Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sliced, Front and Center

Camera Roll-10928, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

I came across this vintage John Deere GP tractor while attending a conference in Kansas City last week. I was traveling light, photographically, having left my big boy camera at home. Instead, I took my wife's point and shoot to record snapshots of ideas to share with my team back home. And I had my iPhone as backup .

The last day of the conference involved a bus tour. It had snowed a foot deep the night before and it was cold- 8 degrees was the high. As a result, the cold sucked the life out of the point and shoot quickly forcing me to finish up with the iPhone. This children's farm was target rich: I could have stayed all day capturing the old farm equipment. As it was, it was nearly time to get back on the bus when I came upon this scene. The light was weird, it looked hideous in color and I nearly skipped it altogether. I paused and thought, "What if...?"

Recently, I read an article by British photographer Allister Benn who described photography as The Creative Cycle consisting of Vision / Capture Technique / Processing. Brilliantly put! As I trudged through a foot of snow, what I first noticed (Vision) was the extreme dynamic range cutting diagonally across the subject (the tractor). Typically, one would want the subject lighted more prominently than the surrounding areas, but here the opposite is true. Due to surrounding elements, I had to place the subject in the center. Could I make it work?

The deep shadows and the bright, low angled sun required an HDR capture (Capture Technique) that would challenge the iPhone's sensor. Being hand held, I took care to hold it as steady as possible: A couple of settling breaths, elbows in tight and click.

(Processing) involved blending the pair of bracketed exposures in TrueHDR, base corrections were done in Perfectly Clear and B/W conversion and shadow enhancement in SnapSeed. A red filter was used to render the sky dark to match the foreground shadows.

I like how the foreground shadow forms a triangle the mirrors the triangle shape of the background tree branches.