Where are those old Chevys?

January 13, 2014

After talking to a friend of mine, I was all set to go out to the far side of Yadkin County to hunt out a pair of vintage Chevrolets.  I had been told that they were possibly 50's vintage and set off of Reavis Rd, just North of US 421.  Sounded easy enough to me to be able to find.  It was about a 30 minute drive from the house to get out there, and based on how I read the description, they would be on the West side of the street which would hopefully put a treeline behind them.  I figured that having the warm morning sun on them would probably be my best option for lighting.  That way, if the trees weren't as I was expecting, I would have some nice open sky without a full overcast to mess with my exposure.  I finally had the perfect morning with just light clouds in the sky.  I set out in time to get there as the sun was coming up and starting to illuminate the ground.

I was excited as I was driving down the road.  The sky was doing just what I wanted it to.  The clouds were awesome, and the blues were intense.  I was just about to Reavis Rd and was already looking at the sides of the highway for other options just in case the cars weren't what I was hoping for.  I exited, and turned North, looking very intently on the shoulders where I thought that the cars would be located.  Nothing.....I could find no vintage cars at all, much less two 50's vintage Chevys.  I drove all the way to the end of Reavis Rd, and came back, crossing the highway looking on the other side.  Still......Nothing!

I'm starting to make this a habit now.  Seems like everything that I go out planning to shoot is either gone, or I'm unable to get to it, or some other problem has popped up preventing my chance to photograph it.  This trek was turning out to be very similar.  I was unable to find the cars at all.  I had been all around looking for them, but to no avail.  The sun was climbing higher in the sky, and I knew that I was running out of time.  I could either keep looking for the cars, or I could go off in search of something else to shoot.

I opted for the latter, and decided to go venture out in this uncharted area to see what I could see.  There was a lot of potential out here since it was all rural farmland, but I wasn't able to find that "right" scene that would allow me to make a strong composition.  I was starting to panic and came to the conclusion that I had wasted a morning that I could have been at home with Toni.  I was just getting to that point of turning around and finding the highway to head home when I saw a barn with a tractor inside of it.  I could see potential in it, but knowing that my 70-200mm f/2.8L lens was currently in Virginia having an issue resolved through Canon, I didn't think that I had the focal range to be able to isolate the barn the way I needed to from the road.  In addition, the sun had not hit the barn yet so the lighting wasn't right anyway.  While I considered the compositional options for this subject and my limited equipment, I continued on.

As I was driving down the road with a renewed hope I happened to glance out of the corner of my eye and saw a nice field with a little barn set at the fence line.  The sky was nice and blue behind it, the sun was casting a nice side light, and there was lots of room to pull off of the road.  I quickly found a place to get turned around and headed back for a closer look.  When I got back there, I could see that my initial ideas for compositions were a little too broad in scope.  I reduced my vision and simplified what I was looking at.  I went ahead and pulled the camera out and mounted it to my tripod with the intention of working the scene as the sun was getting a little too far along in its track for me to think I had any other options.

I went ahead and fit my new Singh-Ray warming polarizer to my 24-70mm f/2.8L which allowed me to deepen the blue in the sky while warming the earth tones at the same time.  I was interested to see how this filter would work as I had never used one before.  With everything ready to go, I started walking out to the barn and the pasture.  My first exposure was the vision I had from the street that included the barn above and the pasture behind.  I could tell in the reviewed image on the LCD that there was very little visual strength to this image.  I needed to work out some other options, but I was liking what I was seeing.  I chose to work the barn first, and made many different compositions because the exposure was working out perfect with the lighting.  There was just no need to bracket the exposure at all, so I got to move around instead.

The barn was set in a place that made for some difficult compositional choices, but I found that it had the character that I was after and I worked a lot of different angles before I was satisfied that I had the best views possible.  I then started to look around for other potential subjects.  The field lacked a certain something and no longer caught my eye.  However, the old house that was on the side of the property was looking very good in the warm early morning light.  There were some old trees in very close proximity to the house which also caught my eye.

The Family Tree
It really is amazing what a little light can do for a subject.  The house had not really stood out before, and just looked like any other house.  However, when the sun got high enough to cast the warm light on the siding it became electric.  My eyes couldn't look away from it.  The trees were a wonderful golden brown when viewed through the new polarizer as well.  I had something special with this house.  As with the barn, the exposure was a simple element in this setting.  Everything fell into the proper values without any real work at all.  That left me all kinds of time to play with compositions and to see what worked the best.

Strong as an Oak
The house was awesome all by itself, but the bare tree standing beside the house really spoke to my landscape soul, so much in fact, that I decided to make the tree the focal point of one of my compositions.  I shot from low to the ground to emphasize the size of the towering tree.  The blending of colors and the engulfing nature of the limbs made this a success, and I found that it was one of my favorites from the day.

Echoes of Children Playing
Yep...this is my third image of this house.  That is how much I liked it, and appreciated the quality of light that I was working with.  I restricted the composition yet again to emphasize the house and use the single tree as a strong supporting element.  While it is similar to the other two, actually combining them both in a way, I feel that this one also has a voice all its own.  What the voice says to me is generations of children used to run out of this front door to go and climb the tree.  I could see the tree being small enough at one time that little Johnny would start climbing on it, and it would sway under the weight of the 10 year old.

After I had worked out all the compositions I could think of with the house, I went back to the field that drew my attention in the first place.  I wasn't sure what I was hoping to find, but I thought that maybe the quality of light had changed sufficiently enough so that I could do something with it.  Sure enough, the ground was now bathed in a warm light from the still rather low sun, and the clouds were starting to come in with a pattern and texture that really complimented the field.

The Back Forty
I still had to work out a composition here that I liked and one that would convey the beauty that I was seeing.  I looked at the old barn again, but that just wasn't it at all.  There was a small evergreen tree set off by itself that was promising, but I just didn't really like how it was relating to the field behind.  It was just wrong.  Then I saw a bare tree off to the side, a side of the field that I hadn't even considered working before.  I had Toni's voice in my head saying "get that tree...yeah, that one right there."  I listened and started to frame my shot.  Again, the exposure worked out perfectly so I didn't need to worry about bracketing anything which left me time to move around in the scene.  I started very close to the tree using a wide focal length on my lens which really made the tree stand out, but the field in the background was out of proportion.  I then moved back, framing the scene at about 35mm.  I raised the camera as high as it would go which allowed the distant hill to appear even more elevated.  This was pretty good, it kept the tree dominant in the scene and allowed me to frame a distant patch of trees as a counterbalance.  I thought that this was the right image, but I again backed up and set the lens at about 65mm. I thought that this was the best image, but upon closer examination the tree was just too diminutive in comparison and it didn't work.

The Back Forty in B&W
I was so happy with how this image turned out, I gave it a try as a monochrome rendering.  With the clouds in the sky, and a digital red filter applied, I was able to darken the sky, adding punch to the clouds, while accenting the field.  I thought that this was a very good candidate for a B&W image when I looked at the final rendering.  I liked it so much, in fact, that I decided to keep both the color and monochrome for the gallery.

After shooting the field, my lighting was about gone and the blue color cast of late morning was starting to seep into the scene.  It was time to pack it in and head back to the house.  Considering I had come out here initially to capture a couple of old cars, I think that I ended up with a more diverse setting as my plan "B" and am actually happier with the outcome than what I was anticipating with the vintage Chevrolets.  Chalk this one up to a successful trek, and a very fun one as well!

Be sure and view the links at the top of this blog to view my complete collection of images in each of the rooms.

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