Saturday, October 12, 2019

A few scenes from Nashville

Well, heck. It only took a few weeks to get totally sidetracked from posting on this blog. So, back in the habit with a quick and dirty peek at the few days I spent in Nashville last week.

I took a pass on the heavy tourist zone on and near Broadway. I spent a few free hours in the Musicians Hall of Fame and it just blew me away.

 This museum is focused on studios and musicians that created our soundscape. The few photos here don't do it justice. Jimi Hendrix has his own section with artifacts including a drum kit, guitar and outfits.

 Shall we bump up the volume to ear shattering?

 The last thing you see on the way out is a Roy Orbison section. This is just a small part of it.

 I absolutely loved the Enactron mobile studio trailer that now lives in the museum. Visitors get to walk through and get a glimpse at how recordings are made. After a number of years on the road, it was parked in the yard of the owner's home and continued on as a fixed studio.

 The mixing board and preamp live in the middle of the trailer.

 Can you imagine Dolly Parton and Rosanne Cash recording in this space?

 You know how audio fetishists get all wound up about analog and warm sounding amplifiers? Here's a reminder of the kind of equipment that was used to process music before the pure digital era.

 My nerdy stereo loving heart went pitter pat on seeing this stack.

Here are a few artists that recorded in this space.

And how about the pianos that contributed to the sound of David Bowie and Elton John albums? Mind blown.

Captain Fantastic is one of my top twenty favorite albums of all time.

Too much to share here. I hope you make this museum a Nashville destination.

Next up: Hatch Show Print. This shop has been making show posters for over 140 years. The gallery space in front featured a visiting artist that dove into the collection of wood blocks and added some twists of his own.

 Yes, the visiting artist created this amazing take on the Ramones.

 The Hatch work space is visible through a glass wall. The technology is delightfully analog.

A sampling of the prints available in the store.

In my last full day, I had an hour to spare and took a walk to Third Man Records. The brand aesthetic is incredibly strong in this store.

 Vinyl is forever, y'all.

And then it was time to go home. Southwest is a quick direct flight from Kansas City. I love what they do for Halloween. It helps take the drudgery out of travel. The Nashville airport is a pretty decent place to spend time. The Burger King even has Impossible Whoppers.

 Adios, Nashville!

These photos were captured with a Google Pixel 2. It's a very good travel companion.

As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Greaserama 2019 through a classic cinema lens: Part 1

Note: I'm breaking this post into multiple part so I don't run into the the perfectionist trap and never get it published. I have too many drafts already.

The staying power of the Kansas City area Greaserama car show is impressive. The original founder passed away several years ago and a network of area car clubs just keep making it bigger and better, year after year. I spent a good portion of Labor Day weekend Saturday at the Platte County Fairgrounds and wandered with a Fujifilm X-H1 and a variety of vintage lenses.

Yes, I had even more lenses in the trunk. I picked four to carry and experiment with.

I vacillated between adapted Olympus PEN F and Pentax AR lenses and wasn't happy with the output on a cloudy day with on and off spitting rain. Then I tried the Taylor Hobson Cooke Ivotal 50mm f1.4 and fell in love with the previews.

Photographic perfection on a cloudy day would have been really boring.

For the sake of clarity, I'll just share out of camera images. Color and contrast are tough in deep cloud cover and aesthetic choices are personal by nature. The slightly funky bokeh is partly due to the classic Cooke triplet design and partly because the lens was designed for a smaller 16mm frame. It's a C mount with a larger than average rear element.

More than you ever wanted to know about Cooke triplets:

Patent information:

This early '50s lens came off a 16mm camera that was stored badly for decades. The old lube was so gummy that is was almost seized up. Fortunately, it was designed well and easy to tear down for a basic relube. I love the feeling of old-school brass and glass.
The triplet design patent is fascinating. Imagine thinking through how to bend light properly in an era where glass was shaped and polished by hand.

Honestly, 50mm is a bit long on an APS-C sensor when attempting to shoot large objects. That and a really shallow DoF make the process a labor of love. There are mistakes and I would not trade them for modern autofocus perfection at a vintage car show.

The Dirty Shame Saloon is a converted chicken display barn.
Cruising the perimeter dirt roads is an honorable pastime at Greaserama. It's also really hard to shoot manual focus. The old ways are still good ways.

At 70mm equivalent, life comes at you fast.
Earlier in the day, I shot a collegiate cross country meet. That's a venue where perfection counts and autofocus is my friend. I used the well-loved/abused X-T2 for that. There's no way to get accurate shutter actuation counts on Fujifilm cameras, but it's way over 200,000 after multiple events, street photography walks, cross country, and track and field meets. The X-H1 has great focusing aids and the leveling indicator is more reliable than that on X-T2. I know the sensor stabilizer has saved more than a few marginal shots.

One of the things I love about Greaserama is that people as old as me or older are just doing their thing. I started going grey quite awhile back and have taken to wearing a cap whenever I am at youth oriented street events. I ran into a couple we knew at church. I had no idea they were part of a car club. I could get used to this lifestyle.

Bike cruising has always been a thing at Greaserama. The background swirl is very dependent on distance to object and background. This is at f2.0

Teach your children well. Seriously, they were cruising at 5 MPH or so.
Back before the death of G+, I kept a collection of artist at work images. I met one of the pinstripers who has a great Instagram feed and had fun learning a little about his craft. Get this: the top of his toolbox is his palette and has layer upon layer of paint on top. His personal car is practically dipped in paint.

Neko Lynn's personal ride


A steady hand and untold hours of practice


The build on this rat rod is truly amazing. The dashboard was a work of art.

It's solitary work. So is photography.
That's it for tonight. The next entry will likely focus on capturing some of the musicians performing in the Dirty Shame Saloon. As always, thanks for reading.

Yes, this circa 2008 lens carrier makes me happy every time I look at it.