Story Behind the Shot: Cold Morning in Central Oregon

NOTE:  Please click on the image to view it full screen against a black background.

This was a serendipitous shot from my road trip to the Alvord Desert last week.  I was driving south on the Central Oregon Highway a few minutes after sunrise when I passed a small farmhouse.  There was a man making repairs to a tractor in the driveway, and a sprinkler watering the grass in the front yard.  Because of the cold overnight temperatures, spray from the sprinkler was freezing on the wire fence, which created a sparkling grid of icicles that immediately caught my eye.

To capture this moment, I used my Canon 24mm tilt/shift lens to shoot the scene from a 3/4 perspective while altering the focal plane to run parallel to the fence line.  Once I determined the correct exposure and positioned my tripod where I wanted it, I used 10x magnification in LiveView on my camera's LCD screen to set precise focus and adjust the degree of tilt on the lens.  The mantra for tilt/shift photographers is, "focus the foreground; bend the background" so I did this 2-3 times iteratively until I had the fence in perfect focus all the way down the line.

I made 6 or 7 exposures at varying apertures (to control how out of focus the house would be) and captured the sprinkler head directing water in a variety of different directions, but ultimately, this is the version of the image I liked best.

Image Details:

  • Focal length:  24mm T/S
  • Shutter speed:  1/160 sec.
  • Aperture:  f/9
  • ISO setting:  100

PS:  The farmer working on the tractor was friendly and curious, but I'm sure he thought I was a little crazy taking photos at 6:30 in the morning, wearing shorts and flip-flops in sub-freezing weather in the middle of nowhere...

You can read the full trip report and see more images from the Alvord Desert here: