Old Car City 2014

Modern Art

Layers of paint on a car at Old Car City chipping away over time create a beautiful abstract pattern

As I mentioned last time, Old Car City is an easy spot for me to get to with some incredible photography opportunities. It’s an especially good location to do macro work. So, I’ve included some shots from earlier this year that I really enjoyed taking. I hope you enjoy viewing them.


The badge from a mid-century Cadillac


A V8 badge survives alongside the fading, mildew-covered paint of an antique car


An emblem of an antique vehicle in Old Car City, White, Georgia

Ford Emblem and Rust

A Ford emblem rusting away on an antique vehicle in Old Car City, White, Georgia

Fairlane 500

The badge, rust, and peeling paint of a Fairlane 500

Facing Forward

A hood emblem in Old Car City, Whte, Georgia

A Study in Green and Blue

Patterns in the body work of an antique car in Old Car City, White, Georgia

A Study in Blue, Yellow, and Rust

The peeling paint and rust of an antique vehicle at Old Car City

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure…

One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure...

One of many beautiful scenes at Old Car City in White, Georgia

I’ve written about Old Car City a few times before. It’s an incredible location about an hour from my home where thousands of old American cars and trucks have been junked. Imagine 35 acres packed tightly with abandoned cars, covered with pine straw and leaves, and sometimes penetrated by tree trunks. It may not sound like it at first, but it really is a photographer’s paradise.

I normally shoot landscapes, but when I go to Old Car City, I focus on details. I shoot some wide shots, but most of my time is spent peering at body panels of old cars and looking at their interiors in order to find some unique angle or shot I haven’t seen before.

So, I’ll post some shots from there in a couple or three installments. Today I’ll share some of the non-macro stuff I took during a trip in March of this year. I’ll move on to the macro stuff in a few days.

The featured shot is an old vehicle absolutely covered in pine straw. The windows have been removed or broken so the inside is just as dirty and covered as the outside. I did make one cosmetic change to the car. The from driver’s panel trim had fallen away from the body. I crimped and bent the trim just enough to get it to hang on the car in its original position for just long enough to take these shots. I took a series of five images separated by one stop so that I could generate a natural looking HDR and retain all the shadow and highlight detail that was in the scene. Even though someone junked this car, I found it to be a treasure to shoot – hence the title. Enjoy.

Spring in Old Car City

Spring greets a rusting row of vehicles at Old Car City in White, Georgia

Drink Coca-Cola

A rusting panel displaying the classic slogan of the Coca-Cola company

Racin’ at Dixie Speedway

Dirt Track Racing 1

Two cars slide through a turn at Dixie Speedway

I mentioned last time that we went to see our friend Steve race at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA this past summer. I went both for the experience and for the unique photo opportunity. I had a great time and I came away with some unique images. So, for me the night was a success.

These images are from a series of races that were held that evening. I also included a shot I took across the infield of the dusk sky capturing spectators viewing from the infield and the grandstands. I think I enjoyed the races most of all as a reflection of my childhood. Summer evenings in the South at a dirt track were a part of my family’s heritage. I didn’t know anybody other than our friend Steve at Dixie Speedway yet I felt right at home. I’m already looking forward to returning next summer.

Dirt Track Racing 2

Two cars slide through a turn at Dixie Speedway

Sunset at Dixie Speedway

Sunset on a summer Saturday night at Dixie Speedway


Dixie Speedway Badges

Dixie Speedway Emblems 2

Details of sponsor badges from race cars at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA

Part of my work responsibility is to oversee our organization’s construction projects. On one of our current projects the job foreman is a really cool guy named Steve who races cars at a local dirt track. As Steve described his racing hobby I realized that I hadn’t been to a dirt track since I was a little kid. My uncles grew up in north Georgia and would occasionally take me to dirt track races on Saturday night. I found myself fondly remembering those days and wanted to visit Dixie Speedway on a night when Steve was racing.

A few weeks later I took my camera and a few lenses and headed to the track. My son, Matt, and our friend, Tom, joined me for the evening. We bought infield passes in order to be able to hang out with Steve and to get a bit closer to the action.

I took these images before Steve got on the track as we wandered around the pits. The colors, dirt, and rub marks on the quarter panels of the cars jumped out at me. I had a blast looking at all of the cars as the drivers and crews prepared them to race. I’ll post some images from the race itself next. Enjoy.

Dixie Speedway Emblems 1

Details of sponsor badges from race cars at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA

Dixie Speedway Emblems 3

Details of sponsor badges from race cars at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA

SCCA at Road Atlanta

SCCA at Road Atlanta

An Audi R8 at Road Atlanta during the SCCA race in March 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve created a blog post. That’s partially because life has been very, very busy and because I had pretty much run through my backlog of images that I wanted to share. There’s still a few in the archive that I’m working on, but now I’m getting out more to shoot. It’s not that there isn’t anything to shot in the winter, but my eye certainly is drawn to the colors of spring, summer, and fall more than the monochrome of winter.

This image came from a recent outing to Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA. The track is a world-class race facility that hosts a variety of races and classes of cars. I’ve shot there before, but I never captured any images that I really loved. I made a ton of images that I love this time out. I may share some more in the future, but I wanted to get this one out there.

I really enjoy looking for different subjects to capture. I truly enjoy capturing landscapes, but variety truly is the spice of life. I find that if I shoot concerts, races, architecture, or other subjects, when I return to landscapes I enjoy them even more. So, enjoy the race photo and let me know what you think. But, soon I’ll be back to posts of my favorites. Enjoy.

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled

This winding farm road was slippery as glass after a spring rain

While we were on the farm roads around Oakesdale, we encountered magical photographic conditions. The light was just right and the landscape was beyond beautiful. Accordingly, we wanted to maximize our time in these conditions so we checked out every available road. So, we turned down every lane in sight hoping to find yet another way to capture this gorgeous landscape.

At one point in our wandering, we encountered this road. As was often the case that morning, we slammed on the brakes as we crested a small hill and saw this landscape. I quickly set up my tripod and snapped off a few images using the road as a leading line while capturing a small slice of the sky and as much of the green, gold, and brown fields as possible.

Once I had finished shooting, we headed on down the road. And that is when our adventure began. As we moved down the road, we could feel the car fishtailing. What we hadn’t realized was that below the apparently dry surface, the dirt road had turned soft from recent rains. We were slipping and sliding going downhill! The thought of going back up the same hill was not appealing. So, we stopped and weighed our options. From our map, we could tell that in another mile or two, the farm road terminated on another paved road. We could also see that the gravel that we had been traveling on was gone and that mile or two would be on wet, dirt roads. If we kept going, we very well might get stuck. Of course, our other option was to go back the way we had come  and we knew that road was uphill, wet, and slippery.

Given two bad options, we chose the apparently lesser of the two. We did an approximately 12 point u-turn  on the exceedingly narrow road and pointed the car back up the hill. We gunned the Dodge Journey hoping that its all-wheel drive would do the trick. I was the co-pilot for this leg of the trip so Tom (or Dale Jr. as he was known that day) gunned it and headed for the hill. About halfway up, the back-end kicked out to the right. Tom compensated and kept the accelerator floored. We weaved our way back and forth but kept making progress up the hill. Finally, we hit a bit of loose gravel near the top, gained traction, and shot on over the top of the hill. We had made it and had pictures to prove it! We moved on, but kept to the gravel and paved roads for the rest of the trip.

Hood Ornaments as Art

Cadillac Hood Ornament

The hood ornament from a vintage Cadillac

Late 1950s Chrysler Imperial Hood Ornamentation

Hood ornamentation from a rusting late 1950s Chrysler Imperial

As I wandered around Old Car City, I was struck by the variety of hood ornaments from vintage cars. Today’s cars seem to have at most a badge on the front grill. Designers of vintage automobiles wanted to make a statement with the front grill and hood ornament of their creations. They really did seem consumed with creating works of art.

I was struck by the simple yet flowing design of the Cadillac hood ornament. It is a rocket-like figure yet it has a human face. The fins of the rocket could be the wings of an angel or a man taking flight. That is somewhat a depiction of the era this car was built in. Handcrafted works or art once built by craftsmen were giving way to the mass-manufactured powerful vehicles of the late twentieth century. Vehicles of this era were still built as functional tools but also strived to be artistic statements. As the utilitarian vehicles of the late 1960s and later appeared, automobiles as works of art became less and less common. Muscle cars may have become predominant, but they were prized for their performance much more than their lines. The few that bridged the gap between performance and art have become classics.

The ornament for the Chrysler Imperial struck me as photogenic for completely different reasons. It is ostentatious and bold – one could say imperial. The juxtaposition of the classic eagle symbol with the peeling paint, pitted chrome, and rusting metal seems appropriate. It truly is a symbol of a bygone era. Hopefully, this image captures some sense of that dichotomy.

More from Old Car City

Row of Vintage Trucks

A row of vintage pickup trucks at Old Car City

All of the images that I’ve posted from Old Car City have been virtually straight out of the camera. I’ve done a simple curves adjustment, straightened when necessary, and cropped occasionally. That’s the neat thing about old rust and paint. When photographed in the right conditions, the colors and textures just pop.

For a few shots though, adding a bit of color and contrast seemed appropriate. So, I’ve included two of those here for your viewing pleasure. Both are composite images built from five image sets. The row of vintage trucks above is very close to the image I saw in person. There is a bit more saturation in this image that causes the trucks to really stand out.

The image below is also a blended exposure. In this case, it was necessary to capture the extreme amount of contrast in the composition. As I played with the image, adding some color and contrast seemed to enhance the scene. It’s a bit over the top and definitely is not what my eyes saw, but I like the image nonetheless. It certainly captures the look and feel of Old Car City.

Old Car City Offices

The original office of Old Car City in White, Georgia

Emblems and Badges

In my last post I told you about my visit to Old Car City in White, Georgia. It really is a fascinating place if you are a fan of vintage automobiles or if you are a photographer looking for new and interesting subjects to capture.

As I wandered around the yard there were tons of cars that I hadn’t seen or thought about for years. I couldn’t resist taking images of several of them. So, instead of my normal post a day about one image, I’m presenting these as a group. For some of you it will be a walk down memory lane. For the younger crowd, you may have never heard of some of these. I think each is beautiful. Many are made even more beautiful by the rusted, peeling surface of a forty to seventy year old car body they are mounted on. Enjoy.


Studebaker Emblem

Studebaker Emblem

The emblem from a Studebaker

Plymouth Belvedere V8 Emblem

The emblem from a Plymouth Belvedere V8

Ford Fairlane Emblem

An emblem from a Ford Fairlane

Ford Emblem Dodge Emblem
Chevrolet Bel Air Emblem

An emblem from a vintage Chevrolet Bel Air