Tag: US 50

Great Basin Vista

Today’s image is once again from the Great Basin along US 50. In this image I was trying to capture the vastness of the Great Basin as well as the clouds that had been gathering all day. As I rode along US 50 this particular day I was treated to seeing a thunderstorm develop. During the day I watched as a large mass of clouds in the southern sky coalesced  into a thunderstorm. As the day went on I noticed how every cloud in the sky moved over to become part of the storm. It was fascinating to see that even small clouds that were miles away from the main body would quickly move toward the growing mass until by the end of the day the entire sky had become part of the storm.

Compositionally I used the large boulder in the foreground as a way to bring the viewer into the scene. The triangles formed by the foreground element and the sloping terrain on the left side help to direct the viewer’s eyes down the highway and into the Great Basin while the clouds themselves frame the distant horizon. I used Topaz Adjust to process this image before applying some final tweaks in Aperture 3.

Back to the Boneyard

Here’s another shot from my trip to the Studebaker Boneyard in Arizona. I really like the texture and patina that this front end from a 1950 Studebaker has. The famous “Bullet Nose” grill is an American icon. Studebaker was so far ahead of it’s competitors, in the design realm, after World War II . Unfortunately the cars themselves were pretty mediocre in terms of the quality of their components which helped seal their fate.

I shot this at midday and, as I do most times, I was using my polarizer to cut down on the glare. I find using a polarizer to photograph these abandoned vehicles helps when I do my final processing. The polarizer seems to intensify the colors and bring out the texture in the rust. I recommend using polarizers to my students when they are shooting in less than favorable light such as the light in the middle of the day.

I processed this image in Topaz Adjust using the Spicify preset then I dialed it down somewhat from the default setting. One of the real benefits of using a plug-in such as Topaz Adjust is that I can accomplish the feat of opening up the shadows and showing the detail that is in them, such as the inside of the wheelwell here, where the viewer can see the ground and the inside of the fender too.  Too often I see images that have gone through one of these plug-ins where the effect is too strong. I often advise my students to think in terms of “less is more” when using them.

Compositionally I like the way the the subject comes forward in the frame; almost as if it is trying to jump back on the highway for one more ride.  The many triangles that are formed by the composition keep the image from being flat or static. The angles move our eyes within the frame while suggesting that there is more going on just out of our sight.

Great Basin Survivor


These images were taken a couple of years ago when I travelled across the “Loneliest Highway in America” US 50 through Nevada and Arizona. I have been photographing abandoned vehicles for many years and when I came upon this 1950’s Chevy truck I had to stop and capture it.

This is part of the Great Basin area of the United States; the climate in this region is extremely arid and that makes it possible for these old vehicles to last for decades. If you look through the passenger windshield in one of the shots you can see my Harley-Davidson that I was riding on this photo trip. Using the bike puts me in a more intimate relationship to the environment and allows me the freedom to explore the world off the beaten path.

I processed these images in Aperture 3 and Topaz Adjust to create the faux HDR look. By using the “Spicify” setting and then by tweaking the adjustments I was able to bring out the textures of the rusted metal and weathered wood while enhancing the colors in the scene. I really like the way Topaz Adjust allowed me to open up the shadows and bring out the detail in them.