One Last Antique

A long time ago I started going to a junkyard to work the antique and aged cars that made up the yard. It was these little corners that I started to develop my technique and skill as a photographer and thus wouldn’t forget them. Sadly this particular one outside of Bozeman is gone. Not sure where or why but now a blank space exists. Junkyards are always a two edge sword. They are great for photographers but not everyone likes the sight of them. Nor the maintenance. While it’s gone the lessons and images remain.


What can those rusty cars tell us?

One of the subjects I love to photograph the most is old cars. Each one has it’s own unique story, the biggest is how it got to Montana in the first place and why is it now old and rusty. In each one is a whole lot of little details that in their own right can become a bunch of other little stories. Now my favorite place to go for these cars unfortunately closed down on me so now I keep looking elsewhere, but if you ever get the chance and see one of those rust buckets on the side of the road, stop and give it a good once over before moving on.


Day 2 of DLWS Santa Rosa

Well this has been a rather interesting event so far. Whenever doing an outdoor shoot there is always the risk that something will go wrong and the shoot will get canceled. Last night was just one of those times. We were washed out last night, the rain just wouldn’t stop and the clouds weren’t moving. Knowing there would be no sunset there was nothing else to do but go in. We made for last night with an amazing location shoot setup by a good friend Richard Small. Richard has spent his life being a gear head. He loves cars, planes and wine. His knowledge is proving worthwhile for us because he his sharing some of his favorite haunts with us.

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This is one of those great haunts. It’s one of his friends car collection. Fred, the owner, is really nice typical car guy. He collects almost anything if he wants too for a period then moves to something else. His collection is truly impressive, with some amazing roadsters. We spent the morning with overcast skies, light rain and lots of opportunities. These were some of the opportunities i saw and worked with.

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It was pointed out that there are a billion different images at this place and the thirty of us could photograph each one and come up with a different image. That’s the reality of it. Now HDR is a no brainier here, the options are limitless, black and white sure, but for me it was the color of the cars that drew me in and i wanted to stay just in that realm. If you’re wondering if i did post processing, the answer is yes. Are these much different then the original, NO. The image up on the screen is the image i had in my head upon capture. Is it always, no. There are times when i experiment, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. That’s great thing about this kind of place. You can go there with an exact idea of what you want, you get that image but you decide to take it a bit further and find a better image that wasn’t expected. It’s the best thing about photography.

Images captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 24-70, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Tips and Tails


Well this last post about the junkyard contains more of my favorite junkyard objects, the headlights and taillights. These two metal devices make awesome elements. The great thing is every car there has a different style to them so there are lots to choose from. For me it’s choosing the ones that have the something interesting about them. Like the top one has pieces of metal covering the light that the others don’t.


This one is way cool because it still looks like it is producing light on the fender beneath it. Plus the reflection in the metal ring cover is just great.


Lastly, another Ford truck. This one spoke out to me due its simple repetition of shapes. One light in front of another light surrounded by squares and straight lines. Linear mixed with curvature. It is these simple yet important elements that make a good photograph. Everytime i go to that side of the road, big junkyard, i find more of these elements speaking out to me and I encourage all of you reading to do the same. Simple places for big improvements overall keeping our minds sharp.

Images captured with D3, 70-300AF-Svr, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Grills and lights


Black and whites aren’t the only images found at the junkyard. The grills of classic cars can tell such a story. Like this one above. The character of the fender being completely rusted away but the light is still hanging in there is just way cool. The age of the truck is shown but life still exists.


In this one life isn’t just hanging on but is still kicking. To me it seems like the car is being hidden behind the snow waiting for a chance to emerge. It has not even had a chance yet to become a classic.


Finally the cool one. This one screams something from the 70’s. The colors, o the colors! Sorry it’s just the first thing that came to mind when i saw this yellow and green truck. The great thing about these old vehicles isn’t just the way they look, but the options avaible when finishing them. There are endless possiblities, but since i learned to keep things simple from, well you can probably guess who, i merely used Nx to drop a couple of points and done. More fun for later.

Images captured with D3, 70-300AF-Svr, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Classic Montana Cars


Last week we had a lovely snow storm come through and a dump almost 2 feet of snow on the ground. Apparently it wasn’t enough to get the mountain ski runs opens but was close. It was good wet powder that made for excellent snow balls and igloos. Yea some of the other enthusiasts decided to make an igloo here on campus, it was later taken over by some of the resident smokers. The new snow cover made some new opportunities to come up in the form of photographs. I have yet to find a good way to photograph the trees here in campus. Amazingly enough the orange light coming from the lamp posts onto the snow covered trees is kinda cool, but unobtainable so far in a shot. To plan B I went!


What better plan B then the junkyard. This has become a haunt for me, i always seem to go to this same junkyard in search of new images. The snow cover adds elements to the cars that aren’t there beforehand. For instance on this Chevy pickup, the snow breaks up the lines of the grill and the faded paint by this Chevy emblem. It creates more opportunities. I like the snow and junkyard so much that i was even here last year. It’s a simple nearby place that i can go back to over and over and will always produce something new. Except for the cars which are in fact old. It can be hard to find these places but the adventure is worth it. Stay tuned as i continue with this rusty acre.

Images captured with D3, 70-300 AF-S vr, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Reflecting upon oneself


With metallic wet surfaces reflections are great. Many things can be seen even better than before with a reflection. Of course if there is no subject that can be used in this case any other car, than using oneself always works.


In both images i can be seen in the silver headlight ring and is thus creating a more engaging composition. Reflections are a really great way of showing more about the surrounding that the subject is in.

Images captured with D2Hs,  17-55, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Details of the past


As i said in the last post, the details can be seen much better when the paint is wet. Finding these little details is important because they can tell a very different story then what the whole car would. If there was no snow and it was a clear and sunny day then i would not have been able to find any of that detail.


The hood ornament is a testament of the car. It signifies what that car is. I have seen this ornament many times but could never find the right shot. Something about the background always seemed wrong in every image i have taken before this. To me this image still is not correct but it is better without that background detail.


I just liked the way the snow wrapped around the light in this image, making it seem like the hood is having an avalanche and all that snow is falling down the grill. The light is the only thing keeping the hood in sight afterward.

Images captured with D2Hs,  17-55, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Spring in Bozeman, hey is that snow?


It never seizes to amaze me how it can be every type of weather thinkable for Montana happening in Bozeman at one time. Last week it was sunny for four days, nice and warm, and then it started to rain on Thursday and then snow on Friday. Ah but Saturday was nice and sunny again, of course then it started snowing and Sunday was dark. Well it just happens here like that. But you can’t let the weather get you down, so i made what ic ould out of it. Some of you might be recognizing the cars in these images that would be because they are from the same junkyard i photographed four months ago. Its a great junkyard.


The purpose of this trip was to incorporate snow and water into the cars. The snow creates a great natural barrier between the metalic surface and the weather giving these really cool contrasts. The snow also gives more texture to the cars so they don’t appear to be nothing but smooth. The overall appearance between the cars and the snow is this great lost and forgotten look, at least to me that’s what it is.


One of the best things about these cars is that when water is applied the colors in the sides come out, creating a greater range of values and tones. It also helps to bring out more of the cracks and lines in the paint job that has faded or chipped as time has gone on. These details can be seen better in my next post.

Images captured with D2Hs,  17-55, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

A Few more for the Salvage


This past Monday i blogged a couple shots form the junkyard i went to. I was thinking about this over the week whether or not i wanted to blog a couple more images. Somehow it just seemed like two images was not enough.


Amazingly enough this was the only image that looked good black & white, or at least the only one i liked.

Images captured with D2HS, 17-55 AF-S Zoom, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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