Don’t be afraid to ask …

They can’t say yes if you don’t ask …

So I was on assignment photographing this commercial pumper/tanker on an IHC chassis that belongs to the Union-Lakeville Fire Territory in Lakeville, IN. It’s a rural type of fire engine and I was looking for a location that would showcase it.

Whenever I arrive in the area of a department that I’m going to photograph, I keep my eyes open to try and understand the fire district so I can highlight both the department and the truck builder. I’m a sucker for farms with beautiful barns when I’m in rural areas. Sometimes it’s easier to find a great setting than it is to find one that will accommodate the truck.

When I got to the fire station in Lakeville, IN, I hadn’t found the location that I wanted to use. Fortunately the full-time man in the station had an idea for a great farm with a friendly owner. As we pulled up to the farm, the owner’s wife was about to leave. She was very enthusiastic about giving us permission to use her property.

Rosenbauer America Maverick fire engine on an IHC chassis
Image ©Larry Shapiro

There are several elements here that worked very well to create a beautiful image … the sun was in the right spot; the gravel driveway was aligned perfectly to allow the engine to be parked in a natural position; the weathered but clean red barn with the green roof was beautiful; the foreground shading and the section of tree in the upper right hand corner worked to create a vignette and frame to draw the viewer’s eye right to the fire engine.

Then … even though this shot was great, I wanted more. Off to the right side of the frame was a freshly cut, level section of grass that I thought would make a great foreground for another image while keeping this great barn in the background.

It was questionable at best as to whether or not the owner would allow us to drive the engine onto what was clearly a well cared for yard. But, if you don’t ask for what you want, they can’t say yes. If they say no, you’re no worse off than you started …. but if they agree, well then you can go one step further and improve on the image to deliver to the client.

Rosenbauer America Maverick fire engine on an IHC chassis
Image ©Larry Shapiro

A lower angle accentuated the lines in the lawn from the mower and got me below the overhanging limbs that would otherwise partially obscure the engine. I took advantage of a bit of light cloud cover to compensate for the position of the engine that was not perfect for full sun. Even though the truck is red, there is enough contrast in the colors of the barn to create separation and maintain definition in the truck detail.

I had a thought that I might alter the color of the barn to remove the two shades of red, but I got hold of myself and decided to keep it natural.  There was very little post production enhancement done to the image. I used a circular polarizer to remove reflections and glare from the side of the unit and then I rotated the filter to darken the windshield. Those two images were layered and masked to combine the best parts of both into the final image.