Getting Lost in Surry County

January 16, 2016

Sit a Spell
It was kind of a spur of the moment thing, but I decided that as the day came to a close, I would head out and try to capture some pictures with the last bit of light.  I had no particular destination in mind, but I wanted to explore in some areas I haven't been before.  I picked North as my general direction and skirted along the back roads past Walnut Cove.  I eventually found myself on Hwy 772 going into Surry County.  There were a lot of old barns out that way, but what I was really wanting was some old cars to photograph.  I happened to find one, but the sun was on the wrong side, so a picture wouldn't work out very well.  I did file it in my mind for another time though!

I had been driving for nearly a hour and was about to hang it up for the day when I came across an old house with a few barns nearby just sitting all alone on the side of the road.  This one called out for me!  I got the camera built quickly because the light was fading fast.  I started out with some general compositions that lead me to the opening picture for this entry.  The clouds looked amazing with just the right amount of texture, and there was still enough light on the house and barn to keep it interesting.  I worked on fine tuning the compositions quickly and I moved on to something different.

Pastels by the Porch
The light was changing almost by the second, and I noticed that there was a good deal of pink sneaking into the sky above.  I went back to the compositions that I knew would work and shot them again with the color in the sky.  I'm still not sure which I like better, but I think that they both have very different emotions behind them.  They are strong enough to stand on their own individual merits I think.

I continued to shoot different images as the light changed.  I was also keeping an eye out behind me where the sun was dipping down to the horizon.  I didn't want to miss anything special.  As the sun dropped, I noticed that it was actually going into a dip in the landscape that was highlighted by the roadway.  This was going to make for an interesting picture if I could compose it just right.  There was no time for filters, so I just shot it with what I had available at the time, which was a bare 24-70mm lens.

Smoldering Skies
Not having a grad filter on, made the exposure a little complicated.  I wanted to maintain lots of detail in the foreground since there was a house in it.  I had to really watch the histogram as I selected the right exposure.  When I was satisfied that I had plenty of detail on both sides, I released the shutter.  To my surprise, the image popped up on the LCD with the actual recorded histogram and it looked like I had nailed the exposure.  I was going to have to wait until I got home to really see, and as you can see above, I got pretty close.

With the sun now out of the picture (pun intended), I turned my attention again to the other side of the sky.  There was still some color above, and the light was still adequate and soft on the property.  I went back to working other compositions to take advantage of what I had before me.

Boarded Up
The house itself was a little on the plain side, but the collapsed front porch really caught my attention.  It gave it character, but there still wasn't enough there to carry an entire picture.  Now with the sky changing colors, there was some more visual interest to work with, and once I included the bare tree to the left as another point of interest, the composition began to work a little better.  The star of it is still the house, but there is a lot more to this picture than just the house.

Having given the house the solo treatment, I decided that I would also work the barn on the hill by itself as well.  The color in the sky was fading, but the clouds were still heavy and full of soft textures.  For those who live in NC, this sky just looked like a snow sky, and I wanted to incorporate that into a picture with the barn which was full of warm tones.

A Winter Sky
The soft blues of the sky dominate the majority of the frame, but the warm tones of the barn, both red and yellow help to balance the color palette.  The dormant grasses at the foreground help with that as well.  A visual balance is provided by the distant roof of the next barn.  This makes for a simple picture, but one with a lot to look at...which is just how I like them.

I was probably out on this property for about 45 minutes.  In that time, I shot 24 frames.  I was only expecting a couple of pictures to turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few of them turned out much better than I had anticipated.  One of the first pictures I shot, I had envisioned in monochrome to make the best use out of the contrast in the sky.  When I started going through the pictures in the final editing process, I made the conversion and was very happy with the outcome.

Sit a Spell in B&W
The monochrome treatment really seems to take the viewer back in time.  It adjusts the feel of the scene, and sparks the emotions more effectively than the color version.  While I like both, the monochrome is my favorite of the two, and actually, this is my favorite from the day.

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