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Two Trucks. January 3, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
Tags: , , , , ,

So, at the risk of branding myself a Six-Trick Pony, here are two more shots of old trucks settled into their final resting places.  They’re quite different, yet have several significant things in common, which I’ll get to if my train of thought isn’t derailed in the interim.

The first is a portrait of my favorite Ford in Roy Goldthwaite’s pastures up in Shelburne.  I got there late on a recent afternoon, hoping for a reprieve from the pervasive western clouds obscuring the horizon and preventing that fabled Evening Light that we photographers (and here I’m being presumptuous) value above all.  That break wasn’t forthcoming, but I set up anyway and assumed something worthwhile would happen.

I was interested in seeing a collaboration between Elliot, my Canon TS-EII lens, and a tool I’ve recently acquired, a variable density filter, wherein a spinning of the front elements screens out light.  This, I understood, would allow a long exposure and a manipulation of the scene to get an image which would otherwise be impossible.

So I got busy, setting Elliot up with a smallish degree of tilt to focus on the near side of this truck, then adding the variable density filter and dialing it down until I needed a thirty-second exposure to get an acceptable image.  This let me run around the camera like a giddy child, shining my flashlight (yes, it was getting dark) on windows and headlights and the hood ornament.

The result wasn’t quite what I’d visualized; my lighting efforts were largely ineffectual.  But the long exposure got me a crisp image of the truck embedded in a phased image of the background tree which was swaying wildly in the wind.  I’m taken with the result:

Sometimes what we get exceeds what we aspire to.

Anyway, I took what I learned  from this shoot forward: my headlamp wasn’t sufficient to imply illumination of the headlights.  I’d need a much more powerful light to achieve the desired effect.

That light, at least this afternoon, was the sun.

I drove out to the phalanx of Autocar trucks I’ve photographed in the past, along Route 5 at the Bernardston/Northfield line at the junction of Route 142.  The afternoon sun was intermittent, but bright when it shined, and I was determined to wait it out despite the cold (it was in the teens.)

I set up Elliot, opened the aperture to 3.5 (thanks, Holly!) and tilted and focused until the entire side of the truck came to life, then necked it down to f16 and spun on the variable density filter, dialed to about half-strength.  A peek at Live-View (on my LCD screen) suggested that I bring down the upper left quadrant of the picture, which I did with a hand-held three-stop graduated filter.  I hoped to get everything subdued except the lights, and though that didn’t exactly happen, I still liked the resulting image:

The headlights and windows “pop” without standing alone in the photo, and Elliot’s shift function provides an aggressive growl which makes this stationary beast look like it’s going 90.

I’ll submit this as an example of dumb luck delivering an acceptable result.

Here’s a bit of a sad note:  There are three truck in a row here, and the other two have been vandalized by drunken hicks whose idea of a night out includes smashing out the windows and lights of helpless roadside beasts.  I was a fool as a younger man, so I can’t entirely condemn then for their stupidity, but I do wish them some measure of maturity before all of this is gone.





1. Tengrain - January 3, 2012


There is a photocontest every year at at Chevy fan site (stovebolt) that is called something like, It ran when I parked it which features pictures like these–and they don’t have to be Chevys. There’s no prize other than bragging rights, but you might want to enter it. You know, for fun.

Besides, your mad skillz would put them to shame.



2. littlebangtheory - January 3, 2012

Ten, welcome, you slippery devil! I’ve twisted every fiber of my “mad skilz” to get you to comment here, which you seem reluctant to do (I understand you’re a busy guy!) but here you finally are. 🙂

Thanks for the nudge, I might check that out. I mean, they’re not Chevys, but they ran when they parked them… 😉

3. jomegat - January 3, 2012

Holy cow, Ralph! These are magnificent!

4. littlebangtheory - January 3, 2012

j, thanks. Yeah, I got a bit lucky here. But then again, I thought long and hard about what I was doing, so I won’t feign bumbling simplicity. I’m working hard to create art, and occasionally I succeed.

5. Hannah - January 7, 2012

ha! Those are about a mile from my house, I drive by them every day. You would be amazed how many photographers are always out there.

6. Annie Anderson - January 7, 2012

Love these, especially the first one. I have an oil painting by Putney (VT) artist Will Parmeter that is almost exactly like it. I’ll try to photograph it and send it to you just for fun. Will has made a career of painting junked cars in nature and creates beautiful art — something I never would have thought, but having seen a bunch of his stuff over the years, I came to love it and couldn’t leave Vermont without having one for myself. The angle of the truck in mine is ever so slightly different from yours, and the headlight isn’t in as good shape. Love your work, as always — keep posting!
— Annie

7. littlebangtheory - January 7, 2012

Hannah, I know – three of them are me! 🙂

Annie, welcome, and thanks for commenting.

There’s an aspect of my photography which is becoming more consciously “painterly,” including elements of composition, selective focus and control of the palette. I’d love to see some of Will’s work, as I’m sure there’s much I could learn from it.

I hope your move from Vermont (one of my favorite places) delivered you to a place of equally peaceful views and attitudes.

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