By Kerry Drager
I'm always on the lookout for interesting - and colorful - subjects ... often in unlikely places. If it's a stationary scene, I spend time "working the subject" - fine-tuning the composition, camera angle and lens focal length, and shooting in various light. Of course, a tripod is part of my shooting "workflow"!
Sometimes a subject is simply in the "wrong" setting, in terms of light and/or surrounding distractions. That was the case with this very cool and very red Jeep grille that I found at a scrap-metal yard in Oregon.
Incidentally, my sister-in-law, artist Catherine Straus, correctly guessed that I would love this scrap yard. She did not guess that I would actually buy this grille and take it back to California to photograph! :-) At my ranchette's little outdoor "museum" of old vehicles and equipment, I used a bright yellow wheel as a focal point for the composition. At the same time, the grille fit perfectly amid the beautiful green grasses of spring.
For these images, I chose a vertical format, in order to emphasize the lines leading up to the yellow wheel. Also, note how the lighting and composition is slightly different in the two photos ... part of the fine-tuning process. I'm not sure which I prefer - the brighter colors and tight composition of version #1, or the softer look and slightly "broader" framing of #2. In any case, I always like to give my creative vision a workout by shooting scenes in as many different ways as possible!
Both images were captured with my 12-24mm wide-angle zoom, and a small aperture (f/22) was used to ensure front-to-back sharpness. The grille was very reflective, so I used a polarizing filter in order to reduce the glare. The polarizer didn't totally remove the reflections in the photos - due to the various angles (nooks, crannies, etc.) of the grille - but it definitely toned things down in order to give a nice boost to the red.
Red and Yellow 1 (cloudy-bright late-day sunlight; 24mm;
1/15th sec at f/22; ISO 100; tripod) by Kerry Drager
Red and Yellow 2 (overcast, 22mm; 1/4th sec at f/22;
ISO 100; tripod) by Kerry Drager