As you might recall, last week I found myself in Virginia after a quick planned shoot in Sparta, NC. I have to admit, I really enjoyed my time there and was wanting to go back and do some more exploring. As luck would have it, I actually had the time to go out and do some of that exploring this morning. It was kind of a complex decision, and one that really started out backfiring on me. So, here is now this all went down.
My week had been pretty much taken up with planning for my webinar with Singh-Ray which dealt with my Wabi-sabi style of photography. That meant that for pretty much the whole week, I was working on my presentation and reviewing lots of images from my rural explorations. I had some mixed feelings about this. On one hand I was getting tired of seeing rust, but on the other hand, I was really studying my style and was really in tune with how my images were looking.
On Friday, at 9:15pm, my webinar was over and I closed out of the presentation program with a complete sigh of relief. I was now able to focus on where I wanted to go on Saturday, and it was the first time I had given it any thought at all. I looked at the weather and saw that sunrise wasn't going to look all that great here or in the mountains. There were chances of storms and rain through the early morning hours, and then sporadic clouds for most of the morning. The clouds would increase throughout the day.
I was wanting to do some more waterfall work, but the lack of clouds in the morning would have been problematic. With the intermittent cloud cover, I thought that my best option would be to do either some landscape work in the mountains, or some barn photography. I wasn't really up to doing landscapes after a week of looking at specific subjects, so I figured that I would do some rural explorations. I might as well go to Virginia, and if I was going there, I might as well reshoot a scene from several years ago off of Hwy 52 in Cana, VA.
Just in case, I set my clock for 3:30am so that I could actually get up and to the mountains if the sunrise would be worth it. It was after 10 when I went to bed, so when the alarm rang at ungodly thirty, I was not overly happy. I looked at the weather, and the sunrise forecast was still looking rather dismal. The clouds were absent here at the house, but showed to be partly cloudy in the mountains. That was a far cry from rain and storms, but I was too sleepy to really care. I decided to forgo sunrise, and get another hour of sleep before getting up.
When I finally did get up, I figured I would go on to Cana since the forecast was still showing patchy clouds for most of the morning hours. When I left the house, it was pretty clear in Winston, so I figured that the forecast was pretty accurate. I left about 5:45 and as I was traveling down the highway, I could see something that I did not expect in my rear view mirror. There was actually some pretty good color in the sky to the East. I didn't have any time to take action on that sky, so I just enjoyed it in my mirror for a bit. I guess my sunrise forecasting app missed this one. It wasn't a brilliant sunrise by any stretch, but it was enough that I could have put a barn I know under that sky to pretty good effect. Oh well, I was off to Virginia with high hopes of some great photographs
Well, the further North I traveled, the more clouds I started to see. This was no problem and it was actually welcomed since there was really good definition in them from what I could see. However, as I climbed altitude I got closer and closer to the clouds and ultimately found myself driving through them. I don't mind working with fog so I was still happy with the turn of events.
When I got to Cana, I took one more kick to my stomach though. The cars that I was there to shoot had been moved around a little bit, and the trees had overgrown most of them. The shots that I was wanting to do were no longer possible. With the flog, and now drizzle, I decided it wasn't worth going through the overgrown field to get close to the cars which were most obscured by the trees. Oh well, I was out here to explore, and that was what I was going to do.
Just as I was starting to panic a little that I wasn't going to find anything, I passed by a red barn sitting at the base of a hill. The barn was really pretty, and the hill had a lot of character. The sky was really less than ideal though. But...it was something and the red of the barn would pull the attention away from the sky pretty well. I got turned around and pulled off of the road on the gravel shoulder. I pulled the camera out and set it up with my 24-70mm lens and a Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer. The property was gated, so I wasn't able to get in close, but the barn was relatively close to the road, so that wasn't a huge deal. It just limited my compositional choices.
I framed the barn several different ways both including the sky and excluding it. I didn't have much hope for the shots with the sky in it, but the histogram was showing that nothing was blowing out at least. I was really figuring that my money shot here was going to be the barn isolated on the hillside, omitting the sky entirely. I was happy to find out when I was gong through the images that I was able to pull in some detail in the sky which worked with the composition. I was really fortunate since when I was shooting these, I was seriously thinking that they would all be trashed when I got home. That was not a fun thought since it was looking like this was going to be my only subject for the day. The rain was increasing at this point.
Looking at how the property was, there was no way to shoot this from the road, so I was going to have to get permission from the owner to go and play the truck. I pulled onto the long driveway passed the barn, and finally up to the house. I got out of the 4Runner and approached the house. The windows were open, and there was a car to the side of the house which indicated I might get lucky and find somebody there. I knocked and rang the bell...and waited. I heard nothing on the inside of the house and backed away from the door to give myself a view around the side of the house.
As if planned, as I was backing up, I saw a gentleman approaching with a concerned look on his face. I explained why I was there, and what I wanted to do. He looked less concerned at this point and more confused. He wasn't really sure why I would want to take a picture of an old rusting truck, but he seemed to believe my intentions were legitimate. He said that I was free to help myself and I couldn't hurt anything. That worked for me!
I got the camera out and decided since there was a little clutter around the truck on one side I would fit my 70-200mm lens to better isolate the truck. It also served the purpose of cropping out the sky which was pretty boring at this point. I set up a few compositions and grabbed a few shots before the property owner started to walk up the hill towards me.
We actually chatted a few minute about the truck, and I found out that it was originally a Nebraska truck and his son had bought it with the intentions of restoring it. However, he has quite a few projects and it has been left to sit there. It is for sale, and if anyone is interested, I do have contact information.
After we talked I noticed that the sky had changed significantly. There was detail in the clouds now, and that was a very good thing. I swapped out lenses for my 24-70mm, and moved the Color Combo Polarizer from the long lens over to this lens. Now the compositions were coming much easier.
After this part of the shoot was over, I decided that I had done pretty much all that I could do with this truck. I had tried to work some isolations out, but with the weeds in the way, I didn't like how they were looking. I didn't want to wear out my welcome either, so I opted to load things back up in the truck and continue on my explorations. At least I was feeling a little better about how the trek was going at this point. I was pretty sure that I had something usable from this set of pictures.
Well, that actually happened. As I was driving down one of the back roads, I came upon this farm with a pair of barns situated at the base of a hill. The rolling landscape was rather interesting, and to top it all off, the clouds were really nice looking overhead. I made the decision to pull off on the shoulder and get set up. Once again, I was going to have to shoot this from the road since there was a gate and fence. Not wanting to loose the clouds, I didn't bother finding the property owner's house. I was hoping that they would come out and ask me what I was doing so I could ask to go in, but that didn't happen. In order to get the sky included in my compositions, I chose to go for the moderate zoom of the 24-70mm lens once again. I added the Color Combo Polarizer as well. The exposure was pretty straightforward, so I didn't need anything else to capture the image.
I shot many different compositions from different locations behind the fence. Some of these compositions were dictated by the clouds, and others by the way the light was hitting the barn and mountains. As I was getting in a nice routine of framing images, I realized that the clouds were all dissipating in the sky. Without the clouds, I really had nothing at all to make this composition pop, so when I realized that the clouds were gone, I packed up and got back on my route to the house.
While I was shooting this shot, I was already thinking about doing it as a black and white image. This is the kind of sky that I love to see in monochrome with a red filter applied to darken the blue against the white clouds. The color version was pretty good as well, but it didn't hold a candle to the monochrome image that I had previsualized before setting the camera up in the first place.
I had shot 97 images throughout the day which was pretty good considering the terrible weather that I started out with. I knew that many of them from the farm in Independence would get tossed since the sky changed midway through the session. The first half images were tossed just on that one criteria. I was happy with the seven images that I had decided to keep, even though it wasn't as many as I was hoping for considering the investment in time for the day.
As I was exporting them for resizing and watermarking I looked at two images from the farm in Independence and wondered about switching the monochrome/color format on them.
|Rust in Peace|
The first one that I worked with was the final image of the Chevy and barn. I hadn't like it in color the way the processing was turning out so I had converted it to monochrome. Part of that conversion includes adjusting the white balance, tint, and some of the contrast controls to get the tonal separation that you want. Surprisingly, these color shifts that I made while in black and white actually really improved the appearance of the image. I can say now that I have processed a color image while color blind. I just made a few additional tweaks to the image and I decided that I was a fan once again of the color version. Both work equally as well I think, so I kept them both and gave them different titles.
|A Storm is Coming|
At the end of the day, I ended up with nine new images in my collection and these are nine that I am very happy with overall. I'm still very much a fan of Virginia and will be making a return trip out there again to do some more exploring at some point in the future.