Scouting in Julian

February 7, 2016

I've had some feelers out for quite some time trying to get some new areas to photograph in my catalog.  One lead that I have gotten recently was to head out to Julian, NC where there was a lot of rural landscapes and farm lands.  I was excited to give it a try, but wasn't exactly sure what I was going to need in terms of weather.  I decided to pick a day where we were looking at about 45% cloud cover for the day, which should have given me some nice blue to work with along with some clouds for contrast, and for diffusing of light on the landscape.  Right up until Toni and I left the house, the forecast was looking promising, but the actual conditions at the house were far from ideal.  We decided to plow on anyway, hoping that the conditions would get better as we got closer to Julian.

A Room For Me
My first stop was an old farm house located on Old Julian Rd which looked to be very promising in some scouting pictures I had seen.  As I got there, I could tell that I wasn't going to be able to include the sky because it was a total of wash of gray.  It would have been a great waterfall day, but that wasn't what I was trying to photograph.  I decided that the house was too good to pass up, and I tried to work some intimate compositions where the sky would not be included.  I found this one area on the back of the house which highlighted several different angles, and repeating patterns.  The greenery at the corner of the house made for a very nice visual anchor as well.  This was going to be my only workable composition on this house.  I worked on fine tuning the image from both camera position and focal length.  Once I was happy with the resulting image, it was time for Toni and I to start exploring to see what there was to see.

We saw a lot of great old houses and barns on the roads in and around Julian.  I tried to make some mental notes as we drove around, but pretty much, everywhere you look, there is a potential subject.  The only problem was the sky, which was just not changing at all.  After a while of driving, we came upon what looked to be a vacant house, with a few barns to the rear.  In front of one of the barns was an old tractor that caught my attention.  I decided to give it a try despite the sky, hoping that I would be able to compose some images to avoid the sky as I had with the old house.

Tattered entry
Before I got out to shoot the tractor, I decided it was best to check with the next door neighbor to see if he knew anything about the property.  He seemed nice enough, but did not know much about the owners other than they were not present in the area.  After I explained what I was wanting to do, he decided that I should be OK taking some pictures.  We chatted for a moment and I went to the truck and grabbed my gear to get started.

The compositions became much harder than I had anticipated.  I ended up including the sky in more frames than I wanted to, but there was just no way around it.  I was happy that I was shooting with my 70-200mm lens though, as it didn't include near as much of the sky as a wider lens would have.  I decided after a few minutes to try some intimate shots of the tractor, using only a portion of the barn in the background.

No Worse For the Wear
Just like with the house before, the intimate, tight shot worked out the best for the old tractor.  Had it not been for the red wheels, I would have passed this one by since there was limited rust, and it even look recently used.  However, the red wheels against the gray primer really linked this tractor to the rusty tin barn behind it.  That combination struck a chord with me, and I decided that I liked the concept behind this shot.

Put Away
Before packing my things up, I decided to try a long shot of a composition.  There was a really nice tractor sitting inside of the barn.  Knowing that it was deep in the shadows, and the barn face was a middle tone, and the door to the right was white, I knew that a proper exposure would be difficult at best.  I made some very careful calculations as I was setting the exposure and really worked on maintaining detail in the white door and in the shadowed portion of the barn.  Based on the histogram after I shot the frame, I had captured all of the detail from light to dark.  I just love the resolving capability of this 5DIII I've been shooting with for a couple of years now.  It never ceases to amaze me!

When I was done shooting, I was putting the gear back in the truck and the neighbor came back out and spoke to me once again.  He had an idea for a photo project that he wanted me to take part in.  I won't go into detail about it just yet, but it includes capturing farm life as it was in the 50's.  This fascinates me to no end, as the project will include the barns, the tractors, and the techniques that were done back then.  It will give me an up close and personal experience that I have always wanted to express in my photography, but have never really had that opportunity.  When Spring gets here, we will probably be getting things rolling with the project.  I hope to have a whole series of really cool images from this project to share, and maybe even put on display in the gallery here.

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