Last week I wrote about my photography adventure in the Washington Palouse area, with its undulating landscapes and picturesque dunes.
For me, the most satisfying moments of that trip was photographing the patterned fields from the top of Steptoe Butte as the sun came up in the mornings, and, finally, at day’s end standing at a canyon edge capturing the falling light on the spectacular Palouse Falls.
However, during the day our group’s leader, Aaron Reed, offered the opportunity to photograph old derelict vehicles he had located on dusty back roads, and we spent our mid-day driving to several different locations.
I have always enjoyed photographing old clunkers left resting, rotting, and rusting in forgotten fields. Even though where I live in British Columbia they aren’t that hard to find, when we stopped and wandered out into some field when an old car was spied, I was as just as eager as the others.
My approach isn’t very formal and while the others strategically placed their tripods, and selected filters; I would kneel in the deep grass, or lie down in the dirt, and start shooting. Grass stains and dirt clung into my clothes as I shifted, rolled, and dragged myself along on the ground making photographs from low angles. For me, it’s all about the picture, right?
My lens of choice usually is a 24-70mm used at the 24mm focal length, which on my camera’s ¾ frame sensor is equal to about a 35mm. I will add that in the days of using film cameras, a 35mm was what I liked the best then, same as now for photographing derelict vehicles.
I know many photographers prefer dramatically distorted images created with ultra-wide lenses, but even a 35mm has distortion, certainly not as much as the 11mm lens one person of our group on that trip was using on his full frame Canon, but distortion enough for me.
I usually place a polarizing filter on my lens when photographing automobiles. Not because I am concerned with controlling the sky as I would in a scenic shot, but because a polarizer allows me to reduce the glare on chrome and glass. And I prefer to photograph reflection-free windows, if I can get it, as opposed to those that mirror the sky and surroundings.
As I stated, my approach isn’t that formal. I usually operate my camera in manual mode, and I don’t use higher ISO like over 400, unless the lighting conditions demand. Normally, I take a meter reading off the ground, get just as low as I can by sitting, kneeling, or laying down, depending upon the high grass or other obstacles in the way, then focus on the old vehicle, making both horizontal and vertical images, and then move on to the next.
I admit I also like close-up views and select features that interest me on the rusting clunkers, so I would set the focal length of my 24-70 lens to 70mm while looking through an open window, open door, or when I found an interesting hood, or trunk, ornament.
Photographing those dilapidated old automobiles was, in my opinion, the icing on the cake for what was already an excellent photographic adventure.
I always appreciate comments. Thanks, John
My website is at www.enmanscamera.com