An Atypical Sunrise and an Open Gate

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dawn of Thunder Hill
August has been a rough month for me on several fronts, not the least of which has been my days off.  My schedule at work has been all over the place, and my occasional day off has usually been accounted for.  That has meant less than normal outings with the camera.  For the first time in three weeks, I actually had a two day weekend, and it was a work weekend for Toni, and Sierra was staying with my Mom.  With nobody at home, I knew that I was going to need to make a day trip to the mountains.  The weather wasn't even really a factor as I was just going to be happy to get out there to do a little photography.

Speaking of the weather, it was looking like 75% clouds for sunrise, and then quickly dropping to 45% for the rest of the day.  That usually means that there would be few if any clouds in the area (based on previous forecasts with those numbers).  The sunrise forecaster said that the likelihood of a colorful sunrise was very slim.  To sum things up, the conditions were not really my cup of tea for a Trek...however, I decided to give it a try anyway.  I chose to start in Boone and move up to Doughton Park where the weather was looking the most favorable.  Since I was going to make a day of it, I might as well start out early and try for a sunrise.

The alarm rang at 3:30, and I slowly got up and got ready.  I was on my way by 4:15 without a clear destination in mind.  I was going to the mountains to wing it, and that was about the extent of my "planning" for the day.  The trip out there was simple, and I arrived a little ahead of schedule to find that there were no clouds in the valley below.  The good news was that the clouds were actually kind of thick and I thought that might make for a decent chance at a pretty sunrise.  I started to look for my location to get set up.  I wasn't really finding anything that was catching my eye, so I decided to head down to the Thunder Hill Overlook.  This was one that had several ways to shoot.  I could shoot the actual overlook itself, or I could go across the Parkway to shoot the field.  A little further down the Parkway was another angle on the field that provided a nice little view of a valley.  I figured that I could adjust to whatever the sun provided by setting up here.

When I got there, it was still totally dark.  I got out my flashlight and started to look for a composition.  With Summer in full swing, the overlook was a little dense in vegetation which made a composition rather difficult.  I started to branch out and explore my options away from the overlook.  Just a short distance to the side, I found a nice opening in the trees which presented a nice view of the distant mountains.  This was going to be my spot!  I set the camera up with the 24-70mm lens attached along with the Lee Filter Holder.  I started to compose a shot looking out into the distance, but I didn't like what I was seeing.  There was no real interest to the picture the way I was seeing it.  I stepped back and reviewed my plan.  Well, my best option now was to change the composition to include the Blue Ridge Parkway as a leading line.  That worked much better!

By the time the sky was looking decent (no colors, but nice formations), my exposure times were down to about 20 seconds which was still enough time to show a little motion.  I had a 3-Stop ND Grad on the lens to help me get the proper exposure on the foreground which was vital to the image.  I shot about a half dozen frames from this location as the clouds changed their forms.  It wasn't long before the sun was up and the clouds were losing their interest.  It was time to move to my alternate shooting location across the street.

Lush Appalachian View
I worked my way through the underbrush to the top of the hill alongside the Parkway.  I found a nice little section of fence that I could use as a foreground for an image.  I worked out my position so that the distant mountain would be positioned...just so against the fence.  I still had my 3-Stop filter in place which was doing a phenomenal job at controlling the sky.  I could make out where the sky seemed to get brighter right over the mountain as I was setting up the shot.  I actually hurried this shot a little bit since the clouds were moving kind of fast.  Had I waited another 30 seconds, I would have missed that opportunity to use the clouds as a highlighting element for the mountain.  Once the clouds moved on, I decided to get to a different composition.

Hazy Lazy Morning
I've always been fond of this tree and rock as they make for great elements in most conditions.  I got the shot framed up, waited for the cow to move by my location and I started to shoot.  As I was snapping away, I realized that I was missing an opportunity to include some miniature pine trees that were pretty close to me.  I elevated the camera to shoot over the barbed wire, and composed an image that included a few of the baby pines to really throw off the scale of the image.  I wanted the viewer to spend a little time looking into this picture because there is just so much there to look at!

As the morning progressed, the lighting was changing and becoming less favorable.  I decided to pack it up and head off to my next stop.  While I was loading the truck, I saw another photographer coming from the trail beside the field I had been shooting at.  I went over to talk to him briefly, and found out that he was Jim Ruff, a fellow CNPA member.  We talked briefly about the less than favorable conditions of the morning.  Like me, he was hoping for a colorful sunrise.  He was going to get some breakfast, and I was off to see what else I could see along the Parkway.

I had a fleeting thought of going to Roaring Fork Falls, but according the forecast, the clouds were going to be breaking up soon which would not do me any favors at a waterfall.  Additionally, I was not wearing my waterfall boots, and knew that this was one that I would normally stand in the water for.  It was probably for the best since there hasn't been a lot of rain in the past week or so to build up the watershed for the falls.  I ended up driving down to Price Lake to find that there was no fog, and the clouds were getting rather featureless.  I decided to head up North to my original destination of Doughton Park.

As I was somewhere North of Jeffress Park, I saw a couple of trees on the side of the road that looked interesting.  I turned around and got out.  I tried to work the trees for about 30 minutes, but was unable to make an image that I really liked.  I was starting to wonder if I was done already.  The clouds were looking horrible, and the lighting was not the best.  Because of that, I decided to do a little exploring off of the Parkway.

Honestly, I don't know where I went.  I found a few decent things to photograph, but the conditions weren't right, and it wasn't worth getting out of the truck.  I know that eventually, I ended up back in Boone, and ultimately continued on 421 towards Tennessee.  I turned off before leaving the state and ended up back on 105 headed to Boone once again.  I had not found a single thing to photograph on my adventure and was getting a little tired and ready to go home.  Regardless, I hopped back on the Parkway in Blowing Rock and retraced my tracks from earlier in the day.  My destination was Doughton Park, and then Hwy 21 to head home for the day.

As I was driving along the Parkway, I was looking for something to put in front of my camera, but the clouds were just not doing me any favors.  Nothing looked good.  I thought I would try photographing an old silo that is off of the side of the Parkway once again.  I've done this many times and have never gotten a picture I really like from it.  The angle I have to shoot from is difficult because there is a fence and gate in place that keeps me from getting close.  I didn't really expect to get anything from here, especially since the barn has long since fallen and left the silo all along.  As I passed by, I looked to see what the lighting was like on the silo.  It was in the shadows, and didn't look all that great.  Oh well...

Wait a minute...

Was the gate opened?

That might make it worth a stop. 

I turned around and found much to my pleasure that the gate was wide open.  The expectation of privacy has now changed, and I was looking forward to getting in there to investigate an old truck I had seen there starting in 2005, but could never get close enough to.

The Empty Windows
The silo was a bust.  There just wasn't any interest there at all for me.  The truck didn't look all that great either.  In fact, where the engine would normally be, there was a stack of scrap metal.  Maybe this wasn't as great a place as I was hoping.  There was an old farm house in the distance that looked promising.  While I was contemplating my next move a pickup truck came down the driveway.  Yep, I know what this means, I'm getting ready to get run off.

Well, the driver got out and seemed to be nice enough.  I didn't see any weapons, and that made me happy.  We started talking for a bit, and he actually understood that I was taking pictures of the property, and wasn't trying to hurt anything.  The property was his sister's and had stopped functioning back in the early '70's.  It was built in the '40's originally.  Having gotten a bit of the history, I was once again fired up to get some pictures done.  He even told me about the truck.  It was bought by his Father as a parts donor for another truck that they owned.  That didn't change the fact that it was a basket case, but it did give me little context behind it.

Scrap Pile
The truck had captured my attention once again, and I went over to it and started to look at how I could photograph it.  I decided to embrace the scrap pile and shoot it from the front corner.  The lighting was such that I really had no choice but to shoot as an HDR photograph.  I shot four frames for this picture which were later blended in Lightroom.  The more I looked at it, the more I liked the picture.  Knowing the story behind it allowed me to try and tell that story to those looking at the picture.  The textures were wonderful, and the rusty colors played really nice with the grass and blue sky to the rear.  Considering, I had initially scoffed at this subject, I was ecstatic to have photographed it in this way.  It turned out better than I had hoped!

It was time to get back to the house on the hill though.  The lighting was looking pretty good (although a little harsh due to the time of day).  As I was making my way to the house, I saw an old plow set up as yard art in front of the house.  My initial thought was to go wide on my 24-70mm lens and get in close.  The only problem with that was, the house started to look really small in the camera.

Fading History
I didn't like how that looked so I backed up and went with a narrower focal length.  That brought the house into the proper scale for the picture.  The sky was still very cloudy, and there was only a little bit of definition to it.  Using only a polarizer, I crossed my fingers that the camera was going to capture the entire range of tones with one shot.  According to my histogram, it did just that.

The composition was a fun one. There are two pieces of family history here that are slowly being reclaimed by the Earth.  One is being overgrown while the other one is just falling in on itself.  This is why I do what I do with a camera.  Neither subject is in usable condition, and they are both arguably in their last stages of life.  Through my camera, I am able to celebrate them and immortalize them at this late stage of life.  It is almost like a super power that I possess that allows me to do that.

Standing Proudly
Just like with the old truck, I decided to give the old house the HDR treatment.  For this shot, I wanted to find a special composition that really included the sky.  I also wanted the house to be in a position of power.  For this, I found an area near the stream that ran through the property to set the camera up.  It gave me the proper "down low position" I needed to set the tone.  I got my composition set up, and then fired off four frames at 2/3 of a stop increments to cover all the tonalities in the image.  When I started the merge, and final edits to the image in Lightroom, I was quite impressed with how it turned out.  Not only did this old house look powerful, it also looked proud once again.

International Textures
Speaking of looking proud and powerful, I wanted to go back to the old truck and try some isolations on different elements.  After I got back to it, I found that doing isolations was going to be more difficult that I thought.  There wasn't much left in tact on that truck.  I did notice the International emblem on the front which appeared to be in decent shape.  I went ahead and set up a composition using this as the visual anchor and the rusted and pitted metal as the backdrop for the emblem.  With that shot under my belt, I decided that it was time to move on.  I had been out here for about an hour at this point and didn't want to wear out my welcome.

I continued North towards Doughton Park.  I didn't quite make it to the park since I found an overlook that caught my eye.  It wasn't for the great scenic quality as the clouds were back in full force completely covering the sky once again.  No, this overlook had a field of yellow flowers just to the side of a pretty cool tree.  With the lighting very diffused, it was the perfect recipe for a woodland intimate shot of the tree.

The Color of Summer
I went ahead and put my 70-200mm lens on for this shot, and I added an intensifying polarizer to make the colors pop.  I worked on compositions with just the one tree, but didn't find one that I really liked.  I then decided to back up a little more, and include the other tree right at the edge of the field.  With the angle of the trunk on my primary tree, this composition was a natural one.  It fell right into place, and is proof that if you listen to your subject, it will tell you how it wants to be photographed.  I even got the added benefit of having a nice bouquet of purple flowers to help bring attention to the secondary tree.

Dainty Petals
Even though it was the tree that had drawn my attention, it was the flowers that really made the scene.  In fact, they were so important I decided to pick one out of the crowd and give it a little bit of the credit that it deserves.  There was a slight breeze in the air, and since I was shooting at 200mm, I had to wait for a lull in the wind.  That didn't work, so I had to boost my ISO, which then allowed me to get the photograph that I was wanting.  It is a simple isolation, but one that I am pretty happy with, especially since I don't do this type of photography all that often.  But alas, it was time to hit the road and head home.

Well, as I was passing Alligator Back, I remembered that Toni had mentioned to me about stopping there.  Well, maybe she knew something that I didn't, and it is a special overlook for us, so I decided to stop there before getting on Hwy 21.  The clouds were no all that great over the mountains, and I wasn't quite sure if there was a picture to be had there or not.  But as I was looking around, I noticed the way the Parkway snaked around right there at the overlook.  That might be worth a picture or two!

Well Traveled
There really is something wonderful about America's Favorite Drive!

Little Switzerland Trek

Sunday, August 13, 2017

With my creative slump behind me, I was looking forward to getting a little photography in this weekend.  I had finally photographed the old truck that has been occupying my thoughts for weeks now, and I was free to think about other subjects.  I had a lot of subjects to think about all of a sudden, and what I was wanting to focus on was moving water.  Looking at the weather, there was going to be a good cloud cover for most of the morning, with a thunderstorm around midday, followed by clearing skies.  This was more or less the pattern across the Western part of NC.  Having not been to Crabtree Falls in a period of about three years, I decided that I would head out that way.  Since it is close to Roaring Fork Falls, I was going to make it a two for one kind of day.  The idea was to start off at Crabtree Falls since it stands to get a bit busier than Roaring Fork Falls, and I wanted the smallest amount of crowds that I could get away with.

Summer at Crabtree Falls
My day started out like so many days behind the early o'clock!  I was up with Toni at about 4:15am so that I could be on my way to the mountains in time to catch a sunrise if possible.  I was also looking at getting to Crabtree Falls as early as possible to beat the crowds.  When I left the house, I could see stars in the sky which was a far cry from 94% cloud coverage, but I wasn't worried.  I was taking the long route so that I could drive a good length of the Blue Ridge Parkway before getting to the falls.  That way, if the clouds weren't working out for waterfall photography, I could punt and do some landscape shots.

I turned South on the Parkway at about 6:15, which was cutting it very close for a sunrise.  The sky was not all that interesting, so I wasn't all that upset about missing out.  I could see lots of clouds below in the valley which makes for great pictures, but with a blank sky above, it wasn't worth pulling the camera out.  I just continued driving South toward Little Switzerland where I expected to spend most of my time...hoping that the clouds were thicker down that way.

Appalachian Serenity
As I was driving, I was enjoying looking out over the overlooks at the clouds below.  I was even getting a little excited about seeing some clouds forming in the sky above as well.  When I got to Milepost 323 (Bear Den), I saw the potential for a scenic shot for the first time since getting on the Parkway.  I pulled off the road real quick and got my camera out.  Not knowing how much time I had, I left the 70-200mm lens attached (as it is stored in the bag), and kept the lens free of any filters.  I started trying to pick out the sections that I liked the best.  There was one section with a very dense blanket of clouds over the mountains that really sparked my interest.  That was what I chose to focus on.  There wasn't anything in the way of a foreground element, so I had to use the distant trees for that element of the shot.  It was all about layers and textures.  The picture turned out alright, I guess, but it wasn't quite what I was after when I pulled off of the road.  There was so much going on here, I thought that there had to be a better way of capturing the scene.

Bear Den
Well, the only way I could realistically capture the beauty before me was to work out a panoramic composition.  I leveled the tripod, and flipped the camera on its side.  I started to map out where I wanted the picture to start and finish.  I set the exposure to work across the entire scene, and dialed in the focus for maximum depth of field.  I made a dry run across the scene to make sure that the camera was totally level, and then started the eight shot series that made the single panorama.  There were no filters involved so the exposure was pretty straightforward.  I had the sun to my back, but that actually worked out and gave a nice shadow at the bottom to help frame the whole shot.  The histogram showed that I captured all of the information in the individual shots, but it wasn't until I got home that I was able to see what I had in totality.

Once I got it into Lightroom, I started to find the details in the shadows and highlights.  The more I watched this picture unfold, the more I liked it.  All of a sudden, this one took on a life of its own.  I wasn't on the Parkway to capture this picture, I was here to work a waterfall.  Regardless, this was going to be the defining image from the day.  The clouds were wonderful, and the transition from shadow to light in the landscape was just so subtle.  There was just so much to like about this image that I barely wanted to look at any of the other pictures from the day.  But I reminded myself that I had driven all the way out here for a waterfall shot, and the clouds were building to the South.

I went ahead and packed up the camera and got rolling again.  I was only 10 miles or so from Crabtree Falls, so it didn't take long at all to get there.  When I arrived, I only saw one other vehicle in the parking lot...JACKPOT!!!  I hurried down the trail while the sun was still hidden by the mountain.  The clouds were not coming in like I had been hoping, and I didn't want to rely on them for my lighting.  I met the occupants of the car as I neared the falls, nearly a mile and a half from the parking lot.  They were on their way back to the car.  I should be alone at this point, so I was getting really excited.

One of the things that I wanted to do with this waterfall was to capture it in a way that I had not done yet.  The times that I had been out before, I had gone for the overall shot from different angles.  These shots were always very similar to the opening photo to this blog entry.  It is a nice view, and one that is easily recognized.  This time, I was wanting do concentrate on the tree at the base of the waterfall.  Honestly, I wasn't sure how long it would be there since it is in a rather exposed place.  I went ahead and swapped out my 16-35mm which I had fitted for the overall shot, and used my 70-200mm lens to really showcase the tree.  I used a Singh Ray Intensifying Polarizer to remove any surface glare and dialed in a composition that focused on the root system of the tree.  The waterfall was now placed in a supporting role to the tree with the soft cascades the backdrop to the tree.  I worked quite well, and was pretty much like I had envisioned it when I was planning the compositions I was going to work on.

Fallen Trees
Even though the isolation worked well, I didn't want to lose track of the overall impact of this waterfall.  With the super wide angle lens attached, I was able to get a few different compositions of the waterfall and some of the lesser cascades at the base.  Since the foreground is always so dark, I chose to reduce the amount of polarization that I normally use so that I would get a little bit of glare on the rocks.  It actually worked like a charm and helped to show off the textures of the rocks leading up to the main event.  While this waterfall really does lend itself to this vertical orientation, the horizontal format works almost as well as long as the lesser cascades are in action.  I was lucky that the water flow was enough to get that foreground interest.

A Rocky Perch
Having shot the entire waterfall as well as an isolation, I figured I could also put together a hybrid composition.  One that showcased the waterfall on a larger scale, while still focusing on the tree.  The sun was starting to become a part of my image construction and the tree was starting to get lit up.  This helped it stand out from the waterfall, and using my long lens once again, I opened up the frame a little bit to include a bit of greenery to the upper right which balanced the rock that the tree was sitting on.  Having the image opened up like this gave me the ability to include a good bit more of the waterfall to help tell the story.  This one is very similar to the isolation, but the story is different here, and I feel that they both stand on their own merit. 

Once I was done with the long lens compositions, I started to look for other options from the other side of the waterfall.  Well, as luck would have it, as I was getting a plan in mind, the sun decided to change my plans.  There were ever increasing hot spots on the waterfall as the sun was hitting in full force now.  I wasn't going to be able to do any more photography with this location as the sun was taking up more and more of the face of the waterfall.  I packed up the camera and started back up the trail.  Funny thing is, about the same place I met the other hikers, I ran into another one headed to the falls.  I couldn't have timed this better.  I was alone the entire time I was there, and the sun cooperated for a good amount of time.  Now the sun was a problem, and there were other hikers approaching.  Yep, it worked out very well!

Once I got back to the truck, I took a little break to cool off.  I was looking at the sky, and was not really liking what I was seeing.  The clouds were not filling in the way I was needing for more waterfall photos, and the sun was getting high enough that I was going to have a hard time getting a landscape composition that worked with the lighting.  I decided that I would start working my way back up the Parkway and slowly head home.  It was only about 10am at this time, and I still wanted to photograph Roaring Fork.  That wasn't going to happen unfortunately.  As I was driving North, I came across the Three Knobs Overlook and saw a few people looking off in the distance.  There were some nice clouds, and I thought I would give it a try.

The Rolling Blue Ridge
I had a hard time coming up with a composition that made sense here.  There was no foreground interest, and the lighting was getting a little harsh overall.  I didn't want to rely on the long lens as I had before because the haze of the day was starting to affect the clarity of the distant mountains.  In order to get something with a bit of visual impact I was going to have to focus in close to something.  I opted to use my 24-70mm lens for the first time today.  I also added a B+W Polarizer to add some contrast to the sky.  I searched around for a composition that had the depth that I wanted to show.  I ended up getting a little bit of the natural growth on the edge of the overlook, going into the trees in the midground.  The clouds settling in over the distant mountains became the background, and primary point of interest.  Having these layers gave me the depth that I was after, and make the image work.  It is not my favorite from the day, but it does tell the story of why I stopped at the overlook.

With this picture done, I loaded the truck up and continued heading North.  I even went ahead and dialed up home on the GPS so that I could try a different way home.  I ended up taking Hwy 221 South to get to I-40.  That worked out great because I found a couple places with some nice old cars just waiting to have photographed.  I was out of time, and the sun wasn't doing me any favors though, so I had to pass on this opportunity.  I did save the location in my phone for later...and I hope that later happens before the cars are moved.

The trip back was long, but uneventful.  When I got home, I downloaded the images, and found that I had shot 64 frames which really wasn't that much for the time invested.  There were three different panoramas in that which accounted for about 18 of those pictures.  It was a good day, but I was left wanting more, which is a very good thing.  that means that my creative energy is back, and that makes me very happy!

While I was editing the pictures, the one panorama that I found so appealing, really stuck with me.  I was looking at the textures and how the light and shadows were working together.  I started to think, maybe this would be a great study in black and white.  I took it over into Photoshop and did the conversion.  After I tweaked some of the tones, and contrast, I was really impressed with what I saw.  I shot a picture of the monitor and sent it to Toni who readily approved of the conversion.  Since she is my go to when it comes to monochrome photography, I took that as a sign that I had a winner on my hands.

Bear Den in Black and White

Light Painting in the Mist

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It has been a while since I've had the itch to go out with the camera.  I've been working a lot lately, and there has been a lot going on to keep my attention away from creativity.  That's not to say that I haven't had some ideas about future pictures, I just haven't had the drive to go out and capture them this month.  One thing that I do know about me is...once I get an idea, I will get stuck on it until I try it.  That means that I won't be able to move on to any other ideas.  That was the case for most of the last two weeks.  You see, there is an old REO truck going out to Walnut Cove that I have passed by for years and years now.  I've thought about photographing it, but it just never had the look I was going for.  Recently though, I have been opened to automotive subjects that are not quite as rusty as I once sought to place in front of my lens.

Not only did this truck have some appearance issues that kept me from really looking close, there were two rather large power pole structures behind the truck which brought with them power lines which I can't stand in my pictures.  It was situated in a location that looked staged...quite simply because it was.  This was yard art, not some abandoned truck which is my normal go to for photos.

All these negatives aside, I have been looking more closely at this truck for a while now and have been finding more and more to like about it.  For the last couple of weeks, I have been pondering what kind of lighting I could use to do this truck justice, and to minimize the large structures behind it.  I thought about photographing it at sunset with a colorful sky behind it; but that would take all of the detail out of the truck.  I thought about trying it at sunrise with some color in the clouds behind it.  That was a possibility, but the focus would be more on the sky, and the power lines.  I then thought about doing some light painting with a very subdued sky behind it.  That had some possibility, but I wasn't sure if I wanted a clear sky, one with some clouds, or a totally overcast sky.  I could visualize the results of any of those options, but when it comes to light painting and log exposures, there is a large element of chance as to what you will get as a final picture.

I had woken up early several different mornings, but rolled over rather quickly due to a lack of interest in creating.  I had asked Toni to wake me up this morning since she was going to work, and I was going in for a community function later on in the morning.  I knew that I had enough time to go out to the truck and photograph it.  The weather was rainy with pretty much total overcast conditions.  That meant that I would not be able to rely on the sun at all for any lighting.  It was just going to be a matter of how light the sky got, which dictated my shutter speed, and the amount of time that I would have to paint my subject with a flashlight.  I was expecting to make my best exposures during what is called the "blue hour" which is about an hour before sunrise.  I would have enough light in the sky to give a little interest if there was any definition in the clouds.  There would also be enough backlight from the clouds to flesh out the metal structures in the background, but not make them a focal point.  This could work...but I didn't want to get up.

Well, this was the picture that I have been wanting for a couple of weeks now, and if I didn't get it today, then I would try tomorrow or the day after.  But, that would keep me from going and trying other things, and that was not a good option.  I needed to get this picture out of my system, and today was going to be the day.  I got up, and got ready for work, and was out the door at around 5:15.  About 20 minutes later I was pulling into the driveway, pleased to see that there were no street lights to complicate issues.  There was a slight mist in the air, but nothing that would prevent me from shooting the picture.

REO Yard Wagon
I looked at the scene, and found everything pretty much as I was expecting.  I knew that I would be using the power poles in the composition to give a sense of utility and power.  I found a nice bush to use on the right side as a framing element to balance with a softer, natural element to the man made majority of the frame.  The truck was given a position of power in the frame, slightly elevated from my camera location.  I found the right balance, and set the camera up right at the edge of the driveway.  I was using my 24-70mm lens, set at 45mm.  There were no filters at all used.

My first exposures were set for about three minutes which gave me plenty of time to paint the truck with the flashlight.  The sky was still a bit too dark to render properly though.  As the time ticked on, and 6am neared, the sky got brighter, but didn't have much detail to it.  This was where the power lines actually helped out.  I went through the same routine with each exposure, and finally reached an exposure point where I could move out of the Bulb mode and back into manual mode.  The picture that you see here was shot at ISO 100, f/8, 30 seconds.  I painted the truck for the entire 30 seconds, including the bush to the right.  The sky rendered just about right according to the histogram of the camera.  This was probably going to be "the one".  Just in case though, I shot one more at the same settings and did the same lighting.  The results were close, but the shadows looked strange, and I liked the other one better.

At this point, I was looking at the sky to see if there was going to be the possibility of any new interest as the sun came up.  It wasn't looking like it, and I wasn't going to get enough sun to hit the truck to make it pop.  My flashlight was starting to get dim as well.  I chose to pack it up and head back to the house to see what I had gotten before time to go to work.

I downloaded a total of nine images from the morning, and found that there were 5 that I really liked.  When I started looking at the details, there was one that shined through as having all of the elements that I was looking for.  That was the next to last exposure that I had made.  It checked all of the boxes, and once I finished polishing it in Lightroom, I actually had the image that I had been formulating in my mind.

The focus was on the truck which was a big old chunk of red inside the frame.  Red is a powerful color to include, and one must be careful with how it is used.  This truck needed some very cool tones to balance it out.  That was where the sky came in.  It was largely blue with a purple undertone.  It provided the exact amount of visual balance that the cab of the truck needed.  The lit bush also balanced out the two power poles behind which were left in the shadows.  Everything just really worked out well here.  Now, I'm ready to go and photograph something different, and that helps to spark my creativity.