Wonderful discoveries can occur when you wander off your usual path. A couple of weekends ago when coming back from Scarborough Renaissance Festival I was low on gas and exited at Jarrell, Tx to refill. Upon exiting, I tripped across an amazing little gas station — actually it’s a tourist attraction, not a working gas station, but it’s pretty cool…
It was late in the evening and had already gotten dark and I was running low on fuel, so I decided to fill up instead of trying to make it all the way back into Austin on what was left. I exited southbound IH-35 at exit 275 in Jarrell, Tx and almost immediately saw an unlit little station – hmmm – that one’s closed. Then I noticed the signage – WHOA! – that’s cool! I made a quick mental note as to the exit number and once I was filling up at the “real” gas station I wrote down the info. so I could come back and photograph it in the daytime.
It faces east, so it would need morning light (ugh!! sunrise shoot), not evening light. So last week I dutifully set my alarm for 5:30am (Double UGH!) and hit the road from Austin heading north to exit 275. You know – IH-35 north isn’t bad at 6 in the morning!
I’m not a landscape shooter by any stretch of the imagination, so I was winging it. I did know enough to take a tripod, and the Fuji X-T1 has a built-in level so I could level out the camera. Just took the “kit” lens – the Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4, my XF 14mm, and the XF 55-200. Didn’t need fast lenses as I knew I’d be shooting at around f/11, not wide-open.
Anyway… got there right around sunrise, found a place to park and setup my camera and tripod to get the wide shots first as I didn’t know how long the warmth of sunrise would last. Worked out fine, turned out that I needed to let the sun come up a bit so that it peeked over IH-35 and fully illuminated the gas pumps – otherwise the shadow of IH-35 was covering part of the building. You can see in the opening shot that the frontage road in front of the station is dark compared to the station itself – using IH-35 as a gobo – but it didn’t last too long (minutes) so I lucked out.
I did have to remember to:
* turn off IS on my lens as the camera was on a tripod – I don’t know if Fuji IS is smart enough to recognize it’s on a tripod and deactivate.
* set the camera to shoot RAW + JPG – just in case I wanted to really dig into a particularly cool shot.
* set my film simulation for JPGs to “standard” instead of “velvia”
* set my white balance to “daylight” so the camera wouldn’t neutralize the warmth of the morning sun
* be aware of my surroundings enough to stay out of traffic
* be aware of my composition enough to notice when passing 18-wheelers cast a shadow on the scene so I’d need to take a second shot.
Anyway – it was a “good stop” and quite a bit of fun. I have a better understanding of why “those landscape guys” go to all the effort to get out there before sunrise to catch a moment. Kudos to them!
Gallery of shots from that morning are at: http://www.vancestrickland.photography/Blog/JarrellGas
Any more cool and relatively unknown gas stations? If you want to share, leave a comment.