Leased operator and budding master-photographer Micheal Watson

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Don’t you love it when you can say you’ve really buckled down and learned something new? With the profusion of information online — and when it comes to technology new and old — Youtube how-tos can be quite the resource. (Just ask me sometime about my own past small-engine mechanical ability and, well, ancient-lawnmower maintenance issues I don’t have anymore.)

For Springfield, Mo.-based Central Marketing Transport lease operator, hauling reefer freight out of the company’s Strafford, Mo., location mostly on lanes to California and back to the Ohio Valley, photography was always an interest, particularly maximizing use of manual settings fairly common in smartphone cameras to get the best possible shot the first time.

Smartphone cameras are capable of “a lot more than most people think they are,” he notes, but nonetheless he reached his own’s limitations fairly quickly. “I had a cheap digital camera and took it to its fullest extent, and still wasn’t satisfied.”

This year, for his birthday, he sold a couple custom rifles he “had laying around” and went out and bought a Nikon D5600 with a quality lens in order that he might better “capture the image” with the camera, rather than relying too much on post-shot editing, though he does do some of that in certain situations.

Take this photograph of Watson’s truck and trailer, for example. The final image is made up of “two different shots,” he says, one of which “has been duplicated.” Ultimately, there’s three digital layers to the final image. One is exposed with, effectively, a light reading on the truck, “so the sun isn’t overpowering” the ability of the camera to capture detail of the truck, otherwise in shadow. (Watson says he simply put his thumb over the sun for that portion of the picture.) “Then I dropped the camera sensitivity down to get the sun in the whole thing,” merging the images together with editing software. Interestingly, Watson adds, “there were no clouds the day I shot,” just straight blue sky far as the eye could see. Haze near the horizon, an effect of the brightness of the sun, however, created the appearance of distant cloud-cover in the photograph.Take this photograph of Watson’s truck and trailer, for example. The final image is made up of “two different shots,” he says, one of which “has been duplicated.” Ultimately, there’s three digital layers to the final image. One is exposed with, effectively, a light reading on the truck, “so the sun isn’t overpowering” the ability of the camera to capture detail of the truck, otherwise in shadow. (Watson says he simply put his thumb over the sun for that portion of the picture.) “Then I dropped the camera sensitivity down to get the sun in the whole thing,” merging the images together with editing software. Interestingly, Watson adds, “there were no clouds the day I shot,” just straight blue sky far as the eye could see. Haze near the horizon, an effect of the brightness of the sun, however, created the appearance of distant cloud-cover in the photograph.

Watson says he’s spent “hours and hours” engrossed in how-to videos on Youtube learning what he knows today about photography (some truck maintenance, too, for that matter), and he’s taken it to a higher level in just several months since purchasing the Nikon. Before that, “I probably spent a whole month researching cameras and how to use them before I ever bought one.”

Sharing some of his images to his personal Facebook profile and linking those interested to his Flickr online storage account, he quickly began to get interest in prints — he’s since set up a Facebook page for such inquiries, he says, and canvasses around the industry for potential future freelance opportunities.

This photo and its incredibly detailed belt of stars visible in the night sky is the result, Watson says, of a set-up 30-second exposure in the dark of the Moriarty, N.M., rest area parking lot on I-40. Very little editing on the back end was required, just the use of what Watson calls a “digital brush” in his photo software to bring up the foreground truck-trailer with an eye on “bringing up the colors and the brightness of the color.”This photo and its incredibly detailed belt of stars visible in the night sky is the result, Watson says, of a set-up 30-second exposure in the dark of the Moriarty, N.M., rest area parking lot on I-40. Very little editing on the back end was required, just the use of what Watson calls a “digital brush” in his photo software to bring up the foreground truck-trailer with an eye on “bringing up the colors and the brightness of the color.” This shot is of an owner-op Watson struck up a conversation with at a produce house out west. “I saw him standing there with a cigarette, and I thought, if I get the camera it’s going to be magic.” Before doing so, he asked if he could take the photo, “took about six shots and then stood there talking to him. He was wanting to hurry up and get his oranges on so he could get down the road” to talk to man quite actually “about buying some race horses.”This shot is of an owner-op Watson struck up a conversation with at a produce house out west. “I saw him standing there with a cigarette, and I thought, if I get the camera it’s going to be magic.” Before doing so, he asked if he could take the photo, “took about six shots and then stood there talking to him. He was wanting to hurry up and get his oranges on so he could get down the road” to talk to man quite actually “about buying some race horses.”

A moment on the road, well-captured.

Find Micheal on Facebook via this link.

Meantime, keep adding those pics to the Reader Rigs Gallery, back online after a brief recent outage as we shifted to a different hosting tool for it (still something of a work in progress on the formatting — bear with us). 

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