A Feed Mill, and a Pair of Chryslers

June 22, 2014

Derelict Mill
I have had this location on my to-shoot list for some time now.  I have scoped it out at various times of the day while going to other places but haven't quite found the right time to shoot it.  I had decided that an early morning storm coming in from the West with a relatively clear sky to the East would make for a dramatic shot with the mill lit up under foreboding skies.  That was the plan, and according to the weather forecast I was very likely going to see just those conditions developing this morning.  I got up early so that I could beat the sun out there, so I would have plenty of time to work out a composition before the clouds came in at 8am.

When I arrived, there were just some thin clouds in the sky, nothing much at all.  I spent some time dialing in my composition, and playing with exposures.  I actually got a few really cool shots with a pink sky overhead.  Typically, I would have been all over those images, but for this particular subject, the color just didn't work.  It needed more muted tones to be successful so I discarded the pink skies.

As the sun came up, I started to realize that I wasn't going to have the light show that I wanted, and was expecting.  There were still just very small strands of clouds in the sky to work with, so I went with my plan B which I had figured out on the way out to the mill.  It was time to do some more work with my 10-Stop ND filter which would reduce the amount of light that entered the camera enough to turn a 1/2 second exposure into 8 minutes.  I already had a 3-Stop ND Grad fitted to control the exposure in the sky, so adding an additional 10 stops of light reduction was serious!

The picture that leads this story off is the second attempt and represents a full five minutes of exposure at f/18.  The clouds show a very nice cottony movement across the sky, and there is even a little bit of color left in them...but not too much.  This mill has a sad aura around it, and I wanted to capture an image that represented that.  When I looked at the LCD, I wasn't sure if I had gotten it or not, but the sun was coming up fast now, and my exposures were shrinking down into the 30 second realm.

Office Space
I went ahead and moved in close to the old structure and looked for some intimate shots.  I came across the front area and found that all of the windows were long gone.  There were still some tools inside, and there was this one right at the window which caught my eye.  With the low sun shining into the building I had enough light to work with so that I could capture this old rusty implement  framed in the window.  The fact that the window frame was all but completely rotten was an added bonus for me.

There wasn't a lot else to work with here at the mill because the sky had gone to a fairly empty blue shortly after sunrise.  After making another quick check of the hourly forecast and deciding that my time would be better spent going elsewhere, I decided to pack it up and see what else I could find to put in front of my camera.

Derelict Mill in B&W
As an interesting side note, I have been doing a lot of studying on the extreme ND filters and have found that typically their effects are much better rendered in monochrome.  Because of that, I was actively thinking in B&W when I was shooting the old mill.  When I got home, I made the conversion with this image and was quite literally shocked at how the sky turned out with the addition of a high contrast red filter with a little bit of subtle tonal tweaks.  The clouds even formed a natural vignette in the frame to help keep the eyes where they are supposed to be.  I knew I had a winner with this image when I saw it on my screen.  I could see this one printed out very large and framed for the house!


With the mill behind me, I set off on an unguided tour through Yadkin County in search of something else to photograph.  I was still in my rustic mood, so I was looking for barns and old cars to photograph.  What I saw wasn't all that promising in the current conditions, and I was starting to wonder if I was going to find anything else before it was time to get home.  As luck would have it, my travels landed me back in a familiar part of town where I have been several times before.  I knew that there was a car there which has provided me with several stunning images...but these were night shots as there was a lot of clutter in the area.  Despite that, I decided to check it out since I was in the neighborhood.

The old Plymouth was still there, and still in the same condition.  However, the already tricky location of this car was made much, much worse by the two trucks that were parked close by the car.  What's a photographer supposed to do?  Well fortunately, there was another vintage Chrysler parked on the back side of the lot, and there was only one other car parked next to it.

As you can tell, this one wasn't in the best position either.  It was worth a try though since last time I wasn't able to shoot it since I was working in the dark, and black just doesn't show up well at night.  In order to capture this car the right way, without including the other car beside it, I had to get a little creative about angles, and focal length choices.  I still had my 24-70mm lens attached, and decided that it would work fine for what I was going to have to do in order to photograph this old sedan.  I added a polarizer to help control the glare, and I went to work on the Chrysler.

Royale Adornments
What you see here is not a product of visual trickery with Photoshop.  I didn't make the neighboring car disappear at all.  I just got in close and chose a wide angle to keep the right edge of the frame skirting down the side of the car I didn't want included.  I also got down low to emphasize the grill which I though was the focal point of the car, and what told the best story.  When you have an understanding of the camera, and the lenses, you can avoid many of the problems that you come across in the field at the time of the shot, as opposed to waiting until you get home to clone things out, and crop your frame.

Discarded Luxury
If you have been following me recently, you will already know that I enjoy photographing the fronts of cars.  I like the grills, emblems, and hood ornaments.  This Chrysler had it all, and the shapes and textures of it all begged to be photographed.  I flipped the camera on its side and got in close to capture the essence of this car.  While things still shine, the debris from the trees really leaves no question that this once proud car has seen the last of its passengers...at least for now.

Simple and Effective
After working the available angles on the Chrysler, I decided to have another go at the Plymouth sitting beside the street.  The location of this car makes for difficult photography all by itself, but today I had two trucks which were added to the mix that were guaranteed to make things much more difficult that I had planned.  After having such success with the black car, I was feeling pretty confident about this rusty sedan.

All Grins
When I just can't shoot the whole car, what else am I supposed to do other than pick out the parts of the car I really like.  The nose of this one has stayed in my mind since the first time I saw it.  For a completely un-aerodynamic profile, the curves and lines of this car are nothing short of sensuous.  It was that essence I worked so long to capture.  I eventually found myself in a zen state and I was finding angle after angle to showcase the workmanship and lines of this old car.  I could probably shoot the angles on this car all day long without getting tired...and from the looks of it, I did spend quite a bit of time working the front end of this car.

Rough but Solid
The Face
Shedding a Tear
There is just something about this car that I just can't get enough of.  The patina is very unique and rather uniform over the entire car.  While it is missing pretty much everything, it still seems like a complete car.  This car still has a personality, and I glad that I have the opportunity to capture it.  After nearly an hour in the lot, it was time to head home and get my (responsible) day started.

I had about 60 images from the morning, and I'm pleased to say that I have 10 images that I would consider keepers from this set.  This is much better than the three or four I was expecting as I was actually pressing the shutter button.  Now I just need to see which of these images will make it into the gallery rooms here.

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