Sunday, July 12, 2009

Aistream Ranch

(click to make larger)

What is the heck is this, you ask? It's the Airstream Ranch located at Exit 14 on I-4 in Florida. You can find it on the north side of the interstate, the property belongs to the RV dealership nextdoor, Bates RV. This is one of my favorite places to photograph and the owners are more than happy to have people stop by just for that reason.

This particular piece of work is very near and dear to my heart. I grew a lot as a photographer with this particular image. I used to take photos and worry about what they were going to look like later, afterall I could correct most issues in post processing. This however, was not shot in that way. I had a plan for this image the moment left the drive way and headed out to the Airstream Ranch or Redneck Stonehenge as I had affectionatly labeled it at the time.

Here's the orignal HDR by the way, so you have it for reference.

(click to make larger)

This is probably one of the most photographed landmarks in the Tampa Bay area. People have photographed it from the interstate, from the road behind it, inside the fence, from the middle of the trailers and yes, even from a helicopter. My goal all along was to photograph and process this in a way that nobody had done before. To create a piece of unique art, as unique as the Airstream ranch is all on its own.

For those that don't know, I have two obsessions in photography. HDR (High Dynamic Range) and IR (infrared). HDR photography has been passion of mine for several years now, I love the surreal effects that HDR processing can help the photographer achieve. I also love the out of this world look that can be achieved by IR photography. My goal here was to combine the two into something interesting and different and that's exactly what I did.

At the time, I didn't own an IR filter or a camera that had been convered to IR. I have a filter now and one day soon I will be converting my Nikon D200 to IR only but that's a few months down the road. The only way I could achieve the look I was after was to make it happen in Photoshop (/gasp, did he say "Photoshop"). Yes, I said Photoshop, there it's out in the open, I admitted to it, I used software to manipulate my work into the exact image I was after all along. I'll let you in on a little secret, even if I owned an IR camera or an IR filter, I would have still had to use Photoshop in order to make this what it turned out to be but Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, it's our secret. See, most IR images are a carmel color out of the camera, you have to do some "processing" in order to get it to look like IR film, which turns the greens to white and creates some great contrast.

I've seen a lot of images of the Airstream ranch, a few in HDR and few IR but none that were the combination of HDR/IR. It took me several hours of trial and error to end up with the artwork at the top of the page. Lots and lots of trial and error but also a lot of learning. I haven't had any formal training in Photoshop so this wasn't easy and it was also my first major project that I had attempted where I knew exactly what it was I wanted as the out come and found a way to make it happen. This image was also one of my first featured images on Redbubble (, lot of great artwork over there, while you're there do a search for MKWhite, you'll find my portfolio and if you're feeling really generous, you can buy some of my work, shameless plug I know but hey, I sell AV equipment all day long , you didn't think you were going to get through this entire blog without some type of pitch, by the way, rest in peace Billy Mays, you'll be missed ).

I have a lot work now that I am proud of but this image and the one of my father on the railroad tracks are the two that are the nearest and dearest to my heart. I plan on going back to the Airstream Ranch again soon so I can try this with my Nikon D300 , the images above were taken with my Nikon D200 and unfortunately I have lost the 5 orignal photos I used to make the HDR portion of this image.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you like my work you can find it for sale at two locations. (try here first, much better deal) or at (more expensive already framed work ).

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About Me

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My name is Michael White and I'm a Fine Art Photographer based out of the Tampa Bay area.   I enjoy photographing various landscapes and wild life that can be found in the US.  I am also the creator of a new process called High Key HDR. 
You can find my website at and I can also be followed on Twitter at @rorymadstudios .