Exploring in Wilkes County

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunshine Beneath the Clouds
After yesterday's road trip with Toni, I was all ready to go out and photograph some barns and old cars.  I didn't do it yesterday because we were on a little bit of a schedule, and Toni never really feels comfortable going with me when I'm going onto people's property.  I just put a couple of places in the back of my mind for later trips.  I didn't quite know that the later trip would be the following day.  There was rain in the forecast, so I wasn't really able to get the vehicles cleaned up as had been my original plan.  Toni was at work, and I was kind of looking for something to do.

My creative energy had been zapped on Saturday with all the different scenes that Toni and I worked, so I wasn't really looking to go out with the camera.  However, the weather was nearly ideal for shooting barns and old cars.  It was pretty much like it was yesterday.  I debated with myself for a while, and finally decided that I might as well go and try to get something while the weather was good.  I keyed in the location on Absher Rd that I was wanting to start with after seeing it yesterday.  The trip wasn't that long, so I went ahead and loaded the truck.

The trip was uneventful, and I actually went a slightly different way to get to my destination, so I got to scout some other things along the way.  The problem that I was having, was I just wasn't feeling all that creative, so I was very proficient at talking myself out of stopping and pulling the camera out.  I kept telling myself that I was going out with a destination in mind, and that was what I was wanting to do.

Well, I passed by a service shop on the side of Traphill Rd that had a very nice collection of old cars in the back.  They were closed, and there were signs up all around that advised against going back there.  Well, I left a business card with the hopes that they would call me back some day, and I could get permission to be out there at some point.  It was a quick sideline, but at least I was starting to feel a little creative.

When I got to my destination, I pulled into the driveway and went up to the door.  I knocked, but there was no answer.  There was smoke coming out of the chimney, so either they were ignoring my knock, or they were busy doing other things.  Either way, I was not getting any permission for the property today.  I didn't wait around too long as I have been met with armed home owners too many times in the past, and didn't want to freak anyone out.  Well, I looked around at the potential, and decided that it would be worth a return trip at another time.

Nestled in the Trees
Well, my day wasn't going well at all.  I had been out for about 2 hours and had not found the first subject to photograph.  I tried going into Stone Mountain where I had seen a really pretty tree fallen in a field...but that didn't really catch my eye today.  I started to just drive around and get lost.  I honestly don't know where I was for most of this trip.  My GPS would not pick up, and there were very little road signs.  As I was starting to get a little bummed, I happened to see a small house tucked into an alcove just off of the road behind a fence.  It was not my normal cabin, but the way it set beneath the trees caught my eye.  I went ahead and pulled off the road, and pulled the camera out.

As I was setting it up, I really wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I figured I was here, might as well.  I started out with the 24-70mm lens so I could try and get the feel of the size of the trees in the background.  I just wasn't really getting excited about the compositions I could shoot due to some obstacles in the yard, but I kept on trying.

Deserted Stables
I finally decided to move my attention to the stables that were to the right of the property.  I was not happy with any composition on that subject, and made the decision to chuck the 24-70mm back in the bag and try my 70-200mm to get some isolations.  That seemed to work out much better.  I could pick out the details I wanted in the stable, and omit a lot of the other clutter.  I liked the right half of the stables, as there were horses' names above each of them.  The chains, the wood textures, and the different wood finishes seemed to work together in this image.  Now, I was starting to get in the right frame of mind to shoot this scene.  Armed with the long lens, I directed my attention back to the house once again.

The Vast Woodland
Still wanting to capture the trees, I worked on several compositions that included the trees.  The problem was, there was just no balance to the image.  Then I decided to isolate a portion of the house, rather than capture it all.  That was the trick!  I was able to get the scale of the trees, and use the house as a focal point.  I was definitely getting in the swing of things now.  I started to adjust the composition to see if I could add more drama to the scene.

Front Porch Swing
By using the driveway as a leading line to the porch, I got a really nice draw to the eyes.  There was a lot of detail to look at on the porch, but the red roof of the barn to the rear, called for your eye's attention.  This allowed for the your eyes to be pulled away from the house and into the trees once again.  The diagonals here make for a strong image, but still has the vertical impact of the trees.  While this is not necessarily in my normal wheelhouse, I was liking what I was coming up with, and more importantly, I was getting the creative bug back.

The Storm Clears
I got back in the truck and commenced to driving around once again.  I was seeing road signs, but I still had no idea where I was at.  The sky was starting to do some funky things as well.  I thought that I was about to be looking at a bright sunny day, which would change my plans dramatically.  Not wanting to shift gears just yet, I found an old hay shelter sitting right in the middle of a field.  The sky was looking really good above it, so I decided to stop and make use of what might be my last subject of the day.  I went back to my 24-70mm lens because I really wanted a nice wide angle to bring in the sky.  It was after all, the real subject of this photograph.  The shelter was just a focal point, a compositional tool, so to speak.

Simple Shelter
As I played around with the scene, I found that the opposite side of the shelter was actually a better subject.  It also worked well with the mountain in the distance.  The roof was almost like a leading line.  The sky was still really cool, and the good news was, the clouds were building back again.  Since I was unable to get any closer to the barn, I decided to pack up and keep it moving.  I was now fully ready to find something great to photograph.

Well...I was ready, but nothing I drove by worked out.  I would see a barn from the road and start to chase it down.  By the time I found it, I decided that it was not quite as photogenic as I had thought from a distance.  I was really starting to get discouraged with this hunting game that I play when I do my rural photography.  Since I still had no GPS, and was pretty much lost, I decided to stay lost.  Only now, I was starting to go down dead end roads to see what was tucked away from the motoring public.

Setting Roots
As I came around a bend in the road I saw it.  There was a perfect old Ford sitting there beneath the trees.  There was even a small pine growing beside the fender.  This was what I was looking for!  I got out and started to frame compositions using my 70-200mm so that I could avoid getting the distant sky in the compositions.  While the clouds looked great, the sky would just show as white beyond the trees, and I wanted to avoid that as best I could.  I was very fortunate that there were only 2 cars on this road for the 30 minutes I was there.  For the most part, I was shooting from the middle of the road.

Spider Web
Time Well Wasted
Since I had the long lens fitted, I thought I would go ahead and get some isolations on the truck.  I really liked the blue door, and the rusty patina on the truck.  The little pine tree was also a really nice addition.  I found a few compositions that captured all three of those elements.  Before packing things up though, I decided to swap out to my 24-70mm lens and try some other angles on this truck.

Hand Painted
Long Way Home
I'm learning that I really should be trying multiple lenses on the same subjects more often.  The different focal lengths always give a different feeling to the photograph.  These last two are much more open than the first ones.  Not that one is better than the other, just a different way to capture the scene.  After that 30 minutes had passed, I figured I had shot the goody out of this truck.  Also, for some reason in the middle of backwoods Wilkesboro, I was listening to Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg being blasted from a bass heavy car stereo at the house to my left.  I wasn't sure what that meant, but I figured I would probably do better to head on.

It was starting to get late, and I was needing to find my way to a GPS signal to get home, but I couldn't resist that one last dead end road....Sounds like the beginning to a horror story doesn't it?  Well, this was anything but a horror story.  It was the icing on the cake of the day as a matter of fact.

Always Happy
As I came around the curve, I saw a bright yellow VW Beetle on the side of the road.  Man was it bright!!  There was no tag, and there was a lot of dirt and rust on the body.  It hadn't been derelict for long, but it had enough neglect to be a subject for my camera.  Plus, there is no other car that is quite as identifiable as these little Bugs.

I pulled over and got the camera out.  There was a house nearby, but this was well off of the property.  Since it was right on the side of the road, I didn't worry too much about asking permission.  As I was setting up the first shot of this car, I heard a 4-wheeler starting up.  Yeah, I knew what this was going to be about.  I hurried to try and get the first shot done, but I wasn't quick enough.  He pulled up behind me and asked what I was doing.  I explained that I was taking pictures of the car.  He advised that he knows people like to "lift things" from over here, and he wasn't wild about anyone who stopped.  With the camera set up, it was pretty obvious what I was doing, and he reluctantly gave me his blessing to photograph the car.  With a parting "There are video cameras watching you" he went back to the house.  Ok...I wasn't going to hang out here long, and I made sure that I was very obvious with what I was doing so as not to alarm anyone.

Slug Bug
The clouds were absolutely amazing above the Bug, so I had to make it a point to get a composition or two that highlighted those clouds.  From the rear it was easy to do.  I had difficulties from the front though.  There was a boat, next to a building right off the rear corner of the car.  There was just enough space for me to shoot the rear driver's quarter, and a tight shot from the passenger's front quarter.  That helped to keep things quick, which was good.

Sunshine Beneath the Clouds in B&W
When I was processing the images once I got home, I found myself wondering what this car would look like in a black and white rendering.  Ironically, it was the color that drew me to the photograph, but the monochrome version has so much more drama to it.  There is a different feel to it as well.  I am almost thinking that I like this version better than the color.  Regardless, it was this Volkswagon that really came through on today's road trip.  I'm glad that I stumbled on it when I did, and really glad I didn't get chased off of the property!

Once I was able to find a GPS signal, I was on my way home.  I still don't know exactly where I was, but I ended up on Hwy 18 going through N. Wilkesboro.  I'll have to remember this area as there are a lot of great subjects.  It is just a matter of waiting for them to ask to be photographed.  I also have leads on two other places in the area that could be quite promising.  For now, I have 15 pictures that I have deemed as keepers from today's outing.  Not too bad considering I wasn't even feeling like going when I started.

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