For today’s blog I wanted to show you all the fun I had at the Veterans’ Day Second Saturday at WAAAM. Very lovely time. Take a look at my WAAAM images, (not from this Saturday, they are still being edited.)
I do tend to prefer images with a natural background, however, images on white can be very useful. Still, I had never experimented with doing this with vehicles, because the standard way would require enough costly logistics that in my current financial situation, it wasn’t too realistic unless someone hired me to do it. Then one day I posted an image of a plane on Facebook and Instagram, and the background was nearly white. I began to think about that in relation with the following image.
With this image, Resurgence was in front of an open hangar door, in beautiful overcast light and the inside of the hangar was in shadow. I figured that if I burnt down the background I would have a beautiful shot that looked like it was done in a studio. Ecstatic with the results, I wondered if with a little playing around in Photoshop, I could get the on white look with cars and planes.
I started with the following shots.
The pavement behind the hangars at WAAAM is very bright and I determined that if you make a shot against their white, corrugated steel hangar walls, you would be well on your way to a white background shot. Unfortunately, I never liked that shot until I thought of this idea, so I had few shots to play with. The next step in Photoshop is to go into the Channels palette and pick the channel with the most contrast between the subject and background. Then, make a copy of that channel. Edit the levels on that channel to accentuate the contrast. Then click on the thumbnail of the channel while holding CTRL, this creates a luminance based selection. Invert this selection to select the vehicle instead of the background.
Next, turn off the visibility of the copied channel and reselect the composite RGB channel as your active channel. Go back to the layers palette and enter the refine edge dialog. Clean up the selection as much as you can here and export the results as a new layer with a layer mask. Now, with the underlying layers’ visibility turned off use your paint brush to refine the mask. Then create a layer between the original and the one with the vehicle masked out and fill it with white. This essentially finishes the process.
On the Waco YPF image, I also applied a surface blur to the shadow to get rid of the concrete texture.
Important lessons were learned in this process. I had earlier discussed with some folks at WAAAM that they felt images of their vehicles on white would be really cool. I said of course it would be possible, but quite a challenge. This experiment tells me that it would be easier than I originally envisioned. The results would be better if some equipment was rented; an actual white background, scrims to create clean reflections on shiny surfaces, etc. It can be done outside though, this goes along way to making it easier than I originally thought. Plus the method, outlined here can work, with the biggest challenge being catching ugly reflections in the shiny surfaces of the vehicles.
The November 2015 Second Saturday was pretty cool. The weather was among the worst it has been for a Second Saturday, but it was a lot of fun.
One of the main things going on was about Rat Rods and Rat bikes, is that what they are called? A newly built rat bike was seen by the public for the first time. There was also a presentation by Gary Fisher of Resurrected Rust, regarding his Rat Rods, two of which have won the Rat Rod Magazine Build Off; Resurrected Rust in 2014 and Resurgence in 2015. His enthusiasm was very apparent in his presentation and it was very entertaining.
You need to check out these really cool cars at WAAAM, and also all their wonderful antiques.
October’s Second Saturday at WAAAM was Roaring Twenties day, but there was plenty of other things to fascinate.
One of the items that really excited me was a rat rod that was on display. It won the Rat Rod Magazine, build-off, the second in a row for the builder. It fascinated me in its oddity and the imagination shown in how to build an automobile in an unconventional way. Furthermore, rat rods definitely have a rustic look I always find fascinating. To better show what I find fascinating about the rat rod, I used the post processing method I’ve talked about many times here. I look forward to hearing your opinion of the results.
Another thing fascinating thing at this Second Saturday was the tour of the restoration shop, focusing on the restoration of the Waco 9. This plane will most likely be the oldest airworthy Waco when completed. The folks at WAAAM are really perfecting their tours of the restoration hangar and they get more informative and exciting every time.
The final thing of fascination that I’ll discuss here today is they parked the L-birds they were flying that day in a way that was perfect for a portrait of the two planes. It was almost like this was coordinated with myself or another photographer.
I was at the 2015 WAAAM Traffic Jam, when a car club arrived from out of town (I can’t even remember where.) Among the cars was a 1957 Buick Roadmaster. Right away, I knew this was a very special car and it did end up winning several awards at the show. While I was there I made sure I got a pretty good number of images of this auto.
At that time I was processing most of my automobile and airplane shot through a Lightroom preset that brought the highlights down, the shadows up, and applied a lot of clarity. This preset tended to accentuate reflections and while I was working on these images, I became very disenchanted with how this made the paint job look. It pretty much ruined the color of it. So, I decided to change my method to something more like that taught by Tim Wallace at KelbyOne.
This post method is pretty basic as an overall treatment to the image. Then apply a considerable amount more clarity with the brush, to the grill, headlights, and other like items on the car. Sometimes, I even add some Tonal Contrast from Nik Software, Color Efex Pro4.
I am happier with this method. Not adding clarity to most of the automobile has the paint job looking much nicer. I do add a slight amount of clarity to airplane images overall, but a small amount that I add to most images that I make regardless of the subject.
I suggest you take a look at Tim Wallace’s classes for more information.
On July 11, I went to the 2015 WAAAM Traffic jam. This is a two day car show at WAAAM. However, day one is largely for the participants and there is not as much for the public to do as on Saturday. Saturday however, is pretty awesome.
This year was particularly nice for me. It was an unusually cool day for this summer. As warm blooded as I am that was very nice. It was also usually overcast light, but the clouds were broken enough to make for interesting skies. This was fantastic photographically. The only down side was that it was a bit windy; windy enough that WAAAM didn’t do any flying like they normally do and the plane they pushed out had to be tied down very securely. I also had a few things blow out of my camera bag that I had to chase down.
As far as what was on display, it was really cool as I saw several old cars that I had never seen in person before, but knew about from the History Channel’s Counting Cars. Most notable among these was a ’55 Oldsmobile 88 and a ’57 Buick Roadmaster and I spent a great deal of my photography time on these two cars.
Another thing I do a lot of at these shows is creatively lit close-ups. Getting classic car portraits at car shows is difficult, because there are so many other cars around. This makes it a perfect time to experiment with these close-ups. A different shot I discovered can work well at this show was the stand directly in front of the car and look down shot, like I did with the Union Jack XKE.
May 9, 2015 was military vehicle day at WAAAM and it was one fantastic Second Saturday. To begin with, it was the most fabulous weather yet for a Second Saturday this year. It got a bit warm for someone who is a real wimp about dealing with heat like me, but overall it was incredible.
There was also a ton going on, hard to decide what was the most impressive. As one could predict by the theme of the day, the museum got out their Jeeps and their M3A1 Scout Car as well as many of their L birds. Then, some other aircraft were flown in by other people. A Stinson L-5 Sentinel arrived. Drawing the biggest excitement from the crowd was the arrival of a Bell UH-1 Iroquois, more commonly known as a “Huey.” This helicopter was done up in AirCav markings of the Vietnam era and was very impressive.
There was also a pilot present selling biplane rides and I spent a great deal of time photographing his Travel Air 4000. It was in a very attractive blue with red wings paint scheme and was doing a lot of flying, so of course made a great subject.
Now to tell you a bit about my favorite part of the day; it was a bit off topic for the day. However, it involved one of my favorite artifacts at the museum.
I had only been around a little while and had only taken a few images. I was busy preparing my customary social media post, letting my fans know what I’m working on that day when one of the regular volunteers asked me to help move a car. I’m a member and a volunteer, at the museum, so this request wasn’t particularly unusual. However, this car was the 1936 Cord Model 810 Westchester Sedan, and it was being moved out to take part in the day’s events. I was thrilled that one of my favorite cars at the museum was coming out into the sun to play. It was a bit difficult to get out of there, being that it was placed in a tight spot between a structural beam and the 1928 Waco ATO, but we managed to get it out of there.
Unfortunately, I can’t volunteer as much as I’d like at WAAAM, due to being two hours away. Mostly, I’ve helped them recover artifacts that have been located closer to home here in Keizer. It’s always been a fun time though.
April 11, 2015 was an unusual Second Saturday at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. The weather was unusually bad for one of these events. WAAAM usually has freaky good luck with the weather for their Second Saturday events, but this time there were heavy showers rolling through all day long, and while there were periods of sun, there were also some fairly heavy showers. Despite all this, it was a blast.
The April 2015 event was themed Dodge Brothers. Yes this is the company that has led to the Dodge brand of cars we all know. There were materials around the museum about the history of Dodge Brothers. Also local Dodge owners brought in their cars to show alongside the museum’s many examples.
Probably what excited me most about the event, however, was they flew a 1929 Brunner Winkle Bird A that was owned earlier by Melba Beard, for the first time after its inspection. Melba was an early aviatrix, who won some air races, ran some aviation business, and was one of the charter members of the 99s. The 99s is the famous organization of women pilots, founded by a group of women in the late 20s including Amelia Earhart, the first president.
I am working on a project to produce a story on this plane and Melba, so I was quite excited to photograph this flight.
When Second Saturday and a day when WAAAM needs to shuffle some planes around happen to coincide, great things are bound to happen. One such was 2/14/15, or Valentine’s Day 2015. That’s right the day that is the bane of single people everywhere was a fantastically fun day at WAAAM in 2015.
There is a Stinson SR-8 Reliant on loan at WAAAM currently and the owner came to WAAAM on this day to get it out and begin to get it ready for the 2015 flying season. Moving it outside meant that WAAAM moved several other planes outside to make way for the Stinson to get to the door. Plus the weather shaped up very nicely. It all came together as a great day for an aviation photographer.
The Stinson developed engine difficulties, so the flight we were hoping for did not happen. However, the Waco UBF did fly and that made for some great photo opportunities.
WAAAM had a Valentine’s Day event as part of the day’s activities as well. They had a presentation where they discussed love stories connected to several of the artifacts in the museum. I missed this presentation, having got too involved in the shooting.
In working on my book, I’ve been doing a great deal of research at the Oregon Aviation Historical Society, located in Cottage Grove. It is a friendly little museum, dedicated to the preservation of Oregon’s unique aviation heritage.
Thus, I happened to get advance warning on a new event they were planning. It took place on June 28 and was titled 1st Annual Cottage Grove Wings & Wheels. The general idea was to have a plane displayed alongside a car of roughly the same time period. This concept sounded intriguing to me and I was anxious to see the display.
The event was planned quickly with roughly one month of preparation. Thus, expectations were modest. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the staff, however, the event exceeded all expectations. There was a good number of airplanes and cars, lots of friendly people, good food, and everything went smoothly. The only negative in my experience was the uncontrollable factor of the temperature. It got quite warm; the most popular food item at the event was root beer floats.
As the event, was so much fun in its first year and every expectation is that it should be better next year, I expect it will be an absolutely incredible event in 2015. Make sure you watch for notice of this event and put it on your calendar. A good way to do this is to sign up for the mailing list at Oregon Aviation Historical Society.