A Quick Trip to Yadkin County

Friday, October 21, 2016

With my recent schedule at work lately, I have been racking up some overtime, and have been needing to burn some hours.  As it turned out, I had the opportunity to take a half a day off today, and got my work done in time to take advantage of that.  Before going in, I checked out the weather to see if there might be a chance of doing some photography during the afternoon.  With mostly cloudy conditions, and a chance of rain, I was all set to go and do some waterfalls.

One of the closer waterfalls to me is not one that I have photographed all that often.  It is in Yadkin County off of Styers Mill Rd.  It is a really big waterfall for the Piedmont, and it can be rather pretty at times.  The problem that I have with it is the vandalism along the sides of the falls.  Years ago when I went there, there was spray paint on both sides of the falls which was very, very difficult to clone out in post processing.  Because of the paint, it is very hard to make a satisfactory image of the whole waterfall.  However, I'm starting to look into doing some more intimate shots of waterfalls these days, and wanting some practice at isolating specific elements of the falls.  With the dry days that we have had recently, I figured this might be a good time to try this waterfall again.  My intention was to work only with my 70-200mm lens, and keep the shutter speeds relatively quick for waterfall work.  I wanted more detail in the cascades.

Like Liquid Lace
When I arrived, I found that I had very mixed emotions.  On the one hand, there was nobody else at the waterfall, so I had the place all to myself.  On the other hand, there was evidence of all the people that had been there long before me.  The spray paint was still there, and there were beer boxes trapped under limbs in the middle of the stream.  There were also a few trees that had fallen since the last time I had been there, blocking the view of most of the left side falls.  The weather was just about right though, so I decided to give some isolation shots a try.  I picked out parts of the waterfall that really stuck out to me, rather than trying to compose a shot that encompassed everything.  The results were pretty good, and I was liking what I was capturing, but was wondering about the lack of colors in the images.  Seemed that brown was the predominant tone, and the rushing water was the only other hue to bring balance to the image.  Fortunately, the water played a big part in these intimate images.

It wasn't long after I started to make exposures that the clouds started to break up.  I could tell that the sun was causing some major exposure problems in the water when I was checking the review image in the LCD on the camera.  I was starting to get large areas of blown out detail which I didn't want.  I needed to be able to capture all of the nuances of the cascading water to make these images work.

Rhythmic Flow
It turned into a waiting game.  I would compose the image and then set what I thought would be a good exposure when the light was right.  I found myself around f/29 and 1.3 seconds for the most part.  I would watch the clouds move overhead and try to time it to where they covered the sun.  Sometimes, it was only seconds that I had to work with, but I took advantage of those seconds.  However, the longer I was out there, the less frequent good light showed up.  I decided to cut my losses and head out in search of other subjects that could actually make use of the sky.

I started driving around and found the sky to be wonderful, but the clouds were quickly breaking up, and it seemed that in order to follow the the clouds, and good light, I was going to have to work my way back East.  I was headed that way, and happened to pass by an old Pontiac I had photographed several years ago.  I've been wanting to work this old car again, but have been a little hesitant since I have seen signs of life on the property.  Since it was the middle of the day, I felt that if anyone lived there, I would have a decent chance of catching them at home to ask permission to photograph the car.

When I got there, the corn had all been harvested, and the car that was parked in the yard had not been moved in some time.  I could see no signs of occupancy, so I decided to take my chances and grab the camera.  I started out with the 70-200mm lens, but found that I was not able to get the compositions I was thinking I would with that much reach.  I stepped down to my 24-70mm which is a very flexible lens, and it allowed me to get up close to the car from several different angles.

Quietly Resting
Of course, by this time the sun was really not doing me any favors.  Most of the clouds had faded, and moved to the East.  I was here though, and I wanted to see what I could come up with on this car.  There was a good deal of filter use for these images.  Not only was I using a polarizer, I was using in some cases, 6 stops of neutral density for the sky.  It was not ideal, but the histogram was showing that I was capturing detail in the images without clipping at either end of the spectrum.  That was promising.  As with the first time I shot this car, the best light was from the rear of the car, so I spent some time back there once again.  At least there was not as much need to hold back the sky when shooting from the back of the car.

Oh the Memories
Once again, my favorite image of this car was from the rear.  There are some interesting compositional tricks for this shot.  There is a clothes line just off of the passenger side fender of the car.  Sure, I could clone it out, but I really don't like doing that unless it is absolutely necessary.  Instead, I decided to blend the posts in with the tree in the distance.  You can still see both posts for the clothes line, however, they don't create a visual distraction because they become part of the tree in the distance which is a much more appropriate element to the image.  There is a great sense of depth in the image because of the implied diagonal of the composition which I really like.

When I was finished working with the Pontiac, I found that the sky was pretty much awash with blue, and the wind was really picking up.  I decided to head toward the house, and scout any other subjects I might could come back for at a later time.  I found a few, but none would work in the current lighting, so I just made mental notes, and called it a day.

It wasn't until I opened up the images in the computer that I saw that the RAW files actually looked better than I had thought they would.  It is very hard to judge a picture from checking the LCD, which is why I mainly just look at the histogram to make sure I haven't lost any tonality in the image.  They looked good from this objective measure, but the subjective measure had to wait until I could see them outside of the sun.  I was pleased, but was really wanting to do more with waterfalls today.  Oh well, I'll get them next time.

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