The bell is ringing, come inside the classroom and sit down. No chewing gum.
I am always trying to make the toy car* pictures I take in my studio more realistic. I buy HO and O scale building kits, scratchbuild 1:18 and 1:12 structures, and generally scour any toy stores or hobby shops for accessories that will contribute to the realism. It is only in the last few months that I have considered what that realism should be.
Part of it revolves around the little-world scenes as done by Michael Paul Smith in his superb Elgin Park series – I am definitely buying his book when it appears and I hope it is hard cover…I have a dream of a small community too – Wet Dog Alberta – and a specific time for it – 1966 – that accords with my own life. I’m not a copycat – I’ll be making my own way there. And I intend to take a number of friends and acquaintances with me.
The date of the dream means that I must needs find out not only what things looked like then ( and I know what they looked like because I was there…) but how they were photographed and what the actual photographs looked like then and now. This is the schooling part- I have to find out for myself.
The internet isn’t all that much of a help. Google where you will, you’ll get more grumpy cats than you will grumpy Mennonites. I score sometimes but fail often. I have to turn to bought books – specifically hot rod magazines and books of the period.
Fortunately the Petersen people and a number of smaller publishers churn out repro books and old material. I am learning to look beyond the car to the backdrop and in front of the car to see what the proud owner or his girlfriend really looked like. Some look modern and some look dated and some look sadly dateless…but they have great cars.
Some pictures have faded as the dyes in the film went back to neutral salts. Some were taken badly at the time. Some paints on the custom cars never photographed well even then. All this is wonderful to see as it makes new work so much more authentic if the same flaws can be put in at the studio or added with a plug-in programme. I use Alien Skin Exposure and Silkypix 6 for this. It is all experimental but when you nail it, you nail it!
More info for would-be Michael Paul’s in the next post. Hey, Michael Paul! Loooooove your work!
* Toy cars. They aren’t real. You can’t drive them to the IGA to buy milk and washing-up liquid. You play with them.