Abandoned Airstreams, Southern Colorado, 2014

As a cold frozen rain and a driving wind whipped me about, I managed to sneak a few shots of these abandoned Airstreams. The sky was gray, but I knew if I shot via infrared, the sky would show details not normally seen with the naked eye. Someday, I’ll indulge you in talking about how this realization came about, some 20 years ago, shooting with a Nikon FM2 with good ‘ol Kodak HIE-2481, slogging through a late and dreary Utah fall. Nowadays, I’m shooting with a converted Nikon D800. The results are amazing, though I still miss the days of the latent image and developing in hotel bathrooms and youth hostel showers.

Abandoned Airstreams, Southern Colorado, 2014
Nikon D800 Infrared Converted
Nikor 24-70 @ 35mm : ISO 100 : 1/80 at f6.3
This shot and others can be found on my westernspaces.com site

As I was trying to get THE shot, I noticed a Ford Explorer creeping into the shot- headlights blinking, blowing it’s horn (barely heard because of all the ice and wind hitting my hood). It was my wife (of about 5 days). “What the heck is going on?” I wondered…

And there it was- a second vehicle. An old pick up, barreling towards me. Roads and paths be damned, whoever was heading my way was doing it with sheer conviction. As the old pickup approached, it would dip down into a ditch, then jump out, becoming nearly air-born. No dust was stirred, for it was too wet. But old vegetation flew all about. These ditches turned out to be due to the fact that I was shooting in an old drive in- where they dug into the earth to allow cars to park lowered and angled up at the screen.

I was, of course, not feeling too good about what I was getting myself into. The location was not marked as “No Trespassing”. But this was the west – and trespassing is treated differently in each state. Luckily, my burden became my salvation. I had cameras strapped all over me- a normal D800 and a D800 Infrared, along with a vest packed and puffed out with an array of lenses.. Yeah, I looked like a photographer, not a vandal. And that’s all the guy heading right at me needed to know.

The driver seemed to have noticed all my gear as he approached- slowing down about 20 yards away. I opted to walk to him, cameras in hand, making it obvious I meant no harm to him or his property. I explained what I was up to. Just shooting those awesome Airstreams, nothing more. He cooled down, and we were soon talking about the guys trout farming enterprise. He was heading into town for more pipes. Crisis was adverted.

In the above shot, I love how the hazy-glow of the Airstreams brighten up the otherwise gray tone of the image. Infrared can often do those sorts of things, even during overcast conditions. It makes the Airstreams the star of the shot.

Here’s a color exposure of the same scenario. Nice, but in the color version, it is so much more about the grasses. Sure, the shot is not cropped as tight. But I ended up doing that to tend to the intensity of the grasses- giving into the fact that the Airstreams are almost second fiddle.

Abandoned Airstreams, Southern Colorado, 2014
Nikon D800
Nikor 24-70 @ 28mm : ISO 100 : 1/100 at f10
This shot and others can be found on my westernspaces.com site

Some other things to notice.. Check out the difference in sky details between infrared and color exposures. Just amazing how the details just come out without any trouble. And that green bushy shrub- it’s the king of the foreground in the Infrared shot, lighting right up. Whereas in the color shot, the shrub is lost. We’ll talk about why this happened another day (I’m sure I’ll opine further about Infrared in the future, so hang in there).

Finally, lets check out another shot from the location. I shot this after the property owner took off. This let me slow down and shoot a little more, pushing compositions further.

Air Conditioned Bus, Southern Colorado, 2014
Nikon D800
Nikor 24-70 @ 70mm : ISO 100 : 1/125 at f10
This shot and others can be found on my westernspaces.com site

I wanted to also talk about this shot, because I think it complements and contrasts the other two in so many ways. First off, the use of color here is pretty darn successful- far more than in the previous shot. The blue of the sky, references the blue of the bus and then contrasts the sweeping wisps of golden grass. I don’t mind the sky being silken and lacking in detail- no need for the detailed sky of the Infrared shot. And the composition is actually more fitting of my oeuvre- I’ve stuck the bus over to the side, letting the background open up, and the electrical poles hold things together. And finally, inside the bus, the paneling and that pink steering wheel finish things off.

Next up, we’ll venture to the high elevations of Nevada’s White Mountains and ancient Bristlecone Pines. See you then.

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