Sunday, August 25, 2013


I have continued to check out the classic car rallies at the Highland House, which is located a couple of miles from my home.  Although any classic car is welcome each week, the organizers do focus on different categories of cars each week.  Last week it was "orphan cars," car brands that are no longer produced.  And the clear star of the show, at least in my mind, was a 1937 Oldsmobile.  The car's owner was understandably proud of his car and was gracious in showing it to me and in encouraging me to take photographs of it.

The car's body was in great shape.  The owner stated that he had owned the car for about five years and admitted that he had actually done very little to the exterior.  Most of the work he had done was in terms of the cars mechanics.  The car included a number of great design features, including taillights . . .

. . . and a split rear window.

But the greatest feature, the one that made the car a real standout, was the grille.

What is unique about this model is what the owner referred to as the "waterfall" feature.  The metal pieces extending back from the front of the grille were curved upward.  As a result, from most angles the interior of the engine compartment was not visible.  The result was a strong art deco quality most noticeable in the above shot but also evident in the following couple of shots that include the grille as well as the headlights.

Very nice.


Saturday, August 24, 2013


Bayshore Town Center sponsored a chalk art contest earlier this month.  I'm not sure how it was structured, but it was juried and featured contests in a number of categories, such as under age 19, best use of color, and people's choice.  We were out of town on the weekend it was held but did get back Sunday afternoon and I took my camera there that evening to check it out.

It turns out that I got there just in time to look at the entries and take some shots.  There were a total of about 60 entries.  Just as I finished my first circuit of the drawings, the street was opened to vehicular traffic and within a couple of minutes the drawings were effectively being destroyed by tire tracks.

Some of the drawings were fairly rudimentary and I assume were drawn by younger contestants.  Others showed more sophistication but were of mundane subject matter.  I shot a number of those, but am only presenting a couple here just to illustrate their general quality.


Quite good, really.  Others, while not particularly striking, showed some clever technique, such as the following.

Others showed what I thought were genuine artistic qualities.  The following, for example, was judged the winner in the under 19 category.  

According to the legend accompanying the drawing, this artist was only 14 years old.  Pretty impressive, despite the tire track on the angel's face.

Here is a shot of a detail of one of the drawings, showing the amount of work that went into some of these efforts.

A few of the pieces not only demonstrated artistic ability, they included something of a sinister quality that I found appealing.

The following was awarded best in show honors.  And it is very good, but I didn't really care for the subject matter.  The figures seem to involve different artistic styles, at least to my eye.

Here is another entry that I thought demonstrated great ability to provide subtle shading in a difficult medium.

One of the tactical mistakes I made was that I was reticent to walk on the drawings.  This despite the fact that other pedestrians were doing that.  As a result, some of my shots were taken at an oblique angle, as in the following photo of what was my favorite entry.

This was judged second overall and was voted number one in the people's choice category.

Here is another shot of the subject's face that I think shows some real artistic sensibility.

Chalk drawings are one of those art forms that, like ice and sand sculpturing, are, by their very nature, ephemeral.  I'm not sure how well I could work in such a temporary medium.



Spring Green, Wisconsin, with a population of under 2000, is known for being the home of Taliesen, Frank Lloyd Wright's Midwestern home and architectural studios.  It also hosts annually a classic car show, and we were there for the show last weekend.  The show was enormous, featuring over 700 classic cars.  I find myself being drawn to the beauty of some of the cars, particularly when they have been lovingly restored.  The day included brilliant sunshine that served to show off nicely the cars' restored finishes.  I wound up taking well over 200 shots and am proud of the fact that I have winnowed the number of keepers down to less than 50.

I have been accused of failing too often to photograph the entire car, focusing instead on little details.  Guilty as charged, though I did take a few full-body shots, including a 1914 Model T Ford, as well as a Willys and a DeSoto from the 1930s.  The Willys and DeSoto, especially, were beautifully restored.

These shots were relatively "clean," whereas most of the other shots of entire cars included what I consider to be distractions--other cars or people cluttering up the shots.

My preference is for details that capture the cars' outstanding features, such as chrome grilles.

The first three of these were, respectively, a 1942 Ford, a late 1930s Chevy, and a 1949 Buick.  I didn't note what the fourth shot was (another one of my shortcomings), but I liked the distorted reflection of the grille work in the chrome of the "bullet" feature.

Hood ornaments represent another opportunity for capturing detail, as in the following.

The first of these is from the 1914 Model T, but I don't know the makes of the following two shots.  I really only liked the last shot for the paint job.  Besides, a particularly pointy-headed reflection of me is visible in the ornament, something I normally try to avoid.  

But the best hood ornament was the following of a Morgan.

I particularly liked the head-on shot of the ornament that included its shadow.

Taillights and fins are also favorites.  Here is a photo of a 1957 Ford, the first real year of the fin.

I shot this from close range with lens at a wide open f/4 to reduced background distractions.  I used the same technique for this 1957 or 58 DeSoto.  Note the corpulent gentleman in the background.

One minor problem with the above shot was that the owner had opened the trunk, visible in the upper right of the image.  Unfortunately, this was true of a large number of the cars, where the owners had either opened the hoods or trunks or both--great for showing off the engines or whatever the trunks held, but not so great for photographers who just wanted to get shots of the polished sheet metal.

One of the primo cars at the show was a beautifully restored 1957 Plymouth.  As with the DeSoto above, the most distinctive features of the Plymouth were its tail fins.

Here, by the way, I stopped down the aperture some (to f/6.3) to keep in better focus a bit more detail of the rest of the car.

One of the cars that quickly became and has remained a classic is the 1957 Chevy and one can almost always count of seeing one or more at most car rallies.  However, as a kid, I always liked better the look of the tail lights of the 1958 Chevy.

Certainly, they were more sedate than those of either the 1957 or the 1959 models.  (1959 was the year of Chevy's "gull wing" rear ends.)

OK, so to wrap things up here are a few more shots of details that I thought turned out well.

One final comment:  A trend in classic cars that I have noticed is that more and more of them are muscle cars from the late 1960s through the 1970s.  I'm sure this reflects the changing demographics of classic car enthusiasts--later baby boomers who grew up, perhaps, when those were the want-to-have cars of the times.


Thursday, August 22, 2013


Last week I found myself once again heading for the site of the Solvay Coke Plant, which was abandoned 30 years ago.  In reviewing what I have shot in the past, I felt that, for the most part, the best shots have been those that have reflected a wider view of the scene, and that is what I tried to focus on on this visit.

Here, for example, is a shot of a wider scene in the main factory room.

One of the features of this place, in addition to the display of deterioration and the graffiti, is the amount of random trash present.

And here is an exterior shot of one of the buildings, showing off both the dilapidation as well as the massive graffito.

Following are some more interior shots.

I think what is most striking about these shots is the quality of the light.  These were relatively long exposures, generally 0.5 to 1.0 seconds, at narrow apertures, f/11, taken with a tripod.  (It wasn't nearly as bright inside the buildings as these photos would lead one to believe.)  And because the difference in the amount of ambient light in the buildings was so low relative to the amount of light coming into the building through windows and doorways, in post processing I found myself reducing contrast at both the brightest and darkest ends of the continuum.  The result looks a bit like HDR, thought that was not my intention.  Additionally, there is a lot going on in these shots--decaying structure, graffiti, garbage.

In addition to these wider angled shots, I did a few shots of selected more recent graffiti that I thought were interesting.

I'd like to find another location that would offer similar opportunities.