Category Archives: Bemusements

Visiting a Garden of Cars

International Car Forest of the Last Church © Harold Davis

A while back, in the pre-pandemic era, I visited the International Car Forest of the Last Church. This so-called “Car Forest” is more like a car garden than a forest. Mostly wrecked, almost all painted, and largely “planted” front-end down in the desert earth, this installation is located near Goldfield, Nevada.

The county seat of Esmeralda County, Goldfield is a near-ghost-town and home to a few hundred people. Besides the International Car Forest of the Last Church, Goldfield also boasts the meanest bartender in Nevada. This observation is not based on my personal experience (never having encountered any bartenders in Nevada, mean or otherwise), but rather on the words of a sign near the Goldfield town center, shown in a photo below.

I regret to say that I missed checking out the meanest bartender in Nevada. If chance, fate, and a vaccine ever get me to the Goldfield area again I will not miss the opportunity a second time.

For some of my photography of more conventional gardens, please check out my new book Creative Garden Photography.

Nevada’s Meanest Bartender © Harold Davis

Roadside near Goldfield, Nevada © Harold Davis

Wheelee © Harold Davis

Installation in a Goldfield Parking Lot © Harold Davis

Bart Simpson Doll © Harold Davis

 

Pile-On © Harold Davis

 

School Bus © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Black and White Cookies: What’s in a Name?

Black and White Cookie © Harold Davis

Black and White Cookie © Harold Davis

The Black and White cookie, shown here in an iPhone grab shot converted to black and white in Snapseed, goes by many names. In New York City, where I come from, they are simply “Black and White” cookies. This makes sense to me.  But in New England they are “Harlequins” and in the Midwest “Half Moons.” In Germany, and most of the rest of the world, they are “Amerikaners.”

Even the origin of the name “Amerikaners” is controversial: it is rumored that the cookie was named after the post-World-War-II American soldiers who brought them to Germany. On the other hand, and perhaps less plausibly even if it is in the dictionaries this way, the name “Amerikaner” is said to be a corruption of Ammoniumhydrogencarbonat, the German for ammonium bicarbonate, a leavening agent used in baking the cookie.

Using yet another name, in a reference to racial harmony, President Obama dubbed them “Unity cookies” in 2008. And, in a Seinfeld episode, Jerry asks, if black and white mix together well on a cookie, why can’t they do the same in society?

Great question (and a tasty cookie) for these troubled times.

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Last Gas

I found this signage advertising the “latest” bar on the Camino Portuguese shortly before the Spanish border where the great pilgrimage trail crosses the River Minho to Tui, Spain. By “latest” I’m pretty sure that they meant “last”—so this is one of those signs like “last gas in Nevada.” Does one really care? Are the bars in Spain so different from those in Portugal? Experience tells me: not so much.

Last Gas © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Our side door

We generally prefer folks use our front door, where there is a nice sheltered porch for Amazon to leave their near-constant droppings. But of course if you are a friend we don’t care what door you use, just as long as you visit! It is a little confusing, since our house is on a corner, with the address on San Fernando and both entrances (front and side) on San Ramon. Phyllis recently put up this sign on our side door, patterned of course after Bilbo’s notice from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.

Our side door © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

French Signage

French signage found in small towns in “deep France” around the Dordogne: Enchanted Mushroom (for a speciality restaurant); Dog on a toilet (for a doggie run); and two pigs for a charcuterie shop.

Enchanted Mushroom

Enchanted Mushroom © Harold Davis

Doggie Do © Harold Davis

Doggie Do © Harold Davis

Pig 1 © Harold Davis

Pig 1 © Harold Davis

Pig 2 © Harold Davis

Pig 2 © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, iPhone

Don’t Even Think of Parking Here

© Harold Davis

Also posted in France

Vietnamese Viagra

When a guy in Vietnam feels the need for an increase in, shall we say, manliness, potency, and virility, he reaches not for a little blue pill but rather for a concoction of snakes fermented in alcohol, such as the blend shown in a glass jar in the image.

Vietamese Viagra © Harold Davis

Vietamese Viagra © Harold Davis

If you want to try this at home, note that King Cobras are best. Thanks to my friend and traveling companion Eric Ryan for his wit, and for this caption. To the best of my knowledge these are farmed snakes (the Vietnamese army runs a snake farm in the Mekong River delta, where we photographed this jar of snakes), rather than wild or endangered species.

Also posted in Vietnam

Apple

Ever since the era of Adam and Eve, there has been something enticing about an apple!

Apple © Harold Davis

Apple © Harold Davis

Hope is for hostages

Hope is for Hostages © Harold Davis

Incredibly Attractive Highly Repellant

Of course, this leads to a grammatical question: Is the implied subject female or fabric? Methinks it could be either, or maybe both.

Incredibly Attractive Highly Repellant © Harold Davis

Incredibly Attractive Highly Repellant © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone

Free Wrecked Blue Couch for House Guests You Hate

Wrecked Blue Couch © Harold Davis

Wrecked Blue Couch © Harold Davis

Here’s an ad I wrote for Craig’s List recently about one of the two couches we are trying to get rid of:

Too many folks trying to crash at your place? Let them sleep on this couch and they’ll move on fast! All four of my kids have had their way with this blue couch, and wife now wants to upgrade. It’s not in great shape, note the tear on the right arm fabric, but with a throw over it it still looks half way decent, and I could see it in a man cave or something. Basically, you are getting a wreck—with a width of about six feet. Come take it away for free, and win our thanks!

Not very surprisingly, we’ve had no takers. But it was fun writing the ad copy…

Old and New: A Tale of Two Kirk BH-3 Ball Heads

My Kirk BH-3 tripod ball head has served me well on four continents on the trail, in the studio, in mountains, deserts, and along the rugged Pacific host, from the barrios of Havana to the souks of Morocco and the Boulevards of Paris. So one day recently, when my BH-3 reported to duty with a definite kink in the retaining plate bracket and knob, it was with sadness that I replaced him in favor of a brand spanking new model. Time goes by, and since change is incremental one doesn’t see the markings until there is a new one for comparison.

Old and New - Kirk BH-3 Ball Heads © Harold Davis

Old and New – Kirk BH-3 Ball Heads © Harold Davis

As I’ve noted, technique is not at the apex of the Maslowvian triangle of photographic needs (vision is), but technique is still my craft, and I am very fond of the tools that help me practice my craft, and want to give my old BH-3 ball head the most honorable send off possible, as it retires and becomes a paper weight and conversation piece rather than an ongoing part of my day-to-day photographic life.

Kirk BH-3 Ball Head - Facing Retirement © Harold Davis

Kirk BH-3 Ball Head – Facing Retirement © Harold Davis

Also posted in Equipment, Photography

This way is not the way

Not the way © Harold Davis

Not the way © Harold Davis

Also posted in Japan, Photography

Something Fishy

One of my favorite characters in fantasy literature, J.R.R. Tolkein’s Smeagol, would have appreciated the nice, plump and juicy slab of fish I brought back from the store. The fish meat rested on skin on the back, and the skin and scales glistened with a rainbow of pastel colors in the light. I knew I had to photograph the fish scales up close and personal.

Scales © Harold Davis

Scales © Harold Davis

I used my 85mm tilt-shift macro with a 36mm extension tube at an effective aperture of f/51 and an exposure sequence at ISO 100 from 1/8 of a second to 8 seconds. This is extreme close-up photography, with a magnification ratio of about 15:1, meaning you are viewing the fish scales fifteen times actual life size. Magnified this way, the fish scales look almost soft, and could be barnacles, or schools of fish themselves.

Fish Scales in Black & White © Harold Davis

Fish Scales in Black & White © Harold Davis

Smeagol a/k/a Gollum would probably not have approved of my light source: directed sunlight (Gollum preferred dark caves, and the sun hurt his eyes). He also might have thought that the way it was prepared (by smoking) “ruined” my nice, plump and juicy raw slab of salmon. But I, to use Gollum’s vocabulary, thought my nice piece of smoked fish was “tasty” indeed—when I ate it after photographing it!

Fly Day

What day is it today? For many of us it is “Fly Day”—no matter what the calendar says. And while flying, what better way to while away the time than to photograph the airplane wing with my iPhone, then play with the results (this iPhone image was processed using the Plastic Bullet, Lo Mob, Filterstorm and Snapseed apps).

Fly Day © Harold Davis

Fly Day © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone