There I was, driving around at work minding my own business.....
I have been patrolling around this area for years at work and have been by this old homestead many times over the years. I have even seen this tractor, but haven't really seen it as a photographic subject before. As it turns out, a couple of days ago, I was talking with one of the family members of the property owner and he was telling me about how he grew up and worked the land out here when he was a kid. I heard stories about him on the old Farmall tractor loading hay by himself. He would leave it in low gear and let it idle by itself while he did what needed to do with the hay. If it started to get off line, he would have to jump back on and correct the path before returning to the hay. All of a sudden, after hearing this story, the tractor came alive for me and ignited my interest.
The problem with this tractor is its location. It is under an overhang from an old barn where it just fits inside. This means that lighting is difficult at best with the shadows involved. To get the shadows exposed correctly, I would have to sacrifice the highlights on the outside of the barn as in this cell phone picture I snapped while scouting the location. During the day, the nose of the tractor is hanging outside of the shade which again introduces issues with the shadow detail that I think is absolutely necessary for the image. I had to do some thinking about how to properly render this image. My best thought was to come out before dawn, so that any light that I would be getting from the sun would be low, and potentially able to provide some lighting into the shadows. I was going to have to get in close, and come up with some very creative compositions in order to eliminate the outside as a distraction. I knew that in low light, I would still be at a loss when it came to the shadow detail, so I figured that I would do a little painting with light. The warm light from an incandescent flashlight should complement the wood tones of the barn siding quite well.
I had my plan, I just needed my day.
That day just happened to be my first day off. The forecast was calling for cloudy skies early on so that would help to diffuse the light and potentially extend my time for this subject. It was going to be cold, and actually get colder as the morning went on, with a pretty significant wind chill to add some interest. When I left the house it was 27 degrees, by the time I got home it was 21 degrees...that was over the course of maybe an hour and fifteen minutes.
While still in the early hours of the morning, I worked on some more compositions as I dialed in my vision for the shot. For me previsualization is so very important for photography. I have to have an idea of the final piece before I can set up the shot. I worked in closer and closer until I had a view that I was pretty sure was what I was after. It was another intimate shot, but composed completely different.
|Powerhouse in B&W|
With the sun coming up, and things getting a bit brighter, I decided that I would try some other compositions of the tractor just to see what worked and what didn't. I stepped back a good bit, and framed a tight shot that I wasn't quite sure I would be able to pull off. Surprisingly, with some careful positioning, I was able to not only eliminate the outside, and the roof line, I was able to give the illusion of this being completely enclosed in a barn with me standing beside of it. I was liking this view quite a bit. I snapped a shot with the available lighting and was happy with the resulting capture.
|Straight out of the camera exposure|
I was happy with it, but it didn't sing like I was picturing it in my head. Something was missing. It lacked warmth, and it lacked some visual weight on the wood behind. Well, I was still shooting in the range of 10-15 seconds so there was still time to add a bit of light with a flashlight. I wanted more warmth, and more "mood lighting".
|International Harvester in Sepia|
On the way home, I had the heat blowing on my fingers and they felt like a vise was squeezing them. I was not a happy camper, not at all....but I had gotten what I figured was at least one good image from the morning out of about 16 exposures. Little did I know that I had quite a bit more than one keeper out of these. I'm quite happy with the morning, and am very happy to be back home with Toni and the heat!