Synthesis: technology as an enabler for art

_8A12416 copy1957, from the Havana series. VR on the 70-200/4VR required for slow shutter to motion blur car handheld; D800E to maintain extended tonal range and relatively small aperture for DOF

Much like genius and madness, the line between chasing the horizon for the sake of enabling art and chasing the horizon out of pure gearlust is a thin and often tenuous one. We don’t want to photograph with cameras that frustrate, impede or not inspire us. We certainly won’t feel like just that ‘one last shot’ or that ‘what if?’ experiment. But it is also true that composition is completely independent of hardware, too. Where do we draw the line? I am frequently accused of many things, including being a gearhead because of my frequent hardware changes. This is not an attempt to defend or explain my choices; that does not have to be justified to anybody but me (and my accountant, who is also me). I am also not going to attempt to define art. Instead, it’s a series of thoughts that fell out of an interesting discussion with a reader after he encountered this previous article. As most of these things do, it started off as a hardware – i.e. ‘what should I buy’ – discussion. I was about to direct him to the recommended equipment list and end it there, except for one last sentence (reproduced with permission, of course): “I know what kind of images I want to make, but often the camera gets in the way.”

_5013173 copy
From Shinjuku nights. Handheld whilst clinging to the side of a lamp post for elevated perspective; very long shutter and no possibility to use a tripod. IBIS on the E-M5 to the rescue for the shutter speed, a smaller sensor for greater DOF.

Perhaps there was a bit more to this question than the usual seeking of reassurance or validation, then. From both personal experience and seeing other students work during workshops etc., I know just how much of an impediment the wrong hardware can be – both inadequacy and overkill. But at the same time, I’ve also seen plenty of people – probably most photographers – have far more capability than they need or know how to use.

Often though, the solutions are not obvious, and even the experienced get caught out. I went into Hanoi making the mistake of believing that more resolution in the form of the 5DSR would give me an advantage for larger cinematic prints; however I forgot the fact that most of the frame isn’t in perfect focus anyway, and the subjects that are in focus are typically human – more resolution here is nothing but a frustration because interesting things happen in typically lower light (requiring higher shutter speeds, ISOs etc.) and making execution generally difficult if you are chasing acuity on a higher resolution sensor. This is a prime example of the wrong tool for the job, and being a hindrance rather than an enabler. Similarly, if I was to make painterly abstracts, additional resolution would be of no benefit. But color accuracy, tonal smoothness, extended DOF would be – I would therefore be looking at something with large pixels first. Since such abstracts tend to be very much temporary consequences of light, shadow and coincident objects, you want to be able to work fast; in fact, a stabilised super zoom works very well since you have to be stopped down anyway – and you want a large range of perspectives quickly on hand.

_8B16842-50 copyFrom The Arches of Prague. Very, very few lenses maintain that kind of contrast and shadow separation when faced with such intense backlight, and very few cameras can hold that dynamic range (almost nothing is actually clipped in this image, making for a very natural tonal transition in the print) – cue the Otus 85 and D810.

What is obvious is that specific artistic objectives often benefit greatly from specific hardware. You can of course shoot landscapes and sport with a 18-300 and entry level DSLR, but assuming your skill level – both compositional/visualization and technical – is up to it, you’ll probably do better with perspective correction for the former and a fast super tele for the latter. Here’s where the technology comes in. There is no question that we have seen great capability advances in the last ten years; frankly, there aren’t many photographers who actually realise just how far the possibilities have moved. We (and probably a higher proportion of photographers than now) were making memorable images that ‘worked’ with far inferior hardware. When ISO 800 was borderline, lenses weren’t that great at f1.4 and ISO 1600 looked like a bowl of jellybeans. We – as a collective whole – did it because there was no choice. The shot discipline, exposure discipline and curation discipline that existed back then appears to have gone – instead of making the most of a clean ISO 3200 and higher-performing lenses to capture interesting scenes in even lower light that could not have been done before, most people are just carrying all-in-one zooms instead.

_64Z5686 copyFrom the Venetian Nights. A wet evening requiring a certain shutter speed (and ISO) for the right amount of motion, whilst still maintaining extended dynamic range to provide controlled painterly tonality – the 645Z is king.

The bottom line is we have become sloppily lazy. For the most part, the same kinds of images are being made with perhaps slightly better technical quality, but no real advancement in any other way. Perhaps this is due to a lack of focus/vision or simply a lack of understanding, or maybe it’s just the nature of instant gratification consumer society today; who knows. I see far too many people getting excited over things they either do not understand or have no intention of deploying. Do yourself a favour: unless you know exactly how something is going to up your game, don’t buy it. Save your money for travel or education or to take your very tolerant spouse out for a nice evening. A tilt shift might be sexy but isn’t useful unless you actually know why you want all of your buildings to be perspective corrected. 4K video is only good if you can both edit and view it. ISO 51k is only good if you actually have situations to deploy it in. And there’s not much point buying f1.4 glass that you either can’t use at f1.4 because it has lots of lateral CA, or you can’t focus.

Ming_Thein__8B03630 copy

By starlight. There’s quite a bit of separation between the tree and the mountains, but no secondary LoCA in the stars – it’s Otus 85 time again. Anything else would neither render as crisply in the corners under these lighting conditions and f1.4, nor would it be able to split the image into planes.

That all sounds very negative; it’s time to turn that around.

On the other hand, DO figure out what your creative objectives are as a photographer. What kinds of images do you admire? What subjects? What style? What underlying concept links them together? Can you execute them with a) your current compositional knowledge; b) your current physical location; c) your current technical skill; d) your current hardware? If the answer to all of those is yes, then you’re in a very enviable position: turn off your computer now and go take some photographs. If not, only once a)-c) have been eliminated as the limitation do you even think about d). There are a number of projects which have been idea-driven and had hardware acquired to match; and others that have been thought of once seeing what the hardware can do. (Forest is a good example for the latter, for instance – it needed fast and high transparency, high-resolution capture and output and does not have the same impact without it – just look at the web JPEG and no doubt be unimpressed.) Both, I think, are good for pushing the limits of creativity because they force us to challenge our base assumptions of what is possible.

A0001504 copyAlternate reality/ what came before. Only the Hasselblad CFV-39 on a V body will let you take two slightly offset and unpredictable (but perfectly blended) exposures by firing the back again before it’s fully written the file.

The interesting thing is that we now have so much capability at our disposal that it actually becomes simultaneously necessary to focus and difficult to do so. Whilst technology has first brought us great general purpose tools – like the D3 generation – it has also raised the specialisation game to the point that it can be impossible to compete without. I recognise this is largely a problem of those who are in photography for a living. If you are the only one bidding 1080p and your competition is offering 4K at the same price – regardless of whether the client needs it or not – you will lose the bid. If you cannot shoot 100% silent on set or in a courtroom and your clients can, then you will lose the job. But at the same time, it is necessary to do many things to maintain a decent income; you’d better have a lot of storage space. Necessity has nothing to do with it anymore: this is business.

_8045965bw copy Inside a tunnel boring machine from the KVMRT project. The client was making large prints, which meant as much image quality as possible. You cannot set up lights inside a TBM because everything is moving; there’s barely enough space to hunch over inside. It’s dim, humid, wet, muddy, and everything unpleasant for photography. ISO 6400 barely gets you a workable shutter speed, which has to be high enough so that you don’t succumb to shake nor do the workers blur out. I was later asked by the client how I got a large format camera in there – I didn’t; I used a D800E.

I suspect this is actually going to make things tougher for a while as we get to grips with ‘the new normal’. There will be people who make a name for themselves in every niche because they’ve finally found the technological enabler that lets their imagination run – and more importantly, allow them to share that vision. That’s a great thing, and marks a great contribution to the world. There will be people who are in the middle of the pack and adopt once something becomes mainstream and ‘less hassle’ – and there will be others who are simply left behind. Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t.

_5R00620 copyThe Garden of Cosmic Speculation. The color palette of a Scottish garden in a Scottish spring is a tricky one to reproduce. Light is hard, greens are subtle but varied and never really electric – there’s a warmth to the palette which I’ve only managed to print right with the 5DSR.

All of the images used to illustrate this post were chosen deliberately because they represent ideas that could not have been executed with anything other than the latest specific technology at the time – and hopefully the captions explain why. As usual, my objective is always print output, not web viewing; there’s a big difference between making a convincing 800px JPEG, a convincing 8×12″ print and a convincing 24×36″ one. And there’s an even bigger difference in impact and communication of an idea between those three media, too. It’s a brave new world. What are you going to create with it? MT

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here

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Comments

  1. This is the article anyone should read when thinking about gear, and very inspiring for the rest of us to explore what is actually within our reach. I think a lot of it comes down to focus. It’s just so damn hard when pushing the personal envelope is always easiest in areas you haven’t touched before. Result: all-round mediocrity and a constant desire to buy new stuff (“I wonder what I could do with a supertele”).

    That said, I think for the lazy and sloppy amateur (me) it is sometimes useful to have more capable equipment than necessary just to make things easier (and not just possible). Size and price compromises are another matter, but minimising the number of purchases over time (rather than the cost of each) is usually the way to go.

    • Thanks – I admit I still indulge in idle speculation at times (nearly walked out of my dealer with the Nikon 200-500 the other day), but more out of boredom than not knowing what I’d do with it (I don’t have anything at all >300mm currently, and sometimes do see much longer compositions).

      That said, I don’t necessarily think more capable equipment is easier: sometimes that capability requires discipline and/or experience to extract. A good example are the Otuses: very capable lenses, not easy to use.

  2. Dear Ming, with posts like these I know you’ve occasionally inspired invective, which to my mind has always been wholly unjustified. So I’m rather horrified to find myself leaping to man the flame canons of internet outrage, but…

    The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is in SCOTLAND!!!

    • Well John…I have to apologise for the massive gaffe (and corrected now), but I deserve the flames in this case. My bad!

      Though I do have to ask: I hear the term ‘English garden’ used frequently, but never ‘Scottish garden’ – I was thinking ‘in the style of’ rather than physical location…

      • Ming, I don’t think there is anything to apologise for. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation just happens to be located in Scotland, but as far as its layout is concerned it is about as far as one can get from an “English” or even “Scottish” garden. Even if it were located in England it still wouldn’t be what one would associate with being an “English Garden”, the general characteristics of which is what I understood you to mean.

  3. Lots to chew on in this post, Ming. After having mulled it over for a day or two, a couple of thoughts come to mind. First, I suspect that the distribution of creative types interested in pushing technology to its limits in the name of art probably looks like a bell curve (more or less). And, I suspect that only a few percent (the head of the curve) are really able to extract the last ounce out of any piece of artistic gear that is put in front of them with any consistency. It is not that the rest of us cannot do the same from time to time, but some people have that combination of skills and talent (gifted and/or developed) that just places them out there. And while I would not claim to be one of those people at the head of the curve, I do appreciate what they are doing and how they are inspiring others to push their envelopes.

    Regarding the rest of us who are not residing in the front of the curve, or needing the latest and greatest to keep current with the latest customer demands, I suspect that there is a bit of the Walter Mitty in us, more or less, and that this is what the camera companies traditionally relied on for the bulk of their sales. Unfortunately, technology changes quite quickly these days, and camera companies are no different than computer and phone manufacturers in trying to get people to upgrade.

    Then, of course, there are a large number of folks who assume that a more expensive camera takes better pictures, and a contingent of these people often have more money than common sense. I ran into somebody last year who along with their spouse bought a pair of D3’s for travel a few years ago. We discussed photography a bit and they did not strike me as especially proficient technically or artistically, but they had money, and that was the best gear at the time when they decided to purchase cameras. I am not judging their purchase, but merely using it as an example of how people sometimes view technology. As a friend who sold audio equipment in the 1970’s used to say, “Some is good, more is better, and too much is just enough.” 😉

    People often assume that better technology is going to make better photographs, but for a variety of reasons forget that it is the same person behind the lens making all of the artistic choices. And I suspect that others buy for the experience. Some find driving a Porsche in city traffic more enjoyable than a Toyota or Honda, even though they will never get out on the open road and push the car to its limits.

    As there is no accounting for the wealth or taste of others, I just try to learn what my gear can do for me and try use it such that it gets out of the way of my making an image. Sometimes I am surprised what a camera can do when pushed, and other days I am reminded about the limitations of gear, but mostly I try to make myself better and more consistent in my photography. The gear is just tools of the trade, and I need to work within my budget (and my common sense). And when I see folks with matching D3’s and feel a bit of envy coming on, I just look at some of my favorite prints and remind myself that my eye is the most important tool that I have. Yes, good tools help make that vision presentable, and sometimes possible as you have discussed in your post, but until I am at the front of the curve, or have more money than I could imagine, mastery of my current gear is order of the day.

    –Ken

  4. Martin Fritter says:

    All these pictures are wonderful. Your ability to marshal demanding photo technology to meet your intentions is quite remarkable. A kind of hyper-realism. Must be striking in large prints. You actually do get a large-format film look out of FF digital.

    Your advice is also quite sane (and dogma free), although it highlights the imposing dilemmas of choice that technology poses. Even with the resources and time to acquire all the pieces necessary to optimize the various possibilities afforded thereby, mastering them would be difficult and confusing.

    (I find I can visualize – in the Ansel Adams sense – better with film than with digital. I suppose in part because a digital camera is many cameras in one. Explains the urge to chimp? In Winders’ film, it seems that even Silgado chimps!)

    It also seems to me that in practice, you have simplified this problem by building your practice around lenses, which I suspect provides a point of stability, and sanity, I hope, and I mean specifically the Otuii.

    An historical note. I’ve cited Paul Stand a number of times in my comments. I was reading a discussion of his technique by Richard Benson. From 1920 to 1960, Strand used a 8 x 10 view camera and a 5 X 7 Graflex and on both a 12-inch Goerz Dagor. In effect, all of Strand’s masterpieces from this period were shot with a short tele! FWIW, Benson thinks Strand’s darkroom and printing techniques, while masterful, were also primitive! I’m not sure what to make of this, but it kind of blew my mind.

    (Benson’s a very interesting guy. I think he’s still teaching at Yale.)

    • Thanks Martin. Yes, the final intent is always print: there’s no other way to see all of the information simultaneously; web viewing just doesn’t do it.

      I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally different about the way we work with digital, other than the weight of expectation from the implied cost per shot of film – we still have to choose the right hardware for the creative intent. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with chimping if you have the time: why make a compromised image if you know if you have the chance to make a better one? 🙂

      Strand is a very good example of creative intent matching technique perfectly…

  5. I’ve come to realise a person can easily drive themselves both insane and bankrupt chasing optical perfection. Find you style, find what you’re comfortable shooting with and stick to it. Perfect that instead.

    • Agreed – but sometimes, style changes 😛

      • I reckon there’s not a lot you can’t do with your present stock of gear. D810 and Otii (the price of the 28/1.4 just announced, US$5,000!!), PC shift lenses and wotnot. No need to spend any more money. If you want to find a new style make yourself a box brownie out of a biscuit tin.

        Ming, your next blog entry needs to be about saving money, pension provision, safe investments, the likelihood (very, very likely and soon) of a major global financial collapse (seen the Baltic Dry Index lately?) and how to survive it . . . and not a word about photography or gear unless it’s about how to sell it.

        • Mike, Ming (knowing your financial bakground), I’d really value some pension build-up advice. Assume zero at 63, some more working years, two small kids, uhh…

          • Michiel, I’ve no idea to be honest. My idea of provision for later life is smoking a pack a day in the present whilst looking a actuarial studies for life expectancy of overweight, diabetic smokers. It looks like a solid plan so far.

            So really, Ming’s your man on this one.

            • Michiel953 says:

              Ha ha; lol! Yeah, that’s what I thought, and I’m even reasonably fit. Having no real pension back up after a life of living it up, slightly worries me with my twoandahalf year old twin girls though.

          • I honestly think I’m going to be working til I die. The current state of the economy, income gap and increasing cost of living means that unless I get very lucky or am willing to do things I intensely dislike or find ethically questionable, retirement is a pipe dream.

            • I don’t think photogs retire, it’s just too much fun. I know an old boy, fantastic chap, covered Vietnam with Philip Jones Griffiths (he got shot . . . twice!). Anyway, he’s still working and loving it. It is difficult to think of photography as “work”. I mean it’s hard work, but does it feel like work? It’s not miserable. Work by definition should be repetitive and miserable. At least that’s my experience of work.

              • There are definitely degrees of enjoyability; but to some the adrenaline rush of combat photography might be undesirable, but working in a studio would be like prison for others. It’s a good thing we’re not all the same 🙂

    • Fully agreed Mike!

  6. Richard P. says:

    Fantastic images and interesting article Ming!
    Just one question … I’m not sure I understood “But it is also true that composition is completely independent of hardware, too.” – I think what you have in hand (body / lens) must certainly influence composition. For example wanting to capture a scene, but being limited because lens is not wide enough. Or did I misunderstand your point?

    Cheers,
    Richard P.

  7. Michiel953 says:

    So many interesting points (and images) in this article! Enough material for four articles at least.

    Anyway.

    I’m not a pro photographer; I just do it because it grabs me (by the throat sometimes). I’m a gearhead as much (well, maybe not as much) as the next guy, but why would I use a tool that I don’t have some sort of (affectionate? Oh dear…) relationship with? I’ve tried, and not bought, or tried and bought and sold later, cameras like the Leica M5, the Contax S2, the Nikon F3, the Nikon F; digitals like Sony’s, Canons (I just stepped into Nikon a long time ago; why change?), and I stick with what I now have and have learned to use and trust, and what will give me pleasure using it.

    I have neither the time nor the money to have a specific tool for every imagineable photographic challenge I want to run into. So I’ve made a few choices. Colour/do-it-all: D810 with 1.4 24, 35, 58 and 85 primes. B&W: film, 400Tx, a small collection of Nikon slr’s and Ai and AiS primes. In both cases (colour and b&w) it’s always a (pre-meditated, pre-visualized) specific look I’m going for.

    So what am I going to do with that (mintish) Kiev 4A with Jupiter 50, that works well with the back off, but eats perforations with the back on?

    • That’s a sensible set, though I find the D810 is the first digital camera that has enough highlight dynamic range and the right nonlinear response to let us come very close to film…

      The Kiev: use it as an ornament or paperweight, like my busted D2H 😛

      • Michiel953 says:

        Thank you Mein!

        I’ve always loved the “smooth sharpness” (would you consider that the “filmlike” quality?) of the D8xx series, and the 810 is the first iteration that gives me reliable autofocus; not entirely unimportant.

        I’m frustrated by the Kiev. It cost just over 100 Euros shipped from Kiev, looks good though obviously “restored” (traces of glue around the leatherette), but I’m hesitant spending probably over another 100 to get it functioning properly. My uneducated guess is that the back and the body don’t mate (coming from different cameras? Cannibalizing parts?) properly, and that seems hard to correct.

        • Agreed on the D810; hard to say on the Kiev. I certainly don’t think there are any new ones…

        • Michiel,

          I was interested in reading about your experience with the Kiev. Unfortunately, buying from Kiev wasn’t a good idea. I purchased one of the first Kiev’s to be imported into the UK in the early to mid 1970’s. Those on sale in the UK then were better as Technical and Optical Equipment (London) Ltd., the company set up to import and distribute Russian cameras in the UK, had its own repair centre to service the cameras. Apparently, the Company checked out and adjusted each new camera before being released to dealers for sale and so had better quality control. Although the film winding could be a little rough compared to the real thing, Contax; my IIa and IIIa have silky smooth gear winding. I still have the Kiev and it is still working, albeit it hasn’t been touched in decades.

          • Michiel953 says:

            Hi Terry! Many thanks for your reply! As you’ve guessed, the simple albeit coarse art of b&w photography keeps me lured away from my more than excellent digital stuff. I just today replaced the battery in my F2AS (a ’79’er), that came with it when I bought it a few years ago. So it just functions, as do my other Nikon bodies. The only problem I ever had was sticky aperture blades in my 30? years old 2.0/35. I dumped it and got a new one. Maybe my brand loyalty is repaying me.

            The Kiev? Seems like a botched restoration job. The back has to be forced on the body, so something must be badly out of whack there, although it’s nothing I can see with my bare eyes. I would still like it to work, so maybe I should take it to a repair guy and spend.. well. Maybe not.

            • Soviet maintenance at all levels involves a sledgehammer. More ‘restoration’ = more hammering 😛

              • Ming, as you may know genuine Contax r/f shutters are notoriously expensive to repair if they go wrong and I’ve read of accounts of people who sent them to Russia for repair/service to save on repair costs. What they got back was a botched implant of a Kiev shutter!

                Apologies for “hijacking” your post, but as you know old fogies such as I like to talk nostalgically about the “good old times” and which means film! If you will permit a link, this site will interest Michiel (if you’ve not already seen it, Michiel).

                https://www.cameraquest.com/usingthe.htm

                • Oh dear! Horror story indeed…

                  One of the reasons I only have a Hassy and F2 from that era – those are still relatively easy to fix. The Minoxes, on the other hand…

                  • That F2 will never let you down and you know it. Should it need some sort of repair, there’s always that excellent guy in London.

                • Great stuff Terry! Sticking to good old reliable Nikon slr’s is soooo boring… And I agree with Ming n the sledgehammer approach. The first thing I thought on arrival of the Kiev, seeing the (albeit small) glue marks was: this thing had been taken apart, put back together and tarted up. Hopefully they knew what they were doing.

    • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

      Poor you and your Kiev too. Perforation is torn in most cases by sharp and unpolished sprocket teeth. Check the pressure plate too. Zorkis and Kievs are somewhat shoddy copies of Leicas and Contaxes. So brush your sprocket teeth and smile.:-). Now, the japanese Contax copy called Nikon S is another story but as you say dangerous for your wallet.

      • Michiel953 says:

        Hi Stani! Many thanks for your considered reply. As I’ve mentioned above in my reply to Terry, I think it’s a badly (to the camera body) aligned back. I think I’ll have it checked at least and get a quote for a repair, and take it from there. The Nikon S (particularly the limited editions) brings tears to my eyes. Maybe I should sell off my entire Nikon slr and lens collection to finance that acquisition…

  8. Sven Illert says:

    The nun at dawn – a great photo! Love it!

  9. Great article and love your photos. I shoot a lot of buildings and use PS to correct the converging verticals. If a perspective controlled lens were used so that correction to the verticals wasn’t required in post, would this yield a better quality photo? My output is always to the web. Thank you.

    • Yes it would, though you may not see the difference after downsampling. What will be visible is the difference in proportion though: extreme PS correction tends to lead to squat looking buildings, which shift lenses do not.

  10. Martin Paling says:

    Very thoughtful article. Your comments about the practical issues of using hi-res sensors in low light have already led to a partial kit re-think for a forthcoming trip to Ethiopia and I shall now be taking an A7 along as back-up to the A7R II (rather than the originally intended Nex7, with its higher pixel density). I shall still be carrying the E16-70/4 (a quite decent lens) and E55-210 zooms, though, because there is plenty of sensor crop room for their use on the A7R II. Indeed, that dual use possibility for the latter adds to its already considerable flexibility.

    • I think that makes sense given the difference in crop factors and ergonomics, too. I find that if I shoot two bodies they have to be absolutely identical or completely different in operation; anything else can get confusing in a fast situation. Oddly, I didn’t have problems with the D810/5DSR side by side; I do have problems sometimes with the D800E and D810…

  11. Great essay which explains a lot, so thank you. I have a simple Olympus set-up with which I am perfectly happy. In fact I am fortunate to be an amateur because I can accept and even enjoy all the trade-offs. No joy, no point. But for a professional, it’s much tougher … I now see what you mean. I love both your classic “red umbrella” image of Venice at night and the image of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation in spring with those lemony-green tones.

  12. Another very timely article as xmas approaches, and the itchy temptation to “treat” oneself to something new increases. And of course for many of us who are merely amateur photographers we probably have most, if not all, of what we need already…in terms of hardware anyway. I know that I do, and until I have mastered better techniques and solidified my vision, I would certainly be better off treating my significant other to a good meal out, as you suggest. 😉 I know that she will value that advice very much!
    All of these are really excellent examples of where a professional needs the serious hardware to create his/her vision, and justify the serious investment needed to stretch the envelope.
    My wife, and my wallet, thank you. 🙂

  13. “The arches of Prague” already struck me as awesome when I saw it for the first time. For me, it is a real masterpiece where photographer, lens and camera optimally come together in creating a piece of art.

  14. Wow, that “Arches of Prague” shot! Could almost have sworn it was something like medium format film from the way it holds the highlights in the top left. What a superb photo. Hats off.

  15. I believe that is a 56 Chevy. A mere shadow of the 57.

    • I’m aware of that, but I can’t change the title of the image since I’ve already used it elsewhere…and he could always have bought it the year before 🙂

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