I also happened to check out the sunrise forecast and found that pretty much all of NC was going to see a potentially colorful sunrise. Since Stone Mountain would be closed until after sunrise, I wasn't going to be able to do anything there, but I wanted to find a good place to take advantage of the colors of morning. My first thought was Salem Lake, but having just done a really spectacular image there, I opted not to revisit that same location just yet. My second idea was an old feed mill in Yadkin County which has changed a good bit over the last year with both booms coming down. I have tried to photograph that building under the morning sky several times, but haven't quite gotten it right. I figured it was on the way to Stone Mountain, so this would be the morning I would give it a try.
I woke up around 5am and was on the road a little before 6am. That gave me plenty of time to get to the mill and find my composition before first light. When I got there, the sky was already starting to show some colors and I was getting really excited. There was a problem though...actually two of them. First of all, it appeared as though they had plowed the field that the building was in. That would make it hard to get into position, and I really didn't care for that as a foreground. The second problem I was seeing was there was a tractor trailer pulled down to the cul de sac with the driver apparently asleep in the cab. Anywhere I parked would put me in his way, and had a great potential of getting my truck hit. Since the scene wasn't as I was hoping for, and the tractor trailer was causing problems, I opted to abandon my first stop on this photo tour.
At that point where I was about to throw in the towel, I saw a very interesting tree on the correct side of the road. As I got closer, I could seen an old farmhouse sitting between two trees. It was position absolutely perfect to give attention to the sunrise. I quickly pulled off the road and grabbed my gear. I evaluated the scene quickly and determined that the proper lens would be my 24-70mm with no filters attached. I got right up on the fence line (as close as I could get to the house) and started to compose my images.
I started off including all of the elements I had seen with the two trees and the house. The exposure was pretty straightforward and I did not need any grad filters as the sky was the predominant feature. Once I had a few frames that I liked from that composition, I moved over to the more interesting of the two trees and composed one just of the sky, anchored by the single tree. As I was reviewing the images in the LCD, I was pretty sure that I was going to like this composition much better than the one that I had shot previously. As it turns out though, I like them both equally as well. The sky was phenomenal to say the least.
As the sky brightened, the colors faded away, and I found no reason to stay at this location. I had seen an old truck about a mile back on the road and figured that I would try to shoot that as the sun got high enough to light it up. I packed the camera up, and went a little further down the road to see what I could see. I found a lot of interesting subjects, but none of them were striking me as picture worthy this morning. After a few miles, I turned around and went back to the truck I had seen in the dark.
You know the problem with scouting subjects in the dark? You can't see all that is around them. That was a fatal flaw with this truck. There were houses much too close to the truck, and no appropriate backdrop to use. I looked it over briefly, but found nothing that I wanted to work with at this particular time. But my mind was pretty much set at this point. I was wanting to work rural scenes rather than landscapes. I was getting my Winter groove back kind of early this year.
I pulled over, and pulled out the camera. I staring at a big sign that said "No Trespassing" so, I wasn't going to be able to get close to the barns unfortunately. I grabbed my 70-200mm lens and left the front element bare with no additional filters. I set up right on the property line still on the easement. I found that 125mm would capture the group of barns nicely, along with the trees, and some sky. I played around with my exposure a little bit in order to eek out as much detail in the sky as I possibly could. There was not a lot of exposure latitude to deal with, so I knew that I would be adding some contrast in post.
Since I didn't have many composition options from my position, I didn't stay here long at all. I wasn't sure how this would turn out, but I was at least getting in the frame of mind to work rural settings again. I was fine doing this instead of going to Stone Mountain to shoot landscapes. The sky was iffy as to how it was wanting to behave, and I could tell that there was very little color to be had on the landscape.
I continued driving around for another 30-45 minutes before deciding that I might as well go and do a little hiking and try for some landscapes. My rural adventure was drying up. I went on to Stone Mountain just a couple hours later than I had planned on. The park was nearly empty which was great after a full season of elbow to elbow hikers. The sky was looking decent, so I decided that I would go high and shoot some landscapes from the summit. I started out the hike, and went on the loop trail which should have taken me right where I wanted to go. Unfortunately though, the trail was still closed due to damage. My only other option was to head out to Wolf Rock which I have done far too often this year. I ended up hiking back to the truck deciding to scrub hiking on the agenda. In fact, I might as well go home at this point huh?
Well, the owner was home and had absolutely no problem with me working around his property photographing his cars. I was excited about this! I pulled the truck out of the way along the road and grabbed my gear. I opted for my 24-70mm lens once again, and added my Singh Ray Color Combo Polarizer to help punch up the colors a bit. The first car I worked was a 40's Ford Coupe that was nearly complete. It was sitting next to an embankment that made for a great backdrop. I just had to be a little careful with the clutter that was around the car.
|The Gutless Crew|
|Slowing With Age|
Speaking of complete cars, there was a Four door Bel Air that was in really good shape and was mostly complete. The paint was even in pretty good shape, although you could tell that it had been parked for a few years now. I tried several different compositions with it, but the paint was just too good, and the front was in the shadows. I was about to hang it up for this car when I got the idea to work on the hood ornament. While I was putting the composition together, I noticed something really cool. The shadows on the hood made for a very distinct division of tones, and the lower hood emblem was still picking up the light on the top edge. This was looking rather interesting to say the least.
The more I played with this image, the more I liked it. The cool tones were very relaxing to me. The simple composition was striking, and the editing that I did seemed to really accentuate the elements that I was wanting it to. I think that this is probably my favorite image of the day, and I've got at least one other vote in that direction from my daughter Lexi.
|Eager For More|
|Work in Progress|
After a year, I had finally gotten the ability to return to this location and shoot so many of the cars. It wasn't the landscapes that I had gone out looking for, but for that matter, my sunrise wasn't the scene that I had planned. In fact, nothing about today had gone to plan, but in the end, the result was so much better than what I expected. This will be a fun Winter I believe!
At the end of the day, I had shot 90 images. I decided that 15 of them were worth keeping, and I had another handful that I liked, but they weren't quite special enough to process. It was a spectacular day, even though I had my doubts at every step.