Monday, February 15, 2010

Things seen along the way

I'm back home again.

This post is just to share a few thoughts about my trip that have nothing to do with what its central purpose was.

First, my rental car was a Suzuki SX-4, seen above. I expected to hate it as a crummy little econobox from an also-ran manufacturer. But the thing surprised me. It turned out to be both a competent, comfortable highway cruiser and a nimble in-town runabout. It averaged 36.6 MPG over my 1134-mile trip. (Not quite as good as the 39.2 I got with the Toyota Yaris a year ago, but (1) there was a lot more city driving in the mix this time, and (2) it's a larger car, being more comparable to Toyota's Corolla than the Yaris.) I was impressed enough that I would consider buying one if I were in the market for a new car. Here's a favorable review from my favorite car magazine.

I should also put in a good word for Fox Rent-A-Car. First time I've used them. They not only undercut all competition in price--and by a large margin--but they gave me a brand-spankin'-new, never-before-rented car that I liked, and made the whole process the most friendly and hassle-free car renting experience I've ever had. Just about every other agency makes me feel like they're sure I'm planning to either destroy or steal the vehicle, and they're really reluctant to let me drive off with it. Fox will be my first choice next time around.

(One demerit to the company: I picked up a tiny windshield chip from a random flung highway pebble. When returning the car, the attendant checking me in didn't notice it, so I pointed it out to him. He said, "You shouldn't have said anything." I guess that honesty is not high on the list of personal qualities important to Fox in selecting its employees.)

OK, on to the things I saw on the trip.

First, I saw a whole bunch of mountains. For a long drive through the Rockies, I guess that's not too surprising. It's interesting that mountains look so beautiful when seen in person, but just don't capture well in photographs (unless you're Ansel Adams). But my best attempts are here. I especially like the interplay of clouds and land formations in this one.

While driving around Salt Lake City looking at nursing homes, I passed this collection of rusty sculptures for sale. They were whimsical enough to amuse me.

My parents have bird feeders at their house, and one morning this pretty finch came for breakfast.

I took my time on the drive back, stopping more frequently than I usually do to take pictures and do other dawdling. I stopped in the town of Beaver, Utah, which is just about the halfway point between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. I had wanted to stop at the Cache Valley Cheese store there, but it was closed.

As I was making my way back to the interstate, I noticed that much of the town is abandoned and falling apart. My friend Cardgrrl has a photographic blog, "Something Beautiful," in which she frequently mentions her quirky fondness for things that are old, rusty, and decaying--man-made structures and objects that are slowly being reclaimed by nature. (It's a taste that my reader Wolynski apparently disapproves of, based on this blog post. But different strokes....) She encourages readers to find beauty in such unexpected places. So I decided to accept the challenge and see if I could find bits of beauty in two of the dilapidated buildings of Beaver. The results are here and here, with the most interesting shots from those batches, I think, being this one and this one. A barbed wire fence kept me from getting as close to the brick building (house? school? church?) as I would have liked.

Interestingly, I have a lot of combination poker players/photographers among my readers and among the blogs I follow: Cardgrrl, Wolinsky (here and here), Bastin (who was the first to point Cardgrrl to this humble blog, a small act for which I am immensely grateful), S (here and here), Vegas Rex, Memphis Mojo, and Oh Captain (here and here). I will probably never be as good as any of them, but it's kind of fun trying my hand at it once in a while.


Memphis MOJO said...

I also like the photo with the interplay of clouds and land formations -- nice job.

bastinptc said...

Thanks for the link, but more importantly, thanks for the links to others of a similar ilk.

Anonymous said...

Well that explains why ardgrrl is so fond of you - she likes "old, rusty and decaying" things!

Wolynski said...

Thanks for the mention again. Poker and photography...hmm... I quite liked your mountain photos.

No, I don't disapprove of anything, except hypocrisy. Maybe this guy explains it better:

This sense of quickness, of being alive on this earth, of simple orgasmic sense perception, is the point at which great photographs are made. Photographs come from that moment in the process of cognition before the mind has analyzed meaning or the eyes design and at which the experience and the person experiencing are fully, intuitively, existentially there. Such images look like photographs, not paintings: there is a tremendous sense of stopped time, of the blinking shutter, of being alive and still there, of discovery (rather than analysis), of chance, not design, of quick emotion from an uncertain cause. Photography is at its best when it deals with the very act of seeing in itself and not with recollections in tranquility or dilletantism of design."

- Charles Harbutt

I'm not sure I entirely agree (Ansel Adams made photos like paintings) - under this criterion, I'm a big bore myself. But he has a point.

OhCaptain said...

Thanks for the link! I'm quite humbled by your mentioning me.

You are right about the interplay of the clouds and the mountains. Mountains can be very tough beasts to photograph, as strange as it sounds, timing is everything. Not like they are going any where, but getting the lighting and the clouds just right is tough. You did well.

I loved your door shot. I'm a big fan of photos that consist of lots of parallel/perpendicular lines. Framing the door with the building works great!

Again, thank you.