Wednesday, July 13, 2016


In wandering around urban Milwaukee last Sunday, I stumbled onto a classic car rally in a vacant lot on what had been the Schlitz Brewery campus to the northwest of the downtown area, which has been undergoing transformation to a mixed use commercial center.  Some of the cars in the show were in the process of being taken away, but there were enough left that I got some OK shots.

I found the show to be interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, most of the cars were older, pre-1960 models.  I find that I am not particularly interested in what have become popular classic cars in the modern era, the muscle cars of the late 1960s though the 1970s.  Even though these cars are popular with baby boomer collectors because of their nostalgic quality, personally, I do not find the lines of those cars to be particularly interesting.  Second, the cars in this show varied between those that had been fully restored or even modified and those that looked like they had undergone no restoration as of yet.

Here is a sampling of what I got.

First was what I believe is a 1957 Plymouth which had been very nicely restored.

The distinctive features of this car, as with all the Chrysler Corporation cars of the late 1950s, were the iconic fins.  So here my goal was to emphasize those features by moving as close to one of the fins as I could using the widest angle available with my lens.  In retrospect, I might have tried to take the shot from a lower angle, to give the fins an even more dramatic appearance.

And here is a shot of an Imperial, another late 1950s Chrysler product, which unlike the Plymouth, had undergone no apparent restoration.  Note the car is sporting only one of its original four headlights.

I liked the following (I think Cadillac?) that was also in need of further restoration.

I loved the name, Scum Bum, as well as the vanity license plate.  Here is another side shot that highlights the taillights and fins.

Here are a couple more detail shots of Dodge and Chevrolet nameplates of trucks that were in the process of being restored.

Following are a couple of shots of another vehicle that I found interesting.  The shots demonstrate how using different focal lengths can significantly affect the appearance of the subject.  First is a shot taken from a greater distance and with a relatively "normal" (66mm) focal length.

The second is a similar shot taken at closer range but with a wider angle (24mm) focal length.

Note the apparent differences in the curve of the fenders in the two shots.  Also note the apparent positions of the two cars situated behind the subject vehicle.  And here is a close up of a portion of the car's grille that I thought was interesting.

Speaking of grilles, here is the fully restored grille of a different vehicle from the 1940s.

Finally, is one more car in the process of being restored that I also shot because I thought it endearing

. . . along with a closeup of its grille.  Nice.



Last weekend I found myself wandering around urban Milwaukee looking for photo opportunities.  I wound up taking a number of shots of one of the iconic venues, the Milwaukee Art Museum, but also took a few keepers other than the museum.

In shooting the museum my concern was to take unorthodox shots--something new--but that's not exactly how it started.

I did want to include the other photographer in the scene, if only to provide some perspective.  Having said that, the shot is unorthodox in the sense that it is cropped to exclude the peak of the brise soleil.  That may or may not be a good thing.

Here are some other shots more or less in order of decreasing orthodoxy.

If one was not familiar with the general design of the museum, it might be difficult to figure out how these semi-abstracts relate to the overall design.  Sort of like the story of several blind men trying to understand an elephant by each only touching a different portion.  I thought turning these shots into black & whites helped to bring out the lines of the structure's abstract design.

As indicated, I did keep a few other shots that I took, including the following.

This railroad track shot didn't really work.

I think there were a couple of problems here.  First, the light was pretty flat.  An early morning shot might have helped.  And second, I could have used a lot more tracks or tracks that were curving more.  In truth, I was uncomfortable because I probably should not have been standing on these operating tracks in the first place.  I also assumed that there were surveillance cameras around and it would have been only a matter of time before someone came to chase me off--or worse.

This next shot is of the Discovery World building, situated to the south of the Art Museum.

Not a great shot, but I liked the lines including the dark diagonal.

Finally, is a shot of more less random commercial downtown buildings, this one in color.

There were two things about this shot that attracted my eye.  First was the fact that the shot incorporates parts of no less than five buildings at different distances, plus a reflection of a sixth building.  Second was the quality of the light being reflected off the white building.  I wanted to position that building so that it was the focal point of the shot.  The other buildings serve to draw the eye to that building.


Thursday, July 7, 2016


Pioneer Village is a collection of buildings from Wisconsin's past 150 years that had been disassembled and then reassembled on a site of perhaps a 10-acre a few miles north of the village of Saukville, Wisconsin.  I've been there before, but it had been a year or two, and this time I wanted to focus more on detail shots.  Here is what I kept.

First are some external shots.  I am a sucker for shots of old windows, particularly those set in weathered wood siding.  In this case one window provided a view of a second window on the opposite side of the building.

The windows probably lined up better than this photo portrays.  However, if I had stood directly in front of the window, my reflection would have appeared in the glass, so I chose the offset view.

Here is a shot that I thought would work but didn't.

I was attracted to the building's red color and solitary window, and I thought that by including the slant of the roofline I might create an interesting, if simple, composition.  In retrospect, I should have included more of the lawn in front of the building.  However, the day was sunny, and the combination of light and shadow on that bit of lawn was quite distracting, and I cropped most of it out.

One of the buildings included a corncrib.  I felt that the only shot I had was to photograph the crib's interior.

I tried various angles and finally settled on one shot in landscape rather than portrait that I converted to black and white.  I also underexposed the shot significantly in post processing.  OK, I think.

In addition to a number of buildings that might be found in a small community of, say, 100-150 years ago, Pioneer Village includes a reconstruction of a train station and a railroad locomotive.  Maybe I could have gotten a shot of that locomotive, but instead I focused on signage on the side of the locomotive that included the name of the railroad with which it had been associated, the Milwaukee Road.

There were also a number of horse-drawn carriages (sans horses), and I was attracted to the juxtaposition of different colored wheels on adjoining carriages.

I can't seem to get enough of rusting metal.  The following shot of sheet metal on a piece of farm equipment didn't really offer much, but I kept it anyway for its patina.

Now for a few interior detail shots.

There was some sort of grinding instrument in one of the barns that I thought provided an interesting abstract.

The interiors, particularly of a number of the outbuildings, were quite dark.  In the case of this shot I had to ramp the ISO up to 3200, and even then this required an exposure of 1/25 second at f/5, even when exposed nearly 2 f-stops below what the camera's light meter was calling for.  Still the quality of the natural light created a interesting effect.

It wasn't all outbuildings and farm stuff.  There were a few reconstructed residences as well.  I somehow thought the mannikin in one of the houses was a bit creepy and took the following:

I thought the lace of the window curtain complemented the lace of the mannikin's head covering.  I took a few different shots here but wound up liking this one that included both the entire window and the framed picture on the wall to the right.

Another of the residences included songbook opened to a particular selection.

I liked the simple cabinetry in the pantry of one of the houses and took this detail shot of a painted hinge.

There is just enough rust coming through the paint on the hinge to give the shot some interest.

My favorite shot of the bunch, though, was a very simple still life of a broom in a corner inside the door of a rustic cabin.  I did not stage this shot, though someone obviously had "staged" the broom in a sense.

The best elements of this shot were its simplicity and importantly the natural light that was coming through the doorway and illuminating both the simple broom and the plastered walls behind it.