Landscape photography's all well and good, but what do you photograph when the skies are leaden and the rain's really set in for the day. That's when I pick up a tripod and head off for a 'rust fix' and there are plenty of museums and collections around the country that are perfect for this type of day.
Think In Textures & Patterns
The secret when visiting collections of rusty vehicles is to try to forget what it is you are photographing, by that I mean not to look at them as a lathe, excavator, or drill; but to view everything as simply shape, pattern and texture. Indoor locations such as old sheds and workshops should be explored, too, as even though they may seem to be filled with junk, if you look around carefully there will be a wealth of goodies to point your camera at.
It's worth leaving the camera in your bag and walking round for 15 minutes, just looking to see what might work photographically – pick out maybe a pile of spanners sitting on a workbench, or if outside, select one vehicle and look over it carefully, choosing details that will make strong, abstract, colourful and interesting pictures.
Raindrops on the surface add another texture, and wet paint and rust enrich the colours. If you are working inside using light coming through a window behind the items you are photographing, a reflector can be invaluable to bounce light from the window back into the shadows. Be careful not to rush around trying to photograph everything – you will more than likely be disappointed with the results, spend time working round each subject, trying various angles and looking close to create strong, abstract, colourful and interesting pictures.
Why's A Tripod An Important Tool?
Because the 'under cover' work (and if it's pouring with rain, that's probably the best place to be) tends to be in darker locations, a tripod is an essential piece of kit. Lighting levels are low and shutter speeds can be quite long; but I'm not a huge fan of flash in these places – firstly, it tends to kill the natural lighting, second, if there other people looking round, a continual flashing can be annoying for them. I keep my ISO fairly low for this work, as non-moving subjects taken using a tripod are no problem up to 30 second exposures – or beyond if you have a remote release with a timer.
Work With Custom White Balance Settings
Be careful of lighting – often there is a mixture of diffused daylight coming through the windows, and fluorescent lighting in the ceiling. The ideal solution is to turn off the lights, but this wouldn't go down too well with others, so make full use of your camera's custom white balance settings.
Words and images by John Gravett of Lakeland Photographic Holidays.
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