Northwest United States Road Trip Photo Stories

My wife Marne and I completed a fourteen day road trip that began on August 14 and took us from Chicago through Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. During our drive, I took over 450 photos and these selected images tell our northwest United States road trip photo stories. These are the shots from our trip that I like the most.

The Badlands

The first image is from the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. In the hills you can see the different colored layers of volcanic material laid down by 50 million years of volcanic ash deposited from volcanoes that were many miles away. By chance, the colors of the woman and her clothes mimicked the landscape. She might have lost her hat if it had not been strapped to her head since the wind was blowing hard.

Northwest United States Road Trip Photo Stories
Admiring The Badlands

Mount Rushmore

At another stop, Mount Rushmore, we enjoyed our visit to the iconic sculptures on the mountaintop. There were two people with face masks standing apart from the other tourists who were there. When I look at the image, it evokes emotions of the pandemic. Both the young person and the older gentleman appear tense and disengaged from the experience. To me the image is a reminder of the damage the pandemic has done to the joys of life. The fear, real or imagined, guides the lives of many people. This is not a political statement, but a sad fact of life that we have all lived for well over a year.

fear has taken joy from many activities during the pandemic
Faces Of The Pandemic

Sturgis

During a subsequent day, we drove through Sturgis, South Dakota, and visited the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. Sturgis is the location of the largest annual motorcycle rally in the world. Just five days earlier, the 2021 rally ended, yet I was hoping to capture at least one image of people on motorcycles in Sturgis. The image that I captured shows the biker in the foreground wearing shoes that are nearly new and jeans that are spotless. Perhaps he is a pin stripe suit professional when he is not on the road on his Harley. Both riders sit astride similar Harley Davidson motorcycles and that one thing established the common ground between them. As a bicycle tourist myself, I feel that I have a love of traveling and the open road in common with them.

motorcyclists meet in Sturgis, South Dakots
Common Ground In Sturgis

Sekiu

On the Olympic Peninsula, we stopped at a site that overlooks the town of Sekiu. We could not resist the urge to drive down into the town to look around. It appeared to be mostly a camping and fishing community. Judging by the boats, both commercial and sport fishing are done from the small bay there. From the beach I saw some interesting activity a few docks away from me. I walked to that location and I met two men who were filleting freshly caught fish. The fish were caught from their boat several miles west near the coast of Neah Bay. From the looks of it, they had enough fish for several meals.

filleting freshly caught fish in the dock at Sekiu harbor
Catch Of The Day

Rialto Beach

One of our final stops on the Olympic Peninsula was Rialto Beach. As we walked toward the beach, we passed a man and woman who were donning large backpacks. I commented to them about the size of the loads that they carried. They explained that they planned to hike up the beach to overnight in the wooded shore that appeared to be about a mile away. The image on the beach was captured as they discussed final plans before hiking up the beach.

preparing to hike to an overnight camp on Rialto Beach
Hiking North On Rialto Beach

Remembering The Trip

As you can see, it was a great trip and we covered over 3300 miles, experiencing features of our country west of the Mississippi that are separated by great distances. Along the way there were many opportunities to observe people who were creating their own moments in those places. For me, these images almost stand alone to tell the story of those moments.

Please visit my Portfolio to see an additional selection of my street photographs.

Street Photography Article Is Published

My street photography article is published in the PSA Journal issue for August 2021. The PSA Journal is a monthly publication of the Photographic Society of America. Actually, you can download a sample copy here to see what the Journal is all about

In summary, I cover the origin of street photography and my own journey in street photography. Also, to illustrate my style and approach, I included select photographs from my library. Finally, I included the full, copyrighted article below.

Photographers, You Could Be Seeing Stars

As an avid and struggling street photographer, I have tried many means to improve and to be affirmed as a photographer. Street photography has been a major pursuit for me since 2016. During the past four years I have been a featured artist in an online zine, I have a first place in an exhibition at my gallery, and I had a solo show. I participate in as many print exhibitions as I can at my home gallery. These activities generally do not provide any significant or consistent feedback although I enjoy them.

An improving and affirming activity that I think works better is participation in photo competitions. Among the most comprehensive are competitions that are recognized by the Photographic Society of America and hosted by organizations all over the world. The name of the PSA is misleading because it is a worldwide organization, not confined to the Americas. Recognition earned in these competitions can be used to achieve PSA Star Ratings that I will detail a little later.

The PSA has six divisions that encompass pretty much all subjects and techniques. The divisions are defined in detail on the PSA web site. In a PSA competition, a division may include one or more sections with themes described in the competition rules. Usually four entries are permitted in each section. There are many exhibitions recognized by the PSA each month.

The PSA competitions award “acceptances” to images that satisfy the PSA definitions and aesthetic for a particular division as determined by a panel of judges. The judges also consider section rules for the specific exhibition.  The very top images receive awards that distinguish them as the best of the exhibition. Acceptances are a meaningful way to encourage photographers who don’t score the top competition awards and to provide feedback that they are on the right track.

PSA PJD Accepted Image Titled “Turmoil” – Below the BU Bridge, Head of the Charles Regatta, Boston, 2016

The PSA exhibitions are at the international level and you are instantaneously thrown into the pool with hundreds of professional and amateur photographers. Each section of a PSA competition can have a thousand or more competitors. A catalog of acceptances is published by the competition host that usually includes the images receiving awards. Some exhibitions publish all the accepted images on their Internet sites,  but that is not done consistently. Still, I think that the system of awards and acceptances gives photographers feedback that is otherwise scarce. Based on a review of acceptance catalogs, I determined that acceptance in a PSA exhibition will place you in the 70th to 80th percentile of those competing.

Acceptances and awards from PSA competitions can be used to establish a personal international ranking maintained by the PSA. In the PSA Star Rating system, stars are earned according to the number of acceptances that you have achieved. One star requires 18 accepted images, two stars requires 36, three stars requires 72, four stars requires 144, and five stars requires 288 acceptances. Each unique image can have up to three acceptances in different exhibitions to qualify. That is, you can achieve 288 acceptances from 96 images. There are ratings above the stars that have additional requirements.

As a street photographer, I enter competitions in the Photojournalism Division (PJD). That division suits street photography since the PJD strictly limits the editing that can be done to images primarily to cropping and conversion to monochrome. That happens to be the tacit rule for street photography. Typical PJD competition sections are street, city life, and human interest that are very appropriate for street images. A PJD section can be done without a specific theme and that will attract a broader range of subjects.

PSA PJD Accepted Image Titled “Occupy Inauguration Boston” – Occupy Inauguration, Boston Common, 2017

The other divisions operate in a similar way and you will need to navigate your way through the PSA division definitions and specific competition section definitions to get comfortable with them. Select one or more divisions that fit your subjects and style. Enter the competition sections that best suit your work. I also recommend studying the Divisions and Stars/ROPA sections of the PSA web site. You can find all of the current exhibitions listed under the Exhibitions menu.

PSA membership and entry into the PSA exhibitions are not expensive. I recommend giving it a try as a creative outlet. You may find that you are good enough to place at the top and score an award. If you score an acceptance, you can be certain that you are better than average. If you score rejection, you have something more to learn and to achieve. That is a win-win-win in my book.

For more of my street photos, see my Portfolio.

See you on the street.

“Love That Dirty Water” Street Photo Print Show

After a year of waiting due to the pandemic, my solo street photo print show will be up at the Arts League of Lowell in the Greenwald Gallery from 28 April through 23 May. This postcard is being printed to promote the show using the image that I decided to use as the feature image. I chose it because the Charles River and the Longfellow Bridge are prominent and the subject seems to be loving that dirty water.

street photo print show
Love That Dirty Water

The show title comes from the 1966 hit recording, “Dirty Water”, by the Standells. At the time, the river was famously polluted. It is no longer polluted, but the song still resonates with me, especially the words, “Love that dirty water; Boston, you’re my home”.

The show will include about thirty prints from my collection of Boston street photos taken since 2016 when I began to do street photography. My photos almost always include people and many are a playful depiction of life and diversity in Boston. Each has a story or a message behind it. They are in black and white as well as color, depending on the importance of color in telling the story.

My New LUMIX DC-G9

My first Micro Four Thirds camera was a LUMIX DMC-GF1 that I purchased on eBay for $100 in 2016. That led to an upgrade to an Olympus Pen F in early 2017 and I was very happy with that camera for three years of shooting street images. A series of events led to my purchase of the G9.

The Pen F had a hard fail and I sent it to Olympus for major service that cost over $400. I do not blame Olympus for the failure since it is my street camera and received some rough treatment. It was never dropped, but it spent some time on the back of my bicycle getting bounced around in a trunk pack. The camera came back from Olympus in great shape and was taking pictures as well as it ever did. I am happy with Olympus service.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit and I began looking for a webcam so that I could experiment with streaming photo shows. My gallery was closed, my solo show was cancelled, and I was looking for an alternative. There were no webcams available. It is likely that many people had similar needs that were driven by the pandemic, including work meetings and school. All sources were out of stock.

I investigated using a digital camera as a webcam and found that the LUMIX line was especially popular for that purpose as well as for video production. The G9 with the latest firmware was for me the best compromise between the video capabilities and the still image features. It is primarily a still camera, but has video features that overlap somewhat with the LUMIX DC-GH5 that is very popular for web streaming and video.

There are plenty of reviews for both the G9 and GH5 on the Internet, so I will not try to repeat them. My rationale for buying the G9 and sticking with Micro Four Thirds included the reviews, but also my desire for a light camera that i could carry all day. While the G9 body weighs more than the Pen F, the combination of the camera and the preferred lens weighs about the same. I was using the M. Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 lens on the Pen F, a heavy and bulky lens. On the G9 I have a Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4 that has a much smaller footprint.

I had lots of reasons for the upgrade. My new street kit with the G9 is moisture resistant. Videos are impressive, assisted by effective Image Stabilization. In my opinion the auto focus for stills is much better than the Pen F and the shutter is more responsive. I can rip off back-to-back images much more quickly. I hooked it up with my computer and Open Broadcast Software (OBS) and got great results for web streaming.

I have had my G9 on the street a couple of times and am totally converted from the Pen F.

LUMIX DC-G9 Image Straight from the Camera
Boston Seaport Fisherman

The image above is reduced resolution, but I think shows the excellent color and contrast rendering by the sensor and the LUMIX firmware. The image is straight out of the camera with only the resampling to 640 x 480 from the native resolution.

So far I am very happy with my choice and I consider it a significant upgrade from my Pen F. Many will question my judgement in sticking with Micro Four Thirds. The format has many limitations, especially in low light. Low light is not a problem for me since I do most of my street photography in daylight. For me the light weight and other street-friendly features close the deal.

Back to My LUMIX GF1

The Olympus Pen F that I love for street photography is at Olympus for service. It has served me well for three years, but I am concerned about long term reliability and ruggedness. Since I have some expensive glass, an M. Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 lens, I am committed to Micro Four Thirds. They are easy to carry during a long day on the street because of the small size of the Micro Four Thirds camera bodies in general.

While the Pen F is being serviced, I have fallen back to my LUMIX DMC-GF1. It was the camera that I purchased used for $100 over three years ago to give Micro Four Thirds a try. For $200 I found a Olympus 25mm f/1.8 lens to go with it. That model was already eight years old at the time I bought it. At twelve megapixels it is a credible street camera as long as I don’t need to crop very much. It forces me to be more careful with my compositions. The shutter release is a bit slow, but I don’t use it to capture fast action or sports.

I took it with me last week to Cape Cod where I spent the day on my bike. It spent most of the day in the bicycle trunk pack because there was little activity on the Cape for this time of year. The camera came out of the pack near Brewster where I enjoyed a hot dog. It had been three hours since breakfast and I had forty miles to go. The hot dog gave me a protein boost to get me to Wellfleet.

LUMIX GF1 Image
Hot Dogs Near Brewster

After riding through the trail head at the end of the trail in Wellfleet, I decided to ride up the hill to a beach that was familiar to me. The beach parking lot is on a dune that is high above the beach. A precarious sand ramp leads from the parking lot down to the beach below. An old wooden life guard station rests at the edge of the dune overlooking the beach.

LUMIX GF1 Image
Old Lifeguard Stand in Wellfleet

It was early afternoon and people were still arriving, leading to a steady stream of people on the ramp. Some stood at the edge of the dune searching down below for a suitable place to spend the afternoon. Nearly two years ago a 26 year old man was killed by a shark at this beach and a sign at the edge of the dune just above the Severe Bleeding First Aid Kit in the orange box reminds visitors of the danger. There were few people in the water.

LUMIX GF1 Image
At the Edge of the Dune at a Beach in Wellfleet

It was a perfect day to be outdoors since it was warm and I was not in a hurry to go anywhere fast. The only sad thing was that there were too few people for really good street photography. Still, it was a great day to practice using my LUMIX GF1 again since I may be using it for a while. The image quality and color from the old camera are still great.

The Need to Persist

There are only a few of us who are willing to take the risk of venturing out into the city or even out of our homes. It is possible that we are the ones who feel the caprice of indefinite lock-downs and stay-at-home directives. Personally, as a cancer survivor, I would rather take some risk and live my life rather than give up a large portion of the time remaining in my life to fear.

Many of the people that I follow on Instagram are posting older work because they have suspended their lives. They are posting sad, dated retrospectives with hopeful messages about getting back to normal. I prefer to take action rather than wait for others to decide what is right for me and I refuse to suspend my life.

Depression often motivates me and my wife, Marne, will prod me when she feels me descending into Mordor. That is when I hop onto my bicycle and go for a ride. Rides into Boston have been a staple for me and for my street photography. I had a solo show of my Boston images planned for this month until the world stopped turning.

This year I have made two bicycle trips into Boston to date and both times I persisted in bringing my camera. During both of those trips I visited some of my favorite places in Boston. My style includes people in unique situations and my images almost always have a message or a story. My favorite places did not deliver as they have in the past since the density of people was low. High volumes of people guarantee a diversity of subject matter.

During both of those trips I found that I could do a documentary on homelessness during the pandemic. It seemed that the only occupants of the park benches in Boston Common were homeless and there were many congregated near the Park Street Church. More than half of the pedestrians in the canyons of the Boston city streets were also homeless.

Still, there were bright spots, such as the Esplanade where there was the usual traffic of runners, walkers, and cyclists. There was thin attendance at the Boston Public Garden. It is difficult to imagine people avoiding the place once the weather turns warm since it is already flourishing with the addictive colors of the trees and flowers. Even with the parking areas cordoned off, a few people from Southie cannot resist the lure of the ocean at Pleasure Bay and Castle Island. In the North End, Christopher Columbus Park entertains a number of people who have no trouble maintaining their distance.

There are plenty of trite reminders of our current predicament. The statue of former mayor Kevin White across from city hall has a face mask. The duck and ducklings of the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden are wearing face masks. It would not be so bad if there were crowds of real people wearing face masks walking among them.

In the North End at Christopher Columbus Park near the harbor I found a hopeful sign of life. A man and his eight year old grandson were flying a kite. The boy was retrieving the kite hand over hand while the old man wound the line on a card. We talked a bit and I learned that this was not the first time they had flown a kite at this location. The old man and I both had our faces covered and the boy looked at me curiously, probably trying to discern an approving smile. That is my best image from the past two outings.

outdoor activity in Boston during pandemic
Mr. Kite in Columbus Park

I will take every opportunity that I can to return to Boston during the coming months to witness the transition into summer. My hope is that the people, the beer gardens, the pushcarts, and the food trucks come back soon. None of us can continue to live this way.

Street Photography Disrupted by Social Distancing

As a street photographer, I know that I will not be able to do a credible shoot for some time. My style almost demands crowds so that there is a diversity of people and activities. Not all activities are worthy of a street photograph. Street photography is similar to nature photography in that respect. It takes time and patience to find a worthy scene because my images are little vignettes that evoke an emotion or tell a story.

My images are immersive because I get close to my subjects and a crowd gives me cover so that I do not influence the action. Social distancing makes it impossible to get lost in a crowd or to get close to my subjects. The crowds of Boston themselves are temporarily gone and those people who remain walk in small groups and keep their distance from others..

Bicycle rides into Boston are one of the ways that I use to find street photography subjects and on Monday, 6 April, I took my first bicycle ride into Boston this year. I wore a bandanna over my nose and mouth. My goal was to determine the impact of social distancing on street photography. Usually, I ride to one of my favorite locations and linger, relaxing or eating lunch and waiting for something to happen. Monday was not a usual day due to the virus.

My bicycle trips to Boston often yield fifty to one hundred images of people enjoying life in the city. On Monday there was not a single scene worth capturing. Everywhere I went, people were trying to pass time outdoors on a nice day rather than indoors taking in more televised commentary on the virus. They were deliberate in their pursuit of exercise and fresh air and were not in a mood to stop and play.

There were lots of people as I approached downtown on the Esplanade, although they were trying to maintain a safe distance among them. Few were wearing masks or face covering, but it is still early in the epidemic and I imagine others will comply as they see their fellow citizen doing so. Everybody was on the move and nothing unusual was happening.

At the Hatch Shell I crossed Storrow Drive into Beacon Hill. From there I rode along the edge of the Public Garden and into the Common. There was a very low concentration of people distributed throughout the park. In contrast, the area across the street from the Park Street Church was occupied by thirty to forty homeless people who were guarding shopping carts carrying all of their worldly possessions, sleeping on the benches, or engaging in boisterous conversations. Social distancing is difficult in their world and I wondered how they managed to care for themselves if they got sick.

Protecting myself in Boston during COVID-19 pandemic
Me on 6 April 2020 with Boston Common Behind

This part of the Common is one of my favorite places in Boston, but the typical flow of people was missing except for a few locals passing among the homeless who were occupying most of the park benches. The food trucks and pushcarts were also missing, one source for lunch during normal times. The people who staff the food trucks and pushcarts are also missing their source of income for the duration. The cheerful gatherings of people and tourist groups around Brewer Fountain are gone.

As I continued my ride from the Common, the streets of Boston were devoid of the usual crush of traffic and honking horns. I rode through areas that I would not usually attempt on my bicycle. Across from City Hall on Congress Street I stopped at the statue of former  Boston mayor Kevin White. Someone had strapped a white face mask to his head, a reminder of the times to all who passed.

Mayor Kevin White Statue
Mayor Kevin White Statue

Surface Road along the Rose Kennedy Greenway was uncommonly safe for a person on a bicycle. I rode south and from there I turned left on Seaport Boulevard, my favorite route to the Seaport District and the South End because a bike path takes me well into the Seaport. I worked my way to Castle Island and Pleasure Bay where people seemed to be congregating.

From the Bike Lane on Surface Road
From the Bike Lane on Surface Road

The area around Castle Island been a particular problem for city health officials because crowds of people were gathering there on nice days and this was one of those nice days. The solution has been to block all curb parking around Pleasure Bay and to barricade the entrance to Castle Island. Even though there was no parking, there was a large number of people walking around the area, probably locals from Southie. I took up a position on one of the barricades to eat the lunch that I had with me. As I sat there at least ten cars drove up to the barricade and left discouraged.

Nearly Empty Seaport Boulevard
Nearly Empty Seaport Boulevard

After a quick lunch I also left, riding back through the Seaport, into the North End, and back to the Charles River for the bicycle trip back to my car in Bedford. I felt that hanging around trying to salvage my photo outing would break the rules of social distancing anyway. A man with a bandanna covering most of his face approaching with a camera pointing your way would be a bit intimidating. When I got home I had five or six images in my camera, none of which satisfy my standards. They are mostly the familiar scenes of empty streets that you have seen on the news. I enjoyed the ride, but miss being in the crush of people that makes street photography so much fun.

Video Image Display for a Photo Show

In May 2020 I have a solo street photography show and I will have over twenty prints in the exhibit. A friend made the recommendation to supplement the print exhibit using digital images. At first I balked since the idea of a monitor or projector connected to a computer or laptop in the gallery seemed cumbersome. Since it was an idea that had merit, my mind churned on it in the background until I came up with a solution that I plan to use.

My solution combines a 23″ monitor on an easel with a Raspberry Pi microcontroller to run a video. The monitor size is important since people will be viewing the images at close range. I think that 23″ is nearly the maximum size for that reason. Mounting the monitor on an artist easel makes it feel less like an electronic gimmick and more like art.

As with many projects of this type, following the steps below may not work for you for some reason. I did some hacking and debug to get it to work and you may find it necessary to do so as well. My objective is to describe the steps that I took and to provide a starting point. For help in getting through problems should you decide to try my approach, I refer you to the many Raspberry Pi resources on the Internet.

For the remainder of this discussion you will need to be reasonably well-versed in the use and configuration of computers. The steps discussed assume that you have a recent model Raspberry Pi. I am using a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ that I have in a plastic case as well as Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. After following the steps below, the keyboard and mouse will not be necessary when the setup is in the gallery because powering up the Pi and the monitor will start the video at boot. The discussion also assumes that you can navigate the Pi Raspbian Graphical User Interface and the nano editor.

For help getting the Raspberry Pi to display a video I turned to Adafruit and their video looper project. I followed the steps exactly and was able to run a trial video on the first try. Some changes must be made to adapt the video looper to begin playing at boot. To automatically begin play at boot, the video must be copied to a directory on the flash boot drive and the video_looper.ini file must be edited.

To copy the video I used the Raspbian GUI file manager to copy from a thumb drive to the /home/pi/video folder. Plug the thumb drive into the Pi and open the GUI file manager. Navigate to the /media/pi folder to find the thumb drive. If you attempt to copy to the video folder you may get a “permission denied” message or something like that. To get permission, go to the file manager Tools menu and select “Run a Command in Current Folder”. In the command window, enter “gksudo pcmanfm” followed by the “Enter” key. This will open a new window where you will have the necessary permissions. In the new window you will be able to drag and drop the video file from the thumb drive to the video folder.

The next thing to do is edit the video_looper.ini file. The best way to do that is to enter  sudo nano /boot/video_looper.ini in the command line window. The command opens the configuration file in the nano editor. Find the lines with the file_reader option. Change file_reader = usb_drive to a comment line by adding “#” to the beginning of the line. Delete the “#” from the file_reader = directory line. This sets the video looper to play the video from the /video directory instead of the thumb drive.

The remainder of the setup is mechanical and depends somewhat on personal preferences. I plan to hide the Raspberry Pi and the monitor power brick behind a placard hanging at the bottom of the monitor. The idea is to keep all of the electronics invisible except for the monitor itself. The power cords will be strapped to an easel leg and led down to a power strip on the floor.

The other bit of mechanics is developing the video itself. I use Photoshop CC to develop the main title, image titles, and the credits frames and I use Cyberlink PowerDirector to do the editing and rendering of the video. The image frames are exported from Lightroom Classic CC and imported in to PowerDirector. My video is a kind of slide show where each image title and image get about fifteen seconds of viewing time. I have ten images and the total length of the video is two minutes and forty five seconds, including a title at the beginning and a credit frame at the end. Each image title is numbered “N of 10” so that visitors know what to expect in terms of video duration. My recommendation is to keep the video short to hold the attention of the gallery visitors through the entire video.

This is something new for a gallery photography show and it will be exciting to see what kind of reception it gets from critics and gallery visitors. This approach is a method to get gallery visitors engaged in a different and unexpected way. At this point in time gallery exhibitions need all of the help they can get.

New England Model Engineering Society Show

Working Model V8

On 15 February I spent the afternoon at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation attending the New England Model Engineering Society show. It was their 24th annual show with about fifty exhibitors. The show was an opportunity for exhibitors to display and discuss their work. I captured the images using a Nikon D750 with a Nikkor 24-120mm kit lens in natural light.

These model engineers derive a lot of satisfaction and learn engineering principles from their work. Miniature engines dominated to show, although there were other interesting devices, including several toys, model aircraft, and a fascinating working model of a canal. Construction of any of these requires study and patience as well as an intuitive understanding of engineering.

The engines are especially demanding because their construction requires metal machining equipment that can be expensive and consume a lot of space in a home. Many of these hobbyists have a drill press, engine lathe, and milling machine. Sometimes these tools are supplemented by 3D printers and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. Many of the engines are built from kits that are rough castings rather than completed parts. They must all be machined and made to fit precisely.

One of my first stops at the show was a V8 engine that weighed probably ten to fifteen pounds. The hobbyist is an optometrist by profession. I always inquired about the profession or trade of the hobbyist and I was surprised by the answers. Of the three that I interviewed, none was a machinist by trade.

Working Model V8
Working Model V8

The V8 is a beautiful thing and is a miniature cross between a Cadillac and a Ford flathead V8. Of course, I didn’t know that by looking at it. The hobbyist explained to me that Cadillac had the exhaust manifold on the top of the engine block and Ford had them on the side. He started the engine and it roared as you would expect a V8 to roar. It was a miniature roar, but still had the distinctive sound of a V8.

The next engine was a model hit and miss gasoline engine. It is called “hit and miss” because the speed is governed by a valve in the piston head. When the valve is closed the spark plug fires and ignites the fuel or “hits”, propelling the piston. When the valve is open, the fuel mixture cannot compress and does not ignite or “misses”, slowing the engine since the piston is not being propelled. Instead, drag slows it down.

Hit and Miss Engine
Hit and Miss Engine

The hit and miss engine was built by a retired architect. He gave ample credit to PM Research, the company that supplies the castings. In this case, the hobbyist also deserves credit for a masterful job at machining, finishing, and assembly. The kit is still available from PM Research for $550.

My final interview was with a retired draftsman who also had a version of a hit or miss engine. He had taken his engine to many shows and complained that it was balky. When I arrived he was working to get the engine re-started. This man also had a beautiful steam engine that he had restored. He said that his wife purchased it at a garage sale for $50 and that many of the parts did not fit correctly. His wife must know him very since she knew he would love to work on this engine and get it to work.

Hit and Miss Engine
Hit and Miss Engine

Just before I left the exhibit, there was a drawing for a model airplane. The man who won received the airplane and an explanation of its construction and operation. It is a beautiful piece of work constructed with colored tissue paper stretched over a balsa wood structure. There was another man behind us who was demonstrating how this was done. He was gluing balsa struts together to make the wing and the sides of the fuselage, pinning them to a paper pattern to align the parts. What I really like the most about this image is that the builder’s rugby shirt matches the colors of his airplane.

Winner of the Airplane Drawing
Winner of the Airplane Drawing

I hope that all of the hobbyists felt appreciated. As a photographer, I know that all of the hard work is especially pleasing when someone else admires your work. There was a lot of fine work to be appreciated at this show.