Saturday, August 30, 2014

When Chrome Ruled The Auto World

When auto makers started looking for ways to reduce the weight of their vehicles to improve fuel mileage, chrome bumpers and trim were some of the first things to disappear. Now the minimalist, very light on chrome look predominates. If you gathered up all the chrome from every car on the lot at your local Ford dealer, it still wouldn't equal the bling that's on the hind end of this '64 Galaxie 500. Better have your shades on if you get behind this car on a sunny day!

1964 Galaxie 500, Waynesville, NC  -  2014
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I Like The Classics

The first thing I look for at any car show is something from the 1920s or 1930s. Usually, car shows are dominated by hot rods and customized versions of cars made after 1960, but to me they just can't compare with the stock versions of cars that appeared between the two world wars. This Ford Model A was a car for the common man, and was priced accordingly. It didn't have all the frills of a Packard or Cadillac, but it still has lines and curves that to me, are a work of art.

Ford Model A, Waynesville, NC  -  2014
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Restoring Memories

I was asked to restore and enlarge some wedding photos by a friend from church. I have a habit of saying "yes" before I find out what I'm getting into, but sometimes that's what makes it fun. What I got to work with were some old 126 Instamatic prints with the usual dust spots and a fairly severe color shift. The Kodak 126 Instamatic cameras used a square format producing small 3 1/4" square print. I was asked if I could make 5x7s from these. Gulp!

To crop to a vertical 5x7, I would first have to add to the left side of two of them because they were framed so far off center. I copied and pasted content from the right side of the photo to add to the left, and then used the clone tool to smooth the transition between the added content and the original photo.

Next, I corrected both the exposure and the colors. This improved the look of the photo, but also brought out all the dust spots, smudges, and scratches from the original prints. I ran them all through the NoiseWare program to get the majority of the spotting down to a manageable level, and them used the clone tool to clean up the rest. Once I got the first one figured out, the other three were done using the same formula, and they went much quicker. I've ordered the prints, and I think at the 5x7 size they should be able to pass muster. (Click on photos to enlarge.)



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Imitating Nature

Carscape, Waynesville, NC  -  2014
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

The shape of this car reminded me somewhat of the shape of the mountains where I live in western North Carolina.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Overcoming The Backgrounds

As I've written previously, I love car shows, but they are a difficult place to make car photos. From any angle, the background will be a distracting mess of other cars and people. So I've long made it a practice when at car shows to concentrate on the details that make these vehicles special.

This particular hot rod had a custom paint job that I thought was the eye-catcher of the show. I decided to photograph it as an abstract of colors and shapes. These two photos were my favorites of this car. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Time Stands Still, Charleston, SC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Charleston, SC is a place where it is easy to make photos with no visual clues as to when they were made.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Outdoor Footwear (S.A.)

(S.A. = Satire Alert) The traditional all leather hiking boots of the 1970s, stiff and heavy, have given way over the years to much lighter versions made from a variety of synthetic materials. The newer boots are durable, and they dry faster when they get wet. They are also very expensive.

I subscribe to the Ray Jardine school of thought on hiking footwear. Jardine touts regular running shoes as the best thing to wear for most people. They are lighter, dry faster, and give a better tactile feel of the ground than stiff boots. He believes this feel for ground irregularities is important for helping to avoid twisted ankles, allowing you to sense and respond quicker to ankle stressing rocks and holes. Jardine also contends that the ankle support that many hiking boots claim to give is a myth, and that the best defense against sprains is an ankle strengthened by much walking and hiking. I agree with Jardine, and usually hike in a pair of Nunn Bush all-terrain walking shoes. I chose these over a standard running shoe mainly for their availability in wider sizes.

My oldest daughter, Heather, always an innovator, is also breaking new ground in the field of outdoor footwear. She chose this little number pictured below for a recent hike at Rough Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway. They are apparently lightweight and provide that good tactile feel for the ground that Jardine recommends. The lace pattern makes them breathable to keep your feet cool and comfortable in the summer. I'm sure they dry quickly too. However, durability seems questionable, and finding them in mens' sizes could be a problem. I think I'll stick with what I have for now.

Stylish Hiking

Monday, August 11, 2014

Documentary Style

Sunburst Market, Waynesville, NC  -  2014
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I love to look at the old FSA photos from the 1930s, especially those of Walker Evans. Evans just seemed to have a knack for knowing what mundane scenes would be so fascinating to look at 50+ years in the future. I'm sure contemporary viewers of Evan's work would often ask, "Why did he take a picture of that?", but viewers today know immediately. I've tried to emulate his approach from time to time in hopes that after I'm long gone someone will appreciate photos of everyday scenes from the early 2000s.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beyond "This is what it looks like."

Concrete Bridge, Haywood County, NC  -  2014
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Unless you are just taking some casual family snapshots, you should ask yourself some questions before pushing that button. What is my subject? What is it about my subject that I think is worth sharing with my viewers? What is the best way to emphasize that quality about my subject (whatever it is) to my viewers? Answering those questions first may save the viewers of your photos from having to ask some questions of their own, like, "What the #*@% is that, and why did he take a picture of it?"

On the Flat Laurel Creek trail there is a concrete bridge over a cascade. I guess the trail was formerly a logging road because a concrete bridge seem so incongruous on a hiking trail. Usually, hiking trails have bridges made out of wood planks at best, or maybe just a big log spanning the creek. I'd seen pictures of this bridge on some hiking websites, but they were just "this is what it looks like" kind of photos. I wanted to show my viewers how out of place a concrete bride seems in a wilderness setting. That meant climbing down below the bridge for a different perspective, and a little finagling in post-processing. Did I succeed in adequately sharing what impressed me about this bridge? Only the viewer can answer that question.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Looking For Waterfalls, Finding Mushrooms

Courtney and I took a hike on the lower end of the Flat Laurel Creek trail yesterday afternoon. I had read that there were three waterfalls along this trail, and with the unusually mild for August weather, it seemed like a good opportunity for a Sunday afternoon hike. I was also looking for an excuse to try out a new handheld GPS I had just bought.

The waterfalls turned out to be fairly unspectacular. The high overcast that makes for good waterfall lighting eventually turned to broken clouds and periods of bright sunlight. That's better for hiking, but terrible for waterfall photography. The contrast that occurs around waterfalls in bright sunlight is more than any digital sensor or film can handle. You end up with impenetrable shadows and/or blown out highlights. No amount of Photoshop magic can make it look right. It's always best to go back early in the morning, or wait for an overcast day.

Even though my hopes for some good waterfall photos were dashed, I did find some beautiful mushrooms along the trail. I know nothing about mushroom identification, so I have no idea what species these two are, or if they are edible or not. I just know I love the colors. The problem with mushroom photography is you have to lay on the ground to get down to their level. Since they usually grow in somewhat damp areas, getting a little wet and dirty is the price you will pay. On the positive side, mushrooms don't sway in the breeze like most other plants in the wild!

If anyone knows what species these are, let us know. (Click on photos to enlarge.)