Plan B Wins Again

February 23, 2014

The morning started early enough.  I had planned on going out before first light to track down a barn near Thomasville that had been suggested to me a while back.  I had only seen a scouting photo, and had plotted it on the map, but wasn't really sure what I would be getting into.  When the alarm rang at 5:45, I decided that I wasn't quite ready to make the 45 minute drive out there when I was so comfy in the bed.  Plus, there were few clouds forecasted in the sky after sunup.  Based on how I was envisioning the barn, I was going to need some cloud interest in the sky.  That was all the excuse I needed to roll back over and continue my night's sleep.

I woke up long after the "good light" was over for the morning.  There wasn't much sense in going out until later in the afternoon.  The only problem with that was I was needing the morning sun for the barn that I had in mind.  If I was going to go out for pictures today, it was going to have to wait till closer to the end of the day.  I used that time to think about where I might go, and what I might shoot.  The sky wasn't all that interesting, and I was kind of doubting that I would actually get a chance to go at all...but I watched.

As the last couple of hours of daylight approached, I needed to make a decision.  I decided that I would give a barn a try that Toni had spotted for me about a month ago a few miles from the house.  I left early enough that I could figure out a good composition and still have a lot of good light left to shoot it in.  I had high hopes because she had sent me a picture that looked very promising when she found it.

When I arrived, I was all aflutter with the possibilities because it was a beautiful old barn with missing tin sheets on the roof, and wonderfully aged wood on the sides.  However, my excitement dwindled as I started to examine the scene.  There were thick power lines very close to the roof, and there was not much in the way of possible compositions due to background clutter and some surrounding trees.  I drove around trying to find a good vantage point but was just unable to do the barn justice with the current conditions.  The sky was doing me no favors either as it was rather blah at this point.  I decided to abandon the old barn and try for my infamous "Plan B" approach to subject matter.

I started just driving.  I followed one of my favorite bike routes for a while because I knew that it passed some old barns.  I followed it clear into Davidson County, and then into Guilford County before getting totally lost.  My track took me deep into the rural sections where I saw a lot of old barns, and the occasional old car.  None of them were in a setting that lent itself to photography though.  If only the sky was a little bit better I might have been able to pull something off.

I had all but given up hope when I changed my plan and started to look for landscapes and more specifically, something that I could use for a possible sunset.  The clouds were all very high, and thin and based on quite a bit of experience, I was reading that as the possibility of a good sunset with some vivid colors.  The trick with sunsets though is finding something that anchors the whole image, and something that is recognizable in silhouetted form.  I was looking for a tree more than likely.

While driving North on NC 66, I passed a lone tree in the middle of a field.  It was huge, with perfect definition in its skeletal branches.  I found a place to get turned around and I came back for a second look.  The tree was perfect, and what was even better...the sky was just what I was looking for.  I got out of the truck and set the camera up.  I left the 24-70mm attached and added the Lee filter holder in case I was going to need any graduated filters.  I found a composition that showcased the tree and put the setting sun right under a curved branch.  From there, it was a waiting game for the light to show me all of its character.

With the aid of a Singh-Ray 2-Stop reverse ND grad filter I was able to capture a very even exposure in the sky.  Normally, sunsets tend to go dark at the top, however, this filter helps to prevent that from happening.  I cranked off about 50 frames from well before the sun set till after all the color was gone in the sky.  Unfortunately, the wonderful clouds that I had been so excited about had faded away, leaving just little wisps of clouds in the sky.  As I was looking through the pictures, the clouds made for excellent shots early on, but there was just not that much color to be had.  The most color came just as the sun dipped below the horizon.  Fortunately, there was still enough clouds in the sky to pick up the color, and as a nice treat, the sky was still a very deep blue behind the clouds.  Out of all the pictures, the one with the best balance is the one that I picked to add to the gallery.

An interesting side note....while shooting the last few frames, I had the chance to meet a local author, Twinkle Scott.  She parked and walked out to me to speak with me. I thought that she might have been the property owner as there was a farm all around the tree.  As it turned out, she wasn't related to the property at all.  She had stopped to talk to me because she had been looking at this tree as potentially the cover of her new book.  Serendipitously, both her and her husband had passed by as I was shooting it at the time they were watching the sky.  Who knows....I might have opened up the doors to have one of my photographs on the cover of a book!  That is rather exciting for me.  Time will tell.  Until then, I'm rather happy with the outcome of this photograph considering it is worlds apart from what I had set out to create just a couple short hours before.

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