Touring the Countryside

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The weather this weekend has been less than stellar for the types of photography that I enjoy.  That has pretty much kept me inside and the camera on the shelf.  Well...that isn't exactly true.  I've been working on a little project for a client that I will release later on in the month.  Since it is a gift, I am trying to keep it a secret.  The only problem is, I'm very proud of this particular project, and I can't wait to share it with everyone.  As great as it turned out, I only tripped the shutter three times for the project.  That left me...well...wanting more.  That is where the weather came into play.  For the most part, there was nothing but blue skies to be had, which hardly gets me excited to take pictures.

By Sunday, I was really wanting to go to the mountains and do some landscapes, but the weather was nowhere near where I would have wanted it.  It wasn't worth the drive out to the mountains, so I decided to stay at home.  As the afternoon started to tick by, I noticed that the clouds were starting to move into the area.  not much, but enough.  I started going through my memory to think of places that were close by that I could hit around golden hour, just before sunset.  For some reason, this old piece of yard art came to mind in Yadkin County.

I have driven, and ridden my bike past this old blue race car numerous times.  I have even pulled over and tried to photograph it before.  It was never the right time, or the right conditions.  I'm not sure why, but I was unable to shake the vision of this old track car.  That usually means I need to go out and photograph what I'm locked on because my subconscious is telling me that something great is about to happen.  At least that is how it seems.  I didn't have much hope for this car, and in fact I was already thinking about plan B's when I got to the car and decided it wasn't a good candidate.

Sponsors in B&W
Well, after dinner, I had kind of cooled my jets on the car as the clouds were starting to fade away.  I wasn't really interested in photographing the clouds, but I wanted a bit of diffusion in the light.  Well, I had listened to the voices in my head enough to know that I had better go on out there to see what they were talking about.  I grabbed my camera and headed out to Yadkinville.  All the way there, I was trying to talk myself out of trying to photograph the car.  It was on a business property, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the owners were the house right next door.  Would they let me photograph the car or not?

When I drove past the car, the lighting actually looked really good and the sun was in the perfect position to light the car like I had always wanted.  The parking lot seemed very small, and very much like an extension of the house.  I drove by, not really wanting to face a armed homeowner this evening.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to give it a try.  I turned around, and pulled into that small parking lot.  I walked over to the house and rang the doorbell.

I waited....

I waited....

No answer.  I went back over to the garage and knocked on the door.  No answer there either.  At this point, I went back to the car with the intention of leaving.  However, I looked around, and saw that I was in the wide open.  There was even a neighbor across the street mowing.  Nobody seemed to care that I was there.  What I was wanting to photograph was right off of the road, and I was comfortable with that.

I brought the camera out slowly giving ample time for anyone to voice their displeasure at my presence.  That never came, and I was able to mount my 24-70 lens with a polarizer with no issues.  I went and set the tripod up and started to make compositions.  I started high, and worked lower, and the lower I went, the closer I went.  Still nobody was paying me a bit of attention.  I was very careful not to get too close to give anyone the indication that I might be up to no good.  After about ten frames, I decided it was time to call it a day.  I had pressed my luck long enough, and felt that I had a great picture in there somewhere.

Hmmm, only ten frames thus far.  The sun was still up, and my shutter finger was itching for more action.  I decided to continue off into the sunset in search of...well, a sunset.  I wasn't in the mountains, but this was farm land, and I was hoping to find something with a barn, or open lands that would work under the sky that was developing.  It wasn't the best sky I had ever seen, but it was developing into a decent potential for a sunset. 

John Deere Green
As I was driving along Courtney-Huntsville Rd (one of my cycling roads as well), I found an old Combine on the side of the road.  It was not an old abandoned farm implement like I would normally have been drawn to.  It was an active piece of machinery.  What I liked about this was the sky behind it, and the fact that the Combine was in it's natural setting.  What the heck!  I might as well see what I can do with this scene as the sun was quickly dropping.

I pulled over and got my camera out.  I started with a 70-200mm lens, but quickly found that I wanted to get a little bit wider, so I swapped my 24-70mm back on.  Since the compositions I was looking at were facing North, I decided that I would go ahead and add an intensifying polarizer to help with the sky.  In a couple of minutes I was back at making compositions.  This lens was working out much better.  The sky was looking really cool, and I was thinking that I could deal with the contrast difference by processing the RAW file with a little care.  I opted not to add an ND Grad since my compositions kept the combine well into the horizon.

I think what drew me to this rather simple composition was that it was full of primarily horizontal lines that repeated through the picture.  The clouds, the boom,the yellow stripe, the very shape of the combine, and the rows in the field.  They all repeated the same pattern.  It was a relaxing scene, and one that told a story.

End of the Work Day
Whenever, I tried to include the sunset to the West, the combine went too far into the shadows.  When I started to process the images, I wasn't able to bring the detail out without causing a ton of digital noise.  That was not acceptable and I chose to toss the pictures out.  However, Toni came in and took a look at what I was working on.  She liked the one with the actual setting sun included.  I explained my position, and she balked.  She liked it and wanted it in the gallery.  Well, I hate to tell her no, so I bypassed the image and didn't include it in my final cut.  Well, I didn't say no...but I didn't do it either.

As I was getting things ready to go into the blog, I remembered that I actually had taken a series of images of that scene with the intention of experimenting with HDR photography.  I went back into Lightroom, and found the three images.  I did a quick merge and looked at the final product.  I wasn't a fan.  It was washed out, and didn't really look all that great.  But I had never done this before, and knew that I would need to do a little polishing of the image.  Well, as I started to move the sliders around, I started to see a lot of potential.  I completed the process and decided that this one could work.  There was no noise in it, and the colors were pretty great.  I was wishing that the combine was something different, but beggars can't be choosers.  The picture worked, and captured the scene that Toni liked better than my first pick.  So, in a way, I did say yes after all.

It was a quick trek, but at least I got out of the house with the camera.  I also photographed two different scenes that I had never pulled a camera on before.  I was ecstatic about the old race car when I started the processing.  it turned out better than I had envisioned it.  Showing me once again, when that inner voice says "go", I had better listen to it.  I also did my first even HDR photograph, and found that I actually like the effect.  I didn't over process it, and it doesn't have that grunge look to it.  It is actually quite natural, and appears as my eyes saw it.  That is always the goal with my processing.  I want it to appear natural, the way I saw it at the time of the capture.  This fit the bill, and I was quite happy with the outcome.  in fact, I am happy with all three of the shots that I decided to keep, and the one black and white conversion turned out very good as well.


  1. Yes you did say yes!!!! Aren't you happy now???!!! LOL

  2. It never hurts to listen to Toni! She really has a talent for seeing the potential in some of your photos. Some of my favorites through the years have been ones that she has encouraged you to shoot! Once again, the two of you make a great team on many levels!