I woke up around 3:30am and checked the weather once again. The clouds were still a little thicker than I was wanting, but the sunrise forecast was showing even better than the hourly would suggest. I went ahead and got up and got dressed. The trip out to the Blue Ridge Parkway was pretty normal, and I wasn't really paying that much attention to the sky since I was expecting there to be nothing but clouds. While I was driving, I was thinking about the sunrise forecast and thought that if there was going to be a good deal of color in the sky, I would like to really take advantage of it with having water below. That meant that I was going to head to Price Lake. I had just enough time to get there before sunrise.
I arrived at about 6am, which gave me just a few minutes to set up and find a composition. Not having much time, I went to where I knew and I set up using my 24-70mm lens with a 2-Stop ND Grad filter to control the sky. I found my place that that gave me a decent foreground and guided the eyes to the distant mountains. The opening photograph here was the first one of the day and represents 20 seconds of exposure. It did a great job at picking up the slight color that was peeking through the holes in the clouds. It was almost as if the sunrise forecast knew that there would be a hole in the clouds right at sunrise.
|On Golden Pond|
Shortly after I shot that last picture, the color in the sky quickly diminished leaving gray clouds, and a bright sun peeking through. I started to look for some other targets of opportunity and found a tree that looked kind of neat in the sunlight. I struggled to get a composition and thought that I had a few good ones. Unfortunately, when I got home and started to look at them on the computer, they lacked any real artistic quality. I decided to chuck that series in the long run.
I did start walking around the lake trails to see if there were any woodland scenes that I could shoot. I found a few with some nice ferns, but like the tree before, they just didn't turn out well at all. I had walked through the amphitheater and saw that the stage was a nice stone element that caught my eye. The problem was that there was a bunch of junk around it that wasn't really photograph worthy. Since I still had my 70-200mm lens attached, I decided to take an abstract approach to the stonework. There were steps to the right, and they were connected to the curve of the stage. The lines really captured my eye, and that was what excited me about the scene.
At this stage though, the rain was coming down pretty good, and that meant it was time to pack it in. I took the quick walk back to the truck and put everything away under the cover of the lift gate which was very nice in the rain. I debated about staying at this point. I wasn't really sure that I had gotten much with the 40 frames that I had shot. It wasn't looking like the sky was going to get much better, but I did remember the old mantra from Appalachian State: "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." OK, I'll go drive around and try to wait that five minutes to see what happens.
Well, I drove for about 45 minutes and nothing really changed. I decided to give up on landscape photos and go off on the spur roads in search of barns and general farm life scenes. Well, I found some barns, but nothing really photo worthy, and it was still raining. It was a nice little road trip through the country at least. Then I saw something that caught my eye. I saw something old, and I thought that it might be a Mustang. I put the 4Runner in reverse right in the middle of the road and backed up to see what I had seen.
Respecting the sign, I shot from the shoulder of the road to stay off of the property. I framed the shot tight on the car, and opted to crop out the trunk area to avoid the late model Lumina. This was tolerable in my book because I'm not a fan of the coupes anyway. Had it been a fastback, I would have been a bit sadder at having to crop it. My focus was on the front end of the car and the yellow flowers that were growing along the corner of it. The faded white paint helped to make the Mustang pop against the green.
Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I decided to pack up and get ghost before anyone could come and have words with me. I was pretty happy with finding this old Mustang, and started to see my day looking up. I started looking for more old cars and barns as I was getting more and more lost. It wasn't until I ended up in Jefferson, near our anniversary cabin that I knew where I was. With the rain starting to clear, and the clouds getting some definition, I decided to head back to the Parkway to see if I could get any grand landscapes with the clouds above.
When I got back on the Parkway, the clouds looked nice directly above me, but everything near the horizon was just a blank slate of gray. Grand landscapes were not looking like an option today. I started driving and searching out light to see if I could make something work out. I did find a fence line with an old red gate. Of course, I am a sucker for red gates, and this one was in the tall grass. It made for an interesting setting, and there was a bit of sunlight on it to boot. I pulled off the side of the road and grabbed the camera. I started off with my 24-70mm lens and a polarizer. This gave me a great deal of flexibility in my compositions. The problem was, I didn't like any of the compositions I was trying. I wasn't able to include the sky due to no texture in the clouds at all. That meant that the trees were my backdrop, but the compositions didn't make sense.
While I was setting that shot up, I kept looking across the road to the field. The yard was well kept, and there were several trees present throughout the yard. One of them in particular caught my eyes with the drooping greenery. I wanted to photograph it, but was having a hard time figuring out how. The sky was lacking a lot of detail, but was better on that side of the road than what I had been working with. It was also a far distance from where I was able to shoot. Everything that I tried caused the tree to get lost in the landscape. I finally decided to fit my 70-200mm lens to see if I could work a tight composition instead.
When I made the shot, I looked at the LCD which appeared very featureless in the cloud area. The trees looked good though. The histogram showed that there was detail in the clouds, so I hoped that I would be able to bring that detail out in the final image. It wasn't until I got home and started to work the image, that I found there was a good amount of detail in the sky, and with a few adjustments and a bit of dodging and burning, I was able to get a pretty interesting sky from the RAW image. It is still a simple image, but it is well balanced, and the overall presentation is pretty satisfying in my eyes.
Ironically, even though the sun was shining on my head, those clouds were bringing rain. That was my clue to pack it up and head home. I was getting tired of being caught in the showers at this point, and it was getting very close to noon. It had been a good day, not great, but decent with 62 frames exposed over about 5 hours. I had gone up there to get landscapes, and I ended up with landscapes, abstracts, rustics, and even an old car. My mind was open to the possibilities, and I seized the opportunities when they presented themselves to me.