Under the Shed

Open-Air Shed - Sangudo, Alberta
Open-Air Shed – Sangudo, Alberta

In the week prior to their auction, several old-time pick-ups and cab and chassis reside beneath an open-air shed at Sangudo’s Alaska Highway Construction Equipment Museum, a favourite place to photograph within the last year. These vehicles were auctioned off on September 7th and 8th; doing so, made way for a land sale. Quite possibly had I been at the auction I could have brought home one of these vehicles for as little as $3000 – $4000. Then, it would have been about gathering friends to help restore and add Life to one of these well-kept vintage vehicles.

Listening to – several songs my daughter has downloaded: Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ ‘Too-Rye-Ay’ and ‘Come On Eileen,’ Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball,’ Jack Johnson’s ‘Banana Pancakes,’ Ed Sheeran’s ‘Drunk’ and Emblem 3’s ‘Chloe.’ There is also The Fray’s ‘You Found Me.’

Quote to Inspire – “Ultimately photography is about who you are. It’s the truth in relation to yourself. And seeking truth becomes a habit.” – Leonard Freed

HDR – Image Subjects, Revisited

HDR - 1947 Ford One Tonne Tow Truck, McLure, British Columbia
HDR – 1947 Ford One Tonne Tow Truck, McLure, British Columbia
HDR - North of 60 Bus Shelter Seats, Valleyview, Alberta
HDR – North of 60 Bus Shelter Seats, Valleyview, Alberta

I have had a go at creating two High Dynamic Range (HDR) images in the last while. In landscape images my practice is to shoot with Automatic Exposure Bracketing (creating 3 images in succession -1, 0 & +1) and explore how the images will turn out in HDR. The images are of subjects I have shot before; but, they are not the original image shots included in previous posts. They are ‘also-ran’ images of the 1947 Ford One-tonne Tow Truck from McLure, British Columbia and the ‘would-be’ bus shelter seat, North of 60 style. In both the detail, lines and range of light are enhanced (or at least different).

Listening to – today it’s been the conclusion of Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’ on the long drive home from Edmonton to High Level. The narrative provides glimpse of Monarchy, Ecclesiastical ambition and all that was behind building cathedrals and parishes; the story moves from Life at the local/village level all the way to Thomas Beckett and King Henry and those who contested the throne.

Quote to Inspire – “Vision is that original spark that was ignited within you and made you pick up a camera to capture whatever it is you saw, that made you turn to shout “Did you see that!” only to find no one there–so you created an image to do the telling.” ― David duChemin, Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

HDR – Details, Paint & Upholstery

Chevrolet Grain Truck - Edmonton, Alberta
Chevrolet Grain Truck – Edmonton, Alberta

The late forties-early fifties Chevrolet half-tonne grain truck is subject for this image and with Automatic Exposure Bracketing moving toward a final image becomes an exercise in creating a high dynamic range (HDR) shot. For me, unless shooting people within an event, my practice in creating most photos is to work with a tripod in manual (M) mode and to set the camera for the three settings of Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) – the regular or average exposure, an exposure a stop down (a darker, low key exposure) and an exposure a stop above average (a lighter, high key exposure).

Focus counts – the manual focus on my Canon EOS 60D allows me to focus upon that part of the image needing clarity, but it does so allowing me to focus upon that portion of the subject in three magnifications using the display on the back of the camera: first, what I would see through the viewfinder – normal magnification, next at 10 x optical zoom and then at 15 x optical zoom. Each level of displayed magnification allows me to adjust focus with greater and greater and greater precision. Stability also counts in focusing on the subject; the camera fixed to a tripod ensures that the camera does not move and that resulting images are tack sharp, free from blur.

Creating the exposure, creates not one, but, the three AEB exposures in succession ( – , 0 , + ) when the shutter button is pressed. After the exposures are brought into Adobe Lightroom, I am able to use HDR Efex to combine the three exposures into one image that allows the combined exposure to become an image accommodating greater range of light – more similar to what the human eye can see. I like the way Photomatix does HDR; but, NiK Software’s HDR Efex is a more stable and flexible program.

So, today’s image is an HDR shot. In the next few days my intention will be to try an HDR image that combines a larger number of exposures and to see what happens along the way. I’m reminded that the Shutter Time with Sid and Mac podcast has a couple of excellent pointers for HDR shots (somewhere between episodes 15 and 23). Mac and his wife Kasia would most likely have me using HDR for shots combining landscape, cloud-work and sunsets/sunrises. As well, Trey Ratcliff is the photographer who seems to have done most with HDR or at least has written most substantially (perhaps most helpfully) about HDR; two weeks ago he was in Vancouver and aiming to take on someone as protégé for an evening photographing the city, the water, the landscape and the sky from the top of a well-situated, tall skyscraper. It would definitely have been fun to hang out together for an evening creating HDR images – watch out for him on Twitter at @TreyRatcliff .

Listening to – Peter Himmelmann’s ‘Mission of My Soul.’

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “[…] That’s what HDR does. It adds details, paint, and upholstery to the Photograph. It’s still a photograph, but now enhanced [….] — GusDoeMatik (2) “To me, it is better to “guess” at how something works, experiment, fail, guess again, fail, and keep repeating that process over and over again until you either figure it out or you discover a multiplicity of other cool tricks along the way.” ― Trey Ratcliff

Persona – Challenger

Challenger - High Level, Alberta 1
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 1
Challenger - High Level, Alberta 2
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 2
Challenger - High Level, Alberta 3
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 3
Challenger - High Level, Alberta 4
Challenger – High Level, Alberta 4

In 2006, Disney and Pixar created a movie called ‘Cars.’ Through anthropomorphization (computer imaging and human voice over), vehicles became characters. Vehicles were personified with front-end grill work that took on features of the human face and with animate vehicle bodies became expressive in gesture. What was the adult draw to the children’s film was the close attention paid to the style and design derivation linking the computer animation to original autos. For example, Doc Hudson’s character and vehicle are based on the lines and styling of the 1951 Hudson Hornet. Other characters are composite renderings of vehicles from a former time. Mater’s character is a vehicle cross reminiscent of a 1951 International Harvester ‘boom truck’ and the styling associated with a mid-fifties Chevrolet, one-ton Wrecker Tow Truck.

The film draws upon an underlying theme characteristic of North American society that of the car we drive representing significant attributes in our character … our auto becomes ‘how we represent’ and contains ‘our colours.’ Beyond actual clothing, an automobile is the next way we clothe ourselves in strength, colour and speed. And, that vehicle and how it’s driven embodies our habits, mannerisms, attitude and even outlook. People know us by how we drive. Anthromorphization in reverse – three 2013 Dodge Challengers were present at last week’s Show and Shine and what was noteworthy and perhaps the attracting feature of the Challenger’s design was the configuration of headlights in relation to the front of the hood and to the grill work. For anyone standing looking down to the front of the car from eye-level places the headlights under a long ark of the hood, a styling that conveys something similar to eyes looking up and out from under someone’s brow – an attribute and styling that likely makes these Dodge Challengers ‘mean machines,’ contenders on the road … or at least something fun to drive as it becomes persona for its driver.

Listening to – Sheryl Crow’s ‘Steve McQueen’ and ‘Real Gone,’ John Mayer’s ‘Route 66’ and Rascal Flatts singing a Tom Cochrane tune, ‘Life is a Highway.’

Quote to Inspire – “A photographer is an acrobat treading the high wire of chance, trying to capture shooting stars.” – Guy Le Querrec

Prop, Actor & Old School

Camaro Transformed - High Level, Alberta
Camaro Transformed – High Level, Alberta
Camaro (Old School) - High Level, Alberta
Camaro (Old School) – High Level, Alberta

585 brake horsepower in a Chevrolet, a car with less weight than a half-ton truck, a car engineered to hold the road at high speed and while cornering creatively, a car Chevrolet distinguishes with notoriety by allowing it to become prop and actor within a movie – The Transformers. This year-old Camaro SS takes a spot on Northstar Chrysler’s lot two vehicles down from its old school predecessor, the original Camaro SS from almost fifty years ago, Chevrolet’s second sports car after the Corvette, a vehicle powered by a 350 ci V8, a car my son and I have ridden in, a car my cousin has owned.

Listening to – Robbie Robertson’s ‘Shine Your Light,’ The Perisher’s ‘Trouble Sleeping,’ and U2’s ‘Crumbs from Your Table.’

Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is the pause button on life.” – Ty Holland

Furthering Edit

Sangudo Truck - Sangudo, Alberta
Sangudo Truck – Sangudo, Alberta

With each edit of a photo, not always, but often the editing takes you further in visually understanding the image narrative. In this photo, desaturation and tinting has drawn highlight to the curve of metal shrouding the engine where the shroud meets the black curve of the fender flare on each side (behind each headlamp). On the left the shroud retains perpendicularity where the right shroud has been opened more frequently, perhaps hastily leaving a bend. Use is indicated and the truck’s driver within situation did that – the image has narrative.

Listening to – Tyler Bates’ ‘Pamplona,’ Michael Andrews & Gary Jules’ ‘Mad World,’ and Samuel L. Jackson’s ‘Alice Mae’.

Quote to Inspire – “All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.” – Elliott Erwitt

Sangudo Ford

1938 Ford Two Ton Cab and Chassis - Sangudo, Alberta
1938 Ford Two Ton Cab and Chassis – Sangudo, Alberta

A chain-link fence surrounds Sangudo, Alberta’s MacKenzie Highway Construction Truck Museum, a tribute to people and equipment that built the highway. The museum, its vehicles and equipment sit idle. You can look from the fence in; but, you cannot physically interact with the vehicles within the museum compound. The vehicles that are sixty-years or more old are in good shape; they have been kept well. Last spring I searched for the owner of the museum to see if he’d permit access to the compound and allow me to photograph the vehicles; I will need to do my homework if I am to find his contact information and try again for better images of those trucks. It’s a shame only to see them from the sidelines.

A black and red 1938 two ton cab and chassis sits waiting for further use.

Listening to – The Congregation’s ‘Don’t Pay No Mind,’ Chris Whitley’s ‘Dust Radio’ and the Eagles’ ‘Seven Bridges Road.’ Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ has been in my hearing this weekend at my daughter’s dance festival; the story behind ‘Yellow’ is a heart-warming, mother-son, story … something to be understood and not to be missed.

Quote to Inspire – “Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.” – Bruno Barbey