Crossing the American West last winter, I was struck by the profound changes to the landscape affected by large-scale infrastructure programs. Rural electrification resulted in an expectation of electrical availability, and power lines now stretch to the horizon.
In much the same way, lines of Interstate highway curve off to the distance, twinned East and West streams.
Hundreds of miles apart from each other, I happened upon these two images of vehicles, paired with their owners, otherwise alone in an expanse of western America. On a clear day, the yellow pickup in the image below is almost lost in the brush.
By comparison, this Nevadan Jeep stands out amid the dusting of snow and descending clouds. Even its driver is farther away. The setting is so perfect that it might as well be a Wrangler advertisement.
This image resulted from the process of demonstrating color filters to my coworker. Colors, with black and white? Of course! The rich, dark sky and bright foreground in this picture result from (digitally) applying a red filter. My favorite part of that now-visible foreground is the large Chevrolet pickup, shoehorned into a parking space on a narrow San Francisco street.
Since moving from places like Hartford and Oakland to Small Town America, I will admit that I’ve become a bit spoiled when it comes to traffic. Anything less than an open road now feels like a traffic jam. The reality turns out to be just a little different.
I’ve continued experimenting with Aurora HDR software, and I’ve confirmed my earlier opinion that it is an excellent tool for surreal, enticing night shots and cases where the noise would be too high for any other HDR technique. For realistic HDR with natural lighting, however, Photomatix remains the king.
The VW Bus is an icon of mid-twentieth-century America, and the surviving examples dotting the West Coast (like this one in Seattle) recall those times. (Given their current emissions issues, that’s perhaps a time for which Volkswagen is a bit nostalgic themselves.)
So much of this interior—the wheel, the gauges, the radio—look to be stock that the subtle additions stand out. The nav/cell holder suction-cupped to the windshield is pretty subtle, but the plastic demon/ghost/goober on the dash is an ethereal addition.
There’s fundamental power in the laminated wood structure of this through-arch bridge (which I’ve photographed before), and I love the way it’s enhanced by the imposing pickup truck and the dramatic sky.