The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Posts tagged “Small town

Country Car Show

A small town I live near had a car show a while back. Since I had so much fun photographing car details at a cruise night last fall, I decided to go check it out. There weren’t many cars, and some of the trucks were quite new. Despite the small numbers, I still found some interesting shots. I was particularly excited to see an old Monte Carlo. My mom had one when I was little, but hers was much newer. Overall, it was well worth going out in the heat for.

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Next Time: Old 8mm Camera

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Playground Oddities

In some of the small towns in my neck of the woods, there exist the strangest old pieces of playground equipment. They were made of metal on springs so children could bounce up and down on them as if riding an animal. These devices feature handles and “stirrups” of sorts to help keep kids in place. Although most of them are shaped like animals, some of them are, well, I’ll just show you:

 

 

Yes, you sit on the nose with the eyes staring back at you. I don’t remember, but I would hope that I didn’t ride this one as a child, it’s kinda creepy. I truly hope that I spent more of my time on the seahorse or the horse at another park.

 

 

 

See, the horse is not so bad. Actually, it’s kinda cute. This park also has what appear to be cows and a more modern looking chick. My response to the chick: They still make those things! Second reaction: For a chick, it’s ugly. Remarkably uninteresting, so I don’t have photos. However, I thought the revealed layers of old paint on the cow were interesting, so here it is: abstract old paint cow eye.

 

 

 

For some reason, I focused on the more abstract and creepy aspect of these items. Maybe I will have to go back with a different mindset and find that old seahorse sometime.

 

Next Week: Kitties

It’s been close to a year since I last photographed the two family cats: Jenny and Precious. About time for an update. Precious let me have a few good pictures last week, so hopefully Jen will allow me to expand on that this week. If not, you’ll just be seeing stripes.

 


Small Town Festival

Last week, I returned to the town of Polo, which I did a post on two weeks ago. This week, the quaint downtown was invaded by a carnival. The reason? Like so many small towns in the area, Polo has an annual festival. Such festivals include rides, food, and often a parade. Polo’s even features fireworks, which is one reason my sister and found ourselves in the town last week, other than visiting family. Photographing fireworks can be difficult, especially considering that the Polo show was no more than half an hour this year due to the financial strain everyone is facing. Getting a clean shot can also be tough because of houses, trees, telephone wires, and crowds. Polo may not be big, but the town generally puts on a good show, so people from surrounding communities often show up for the event.

Photographing fireworks is tricky business. A tripod is mandatory for serious work. My first attempt at firework photography was in highschool, and I used film. Not very many shots and no ability to see what the previous shots looked like. However, I did have one or two OK shots. Since then, I’ve shot digital. The first step is to make sure you have a fresh memory card in your camera and another one easily available. Shoot a lot. You never know what it’s going to end up looking like. Why? To capture any spread of fireworks, you need to press the shutter release before the shells blow. I set my shutter on bulb, my ISO on 200 or so, and adjust the f/stop for exposure (using at least f/16). Timing comes with experience and some guesswork, but a rule of thumb is to expose from launch till the blasts disappear. This is not always practical, especially during the finally when there is non-stop launching and photographic visual chaos. Generally, I focus and frame on the first blast, but I may decide I need to move the entire tripod. Also, you may need to change framing frequently during the show. Since the Polo fireworks presented a range of heights and there were some vehicles and trees I had to shoot over, I had to change framing frequently. Since it was a short show, I only took around 70 shots. Here are some of my favorites:

The fireworks are the kickoff for the weekend festival. Next morning, I headed downtown to get some shots of the carnival warming up  for its first afternoon of operation. The same downtown block I’d photographed just weeks before was now in party mode and ready for the fun to begin. It just needed a few more people. And they’d be there.

Long shot of the downtown. Notice the old bank and other buildings from two weeks ago.

Warming up the graviton stationed in front of the old bank.

Next Week: 50mm Project I’m giving myself a challenge: shoot all the photos for next week’s post using an old, manual focus prime lens. It can only be good for me. The lens is a bit wider than I’m used shooting at, but it wouldn’t hurt me to limit myself to just a tad longer than a normal lens.


Polo: Another Small Town

I spent Memorial Day with my relatives in the small town of Polo. Since it was such a nice day, I decided to go downtown and shoot. I wanted to reaquaint myself with the place I’d often visited as a child and look at it through new eyes. Downtown Polo is, oh say, about a two block area of old stores all connected to each other. Some were kept up over the ages, others were not. My relatives don’t see anything particularly interesting about the town or all that old stuff, but I do. So I left the house, weirdo with a camera, and went exploring.

Sadly, a good chunk of the buildings on one side of the street is hanging in rags. It was difficult to discern if this one spot in particular even had a back wall. I felt somewhat crushed seeing it more dilapidated than I remembered.

At one corner stood the considerably more intact old bank. I only know it was the bank because it is labeled as such. Otherwise, I would assume that the handsome grey building across the street had always been the bank.

I had to admire the detail in the buildings. The way people built things back in the day was so much more ornate. Not at all like many of the plain square structures put up today.

On the other side of the street, I found this amazing doorknob. Seriously, have you ever seen such a beautiful exterior doorknob?

Buildings on the other side of the street seemed to be better kept up as a whole. This one is particularly nicely kept up or restored. I’m not sure which.

Unfortunately, a large and beautiful old school building just outside the downtown is not. I’m told the building was designed by a noted architect. My relatives can remember going to school here and can still point out their classrooms. They convey a great sense of sorrow about the state of this building. I’ve often wondered what could be done with it. The town has more modern and efficient school buildings, so they don’t need it for that purpose. Economically, a business big enough for the building wouldn’t survive in a small town. I’ve wondered if it could be turned into some sort of housing like they do with old factories in the Southeast, but the area around Polo probably wouldn’t support that economically either. It’s just not big enough. It’s amazing what’s hidden away in some corners of the state, and sad that those things aren’t living up to their potential.

Just how big is Polo? My father once speculated it would be impossible to get lost in Polo because it’s so small. In many ways, that’s comforting. I’ve always felt safe in that town. Surprisingly, there are even smaller towns. One of my college friends came from such a town not so far from Polo. I asked how she knew Polo was bigger. She responded that Polo had a restaurant that wasn’t a bar. Strange qualification, but as far as I can find, it’s still true.

 

For me, Polo is a very American sort of small town. It’s a familiar yet different place where I come to be with my relatives. I hope to be seeing more of it this summer.

 

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Next Week: Time or The Woods

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