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Car Shows - Summer '06


When summer comes to California's Central Coast, the car shows come with it. The first is the Pismo Beach Classic, in June. This event brings in hundreds of classic cars, and a few, like the red gem at right with rumble seat, are shown on the pier itself. The last, the Endless Summer Car Show, is also at Pismo Beach. (Endless Summer will be held October 13-15 this year.) In between the two Pismo events, are the Arroyo Grande Car Sho (sic), the Atascadero Lake Classic Car Show, and the Paso Robles Golden State Classic Car Show (October 7th this year). If you like old cars, flashy paint jobs and polished chrome, you'll love these events. I think there's also a show in Lompoc on October 21st this year.

The shows are a field day for photography. The vivid colors, elegant lines and interesting reflections present diverse opportunities. However, finding a clean, uncluttered view of an entire car is the exception rather than the norm. You can see them without difficulty, and generally get as close as you like. But photographs will almost invariably include people, buildings, and other cars (!), either in the foreground or background. Pismo Pier is best for "full buggy" shots, and earlier in the day is better than later.

The close-ups are usually easier to isolate from extraneous distractions. Reflections can bring in elements from several angles simultaneously. If they're contributing elements - great. But sometimes they will be distracting elements, and when the guy with the huge white hat finally moves out of the headlamp reflection, he shows up in the bumper - and maybe the grill at the same time. The photographer gets reflected, too, but often an angle and position can be found that allows the camera and photographer to "disappear." The reflections and distortions make for unusual abstracts that do to cars what Picasso did to faces. Pull back a bit, or use a shorter lens, to get a wider, more immediately recognizable view, such as the images below. Most of them were shot at six to twelve feet from the cars, with short telephoto lenses, to slightly compress and render elements in more natural relative sizes.

The photographs on this page were made with the Mamiya RZII on Fuji NPC film. Most close-up and reflection photos were metered with an external incident light meter. Ambient light varied: shade, overcast, and bright sunlight. Each condition had it's strengths and weaknesses, but the soft overcast light gave a particularly nice balance of chrome highlights and vivid color. I was afraid to even consider touching these machines, but the owners were helpful in moving placards or positioning doors or hoods as needed for the photos. Friendly people and sparkling photo opportunities - I don't need much more than that.

Images Copyright © Ed E. Powell
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