This “abandoned” helmet wasn’t so abandoned. I found it hanging in a mostly abandoned barn. Whatever the helmet was used to ride on was no longer present. However, something had made good use of it. I do not know for sure who the new tenant was. The Carolina Wren is known for creative nesting locations, but January in Pennsylvania is not a time when that theory can be confirmed. It may be a mouse nest; my guess is not a mouse nest, because the large, defined entrance hole is not typical mouse architecture.
This nested helmet photograph was taken with our trusty Nikon 18-55mm AF-S, our recommended best cheap wide angle lens. I went a little wide here (29mm) to give some impression of the abandoned feel of the setting, with the empty wall stretching behind. Once upon a time, I’m sure those nails were filled with tools and gear, too busy even for a wren to approach.
In post-processing, I played with the burn tool in Aperture. The nest itself was in shadow. Metering exclusively for the nest only would blow out the highlights behind from the bright light of the door way just beyond the edge of the frame. I usually keep my metering center weighted, so I can have some choice over what part of the image I want to be properly exposed. In this case, I did center the meter on the nest, but there was enough other light that the nest was still in more shadow than desired. One solution for this would be a High Dynamic Range stack, where we took one photograph stopped up, one photograph stopped down, and one standard, then combined them. I had no tripod with me; furthermore, the D90 does not have in-camera HDR, so I would have to combine the images at home in HDR software or an image editor. Well, that sounds like a lot of work, so I went old school. In Aperture, I used the Burn tool to increase the exposure a little on just the nest. That was really the only area that needed attention. It took about 30 seconds. The nest is still subtle, which is acceptable to me because it invites the viewer to puzzle for a moment about what the photographer wanted viewer to see, but there’s enough information that the viewer can make it out.