought twice about doing that.  However, with the wind the way it was today, I stayed clear from the edges.  I'm sure this was a very good idea since more than once, I was knocked off balance by a particularly strong gust of wind.

My compositions were a game of cat and mouse.  I kept looking for that moment when the sun was providing the right light and the wind was calm.  These moments came very far between, and only occasionally was I able to take advantage of those times.  Most of what I did was sit and wait...and wait....and wait.

Taking in the View
Waiting wasn't so bad though.  The scenery was beautiful, and visibility was much better than my last visit here so I was able to really enjoy being here.  The Linville Gorge has been called the Grand Canyon of the East, and I can honestly see that when looking down from Hawksbill Mountain.  The rugged terrain below is amplified with the rock outcroppings at the top of the mountain.  It all just fit together so nicely.  everywhere I looked I saw a sight worth capturing with the camera...except for one.  Looking toward Table Rock the sky was totally washed out with clouds.  While the mountain ranges looked awesome, the sky took away that wow factor and kept me from photographing it.

View From Hawksbill
While I was eating my snack, I got excited to see that the clouds were clearing from the other end of the mountain top.  I was going to be able to capture the distant mountain range.  Typically, I would want to get a little bit of a longer lens to capture distant mountains, but in this situation, there was plenty of definition in the individual mountains, and I had the opportunity to include some of the vegetation and rock floor as a foreground.  the 2-Stop ND Grad was the perfect addition to the sky and the blues popped out as if I was using a polarizer.  I was thrilled to have gotten this view after thinking the sky wouldn't cooperate with me.

Taking Hold
As with my other favorite rocky mountain, Stone Mountain, I was fascinated with the ability of the vegetation to latch on and grow in some of the strangest areas.  I had the chance to photograph just such a setting when I noticed that the clouds were starting to make some interesting shapes above some of the vegetation.  It was almost a pastel crescent moon, when the rest of the clouds seemed to be in a uniform, horizontal fashion.  I just loved how this picture seems to go on for miles and miles and miles.

This is a magical place, despite the winds.  I could see just laying on my back staring up at the sky and pondering the meanings of the universe.  While I didn't do just that, I did find myself thinking a lot.  It felt good to let my mind wander a little bit.

Daydreaming
As it turned out, I saw a group of cloud formations that just seemed to sum up what I was just talking about.  There were the normal puffy clouds, but even more interesting was the swirl  that was spinning off to the right.  I went ahead and framed up a quick composition before the moment was passed.  As it turned out, I was facing North, and even though I wasn't using a polarizer, the ND-Grad added enough density to the blue sky to really make it pop against the lighter tones of the clouds.

Shortly after capturing this image the winds started up again, only this time it was so strong, I didn't want to let the tripod go for fear that the wind would knock it over.  To illustrate the point, I had my camera bag (35lbs) laying on its back against a rock.  A gust of wind came along and stood it up like it was nothing.  That was my clue to hide out from the wind and pack it all up to head back to the truck.

The hike back was a little more interesting than the hike up.  Remember, the trails are not marked, and there are quite a few places where you have to guess at which turn to take?  Well, I chose wrong on a number of turns, and got myself very turned around at the beginning of the return hike.  Fortunately, I was able to locate the trail make my way back to the truck.  When I got back, the clouds were moving in again, and the lighting was looking pretty good for working a waterfall or two.

I opted to go to Crabtree Falls which was closer than the Roaring Fork Falls.  My intention was to ultimately do both, but I wanted to get the larger one first.  When I arrived at the parking lot, there were more cars there than I recall ever seeing before.  This was not a good sign since I don't really like putting people in my pictures.  I decided to give it a try anyway since I was here, and here was a long way from home.

Crabtree Falls
The hike was not bad, but it was about 1.2 miles which was a lot after doing the hike to Hawksbill just a little earlier.  At least this was downhill, so it wasn't wearing me out too bad.  However, I knew that the hike back would not be fun at all.  When I arrived at the falls, there were people in the water, lining the bridge, and off on the shoulders of the water.  This wasn't good at all.  I was hoping that they were all there for a short time.  With that hope, I went ahead and started to set up my shot.  I kept my 16-35mm lens on, and added my polarizer as well as the vario-ND filter.  It took some time to set the first shot up, and even longer for the people to clear the area.  This is the main reason I don't care for photographing waterfalls in the summer.

The Aftermath
Crabtree Falls in one of the more impressive cascades in the area.  Its a very large waterfall, and seems to always have a good deal of water flowing over the rocks.  Unfortunately, the constant forceful flow tends to sweep a lot of debris down to the bottom of the falls.  This clutter isn't my favorite aspect, but it does help to tell the story of the waterfall.

Deep Within the Forest
One of the neat things about this waterfall is that it can easily be photographed from either side.  With the delicate cascades, it just about begs for the postcard shot where it fills the frame.  I could get lost looking at the designs that the water makes as it slides down the face of the falls.

When I was finished with Crabtree Falls, I started my hike back to the truck.  The return hike was all uphill, and really made me realize just how tired I was getting.  I had to make several stops to catch my breath before continuing.  Despite that, I opted to continue on to Roaring Fork Falls and get some new images of that cascade.  It was only about 10 miles away so I wasn't driving long before I got there and found a half dozen cars in the parking area.  Knowing this waterfall as I do, I could tell that there would be no sense in trying to hike out there for pictures.  This is one of those waterfalls where people swim, climb, and just hang out for hours.  I decided it would be better to come back at a later time.  That was fine, I had 175 images that I needed to get processed, and I needed to get home.

An After Work Trek

June 6, 2014

Sidelined
Several months ago I was driving through the edge of Walnut Cove and came across an old Chevrolet pickup on the side of the road.  It caught my eye enough to get me to turn around and knock on the door of the house near where it was parked.  There was no answer that day, and that meant no pictures since I was pretty sure I would need to get in close to it for the images that I wanted.  Even though I didn't shoot the truck that day, I filed it away in my mind for later.

As it turned out, a friend of mine from work was telling me about an old truck out where he lived that he would like to see me work with.  The more we talked the more I realized that the truck that he was talking about was the same truck I had seen not that long ago.  He said that he could get in touch with the owner and see if he would mind if I stopped by some day to photograph it.  It took a while, but he was eventually able to locate the owner and gained the permission that I needed.

It had been some time since I had looked at this truck and wasn't exactly sure what conditions I would need to make good photos.  Looking at the map, I speculated that the setting sun would provide the best light for the truck the way it was situated alongside the road.  Since I wasn't able to get out last week for any photography, I opted to go out after my last day of work for the week and give it a try.

A Storied Life
When I arrived, I figured it would be the polite thing to do to introduce myself to the owner if he was at home.  I knocked, and surprisingly, the door opened.  I introduced myself, and it took a few seconds for what I was saying to register with him.  I was wondering if I had the right truck.  He did eventually recall the conversation and he gladly gave me permission to work the truck as I saw fit.

Perfect!!

I quickly got set up and started to work on compositions.  These compositions were not the easiest to formulate either.  I had power lines above the truck, and a roadway to the left of it.  I was restricted on where I could shoot, and from what angles as well.  I started out up close to the truck with my 24-70mm lens with an enhancing polarizer attached.  I was pretty happy with what I was seeing, but the images were all following my same basic formulas.  I wanted something a little different, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and include the roadway, and eventually even the power lines above in different compositions.  To do this, I opted to swap lenses to my 70-200mm which gave me more compositional control from the distance I was shooting.

The Road Less Traveled
I had about 20 frames taken of this old truck from various locations.  Of these I found three that I particularly liked.  They are each very individual images that I think say completely different things with their compositions.  In a serious break from my normal rule of no power lines, The Road Less Traveled embraces the power lines as a counter element to the double yellow line in the foreground.  The angles actually help to keep the eyes in the frame and focused on the truck.

With the light fading, I started to work my way back to the truck talking with the property owner the whole way.  He started to tell me about a 40's coupe that he had in the back yard.  JACKPOT!!!!  Or so I thought.  I asked if I could take a look and he started down the hill to where his other cars were at.  I quickly saw the coupe, but saw that it was sandwiched between two other cars which were in very close proximity.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get anything at all because of all the clutter.  However, while I was getting a little bit of the back story on this car, I started to concentrate on the curves around the cabin.  I still had the long lens attached, so I was going to be able to pick out details on the car fairly easily.  I framed a shot that captured the curves I found so interesting.  While its not the shot I really wanted, It had a certain abstract quality to it that kept my interest.

Business Coupe Curves
I found myself wishing that this car was in worse shape.  The body was actually very good, and the patina was a little bit uniform for my tastes, but I had to grab the opportunity to shoot this one while I had the chance since this body style is kind of hard to come by.

It was a quick Trek, and one that wasn't planned out all that well, but I think it was a success overall with four keepers from the day.  My intention was to continue on and do some light painting with landscapes just before twilight, but I stayed at this location longer than I anticipated.  Hopefully, later in my set of off days I'll have another opportunity to go out and try something different.

Sometimes Yard Art Will Do

June 22, 2014 (Part 2)

Emerging From the Shadows
After I got done with my scheduled activities for the day, I decided that while I was still out and an out I might as well try and find some more things to photograph.  I was in King, NC which I have spent some time in looking for subjects, but I was in a different section.  I was driving all around and found lots of promising subjects, but nothing that caught my eye on this particular day.  I just kept driving around, and driving around until I found myself starting to hit familiar streets again.  I took that as a sign that I should be getting home.  I still had the images from the morning still to process.

As I was coming down NC 65, I happened to get a glance of an old truck that I recalled sitting there from before.  It was well within somebody's property so I had not spent much time scoping the truck out.  Since I had been driving for over an hour now, I figured I might as well stop and see if I could do anything with the trucks.  When I pulled in the driveway, I saw a number of trucks, a couple of tractors, and a wagon right there at the entrance to the property.  This was worth doing some investigation on.

I located the house without too much trouble and pulled in to see if the owner was home.  I was greeted by a rather large Yellow Lab who I promptly made friends with.  After getting licked, and showing the dog I wasn't there to hurt him, I happened to look up and saw a man sitting under a shelter watching me.  I quickly introduced myself and informed him why I was there.  Either he is just a really nice guy, or he trusted me since his dog liked me, but he agreed very quickly to let me photograph his trucks.  Without giving him time to change his mind, I got back in my truck and moved back to where the yard art was situated.

Case of the Blues
I was doing really well with the sun which was staying behind the clouds for the most part.  The first truck that I photographed was this old heavy duty Ford which was painted in my favorite color combination...blue and rust.  I was wishing that it had some sort of bed on it, but the cab was so good that the I quickly forgot about the missing back half of this old workhorse.  I found myself working several different angles on this truck, and even did an abstract on the passenger's side, shooting into the sun.

The Wounds of Time
The rust on this truck was magnificent, and you could tell that it had been sitting for some time now.  All of the rust was very consistently streaked down the side, and that just screamed to be photographed.  While I was on this side, I was starting to get some problems from the sun which was shining now on the driver's side.  Instead of worrying about it, I finished up what I was doing on the passenger side, being careful to compose in such a way that the sun didn't interfere with me.  When I was done, I decided that I might as well embrace the sun, and try a few shots with the truck being bathed in spots of sun.

Long Miles, Hard Miles
The sun actually worked with me for a change.  The sun on the ground helped to frame the truck, and there was a nice dollop of light on the front of the hood, highlighting the really cool nose vents, as well as the grill below.  Since the front of a vehicle contains that vehicle's essence, I saw that as being a sign it was time to press the shutter button.  I'm actually quite happy with how this one turned out.

Always Time to Celebrate
After I got finished with the Big Ford, I moved over to a vintage Dodge that was sitting there next to the driveway.  At first glance I was rather put off by the ribbon hanging from the door handle, but after some consideration I found it to be that perfect splash of color that the old truck needed.  I also liked the dichotomy I saw here.  The truck was very obviously long ago out of service.  It has been relegated to yard art duty and from the looks of it, has no engine, but still manages to look festive sitting there in the woods.

Bumper Crop

Indifference
The Ford that I saw from the street made for one of my more interesting subjects.  There seemed to be a personality here and I could almost sense thoughts coming from this old truck.  It seemed content to just sit there and have the trees drip on it, and the weeds grow up around it.  It wasn't phased by any of this, and had a quiet pride about it sitting there at the corner of the property.

When I was done with this session, I had another 60 frames recorded on my memory card.  When it was all said and done, I found that seven of them were worth keeping.  Recalling, thinking that I might get about three images when I left the house this morning, I have to say that I am thrilled to have 18 keepers from the day.  I also have to add that I am worn out now.  Its been a very long day!