Excellent Photographic Adventure with old cars in the Palouse

Resting in deep grass In a field of green  In the shade of a tree GMC grill   the trunkJRE_4530bJRE_4529b

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

17 responses to “Excellent Photographic Adventure with old cars in the Palouse

  1. Thanks for posting large images. It was fun seeing them full size. — I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a “Rancho.” — And what kind of post processing did you do with the interior shot of the steering wheel on the Dodge? — Thanks much. I enjoyed looking at these photos. – Charles

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    • I see no reason to make little pictures…Glad you liked ’em big Charles.
      I think “Rancho” refers to a Rambler dealership in Spokane.
      I played around with that image. First PhotoShop Camera RAW extra contrast and saturation..Then with the HDR effect presets in NIKsoftware and added NIKsoftware Tone compression. The windows I used “magic wand” to select the area that was just white and filled black with the “paint bucket” tool. then went back to NIK Viveza and dragged the slider to overexpose as if to lighten an underexposed area…..Yes, I know…A bunch of silly stuff one does when there are too many toys in the playpen.
      I am so glad you enjoyed my images and took the time to comment.

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    • I am glad ya liked my article. Hmm..60mm would be a bit long for me, but the telephoto effect would bring the vehicle into a natural perspective – I understand why it would be a good choice.

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  2. Wonderful shots. I wouldn’t call your processing a “bunch of silly stuff”. But what do I know.
    I believe that you have a talent for shooting interesting perspectives, and an artistic gift for editing the image into something brilliant.
    I routinely find inspiration on you blog.

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  3. I absolutely love how you’ve captured the beauty and even the sadness of the old, abandoned car John and the “informal” way you in which you did it was an excellent choice. Great shots indeed and thanks for sharing and for the lovely visit to my blog. Much appreciated. 😀

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