Monday, June 24, 2013

Switching Gears in the Field

Happy Summer (officially) to my friends in the Northern Hemisphere!  This past weekend marked the summer solstice and the longest day of the 2013.  We had a special treat this year having a full "Supermoon" in conjunction with the annual event.

I went out days before with my iPad in hand using my Star Walk application to figure where exactly the moon would rise on the horizon.  After establishing where the "Supermoon" would make its appearance, I chose a foreground subject to place in the scene.  I went out on Saturday for a trial run, but since the moon rose while the sun was still high in the sky, the moon appeared quite faint.  So, I bracketed some images of my intended foreground and then waited until after dark to photograph a brighter moon.  After I shot the moon, I combined the 2 images digitally in Photoshop, placing the brighter moon over the place where the faint moon appeared in the frame and blended the 2 images together to create the scene I had envisioned.  The above image is what resulted from my efforts.
 The next night, the moon was to rise after sunset.  This was the best day to photograph the rising full moon because it would shine brighter at the darkening horizon.  I set up my 600mm lens on my 5D Mark III in my back yard looking out over the valley toward the city of Phoenix.  I saw bands of clouds low on the horizon and was disappointed that I would not get the image I had planned in my head.   However, I thought maybe the photo gods would be good to me and give me a peek of the full circle of moon at some point as it rose thorough my scene.  This is all I got:
 Not defeated, I switched mental gears thinking, "What if I continue to shoot JUST the moon as it rises through the bands of clouds and see what happens."
These were 2 of the results I achieved by keeping an open mind and switching gears in the field:

(I later converted them to Black and White because I felt the treatment lent itself more to the drama of the scene.) I am very happy with these two images that took shape creatively in the field!
This morning, I decided to make an image of my original idea and here is the result:
While I like the resulting image, my favorites from the weekend turned out to be the images that materialized after switching gears in the field.  What do you think?


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Westward Ho on the The Mother Road!

 "If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66!
It winds from Chicago to L.A.,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route 66."
~lyrics from the famous song by Bobby Troup
Route 66 has always intrigued me.  Maybe it is because I never had the childhood experience of a family vacation traversing the country on the Mother Road.  I have heard many stories of what traveling along Route 66 was like in its heyday: Mom and Pop establishments, cafes, souvenir stands, motels with sparkling neon lights… It always sounded like such a big part of our American heritage and an amazing adventure to me. 

Two months ago, after I sold our Indiana home, the time came for me to make the trip out west to join my family in our new home in Arizona.  I had to get my car there, and what better way than to load it up, pal up with a photo buddy of mine, and spend 4 days heading west and exploring the historic places along Route 66? 

Today, I-40 is the main road that follows the course of Route 66.  While so much of the original road is long gone, we did our best to take any and all detours from I-40 to original segments of the road in order to see what is still remaining along the first highway that linked Chicago to Los Angeles.  
We stopped in small established towns sporting weathered neon signs in front of boarded up hotels. We saw nostalgic signs in front of empty lots which once housed drive in motels.  We stopped in ghost towns with a few dilapidated and rustic building shells marking an era of days gone by.  We drove through the rush hour traffic of large cities where vintage signage mingled with logos of modern day corporate establishments. 

All of the nostalgic sights sparked the imagination of what road travel was like driving across the country way back when… 
 This was the road we picked up in St. Louis, Missouri and followed until Flagstaff, Arizona where we turned south toward my new home.  Someday soon, before what is left of Route 66 becomes only a memory, I would like to head back to Flagstaff, make a left-hand turn, and finish my journey to the end of the Mother Road. 

Thanks to the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, the historic remnants of Route 66 are being preserved for current and future generations to get a taste of the history along "The Main Street of America." 

More images from our 4 day trip can be seen HERE