Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Hartford, Wisconsin, a small town 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, boasts an under-publicized, but excellent classic car museum.  Last weekend I paid a visit with my camera.  The personnel there were a little reluctant to allow me to take photos; they thought my camera was too big!  But when I explained that my photography was entirely amateur, they let me in and in fact allowed me to use my tripod as well.  That was important because the museum, like many such venues, was relatively well lit but at a level much lower than an open air venue would provide.

The reason the museum is located in Hartford is because that community was the site of a major car manufacturer of the 1910s and 1920s, Kissel.  I don't recall ever having heard of them before, but this museum includes the largest collection of Kissel Kars anywhere.  Here are a few of the shots I got of those cars.

Partly it was the venue, which dictated a cluttered background in wider shots, but as usual I found myself shooting details, where I had better control of the overall image.  Here are a few of those, again of Kissels.

I think Kissels were a victim of the Great Depression, and most, but not all, of the other cars exhibited are of more recent vintage.  Here is one of a 1938 Chevrolet with a great grille.

In addition to the Kissels, a large portion of the other cars were also "orphans," including Hudsons and Nashs.

But for me the star of the show was a 1937 Studebaker that was in spectacular condition.

Despite some flaws, I really liked the composition of this shot--my favorite of the series.  There is clutter both left and right, which was unavoidable, and I cut off the bottom, including the tires (though I did this to avoid including the yellow cording fronting the car).  But by shooting this from as close as possible and moving my lens to as wide an angle as possible (24 mm) I was able to distort the car's image, exaggerating the size of the front fenders and making the cabin look more diminutive.

One other interesting vehicle was this 1970 Subaru.

This car is actually much smaller than it appears.  Funky, I thought.

The museum is more than simply classic cars.  A number of related antique paraphernalia are also scattered around the display area.

I particularly liked a very worn-looking, very large (standing perhaps three feet high) gasoline can.

This is a cylindrical can so, relatively speaking, the edges were significantly further away from the camera than was the center of the can.  So I used a small aperture (f/16) to increase depth of field.  Here is a close-up of the crown emblem.

But my favorite piece of memorabilia was essentially unrelated to the automotive industry, a classic jukebox that showed off well and was suitably well-worn looking.

One thing I learned from this shoot.  The museum featured cars from the very earliest years of the 20th century through the 1970s.  What I found myself gravitating toward were cars from the 1930s through the early 1960s.  I think the reason is that before the 1930s cars were built from a pragmatic perspective and style took a back seat.  Style became much more important beginning in the 1930s.  And perhaps beginning with the 1960s I have been a little overexposed to, and am personally a little too close to, the styles that have emerged.


1 comment:

  1. delightful pictures. Wish Fran were here to view them