Planet Cadillac Ranch (2011)

August 05, 2011  •  Leave a Comment
Planet Cadillac Carhenge

Watch your step, y’all—cow patties and empty spray cans litter the ground around this Amarillo, TX attraction. Found alongside I-40 west of the city, Cadillac Ranch is a row of ten long-finned luxury cars buried nose down in a cow ranch field devoid of any exciting surroundings. Nothin’ but the big, clear Texas sky and the sun radiating down as you find yourself thankful for visiting during one of the cooler months of the year—not just because of the heat, but the smell that potentially could go with it.

Still, it is one of those things worth seeing for yourself. And, fun for all ages, since you can freely take a can of spray paint to it without any hindrance from the local law enforcement. The location made for an easy enough pit stop in between leaving the hotel and hitting the road for the second leg of our drive home from the previous week of ski holiday in Colorado.

Certainly a Texas attraction often photographed by others, so I made the attempt for a unique take with a 360º capture. Only a little tricky due to the intense sun beaming directly over and the other groups of people visiting—simply waited patiently for them to be absent from each frame. I almost kept the rotation to the monument itself, but even more glad now that I went the full 360º so this final result would still be possible.

A couple of test renderings were completed back in April and shared with friends for some initial input—both left the entire barren half of the planet out of the picture. It was not until this past weekend that I pursued a more robust and finished work that included it in its entirety. Per usual, minor adjustments were made to the 30 RAW images in Adobe Lightroom to reduce chromatic aberrations and then exported to 16-bit TIFFs—nothing of that step changed from before. Next, all of these TIFFs were brought into PTGui stitching software to render out a 30″x30″ Exposure Fusion blended starting point. From that, a few steps of trial-and-error with the applied Photoshop magic: (1) 3D sphere used twice with adjustments to help shape the lighting to the orb; (2) canvas extended to 40″x40″ filled with a starry universe to blend in with the original rendering; and (3) orbital rings created with flat circles in which their perspective was altered and then blended with the scene. The final result came with additional tonal and color adjustments applied in Lightroom with the use of Nik software plug-ins.

Creation Progression (left to right): Individual frames from Lightroom prep, original stitch rendering, and final image.

Image Details: (NIKON D300 w/10.5 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens)

  • Full-size print of 40″x40″ at 240ppi.
  • Comprised of 30 RAW images — 6 framed instances with 4 additional bracketed exposure levels (-2.0 … +2.0EV) each.
  • Initial exposure level set for 1/100 sec at f/11, 10.5mm Focal Length, and 100 ISO Speed.
  • Captured in portrait orientation on tripod w/Really Right Stuff Ultimate-Pro Omni-Pivot package.
  • 360º stereographic stitching and Exposure Fusion blending done with PTGui stitching software.
  • Post-processed using Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 w/Nik software plug-ins.

Location and date taken: Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, TX USA on 20-Mar-2011.

This image is not for sale due to the trade marks and copyrights held by their respective owners, nor has its creation been endorsed by these parties. It is strictly presented for personal pleasure and educational purposes. Cadillac, the Cadillac Emblem, Seville, STS, Coupe de Ville and De Ville are registered trade marks of General Motors Corporation. Cadillac Ranch is copyright © 1974 ANT FARM (Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, Doug Michels).


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