a day and a half (with a giant italian van)

giant van house-blogWhat’s black and white and as big as your house?  It’s a cargo van!

giant van vintage badgeYou can use it to move a bunch of furniture quite a long distance.  Don’t run out and buy it, though.  It costs about thirty thousand dollars, and is not exactly a practical everyday vehicle unless you are a tradesperson. When you need a giant cargo van to move a bunch of furniture quite a long distance, you can rent one from any rental agency.

You might assume from the Ram’s head on the front grille and the Ram 1500 ProMaster badging that this is a giant American cargo van, specifically a product of the Chrysler Corporation.  But Remember that Chrysler was taken over by Fiat a few years ago.  The all American Ram ProMaster is actually a rebadged Fiat Ducato.  It’s a giant Italian van.

giant van night stop 1-blogThis Ducato is one of Fiat’s core products, sourced from factories in Italy, Turkey, Brazil, and Russia and in the Chrysler factory in Saltillo, Mexico, where this example was built.  It’s common as dirt in most of the world, and getting to be fairly ubiquitous here as well, judging by how many times we saw its ugly mug coming and going.  The Ducato may not be pretty, but it does the job.  The seating leaves much to be desired (being as upright as a kitchen chair and about as stiff), and it desperately needs both cruise control and an outside arm rest for the driver if it’s going to be comfortable for long distance travel.  Passenger knee room is a bit tight as well. But it’s otherwise commendably straightforward inside, with plenty of compartments and cupholders and some of the clearest and best HVAC controls I’ve seen in any modern car. giant van dash black and whiteI’ve been very curious about all the new Fiats we’ve been getting since the Chrysler takeover, but I never expected to have a chance to spend quality time with the ProMaster.  I can’t say it was an entirely pleasant experience (and much worse for the poor guy who had to drive it 650 miles in 14 or 15 hours), but it was more interesting than the Chevy Express we were expecting to get.  giant van brecksville dramaPhotographs taken with the New Phone Camera, tweaked and cropped and filtered for fun during a long road trip.  The popularity of the gas stop setting might suggest a comment on the gas mileage, particularly with the furniture aboard.)

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at the movies: mad max: fury road

I confess that I was never a huge fan of Mad Max.  I know I saw the first one ( it had young Mel Gibson and a blue heeler), and I vaguely remember at least bits of the one with Tina Turner (it had Tina Turner and some kind of fighting arena).  But in general, my dislike of stories about the end of the world and any accompanying post apocalyptics kept me from following the series. Now there’s a reboot? Yawn.

Like many people who are rather surprised this week, I had no interest whatever in seeing Fury Road until the reviews started coming in.  Apparently this is a good movie.  Possibly even a very good one.  And there are crazy cars and explosions and Nicholas Hoult is in it and we had a free afternoon in the middle of busy week …

Could Fury Road really be an excellent film? Continue reading

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rest stop lotus

An unexpected sighting of a Lotus Elise: chrome yellow on an overcast morning.

image

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dire corgi with a pancake

If the dire corgi could read, he would be bitterly disappointed by this post, since it is a portrait taken with my pancake lens, and not a picture of His Direness eating a pancake.rufusinthegarden-blog(I’m quite pleased with the 40mm f/2.8 Limited so far.  It seems to focus correctly and it renders outdoor and garden colors beautifully.  Managing depth of field wide open seems to be slightly quirky, but practice will no doubt solve the problem. )

(I am feeling guilty enough about the first point that I am considering going out into the kitchen and microwaving a couple of frozen pancakes for the corgis.)

 

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internet sunday: double portrait

ef9155cc717d65eaa0565fbb5984981fIt’s Wassily Kandinsky,  the great Russian artist of the first half of the twentieth century . He painted some of the first great abstract works, and he taught at the Bauhaus. The famous Bauhaus Wassily chair, designed by Marcel Breuer, was named after him.

The second figure in the portrait is his cat, Vaska, perhaps less well known, but also an excellent photographic subject.

(Wander my collecton of random images on Pinterest, including black and white portraits of famous artists [with or without cats] by searching for “blackberry fox”.)

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best of the drawing of the day, week 156: half the moon

Continuing to catch up on the drawing of the day backfiles.  In this drawing, someone is carrying half the moon.drawingoftheday-week156-halfthemoonSeriously, it’s part of a sculpture of the man-in-the-crescent-moon.  (Presumably it will be assembled on site.)  OK. I decided that was what it was after I drew it, which is the great privilege of drawing at random in your own sketchbook.

This drawing is also a variation of the classic sketchbook world family group, consisting of an adult, a child, and a horrible creature, but in this case it’s a corny sculpture.  The man and his child are supposed to show a resemblance– faces drawn to the same model, and of course the family hair, which is coarse and wavy and almost certainly red.  The kid has a long way to get shoulders like his dad’s– presumably that moon isn’t made of papier mache.

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when a monster meets a pancake

Due to a long story (which is actually kind of boring, or I would tell it here), I recently rediscovered a small lens.  It is what photography people call a “pancake” lens, which is designed to be very flat and very light.  Back in the day, a pancake lens (almost always a 40mm f/2.8 prime) was the lens you put on a 35mm film camera when you wanted to market it as “pocket sized”.  These were the lenses on fixed lens cameras, and the interchangeable version was commonly used on a manufacturer’s smallest camera body to make the “our smallest, lightest camera ever”.

The old Pentax 40mm f/2.8 M looked beautiful on the small mechanical MX body, especially on the black version.Pentax_mx(This is a particularly tasty example with just that little bit of brassing.  The loose leatherette on the far left just has to be be glued down.)  My husband had one just like this and it worked as well as it looks, although I personally felt the LED light meter was not as good as the match needle in my K1000.  But I digress.

I guess when I bought my new model pancake I was picturing some kind of modern version of this most elegant of packages.  Nobody told me that a pancake lens on a modern DSLR looks … profoundly stupid.  Here it is today, mounted on my smallest, lightest camera body, the K-30 we call the Monster. monsterpancake3 Granted, no DSLR is an attractive camera by film era standards, and the Monster is ugly even for a DSLR.  But at least with a longer lens the design of the overall package looks balanced.  The Monster/Pancake combo is, frankly, a bit of a pig.

When I rediscovered this lens this week, I wondered if it would look better with a silver lens hood, so I bought one for it.  The awful thing is it does.  It looks a ton better.  Sad, isn’t it?  Still, handsome is is handsome does.  The field of view is a useful 60mm equivalent, somewhere between normal and portrait, the first images look good in preview, and the whole package is pleasingly small and light, which is of course the reason one buys a pancake lens in the first place. (Well, I bought mine because it was a tremendous bargain, but that’s the long story I wasn’t going to tell.)

So I am going to be carrying the Monster/Pancake for a week or two, in spite of its odd looks, and will share the results of the experiment when I have them.

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japanese matchbox labels- kaiju edition

Everybody loves those Japanese matchbox labels, which are great examples of traditional printmaking on an ultra small scale.  This one is a real technical tour de force. I see three colors, plus the black key line: red, yellow and pale blue, with the pinkish color of the paper serving as the flesh tone.  (The green is almost certainly the transparent pale blue layered on top of the yellow).  The registration is almost perfect, and the little errors only add to its charm.matchbox label-mothrasislandThe kaiju connection may be harder to follow, but the minute I saw this particular label, I was sure these two ladies are the famous Twin Fairies from Mothra’s Island.  Moths are drawn to flames, right?  It’s a natural choice of sponsorship.

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folding laundry with corgis

tobyfiltered-blogOne thing all my corgis have had in common is a desire to help with laundry.  I can’t tell you how many Tshirts I’ve folded over the years in front of the TV and on top of resting corgis.  Today I folded laundry with my old guy Toby and took these shots with my phone camera.  #1 is the famous Corgi Expression of Extreme Skepticism cropped to a square with one of the “Retrolux” filters, #2 is black and white with a red filter for a classic street photography effect.tobyblackandwhite-blog

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best of the drawing of the day, week 155– an abstracted angel

drawingoftheday-week155-abstract angelThis supernatural character is sly and conniving and only an angel because of the wings. And the wings themselves are heavily abstracted, to the point where they may be unrecognizable.  Spirals, as always, represent magic and mystery.

I was very tempted to decorate the largest area of fur (the one on the figure’s neck and chest) with some kind of small pattern, to “pop” the white fur trim on the wrists, but I decided not too do so because I thought it would interfere with the linework shading.  As it is, I’m adding this drawing to the list of those I am planning to color once I get a new computer up and running and can finally get a digitizer tablet.  The drawing of the day project will give me lots of line art to practice on.

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