Photography Lesson, er … Diatribe

Finally, some photography of a 944 by someone who knows what he/she/they is/are doing.  Here is an example of, imho, the best view of the styling of the 944 (although I might have done some details slightly differently)…

Many cars can look a bit better from a high-angle view like this, maybe even a Prius.  Try it on a 911, but you might have to contend with its pudenda and vulva qualities.  The spreads for the Avant-Garde Collection cars probably could benefit from the addition of this approach, as the Avant-Garde look has become so recognizable as to border on cliche.

Speaking of cliche, over the years cars have been so exhaustively photographed that extreme measures have to be taken to avoid that trap.   Like Tom’s approach with his night-lighting work.

But almost everything is cliche in automotive photography.  Thanks considerably to Instagram and the interwebz.   Not to mention Photoshoppery.

My favorite way of doing a straight documentation-type take is from high angle, and I have tried often with the Blue Rascal.  But my way of bypassing cliche over-use is to do a counterplay of other lines and angles in the frame, especially with roadway and street markings and abuse of shadows.   Usually I just give up, as I’m usually in a transitory situation and only have a minute or two to deal.  I once tried a high-angle, third floor take on the ‘Rascal but for the variations that had my body stretched on the ground alongside, I realized I would need a production crew of sorts.  What I really was considering — and try visualizing it with the BaT 944 example I mentioned above — was to place a nude lying in parallel and in tune with the vanishing point.  Maybe Professor Roy might be inspired to do a Photoshop implementation of the concept …

Automotive photography distress is further complicated by compound curves and highly reflective surfaces.  A friend in LA shoots cars for publication, or did — he’s mostly retired now, I think — in tightly controlled circumstances inside darkened warehouse studios with elaborate lighting setups, often surrounding the entire car, including top-down and bottom-up. 

So for something that looks fresh and new in auto photography we have to mostly look for the content itself, and ignore the cliched angles and approaches in favor of fixing our attention on new models and new styling details and the like.  Action photography is something else, of course, and that stands to be infinitely variable.  Maybe, sort of.

Along these lines, for the past few years — especially since the advent of the pandemic, it seems to me — is the obligatory drone shot, straight down of city streets and traffic in almost everything you can stream these days.  And I’m just waiting for comprehensive, close fly-by drone coverage of the cars to show up and become de rigueur in BaT listings …

P.S. I am writing this at around 2 a.m, as I cannot sleep and am somewhat in grieving over the prospect of having to decline Jim’s invitation to join him on an outing to see vintage motorcycles on display in Pasco (prepositional decay alert).  But we can all look forward to his report, hopefully with photographic illustration.

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August update

Updates for August

Clusters back from testing. 12k miles with no failures. Reinstalled with reworked light pipes and 6400k 194 LED lighting from Super Bright LEDs. One can read the gauges at night now. I had the LEDs installed in the black faced gauges and they too were readable. Definitely an improvement worth way more than the $15 cost to implement.

I opened up the driver’s side door to service the latch mechanism. The driver’s door has been difficult since I acquired the car. Pelican Parts has the procedure and the thought of a $300 new handle finally compelled me to take action.  Half a 12 oz can of WD-40 and a little bit of spray ‘gun oil’ and the door handle now works properly.

Pulling the door panel revealed that there were repairs necessary that would require ‘drying time.’ (Mounting holes on the door pocket required JB Weld repair.) I used the delay to evaluate the power mirrors. Power was getting to the switch and while testing they actually started to move.  Removed the switch and thoroughly cleaned and lubricated it.  Power mirrors now function as they should. Hooray! Fixed for free!

Console lid.  Tough on the elbow. A gentleman in Klamath Falls had exactly what we needed.

$100 later and problem solved. $100 sounds expensive except when one figures in the fuel cost to get to the upholstery shop in Boise and the actual cost of the repair, then a bill seems quite reasonable.

Upcoming September projects:

Fuel gauge. Reads 3/4 full when full. There’s a potentiometer on the gauge that I suspect will fix that. We’ve already replaced the sender. With all the cluster swapping around, I have multiple spares to test with AND a tested working sender.

There’s this jumper in the fusebox that just ‘bothers’ me. From fuse 24 to fuse 34. George, the gentleman who’s been doing the speedo work, sent me a fusebox. Perhaps between the actual part and the wiring diagram, I can sort out where the electrons go missing and get the bothersome white wire out.


Until next time.

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1969 Discoveries

Found these today while browsing my ancient photo archives and storage boxes:

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A Past in Paris (1983, Remembering Bill)

In going through my box of letters and whatnot from recently-deceased friend Bill (see this post), today I find some clippings he sent to me from the Thursday June 30, 1983 edition of a newspaper in Paris where he lived then.  He indicated that the exchange rate was something in the neighborhood of 8 francs: 1 USD, so do your due division (not to mention magnification/zooming).  First, he sent a section of used Porsche listings:

Porsche for sale in Paris, 6/30/1983

And Bill also enclosed some listings for other interesting cars:

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Bill, R.I.P. (automotive version)

Bill and His Foto-Truck Death Valley 1976

My dear long-time friend and former partner/collaborator in photography and art has passed.  He deserves mention in this setting as we shared enthusiasm for motorsports and interesting automobiles.  Bill had a side gig designing, fabricating and repairing race car bodies (mostly in fiberglass, given his surfing spinoff of building boards).   And we customarily attended the Long Beach Gran Prix and chased auto shows and events.



Bill with My LandRover, June 1974

Bill did enjoy riding with me in my 911 to scout photo locations and just cruise around LA, but our most epic trips were via my VW camper and our Land Rovers.  Bill famously also took his old Volvo (can’t remember if it was a PV444 or 544) — the same one he drove around LA, keeping a gallon of gas in the trunk for those often-arising emergencies — on an expedition through the Yucatan and into Central America, ultimately requiring assistance from a blacksmith in a small village to patch up a broken U-joint sufficiently to allow his return, safely but noisily, to Long Beach.


Much more, and growing, on Bill at my photography blog.

UPDATE:  Just found a letter from Bill telling how the Sultan of Oman put a BMW 635csi at his disposal while he was building a stained glass dome (stained glass was part of Bill’s skillset) for a new palace.


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TPW146 (1968)

Digging into the archives again this morning; found some more old photographs of The Pumpkin aka my once-owned 1966 Porsche 911.

(steampunk variation)

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Quick update

Been too long since I posted, so here’s a quick update:

We may have finally solved the mystery of the work/no work odometer. For those who understand traditional speedometer/odometer function, the Porsche way is a bit different and I suspect, pretty revolutionary in the early eighties. Rather than driving the instrument with a cable like has been done since Boss Kettering was a kid, Porsche uses a pulse generator and (for the odometer) a rotary encoder. Pretty common now. Not so much in 1985.

Rotary Encoder

Now the typical failure point of a VDO odometer are the plastic gears that actually make the numbers roll and initially, that’s where I found problems. I replaced the failed gear and all was well for 142.3 miles. Then the odometer stopped counting.

Disassembly revealed nothing broken, it just wasn’t working. 

The gears

Shrug. I put it all back together and lo and behold, counting again. For 37 miles. <sigh>

I again removed instrument cluster, disassembled and once again, no obvious problem. Gears are all meshed and turning the encoder makes the numbers move as they’re supposed to. Hmmm.

BUT I noticed that the encoder seemed just a bit stiff. Thought to self, “Self, maybe a little lubrication?” I searched the Internet Tubes and found nothing on the subject, so, let’s oil it and see what happens!

A little light machine oil and 102.7 miles later, it’s still counting. (The search for ‘light machine oil’ is probably worth it’s own post. Cliff’s Notes: The local hardware store had neither Three in One oil nor Triflow nor did the kids working there have any idea what I was looking for. Curiously enough, the grocery store had it on the shelf.)

On another note, we had this done today:

The steering is lighter and it no longer wants to drift to the left. Sadly, it needs front strut bearings. At least suspension pieces for Porsche 944s are not astronomically priced. Four Konis or Bilsteins are about half the cost of the two Ohlin’s shocks I put on my BMW motorcycle. Strut bearings? About $35 per side. And 4 hours labor.  I have the needed tools.

That’s the report for today…

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Parts Bin Engineering

A nice find by jrasite:

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Little and Big Things

When I acquired the PFKATBR, Lawrence told me that one of the projects that he hadn’t gotten to was repairing the windshield washer system.  Since I was looking for cheap, easy things to address, I undertook that project.

We first verified that we had power to the pump and that the pump actually ran. It had power and when 12v is applied, the pump makes running noises. We then pulled the hoses and tried for liquid transfer.  That was a partial success. Liquid came out of the output fitfully. Closer examination showed that the output spigot was fractured at the body of the pump.

A little superglue solved that problen and rendered the pump functional, but cynoacrylate adhesives have terrible mechanical properties, so we backed up the glue with a different glue that has better supporting properties.  Gorilla Glue to the rescue. After a couple days of drying time and we had a pump that will move washer fluids.

While waiting those couple days, we idly searched for the replacement pump.  It’s pretty common and does not command Porsche Parts Prices. The end result is that for twelve bucks, the repaired pump is on the shelf and the new pump is in the car.

Then we spent a couple hours cleaning the crap out of the hoses and squirters. Pulling the lever now results in a wet windshield.

That was the little thing. The bigger thing was the speedometer.

A few weeks ago I rebuilt the speedometer after resetting the trip odometer caused the odometer to cease to function. This is a common problem typically caused by 30 year old plastic gears. The rebuild worked fine right up to the moment I reset the trip odometer when again, the odometers both stopped recording. Curious.

The PFKATBR came with most of another instrument cluster, so rather than deal with the one in the car, I went to work on the spare.

The first problem was to find the missing speedo needle and the handful of missing screws. A new FB friend sent me that needed parts and since I had time waiting for parts to arrive, I decided to white-face the instruments. The end result is below:

Out with the old:

And in with the new:

944 Porsches have notoriously poor instrument lighting. Maybe the gauge color change will help.

Until next time.

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Silverlake, 1969

Stumbled across this old one today.  When I lived on the edge of Silverlake in Los Angeles with TPW146 (aka The Pumpkin), my 1966 911 …

March 1969, Silverlake

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