04/01/2007

Give new life to the old timers

One photographic subject that has grown in popularity and interest in recent years is old, rusting vehicles and farm machinery and the rustier they are, the more appeal they have.
They're easy enough to find. All you have to do is just go out for a Sunday drive in the country and if you keep your eyes open, you're bound to find something worthwhile to photograph, but be sure and get permission from the land owner before you go tramping over someone's property.
One sure fire way of gaining their approval is to make them an offer of mailing them a print from your resulting images.
I had a lucky break on three occasions to come across some of this old stuff without even trying.
Whilst on an inland travel excursion, we spent a night in a country town caravan park and across the road was an old house which had quite a number of old interesting bits and pieces, that the elderly gentleman who lived there had been hording over many a past year.
There were all manner of odds and ends, that were quite probably someone's pride and joy at one time.
The next morning, before hitting the road, we noticed how that special early light (the "right" light), was bringing new life into some of this old stuff.
So, light, cameras, and action
. It was too early in the morning to knock the old guy up, so we just leaned over his waist high fence and went for it. Filling our little media cards with all and sundry, till the light finally turned against us, but by then, we were fully satisfied with what we had taken, photos, that is!
The second opportunity was the following night, when we stayed again, in another caravan park. Adjoining the park was a bit of an open museum, which had numerous pieces of old, antiquated farming equipment, including tractors, plows, headers, etc., all in various stages of decay, or workable restoration.
Some of these pieces would have required the use of steam power to operate them, such as huge circular saw blades, steam driven pumps, chaff cutters and the like.
There was also equipment there that would have been hauled by beasts of burden, that have long since departed this world as we know it.
So, happy to say, many a photographic trophy was also taken on that occasion.
Then, on the last weekend of old 2006, we spent a couple of days visiting family out at Dalby, about 3 1/2 hours drive west of Gympie (just down the road), and it was on that property where I found about a dozen or so aging trucks that closely resembled the old Blitz Buggies they used during the second world war.They were totally exposed to the elements, so you can well imagine what sort of condition they were in. All practically devoid of paint, covered in rust and generally looking a little worst for wear. But I had a ball photographing them all in the morning light, including a lot of other related items, too numerous to mention. Everything was in some stage of decay, but well worth photographing.
You don't need any special equipment to photograph these sorts of subjects, but the more options you have at your disposal, the more differing results you are bound to achieve.
For example, interchangeable lenses would be an asset, for those long, intermediate or close-up shots. Also a wide angle lens, for that different perspective and for when you want to get close up, but also get it all in.
There are no hard and fast rules. Try anything and everything, but these types of subjects are definitely better taken in the early morning light, when the air is clear and clean and when the rich colours are more enhanced. And even more so with a polarizer fitted.
Furthermore, because your shots will be numerous and varied, it's a good time to get in some practice at altering your depth of field.
By setting your camera to aperture priority (if that's available to you), choose a small aperture (large number), of around f16 or f22, if you want to have all of the scene in sharp focus. Or, on the other hand, a large aperture (small number), of about f5.6 or f4, if you'd rather have your subject's background blurred.
In most instances, it is preferable to keep your composition simple, without too much clutter and to hold the emphasis on your main subject, but you may notice in one of my images relating to these subjects, that I have quite a bit of clutter in the foreground. I think it is acceptable in this case, as it is all related to the main subject and I feel it adds interest.
Look up to see if the sky has any interest to add to the mood of your composition, or, if a gnarly old tree can be suitably placed in the background.
Above all, take your time and make the effort well worth your while.
Just as a point of interest, the little mauve coloured flowers you see in some of my images is called, "Patterson's Curse". And certainly a curse it has proven to be for some.
Apparently, as the story goes, long, long ago, an immigrant, whose name by the way was Patterson, came to Australia from England. In his infinite wisdom, he brought with him this little plant, which he thought would give him solace and remind him of his homeland, far away.Well, this little plant has since made quite a name for itself, spreading its little seeds far and wide across this broad land, throughout Queensland, New South Wales and beyond and now, has been considered for some time, a totally noxious weed and should be dealt with in the harshest possible way!
I must admit though, and of course, you didn't hear it from me, that it does look quite pretty growing along the roadside as you drive through the country.
Anyway, I thought it quite fitting to be used as a bit of added foreground interest, as something small and delicate in stark contrast to these over-shadowing rusty hulks.