The Lone Star Roundup

The Lone Star Roundup is the largest annual car show in Austin and I always look forward to attending each spring. The show comes around at a great time of year when temperatures are relatively mild and the rainy season usually hasn’t hit yet. Since the show is held on a Friday and Saturday, I opted to take a day off from work and wander around on Friday this year. That paid off since the crowd was a lot thinner than a typical Saturday.

As usual I enjoyed wandering around with my camera and snapping shots of the machines and details that interested me. My eye seems to go more toward details these days as evidenced by the relatively few photos I brought back of cars in their entirety. While I processed a lot of images in color to do justice where it made sense, I tend to favor black and white for a lot of the details.

Here are a few images from the show. Many more can be found on my gallery site.

Hutto Car Show

It’s already a couple of weeks into the new year and I’m still getting caught up from last year’s photo backlog. My schedule is full with classes going on again, in addition to a busy job. Photography sadly isn’t the top priority for a while - it can’t be. Still, I’ll do what I can to enjoy something I love as time allows. Today, I’m going back to a little car show in Hutto from November of last year.

It was a smallish show and I didn’t have a lot of time to spend there as I recall. I wandered about and challenged myself to try and see things a little different. More detail, focusing on the smaller parts rather than the whole. Maybe getting a little creative with the compositions. It was a brief, fun exercise. Black and white felt right, along with a bit of a cinematic feel through the 16:9 crop. These were all taken with my X100F. One camera, one focal length. Simple and elegant. If you like these, check out some more images from the show on my gallery site.

Round Rock Car Show

There is a monthly gathering of car enthusiasts in Round Rock and I stopped by one beautiful afternoon back in late October to meander around the parking lot. A hectic schedule late in the year created a backlog on my photo culling and processing. I’m trying to get caught up while I have a bit of vacation time over the holidays. As you can see, I’m doing a lot of black and white work in my automotive photography. This is typically an area where I can see an advantage to color images in a lot of cases. However, I find that monochrome images are my true preference. When I look at other photographers’ work, it is almost always the black and whites that I find myself lingering on.

My eye was again turned to details more so than the vehicles as a whole. Most of my time at the show was spent looking over the cars for interesting shapes, logos, lines, shadows, and shiny things. I attend gatherings like these regularly and I’m always searching for new ways to capture the experience. Here are a few of my favorites and if you like these, you can find more images on my gallery site. All photos were captured with my Fujifilm X100F.

Taylor Main Street Car Show

Here it is mid-December, with Christmas closing in quickly, and I am just now getting around to looking through images I took back in October. A hectic work schedule and getting a class completed took a huge toll on my free time. Photography took a back seat for a while. So, it’s catch up time and I’m starting off by sharing a few snaps I took at the Taylor Main Street Car Show. This annual show is always around my birthday and I enjoyed the mild weather that weekend while wandering around some classic rides.

There has been a shift in my vision when it comes to automobile photography over time. While I used to obsess over getting clean shots of whole vehicles, lately I tend to move in close. I find myself looking for little details, textures, light, shadows, maybe even color. I favor black and white imagery but I have to admit that I still struggle sometimes with seeing subjects with that end in mind. While I do have a form of color blindness, there are certain colors that attract my attention, particularly when I’m looking at colorful cars. That becomes a bit of a distraction when composing images and it made my processing of my photos from the show a bit challenging. Images where colors were the lure to get me to snap a photo didn’t necessarily translate well in monochrome.

I could have gone with a mixture of color and monochrome, but I decided to keep it simple and stick with black and white imagery. As a result, I ended up trashing a lot of shots where I failed to pre-visualize and capture a photograph that translated well without color. My visit to the car show ended up being a valuable lesson in composing and framing with intention, looking for light, shadow, and texture that worked toward a preconceived final result. Even though I threw away a lot of images, I don’t feel that I lost anything. I’ve been working on bringing back fewer photos from my outings - less quantity, more quality - a higher signal to noise ratio.

Here are a few favorites. You can find more on my gallery site.

Round Rock Rods

It was a balmy summer morning and I was running late to catch Round Rock's regular car enthusiast gathering. By the time I got there, maybe 11ish am, the lot was thinning out into a sparse collection of vehicles. It doesn't take long for the rapidly increasing heat of a summer day to chase away all but the diehard gear heads. I wandered around for a bit and snapped a few photos, spending my brief time looking more at details than the whole of the cars. There are interesting bits of Art Deco on some of these old machines that you just don't see anymore. 

Photos taken with a Fujifilm X100F, Classic Chrome simulation.

Misfits Ol' School for School

I was out for a ride down some back roads on my Road King and decided to stop in downtown Taylor for a drink, as a sweltering heat was settling in following an overcast morning. The Misfits car club was holding a school supply drive at my favorite watering hole, Texas Beer Company. Of course, I braved the sun that was starting to force its way through the cloud cover and wandered around a bit, snapping a few photos with my iPhone. I just can't resist classic cars.


All photos were snapped with the Blackie app on my iPhone 6s Plus. More photos from the event can be found on my gallery site.

Round Rock Car Show

I caught the monthly Round Rock car show a couple of weeks back. Car shows are a tough draw during the dog days of Summer and attendance by enthusiasts can dwindle. Luckily, it wasn't too terribly hot in the mid morning when I stopped by and I was pleased to see some lovely classics. My photographic companion was my trusty Fujifilm X100F. I had a fun time milling about in search of interesting cars and details.

It took me longer than usual to get around to posting some shots from the show. There was the fact that I was busy finishing up a summer class, along with keeping up with my regular job. I also spent a lot of time processing my files. While anyone who frequents my blog knows I love black and white, I do a good bit of color work on cars and bikes. I had a hard time choosing between the two this time around. First, I processed in all black and white. Then it was all color after playing around with some different looks in Lightroom CC. I finally settled on a mixture, giving each image what I thought it needed. Sometimes the choice can be quite maddening.

I'll talk more about my evolving new workflow in Lightroom CC in another post. I've got some thoughts about that which are best left to a dedicated discussion. Suffice to say for now that working in Lightroom CC has me reevaluating how I capture and process my image files. All images from the car show were captured with the X100F's Classic Chrome simulation and processed for color or black and white in Lightroom CC. If you like these, you can find more from the show on my gallery site.

Wheels and Warriors

The Wheels and Warriors car show was held a couple of weeks ago in Cedar Park. This is the second car show I've attended at Gupton Stadium. Both times I've been a little disappointed with the relatively low turnout for the size of venue. There weren't as many classics as I'd like and I didn't find any rat rods this time around. Most of the cars were a little too modern for my tastes. Still, it was a charity event benefitting veterans and first responders so I was happy to attend and show my support, as well as enjoying wandering around the rows of cars.

I didn't snap as many photos as I usually do at car shows. The heat probably had something to do with that. I looked for interesting details and photographed those that caught my eye. It's something I've been kind of working on instead of focusing on capturing full car shots. In the past I'd often taken some a few detail snaps with my iPhone while using one of my Fujifilm cameras to grab wider compositions. This time I only used my Fujifilm X100F. Here are a few favorites. 

Images are Classic Chrome film simulation with further processing in Lightroom CC. More photos from the show can be viewed on my gallery site.

RockNRides

A few weekends back I stopped by a small car show in Cedar Park. The RockNRides show benefitted a high school band and there was a decent turnout. Most of the cars were a little too late model for my tastes though. I gravitate to the art deco styled classics and the rat rods. While there weren't many of these at this show, I did enjoy walking around and getting in a little car photography. 

I've been experimenting again with the Moondog Labs anamorphic adapter for my iPhone 6. It was a little over a year ago that I picked it up and I realized that I hadn't done much with it lately. While I had my Fuji X100F with me, I ended up snapping images solely with the iPhone. I have to say, I do love the wide aspect ratio for my photos and the anamorphic adapter gets it for me on the iPhone without having to crop anything away. It's a cool trick.

Using a wide point of view like this, it is tempting to go for the big picture - full body shots of cars. I do that a lot and so this time I pushed myself to look closer for interesting details, reflections, and different angles. Luckily it was an overcast day, which made the latter a little easier. My complaint with shooting by LCD in daylight is that it makes composition difficult when bright sunlight drowns out the display. 

Here are a few details that caught my wandering eye. All were taken with the iPhone and the Moondog Labs lens using the Blackie camera app. More shots from the show can be found on my gallery page.

Hot Rods and Hatters

I spent yesterday afternoon checking out some great cars at the annual Hot Rods and Hatters car show in Lockhart, TX with my good friend Mark and his kids. We had an awesome time seeing the cars and stuffing our selves with BBQ. Readers of my blog know I love cars, particularly the classics and rat rods. There were plenty of both in Lockhart this weekend. 

Gear-wise, I was toting around my X100F and my iPhone 6S with a Moondog Labs anamorphic adapter. I love the anamorphic combination even if the camera is "just" an iPhone. After taking a few shots with the iPhone, I'd almost decided to use that exclusively since it was a casual sort of thing and I was hanging out with folks while walking around. Unfortunately my iPhone battery life has been quite unpredictable lately. Some days it's fine and lasts all day, while others it goes berserk and seems to discharge in the blink of an eye. After using the camera for about 15 minutes the battery percentage starting going down rapidly, dropping from 60% to 10% in just a few minutes. I shut the phone off for a while and when I turned it back on it jumped to 50%. I got about another 15 or so minutes before it plummeted again down to 1%. I could literally watch the percentage tick down. Son of a... Yeah, I was rather pissed at Apple yesterday. I'm in line for a new battery and should have it replaced in a couple of weeks. Hopefully that fixes it.

I shot a good bit with my X100F too, although I have to say I really like having the anamorphic option for car shows and this is one of few times I'd have been content to just stick with the damned phone. It was a cold-ish overcast day and I'd normally have stayed all black and white. The dreary flat light makes some portrait photographers giddy but it does nothing for me. I'd prefer hard light that makes colors pop. I stuck with my favorite Classic Chrome simulation and bumped up the saturation a bit while increasing the contrast in post. I think it works and provides some variety with the all black and white iPhone snaps that I took with the Blackie app.

Here a few favorites from the show. You can check out more if you like on my gallery site.

iPhone

X100F

Taylor Main Street Car Show

If you read my blog with any regularity you know I love car shows. Recently the city of Taylor held its annual Main Street Car Show. It was a beautiful Autumn day that had just a bit of a nip in the air from a passing cold front. It can still be very warm in the afternoon in late October and it was refreshing to be able to wander amongst the cars without breaking a sweat. 

I wandered around with a minimal camera setup - a pocketable little point and shoot film camera and my trusty X100F. While I love taking pictures of cars, I'm not fond of lugging around a heavy bag of gear these days. I find I enjoy myself more with my simple X100F over a camera body with an assortment of lens. The point and shoot film camera is just for fun. I like to shoot a roll or two of film from time to time, especially at events like these. I guess being around all the classic cars stirs up those feelings of nostalgia.

Film

Film images were taken with an Olympus XA2 point and shoot camera using Svema  125 color film. The color you get from this film is interesting and different from any other color film I've tried. Being color blind (not completely) that's about all I can say about it. I'm not sure how accurate the rendering is but it seems to have a vintage feel to me, which works well for the subject matter.

Digital

All digital images were taken with my Fujifilm X100F using the in-camera Acros film simulation. These are only lightly adjusted for contrast. I love the X100F for being able to deliver a filmic look pretty much straight out of camera. 

Check out more photos from the show on my gallery site.

British Invasion

I noticed that there was an all-British car show going on in downtown Round Rock, TX a couple weeks back. Always a sucker for a good car show, I headed down with my Fujifilm X100F and newly acquired TCL-X100 II conversion lens. This was as good an excuse as any for this car and motorcycle buff to try out that combination.

Normally I'd opt to shoot at a car show with the X100F's native 35mm-ish FF equivalent lens. A 35mm equivalent focal length is kind of a Goldilocks lens for me when photographing cars. Not too wide, not too constricted - just right. a 50mm equivalent using the conversion makes things a little more difficult to compose but luckily there was plenty of room to move around and back up as needed. If the future, I'll swap the conversion lens off and on but being that this was my first outing with it, I wanted to give it a thorough workout to get a good feel for it.

There were lots of beautifully restored machines out there. While I'm not a particularly huge Anglophile when it comes to cars, I do appreciate a good classic car of any origin. I enjoyed walking around and seeing all the Austin-Healeys, Triumphs, Jaguars and other great British marques. They aren't common sights in these parts. Enjoy a few of my favorite sightings.

Autos

Details

All photos were taken with a Fujifilm X100F with TCL-X100 II conversion lens (~50mm FF equivalent), Acros film simulation. Check out more photos from the show on my gallery site.

DSCF5210.jpg

Hod Rod Night at Top Notch

Top Notch, an Austin burger drive-in, hosts regular hot rod nights and I stopped by last night's event for a bit of motor nostalgia. Top Notch is such a great place for events like this. It hasn't changed much from its 1970s origins and it reminds me of the drive-ins I went to as a kid. I'm a child of the late 60s and while a lot of the classic cars I saw pre-date me, I do appreciate the style and craftsmanship that goes into these machines. 

Yeah, these old automobiles are gas guzzlers. The latest technology in cars makes them gas sippers compared to these machines of yesteryear. In my book though, those modern machines built from aluminum and plastic just don't have the soul of these steel forged classics. I'll take that good old art-deco styling over just about any modern car. 

One of the things I love most about car shows is hunting for interesting details, whether they be accents from the manufacturer, personal touches, props, or even reflections in chrome or glossy paint. I always feel like I could spend hours looking over the cars, searching for those little Easter eggs. 

All photos were taken with my Fujifilm X100f using the Acros film simulation. You can see more images from the event on my gallery site.

Top Notch Hot Rod Night

Top Notch, a local burger drive-in, hosts hot rod nights periodically. I stopped by one of the events back in April around the time that the Lone Star Roundup was going on. Due to the collection of photos from the Roundup that I had to sift through, along with other things going on, I'd forgotten about some photos that I snapped at Top Notch.

The cars pack in to the small parking lot at Top Notch, making it difficult to get shots of the full cars. That's OK though and after being there a few times now I've come to appreciate the challenge of finding interesting ways to capture images of the wonderful classic cars that people bring out. This time I chose to travel particularly light and photographed only with my iPhone.

I've really warmed up to iPhone photography for casual outings like this. As usual I was using my favorite camera app, Blackie. I get images that are really close to what I want, which makes post processing a breeze. The biggest challenge is working with the iPhone screen when there is still bright daylight. Getting the angle I want often times means I can't see very well while composing. Given enough light though, the iPhone 6S Plus I have really does a great job. I'm willing to put up with the challenges it presents in some situations, in exchange for not having to lug around a camera bag.

Treaty Oak Rod Run

Treaty Oak Distillery in Dripping Springs, TX held a cool hot rod event for Memorial Day and I took a trip out there with my wife. I finished off a bottle of Treaty Oak bourbon recently and I was happy to have the opportunity to see where it was made and enjoy a few drinks while checking out some classic cars. In spite of a rainy forecast, the weather was kind enough to cooperate and it ended up being a beautiful day. 

I didn't want to spend the whole afternoon snapping pictures of cars. That would be rather rude on a trip out with my wife! Still, I can't resist old cars and so I tried to get the photos out of my system quickly. I had my trusty Fujifilm X-T2 with me and I darted around to briefly check out a few cars that caught my eye before joining my wife for a few cocktails featuring various Treaty Oak liquors. I had a fantastic Old Fashioned or two. 

Here a few favorite rods and details from the event as captured with good ol' Classic Chrome. If you want to see more, check out my gallery site.

Granger Car Show

The nearby small town of Granger, TX is a favorite place of mine to wander around on quiet strolls and casually snap a few photos. If you visit my blog with any regularity, chances are you've seen a few shots from Granger. The normally calm streets were bustling with activity due to a car show and arts & crafts festival going on this weekend. I couldn't resist stopping by to see what classic beauties and ratted out hot rods might be lining the streets.

I travelled light on this outing. This was one of several stops I'd be making with my wife and our little dog Lucy yesterday afternoon. As such, I didn't bother bringing any "real cameras." I didn't want to get too immersed in photography and neglect my family. It was just my iPhone and my favorite app, Blackie. That was plenty enough, as I've been impressed with the quality of images I get with that combination. My only complaint is the same I have with any camera lacking a viewfinder - the screen is very difficult to see in bright sunlight and I was virtually guessing at the composition of a lot of shots. I tried to shoot a little loose and crop later. 

The little details I see in some of the cars at shows like this are as much fun to capture as the vehicles themselves. Maybe more so. It's like an Easter egg hunt searching for little personal touches, exceptional fine details, or interesting reflections. Close-up photography is one area of photography in which the iPhone excels.

Lonestar Round Up - B&W Edition

Yesterday I shared a few color film images that I took at the annual Lonestar Round Up car show. This time I wanted to share a few images in black and white, shot on Kodak Tri-X film with my Nikon FM and a 35mm lens. While the color images were taken with fully auto point and shoot cameras that did all the exposure metering, these were entirely up to me. Sunny 16 rule on a kind of overcast day!

I did have a pocket light meter with me and I did a few initial checks of the light. Before taking a shot I'd guess the exposure and check against the meter. I was right most of the time so I put it away. There is a lot of leeway with Tri-X so there was nothing to fear. I put a yellow filter on my lens to keep the sky pulled in a bit and just casually took my photos while wandering around an awesome collection of cars. As usual I stuck with the classics and rat rods. It isn't an easy decision to use black and white film on the rats. All that rusty texture looks amazing in color. Honestly, it came down to the fact that the FM was already loaded with an almost full roll.

Here are a few favorite sightings.

Film development and scanning by Austin Camera. More images from the Round Up are on my gallery site here.

Lonestar Round Up - Color Edition

Last weekend I got to attend the Lonestar Round Up, my favorite car show of the year around here. I met my friend Mark and his kids out there for a stroll through all the rows of cars while we got caught up with each other.  I wanted to take photos of course but I also wanted to enjoy spending some time with friends without being burdened with a lot of camera gear. This year I grabbed some obligatory snapshots in a different way. 

I had 4 cameras with me at the Round Up. Yeah, I know, I just said I didn't want to lug around a lot of gear. I still kept my word. In my smallest bag I had my Nikon FM with 35mm lens, an Olympus Stylus, and an Olympus XA2. In addition, I had my iPhone so that's 4 cameras - 3 film, one digital. Originally I had the idea of shooting only with the point and shoot film cameras and supplement a bit with the iPhone. I mainly brought the FM along because it was loaded with a roll of Tri-X that I wanted to finish up.

Last week I shared my iPhone shots. Today I'll share some color images from the film cameras. I had a roll of Agfa Vista 200 in the Stylus and a roll of Svema 125 in the XA2. The Agfa has been my go-to film for casual snapshots and I'd been wanting to try the Svema for a while. The Svema has an interesting color palette that is very muted, with good contrast. It had more grain than I expected for a film of that speed but it was fine for the subject matter. I ended up liking the Agfa shots a little bit better, which is nice because it is a very inexpensive film.

Agfa Vista 200

Svema 125

More shots from the Round Up are on my gallery site here. Film processing and scanning by Austin Camera.

Hood Art at the Lonestar Round Up

The Lonestar Round Up, an annual car show at the Travis County Expo Center, rolled through town this weekend and I got to spend a bit of time walking around with my friend Mark and his kids. This event seems to draw more people every year and while I hate being in large crowds of people I do enjoy seeing the amazing cars that folks bring out. The Round Up is one of few large scale events that I can convince my introverted self to attend.

This year I photographed mostly with film. I've been doing that more lately when I attend car and bike shows. It is something that I have found to bring balance between photography and being in the moment with friends and people I meet at the events. It's so easy to get wrapped up shooting practically limitless numbers of pictures with my digital gear and I come away feeling like I missed out on a lot of the experience of the event and some good conversations with interesting people. Film limits my time behind the camera, in a good way. I'll limit myself to a couple of rolls usually. That doesn't mean I eschew digital photography completely at these events. I still have my iPhone and I've used it to supplement my film shots just a little bit.

Last year I found an app for iPhone called "Blackie" and I use it almost exclusively when I take photos with my phone. The film simulations are really close to the look I like when I shoot with real film. The iPhone focuses closer than most of my lens on my film cameras, which makes it a great tool for getting complimentary shots to the larger scale compositions I typically do with the film cameras. The fast and intuitive interface in Blackie lets me grab quick shots of details in passing.

Hood ornaments are one of the key details on cars that attract my attention, especially on custom builds. They are like a finishing touch on a work of art and often have some special significance to the builder. I decided to put together a collection of some of the ornaments that I enjoyed. As always, you can click images for larger views.

All photos were taken with an iPhone 6S+ using the Blackie app, Tri-X film simulation.

Car Show in Georgetown

I'm a sucker for a good car show and I got to attend an annual show held at the Georgetown Airport a few weekends back. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed wandering around. I can easily lose track of time while checking out classic cars and I came away with my first sunburn of the year on an unseasonably (even for south Texas) warm February day. While I remembered all my camera gear, I forgot to put on some sunscreen. 

I had a couple new-to-me bits of photography gear with me at the show. Recently I acquired a Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2 lens for my X-T2 camera. I was curious about this lens as a possible replacement for my rarely used 16mm, which is a big, heavy beast to carry around in my bag. Additionally, I had a Nikon FM film camera with a 50mm f/1.4 lens that I acquired in a trade sometime back and never had a chance to try out. The FM was loaded with some inexpensive Agfa color negative film. The colors from this film are have a nice subdued look and I like how I don't have to do much of anything to the film scans I get back from my lab.  

Nikon FM, 50mm

One of the nice things about shooting the Fujifilm X-T2 is the great dynamic range. Color negative film holds highlights rather well. The X-T2 is arguably stronger in this area with the dynamic range modes in camera. I usually shoot in JPEG mode for events like this and I'll set my ISO to 400, even on a sunny day. This enables me to turn on the X-T2's auto DR mode, which will automatically underexpose a stop as needed for highlight control, then lift the shadows in its JPEG processing engine. It's a neat trick.

Fujifilm X-T2, 18mm

I performed a little experiment by photographing the car below with both cameras, using an 18mm equivalent lens on each. It was a dark car and I shot the shaded side. The shadows are more open in the film version but the digital wins with greater detail. Yes technology is a wonderful thing.

Maybe I'm just being nostalgic about film. The digital images are sharper and cleaner without the film grain. The dynamic range of today's cameras is remarkable. Still, there is just something about film that I like. Maybe it's just that it detaches me from the world of modern technology for a while when I shoot it. I tend to favor manual cameras like the FM. No batteries needed, no meter (the FM has one but I chose to shoot sans battery), no complex menus. It seems appropriate for photographing those beautiful classic cars. It's an overall experience of a simpler time.

You can see more shots from the show on my gallery site here.