Vemödalen Project: Vintage Cars

There’s no question that I’ve taken a lot of photos of vintage cars in my life, so they seemed like obvious subjects for my sporadically-implemented Vemödalen Project. When I went on my annual pilgrimage to the Lime Rock Historics (which used to be called the Vintage Festival, which was a much better name) I took along what is the usual kit these days: a Leica body, in this case with a classic Elmar 50/3.5 screwed on the front and loaded with Kodak Ektar.

The plan was to get in close; this is not an entirely new approach for me, I know. I really wanted to try to emphasize graphical compositions, not to the point of total abstraction (which would be difficult in any case), but to get away from the instantly recognizable shape of a car and toward something that requires a bit more attention and thought on the part of the viewer. To my eye some of the shots I’ve chosen to show here are more successful that others in this regard, but that’s part of the process.

The other question raised here is the use of color versus monochrome film. There’s no doubt that black-and-white is by its nature more abstract than color, a point confirmed by a little experimentation with digital desaturation in post-processing. I chose to shoot in color because 1) I don’t do it that often, and practice is good, and 2) it added to the challenge. The fact is that some, if not all, of these shots might be better in black-and-white, but the Vemödalen Project is not really about the end result as much as it is about how one gets to it.

You can judge for yourself.



Leicas in the South of France, Part 2

In the first post in this series, I suggested that I would be dividing the photos up into two groups. In looking at what remains, I’ve decided that three posts is probably more appropriate. This second set of photos includes those from the two day trips that took me out of Nice proper: one to the small medieval walled town of Entrevaux, and another to the seaside principality of Monaco.

While it might seem at first glance that these two destinations could not be more different, they have similar origins. The original hilltop citadel remains the visual center of Monaco when viewed from the sea, with the palace and the dramatic clifftop oceanography museum dominating the small old town center. But where Monaco developed into a sprawling and opulent modern city – one that seems to be under a state of permanent reconstruction – that now dwarfs the centuries-old core, Entrevaux remains today much as it when it was built hundreds of years ago. With its own castle perched on the ridge above the town, the walls that protected the town remain its boundaries today as it still commands a strategic bend in steep valley cut by the River Var.

Monaco was reached by boat, leaving the port of Nice and sailing along the coast as ships have done for thousands of years. I’ve long believed that port cities are best understood and appreciated – at least in the macro sense – if first approached from the water, and this was no exception. The journey to Entrevaux was taken by train, running along a narrow-gauge line more than a century old that parallels the Var first north then west from Nice. Here too the historical route was followed, between the increasingly steep ridges that rise above the river, arriving to much the same view as that of travelers in centuries past, passing across the same bridge and through the same gate to enter the town proper. In addition to modern trains like the one I took, a steam train runs along the route in the summer; I was lucky to catch a shot of it as it came through Entrevaux station, adding to the illusion of a place where time has slowed considerably.

Marking the history of the region with what are perhaps two extreme examples seemed an interesting way to present a distinct set of photos, so that’s what I’ve done here. I hope you enjoy them.

Leicas in the South of France, Part 1

A few months ago I spent the better part of two weeks in the south of France, specifically in and around Nice. A long-planned trip, it so happened that my arrival was less than a week after the Bastille Day attack along the Promenade des Anglais. Needless to say, the atmosphere was rather less relaxed and care-free than it might have been under more usual circumstances. Nonetheless, this was a vacation, and a vacation is what I had, which quite predictably included taking many photos. I had two Leicas – a IIIc and a IIIg – with three lenses – a Canon 28/2.8 mounted on the IIIc, a Summitar 50/2 that lived on the IIIg, and a Canon 100/3.5 for occasional use – and a pile of HP5+ and Portra 400.

Rather than belabor the process, I’m simply going to post the first group of photos in one large set. When I’ve gone through the remaining shots I will include them in a second post, both of which in turn will eventually be combined for archiving in the gallery. Hope you enjoy them.