Let And Hindrance III

Gosh, time flies. It’s been four years since I last considered this subject, and so much has happened in the meantime; I’ve retired from retail shop work and taken up home hobby shop work, and I’ve officially gotten too old to give a good God Damn.

It’s a little frightening – this new freedom. As middle-aged citizens in employment  we were required to be a pillar of the community and an example to the young. We needed to follow all applicable laws and apply for official permission on the correct forms.  Now that I am 70 years old, no-one looks, no-one asks, and no-one cares. Other people are depressed by this but I am exhilarated. I feel like a kid with a box of limpet mines and a pair of swim fins.

I’ve given up nearly every activity that requires permission – shooting firearms, flying toy airplanes and sailing toy boats, entering prestigious photographic contests, etc. Having had as much success with these things as was ever likely to be, I can leave them – and their lets and hindrances – far behind. And I can be a lot smarter in the next few years about joining into things that require obedience.

Please understand – I’m not an old rebel. I was never a young one, and wouldn’t know how to do it. I am merely a person who is determined to consult their own counsel and take their own decisions. I shall not be a nuisance nor a danger to navigation – but I shan’t be a sheep any more.

The tax people have my complete respect and obedience – monitored and assisted by an honest accountant. The police also have my wholehearted support for civil law – I shall do all I can not to be a scoff-law in any vital matter. I shall be delighted to participate in the political process of my state and nation – but decline to be bullied by friends or strangers regarding my own vote.

Past this – I shall enjoy toy boats, cars, and airplanes – studio photography,writing, reading – interstate trips and whatever local amusements offer – and I shall not ask permission nor take scolding from anyone whilst doing so.

The chief care I will have to take is not to shock those who like to dictate and direct. I do hope my smile will be bland enough – I must go get my copy of Alice In  Wonderland and  practice Cheshire catting in the mirror.

 

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Hunting Wabbits

Heheheheheheh.

I like to stalk big game, and there is no bigger game than other photographers at car shows. Particularly the professional ones.

It can be dangerous sport. You get a person who has been up for 27 of the last 24 hours carrying a tripod, two cameras, three flashes, and a half-eaten sesame seed health bar and you’ve got a wounded creature. No knowing which way they’ll break and when they charge it is all over in a flash. Either they savage you or they fall over and go to sleep.

This car show I found two of them in the wild; John and Brad. Brad was focussing his Canon so hard on the general crowd he didn’t even notice when I took $ 20 out of his pocket. He’d been going at it pretty solid for days in an effort to get all the cars covered for publication. I hope he wasn’t counting on that $ 20 for food.

John, on the other hand, was easier to find as he had girls around him. I think he had them in tow for artistic purposes. The first stand I saw him swoop on was the Japanese Mooneyes exhibitors. They were bemused but took it in stride. Next time they’ll be faster to scramble out of the way.

As there were more girls – a lot more girls – in the pin-up and promotion business at the show I’ll bet he was busy for the rest of the day.

The smaller game – the amateur shooters who were trying to get the cars on their DSLR, mirror-less, and compact cameras – I left alone. They were doing their best to cope with the crowds* and the light but very few of them were making the most of their opportunities ( apart from the scrum around John with the girls ). Most failed to use flash even if they had it as pop-up on their cameras and I am willing to bet 99% of them had the cameras set on Auto or P. I hope their chosen manufacturer had a provision in the cameras to run a high enough ISO to succeed.

The mobile phone shooters added unsteadiness to all the other handicaps that small camera users face. But that is alright because most of them will lose the images they take when they drop or lose their phones. It is just passing pixels.

Note: I am actually very grateful to John – a friend – who gets me in to the hot rod show as one of his photo team. I never stalk him when he is seriously busy or seriously stressed. I do not take money from his pocket because there is none in there.

*   I cope with crowds by finding the position I need for the car shot, then setting all the controls, framing the shot, and smiling sweetly. If you stand there long enough smiling even the hardiest crowd gets nervous and goes away.

Before Cadillac Were Too Much To Swallow

I do not wish to be disloyal to the Cadillac motor car company or to the greater entity that is General Motors…but Cadillac has been too much for too long. Too big, to heavy, too much over the top in style and construction. This is not surprising, as it was promoted and eventually realised as the most expensive of the GM cars – a vehicle that would capture the imagination and the money of the rich and famous. It’s been outdone in this lately by the excessive offerings of Europe, but for a great deal of time it was the North American Rolls Royce – the one that the newly rich could actually get their hands on.

Wasn’t always so, and this delightful Cadillac Eight attests. There was a time when it was well-crafted motoring but could still be seen to be a normal design. Around the time of the First World War – 1915 –  this was their first 8-cylinder engine. Note the L-head design and the delightful priming ports for the cylinders. This sort of engine has been reliable for a very long time – enthusiasts have discovered examples that have not been fired up for 60 years and have gotten them running in short order.

The car is a tourer, obviously, and the sign at the front said that the body is an authentic example sourced from Boise, Idaho. Of course it shows a very great deal of attention to the upholstery and fitments but the casual onlooker might be surprised at what might seem sparseness in a Cadillac dash.

Thank goodness the restorers have opted for authenticity rather than modern convenience. Others are sometimes not so fastidious.

 

Blindsided In The Big Bed

Some Sunday afternoons are dull times…particularly when the weather has closed in and there’s nothing new to see. You sort of languish. So you can understand why I was delighted with an invitation from one of Perth’s belly dance sorority to call at her studio and take some pictures of her class teachers – she said they were to be casual ones for studio records. No need for me to bring the entire lighting suite…

Well, you can’t be too casual. I worked out a good travelling two-light setup with the new camera and packed it into the car. I noted that there were a few cars out on the parking area at her place but whose they were didn’t register. I walked to the front door and rang the bell that didn’t seem to ring. Just as well someone was going by the hall at time and saw me waiting patiently on the doormat.

Well, I was ushered in gracefully by Belyssa and directed to go set my camera and lights down. She’s got a big, purpose-built, studio space in her home that has an exotic theme – it looked like there were plenty of spaces for a decent posed group once the others arrived. I asked, in a professional manner, how many were to be expected.

And that was the signal – Belyssa gave the high sign and they all flooded out of the kitchen. And I was gleefully informed that it wasn’t a professional call-out, but a party given in my honour. And that it was I that was to be photographed…

I take these things well – rarely falling to the floor unconscious. I also take well to a glass of red wine and a plate of snacks and the cheerful conversation of people who I had photographed in the dance business for many years. And there were a number of war stories about theatrical performances and costume embarrassments.

Then they dressed up, and dressed me up, and packed into the spare bedroom set and sat me up at the top of the bed and that’s the last thing I remember. I’m told I had a good time, and I’m prepared to believe it.

I shall never look at Sunday the same ever again.

Mors The Pity…

I regularly review my car show pictures from one year to the next to discover who has been seen before and who can be reported. The yellow Mors car seen here in 2018 first came to my attention in 2014 and was photographed with a Fujifilm X-E2. At the time I was learning how to fill in harsh Western Australian shadows in noonday sun and tended to over flash everything.

This week I did it differently – I took a Fujifilm X-T10 camera with a short zoom lens and left the flash gun at home. I knew the camera would be capable of extreme resolution as it had performed well at the Sydney and Melbourne hot rod shows. But I was curious to see if the RAW files could be treated in the Lightroom computer program in such a way as to render the fill-flash unnecessary. Avoiding one big, heavy, piece of gear on a trip is a good thing, and not having to do mental arithmetic while shooting is another.

Well, it looks as though the business worked. I stoked the ISO up to 800, set an aperture of f:8 on the lens, and let the camera choose its own shutter speed. In the RAW files I increased the shadow detail and dialled down the highlights, but the essence of what I saw in the park has still come through. To be honest, I am happier with today’s tonal rendering than I was with 2014’s. And it was all so easy.

I am not adverse to easy…

Note: From the looks of the headlamp, this is a daytime Mors.

 

Yo Ho Ho In The Little World

It’s a little hard to ignore a pirate ship when it literally towers over you. That’s the main working model ship for the Aardman pirate movie seen at the recent exhibition. No half-made device – not a rough adaptation of a Revell kit. That is solid shipbuilding…I think when it has done with the world travels of the art galleries that it should have a place in Greenwich Maritime Museum in London. It might be a parody, but it is more authentic than most display vessels.

The exhibition was glorious in that it led the viewer through the entire working procedure that Aardman use for ideas – from rough pencil sketchs through story boards to rather large scene drawings made with as much care as any artist’s finished canvas. Then on to the benches and the model makers. Surprisingly, some characters and concepts carry through perfectly from the initial pencil sketches – and some are trimmed ruthlessly…but not until they have been worked up a long way. I can only imagine that their creators fight each other in staff meetings to have their creations live and breathe.

The main actors in any of these productions need to be made and remade to change position thousands of times – changed and distorted would be more accurate. The armature upon which clay, plastic, and fabric is posed seems to be modifications of standard devices available in the industry with flexible but lockable joints places pretty much where real creatures also bend. ” Standard ” hardly applies to the were-rabbit, but nothing fazes Aardman. I should think they are the darlings and saviours of small engineering supply houses in their town.

The Little World – Aardman

N0te: last week was grim here on HAW. This week is not  – this week is fun.

This post and several others will be springboarding on the back of real artists – the Aardman animation studios. I’ve been to see an exhibition devoted to their work and methods and I cannot praise them too much.

The exhibition was going on in the ACMI section of the Federation Square Gallery  connected to the NGV in Melbourne. It may venture to your country or your city, and if it does, it is well worth the price of a ticket. I spent a good two hours going back and forth seeing the exhibits.

Aardman are the authors of the Wallace And Gromit series of clay animations as well a numerous advertisements in Great Britain and the Creature Comfort series. As well, they have done Chicken Run, The Pirates, and Shaun The Sheep. All well worth seeing again and again.

The amazing part of this is the scale of the planning, artistry, and props needed to do this sort of animation. It is not tabletop stuff by any means, unless you consider the sets as individual scenes. The scale of most of the models seems to be about 1:6 to 1:4 and the artistic vision and attention to detail is staggering. I don’t think there is a true Little Worlder who would not be delighted to kick over the traces and build Aardman sets for a living.

Bless them, in addition to getting a look at their artistry, the exhibition had a working animation table and lighting setup that showed me clearly how to solve one of my lighting dilemmas in the Little Studio! I could not have been more pleased.

But here is a taster for the week. All Aardman, all the time.