Went to shoot at the Cadillac Ranch and I thought I’d walk you through my process. Converging lines did not jump to the top of my list when I was thinking of my shoot at the Cadillac Ranch. My concern was a problem I have at times with my horizon line being smack dab in the middle of my composition. That is a part of the #1 rule of thirds. I’ve tagged it number one (rule of thirds) because it always is dominant in a discussion of composition rules.
If you’re looking for color in its brightest forms and a shake of vintage from the car subjects and activity of other lookers and shooters then the ranch may be a good stop if you find yourself in the beautiful state of Texas, just west of Amarillo on Interstate 40. Also, If you’re interested in traveling on Route 66 then Cadillac Ranch is closer than many realize. The service road eastbound on the south side of the interstate where you’ll park to start your short hike out to the art WAS Route 66.
Cadillac Ranch will be on the right side; just park your car along the shoulder and enter the farm through the unlocked gate. Visitors are encouraged and it is dog-friendly. Be sure your dog is of the friendly type. The hours are daylight only. As I left slightly after sunset there was a gentleman, I assume, ready to lock it up.
So, let’s get to it. It had been rainy all day and I even drove through an electrical storm before arriving at the ranch. Once I arrived and walked to the monument I could see more storm in the distance but it never rained another drop once I started shooting. And this is a good place to start. Ideal time for the best lighting within the last hour of light and with cloud cover that made an occasional spottiness quality to the light and I’m at the ranch….Yehaw. I had driven quite a distance but the idea was to be there at the very end of the day. I had visualized my subject with the sunset in the background but cloud cover gave me a nice pink in the sky, with cloud cover softening the light as a large softbox.
As I walked up to the Cadillacs I immediately start looking for an angle. Shoot with the cars making a straight line across my frame…..not a chance. That makes my subject small, lifeless and boring and I am much more on a search for the cars to be highlighted and large to one side of my composition wth the line of cars going off in the distance. One thought pursued was to be near one end of the line at an angle opposite the setting sun. This could give a certain twinkle to the cars but with cloud cover that idea was softened but still has potential. Always look for the angles in working an opportunity. Another angle worked was to position the artwork between camera and sun giving somewhat a sunset shot. In reality, a soft sunset shot.
Whether commercially or just personal photography I am using the rules of composition to take my two dimensional art form and give it a three dimensional look. 3D as much as my media allows is a goal of photography. If you’re new to photography learn the composition rules, today see the rule on converging lines. TEKeez will have more behind the scenes articles. View images that illustrate the rules. Look closely at photographs as the rules may not seem obvious at first. Then set them aside and let your heart and vision guide you when you shoot. To be behind the cars I thought the shadows would be dark opposite the sun but the cloud coverage would allow for a fill light or softness all around. More converging lines at play in all the shots. Oops, no converging lines in the rainbow shot but when the sky serves up that awesome color, let’s capture it.
This shooting is done with my Nikon D750 and the 24-120 which for me is an exceptional combination. I also used my Nikon 20mm for some wider views. The Manfrotto Neotec is the common tripod for me. It’s not as light as some but it allows for quick adjustments and it can be used in water or in this case mud. The ThinkTankPhoto Street Walker Backpack is my choice for hands free gear totting and many times I remove some lenses and my SB flash to leave them in the car before venturing out in the Amarillo Texas raininess. I double checked to be sure my backpack had its rain cover. It did. As I walk down the service road (Route 66) all I can visualize is shooting at angles to the line made of the row of cars to give the upcoming images depth.
Lock focus by using your AF/MF switch. Ocassionally I use my Live View for shooting on the tripod and the focus seems to be moving slightly and I’m kinda critical of my focus. Bet you are too. So I focus with Live View by moving the red box to where I want my focus and activating with the back button to achieve sharpness. So I got the Green. Then I switch my front focus switch to Manual Focus (So AF is off). Forget about focus and create until I move the tripod or recompose.
See the Converging Lines
Why Shoot HDR?
I have used HDR for a number of years and it has served me and others well. The crazy use of the effect ( hullucenogenic ) got my attention early but I was quickly more taken with its power to make the most of reality. It uses the complete range of the 3 or more raw files. Detail in deepest shadow and the hottest highlight are retained. Many times I shoot 3-5 exposures so I’ll have them if needed but the bulk of shooting and creating is done without HDR. I sometimes combine images or use the dodge and burn features in Lightroom to achieve my result. But the biggest reason for the bracket is to get all detail needed, if it’s needed. Things that come to mind are skies and dark furniture in architecture shots.
Why Bring the 20?
The look that I’m in pursuit of here was to have closer cars exaggerated BIG and the line quickly fading in the distance to much smaller versions. This proved to be unachievable because the closer I got to the cars to get that monster effect the other cars would disappear behind and I really needed the collection visable to tell that story with space between the cars….at least for some of the closer cars. So I could’ve left it behind. BTW, I do not like the look normally of super wide like 14 on full frame.
Use the rules of composition in planning a shoot. Whether placing a portrait subject on a trail with an S-curve visable in the background or things like this interactive art piece. Look for ways to use the rules of composition and your photography will advance.
Learn the rules and see how others use them in looking at their photography. Then, let them take a backseat to your shooting. DO NOT let the rules and your attention to them take over the photo shoot and drown out your personal creativity. Truly, learn the rules then forget them. Kinda
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