A Bad Day With A Camera

3rd Annual Car Show & BBQ

Two local businesses, Zegil Automotive and Pure Country Meats, hosted a car show for the third year in a row here in Strathmore, Alberta, Canada. It was a heck of a car show, and there wasn’t even an admission charge. The show was hosted at the Ag Grounds and the organizers packed it with cars, food vendors, and even some fun stuff for the kids.

I got there about 10:30 am and sent my drone up before entering as I wanted some aerial shots of the event. There was already a good crowd there and I figured it would only get worse, so the earlier I got the drone shots, the better. I need to keep it 30m away from people horizontally while flying and the more people there are the harder this is. I was surprised by how large the event turned out to be while I was taking drone pics.

There was even a huuuuuge bouncy slide for the youngsters, and man were there a lot of them. Most of them were happy to be there and didn’t have the look of having been dragged along by parents against their will.

There was a good selection of food vendors for a small town event like this, but I gave almost all of them a pass. Of the most interest to me were the foot long hotdog and the spiral french fry on a stick. The french fry was basically an entire spiraled, deep fried potato served a la Vlad the Impaler and I wanted one. I also have diverticular disease and I know better by now. I went without my super dog and violently impaled spiral spud. I got myself an expensive, but delicious fresh-squeezed, large lemonade instead that set me back $8. (Ouch.)

Like I said, the event was free to attend so the lemonade turned out to be not such a bad deal. While the event was free to attendees, vehicle owners had to register to be eligible for prizes. There were over 200 of them. The event itself was a fundraiser for School Fuel run by Hope Church in town. This is a program that provides breakfast for Strathmore kids at school and they served over 56,000 meals in the previous school year. That’s a great cause to support.

As to the cars themselves, I have kind of a weird relationship with them. I developed an interest in cars around age nine, probably when my mom went blind and we no longer had one, and I think it peaked around age fifteen. When I was fifteen all I could think of was how I was a year away from somehow getting a car and that I would then be able to drive everywhere and not have to walk or ride a bike ever again.

I’m now fifty-five years old, and while I like to look at other peoples’ hot rods, my main interest in a vehicle is using it to get to a place where I’d like to go for a walk or maybe ride my eScooter. Driving itself has become boring to me. Cars have gone from something I identified with to something I just use as needed. Fifteen year old me would have been dying looking at all the cars I would never own. Fifty-five year old me likes to browse and take photos, but that’s it. I did buy some classic cars to fix up as an adult in the past and never did anything with them other than sell them for more money than I paid.

Another weird thing about me at car shows is that I almost never photograph an entire vehicle. This is something that frustrates the vehicle owners who like to see pictures of their entire car or truck. It’s the small details and vignettes in each scene that interest me the most, so that’s what I photograph. When I meet a vehicle’s owner at the next show and he has seen my pictures, “why didn’t you photograph the whole car?” “Didn’t work for me.”

And it doesn’t. Car shows are horribly crowded and you can’t background a shot attractively, so I don’t bother. I’m not that much into documentary style photography unless I have a story to tell like today, and I only need a couple of shots for that:

The little fellow above wandered off without permission and his older sister found him and brought him back. She was giving him an earful as they passed me. I’m half deaf, yet I still heard him getting The Lecture. If big sister is ever a mom, she’ll be a good one because she sounded more like she was sixteen than six.

Anyhow, back to the cars. And trucks. There were even motorcycles, but I didn’t photograph any of those as they didn’t have any of the style I like, those being light cruisers. The cars and trucks ranged from century old model Ts, a fantastic selection from the sixties and seventies, and some late model vehicles that were not to my taste. No personality and, even worse, no chrome. Bleh.

The closest thing to a late-model vehicle at the show that tickled my pickle was a 1984 Pontiac Fiero. This particular Fiero was the official pace car in the 68th Indy 500, and it was a Needful Thing back when I was a seventeen-year-old. I seriously lusted after it and it is not a vehicle I had ever expected to see in person, at least not at a small town car show. It made my day.

A final quirk I have about vehicles is that I generally won’t buy one if I don’t like the look of the gauges and the dashboard. I have only ever made two exceptions to this rule: a 1989 Plymouth Sundance and a 1989 Chevy Astro van. Both were beyond fugly, but the vehicles were what I could afford at the time. Of course my gauge fetish meant I photographed the attractive dashboards I could find at the show. Other than that, it was just me finding details I liked on each vehicle…

My feet were starting to get tired by the third hour on site and the sheer number of people who showed up meant it was becoming too hard to get shots without them constantly being photo bombed, so I packed it in. The camera bag was also starting to chafe in the heat.

The one thing I wish I had gotten to do more of was use my reversed Helio lens, which lends the images a slightly dreamy look and does wonderful things to specular highlights. The Helios was mounted on my Canon EOS R5.

With the exception of a few images such as the drone image and a handful of cellphone snaps, the vast majority of photos from this shoot came from Ray’s Canon EOS 7D that he left me. Hopefully he approves of them if he is looking, I know how picky he was with his own images when we shot autos together.

It was a fantastic car show and everyone had a lot of fun, including me. I can’t wait to see what they do next year.

The main camera in today’s shoot was Ray’s Canon EOS 7D with a 70-300 EF IS USM f4-5.6 lens. Also used were my Canon EOS R5 with my reversed Helios 44-2 58mm f2 lens, a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and my DJI Mini 3 photography drone.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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