By now, everyone should know the love affair that I have with the weather forecast. No matter what I plan around the weather, I always get bit in the rump. It is frustrating to say the least, and it does wear on me after a while. I spend hours, and sometimes days formulating pictures that I want to make based on a weather forecast that usually ends up being incorrect. I'm then forced to try and find other ideas to photograph. This weekend started out with me seeing that there was bright sun every day, and I decided to stay at home. This was actually a great thing because Toni was home, and we could spend some time together since most of her time away from work is focused on her nursing school.
By the time Sunday rolled around, we had plans for the middle of the morning, but I saw an opportunity to get out for a very brief trek right at sunrise. The weather forecast was still pretty steady, calling for clear skies. Saturday had seen more clouds than were forecasted, so I had some hope for a great sunrise for Sunday morning. However, I decided that I would plan on no clouds since that would take a bit more planning to make a trip worth while. I decided on Doughton Park because there is a group of trees right at the entrance I had photographed some time before that caught my eye. They were positioned perfectly for a sunset, but I could also see some potential there for a sunrise shot using the twilight colors opposite of the sun for the visual interest in the sky. It was a compromise between shooting a sunrise, and not having any clouds to capture the color of the sunrise.
My morning started at 3:15am so that I could be at the park by 5:30, which would give me about thirty minutes to work with to get set up, and find a composition I liked. The trip was uneventful, but I did drive through some light fog through the foothills. I was actually getting excited that I would have some great conditions to work with for a "real" sunrise shot. My plan was to be wrapped up by 7:30 regardless, and back on the road home. If there were going to be great clouds, I was going to have to shoot and run, but that would be ok with me.
As I was passing through Roaring Gap, I saw a store front with a really nice old Ford pickup on display in the parking lot. It wasn't my typical old truck, but it did catch my eye. The lighting was terrible though as the sun was far from coming up, so I put it in my bank to think about later. I had to get to Doughton, which was still about 20 minutes away. I could see that the sky was clear which didn't really matter since that was what I was planning on, but something was there that I hadn't really considered. A full moon was hanging in the sky, and that posed some interesting possibilities for my morning shoot.
The color change was very faint and very gradual, but it was there. I started getting some shots that showed the color, but the trees were blowing too much in the wind. My only recourse was to adjust the ISO which I rarely do. It was cranked up to 640 which was higher than I had shot before. Fortunately, I do trust that the 5DM3 will capture a dark image at this ISO fairly clean. I was able to keep my shutter speed under control, and I found that the branches were mostly frozen which was what I was after. I worked around several different compositions that I liked to varying degrees. However, I got the idea for a panorama to capture the fence, and the long twilight wedge, known as the Belt of Venus.
|Belt of Venus|
It is funny that my first successful moon image was taken from this very park back in the winter as I was trying to capture a sunrise from the top of the ridge that appears in the above photo with the twin trees. Here we were once again, shooting the moon, in a completely different part of the sky. The feel of these images is worlds apart from the previous, as I am making use of warm dawn colors that the sky is offering.
With the sun well up into the sky now, the colors I was seeing were pretty much gone. I still had about 45 minutes to play with before I needed to be heading home so I moved over to Wildcat Rock where a photographer friend of mine, Bonita Loggins has spent a lot of time. I found the overlooks, but there wasn't anything of interest there with the current sky. I started to look around in the woods to see if there was anything interesting I could work with before heading home.
In the end, I settled on one that I liked the best and I showed it to Toni. She really liked it as well. And then I showed her the other contenders. Since this was a composition for her, I wanted to get her opinion on things. She pointed out one composition that I had liked, but didn't bother to edit. She liked this one better, and so I pulled out the "Develop" module, and started to work the RAW image. It became Summertime Reach, and I actually do like it better than the other one that I had originally selected.
I was starting to get fed up with the wind after working the gaggle of trees, and was about to pack it in for the day. However, when I turned around, I found yet another scene that I liked. This one was backlit by the sun, and showcased the long grass being blown about in the wind. Instead of fighting against the wind, I decided to harness the power of the wind, and use the motion in the composition. Still using the long lens, I set up the shot that really made use of the backlit grasses, and dropped the ISO back down to 100 where I much prefer it to be.
Personal growth aside, it was getting too bright to continue, and just like I had planned, it was time to head home. Had there been clouds, I could have gone for hours more, but in the summer, good lighting lasts only a little while when the sun isn't diffused. I had made great use of the hour and a half that I was out there, and was rather surprised at the number of pictures that I had captured. I saw decent potential in many of them as well. I would know more when I got home later in the morning.
Oh yeah, I forgot about something. What about that truck in front of the store? I'm going by it on the way home, and I'm pretty sure that the sun will be lighting it up by the time I get there. Might as well stop and check it out in the daylight to see what it is all about.
When I pulled into the parking lot, it was completely empty which was a great thing! The truck was all alone, and parked underneath a red, white, and blue banner that was undoubtedly still hanging from the Fourth of July. The store itself, looked like a slice of Americana as well. The best part...the sun was lighting it all up, and it was ready to be photographed!
|A Patriotic Step|
The exposure was difficult to say the least. The truck was black, and it was sitting in front of a brightly lit white store front. I needed to keep detail in both the darks and the lights, and quite frankly, this was going to be hard. I had dialed the camera back to 100 ISO which was where I was most comfortable, and had the most control over the noise in the image. I started working on compositions that I thought would work, but none really captured the truck and the banner to the rear. I finally got in close and went kind of wide with the lens to capture a front quarter shot. This was the best vantage point I could find, but I wasn't sure if everything would expose correctly or not. The histogram looked good, and I was thinking that I had a complete range of tone information in the digital negative. It was going to be up to Lightroom to pull the details out from here.
When I got home, I had shot a total of 91 frames since first light. Considering that I had done multiple panoramas and an HDR image, that was still a bunch of pictures for a short amount of time with the camera. I was figuring on maybe three or four images when everything was all said and done. I was really surprised to have six out of the bunch that I really liked, and then Toni added another three to the bunch. What can I say, it was a successful day at Doughton Park!