About this…

Photo: The Beast

Location:  Washington, DC

Date:  October 23, 2017

Camera & Lens:  Canon 6D Mkii and EF 70-300 DO Lens


¬† ¬† About This Photo: ¬†This photo is all about getting lucky. ¬†We had moved to Fort Belvoir, VA in August 2017 and, like I normally do when we move to a new area as a military family, I explore close to home first before venturing out. ¬†Why? ¬†Because there are many times sites near, that are easy to miss when you head out looking at all the popular places first. ¬†It’s a lesson learned after living in Italy where I drove by the Pozzuoli Amphitheater ruins for years on the way to and from work, never giving them a second thought. ¬†Then one day, after living there for about 10 years, I decided to check them out and they were mind blowing! ¬†This is a way to attempt not missing all that is close. ¬†In northern Virginia there was so much to see in the immediate vicinity of Fort Belvoir that it took a few months to make the short trip to Washington, DC. ¬†Less than 10 minutes from our house was George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and tomb, also his Gristmill and about 15 minutes away was the city of Alexandria which was founded in 1749, an incredible place in its own right. ¬†Yes, the Northern Virginia area is THAT cool.

¬† ¬† I made the approximately 25 minute drive along the Potomac River on the George Washington Parkway and parked at the Washington Monument on the National Mall. ¬†Taking the camera bag from the car and walking, I paid for the parking spot on an iPhone app and began to hear sirens. ¬†Hearing emergency vehicles in a big city is not much cause for alarm unless they are nearby. ¬†While paying, the sirens got closer and louder, now there were lots of police vehicle. ¬†As someone fortunate enough to have been in a presidential motorcade once in my life, I knew someone important was coming. ¬†Here I was, standing on a sidewalk by myself, no crowds, nor nobody near… ¬†In just a few seconds, I opened my camera bag, took out my camera and turned on the power, switched to shutter priority, then switched the drive to the continuous shooting mode, hoping a bunch of rapid fire shots might land one keeper. ¬†As I pulled the camera to my eye, I saw it was a presidential limo of some sort but not 100%, I squeezed the shutter and held it down. ¬†In less time than it took to set up the camera, they had passed. ¬†It was the presidential limousine with its Washington DC license plate of 800-002, also called “The Beast.” ¬†As you can see in the above photo, the Secret Service agent in the front passenger seat is looking directly at me, probably because I was standing alone pointing my camera at the presidential motorcade. ¬†A slight silhouette of the president can be seen above and to the right of the presidential seal on the door.

    Out of all the shots taken in those few of seconds, there was just one keeper, the shot at the top of this post.  However, there were also plenty of blurry shots as well, those are below.  Returning many times monthly and sometimes weekly, I never again saw the motorcade seen on this first visit.  Getting the shot was pure luck as there was no way to foresee the motorcade coming, nor my proximity to it.  Also, anything such as a dead battery or memory card malfunction, cluttered camera bag with too much stuff to dig around, or even being unfamiliar with my own bag, could have all prevented this shot.  The lesson learned, if I had not kept my gear in good working order or not immediately switched to the continuous shooting mode, this shot would never have happened.  Those were in my control, my coincidental location to a presidential motorcade was out of my hands.  Most of all, this was a lucky day!



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Ghost Town

bcpnet.jpgLiving in El Paso, Texas means that there is history in practically every direction. ¬†I am endlessly searching photographic topics that satisfy the blooming photographer in me as well as the history lover. ¬†When those two worlds collide, it is my¬†personal perfect storm! About 90 minutes north of the Texas-New Mexico border exists a real ghost town called Lake Valley and it’s the perfect storm. North of Las Cruces, just off I-25 is Hatch, New Mexico and this would be the place you would want to gas up and get something to eat. ¬†There is only one small unincorporated town between Hatch and ghost town at Lake Valley. ¬†That little town is called Nutt, I believe it’s named that¬†because ain’t¬†Nutt’n there but a biker bar… literally Nutt’n.¬†The 30 minute drive from Hatch can can be kind of cool with wild deer in the fields, but there’s generally not much to see.

Ghost Town Cemetery

Once you arrive in Lake Valley you’ll see the cemetery on the hill to the left. ¬†However, it’s best to go straight to the visitor center and ring the bell for the guide. ¬†Lake Valley has been taken over by the Bureau of Land Management¬†(BLM), there’s no better way to get a quick overview of the place than from the guide. ¬†This photo at right, Ghost Town Cemetery, was attempt to show the isolation of the area as well as how it was once called home for some. ¬†This mining town “was founded in 1878 after silver was discovered. Almost overnight, the small frontier town blossomed into a major settlement with a population of 4,000 people.” (1) ¬†Today it is totally deserted with the exception of the Bureau of Land Management employee (the guide) who lives on the property in a mobile home. ¬†All of these photos were taken with a Canon 6D. ¬†Ghost Town Cemetery was shot with an EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/10, 1/125 sec, focal length 16mm, and ISO 100.

“Today, silver mining has played out and all that remains is a ghost town. ¬†BLM has restored the schoolhouse and chapel. The restored schoolhouse provides a glimpse of what schooling in a rural area was like in the early 20th century. Other buildings in the town site have been stabilized to slow further deterioration. There also is a self-guided, interpretive walking tour. A toilet is located near the schoolhouse, and drinking water is available.” (2)


Conoco Gas

It might not seem like it now, but Lake Valley Lake Valley actually had a post office ¬†and mail service from 1882 until 1955.(3) ¬†The car in the top photo is a 1935 Plymouth that I’ve not been able to find any other information, it makes for a great photo but that’s about it. ¬†There are plenty of signs warning of rattle snakes so this was about as close as I cared to get. ¬†The photo, called 1935 Plymouth #1¬†was taken with an¬†EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/9, 1/80 sec, focal length 19mm, and ISO 100. ¬†This photo of Lake Valley’s Conoco gas station, called Conoco Gas was also taken with the¬†EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at¬†f/9, 1/40 sec, focal length 16mm, and ISO 100. ¬†Lake Valley’s final resident moved out in 1994. (4)

The below photo,¬†Lake Valley, was shot with the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/13, 1/160 sec, focal length 24mm, and ISO 100. ¬†It’s difficult to imagine how well this city and its mines actually performed back in the day. ¬†Miners actually “tunneled into a silver-lined cavity they named the ‚Äúbridal chamber‚ÄĚ that alone yielded 2.5 million troy ounces (78 tonnes) of silver.” ¬†Lake Valley’s mines later “struggled and were worked only periodically into the 20th century” with the exception of the Second World War when the mines reopened “to produce manganese, and continued operating into the 1950s.” (5) ¬†Like most ghost towns, it’s interesting to visit Lake Valley but once you’ve got your photos there isn’t much else to do. ¬†However, if you really appreciate history, it’s a pretty cool way to spend the day.

Lake Valley


  1. New Mexico True. http://www.newmexico.org/listing/?lid=25885. New Mexico Department of Tourism. (Accessed April 19,2016)
  2. New Mexico True.
  3. Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Valley,_Sierra_County,_New_Mexico. Wikipedia. (Accessed April 19,2016)
  4. Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico.
  5. Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico.


Cars are one¬†of my favorite photography subjects, the lines and angles, colors, shapes, all present challenges. ¬†Lens choice completely changes the look of a car too, one reason I love the¬†16-35mm wide angle is that I can get right up on a hood ornament. ¬†Old cars represent a piece of Americana, a time when products were built to last a lifetime. ¬†Just take a look at any hood ornament and grill from the 1960’s or earlier, that one part of the car¬†represented what the auto maker wanted you to think about the entire car and the company itself! ¬†These car photos have something in common, their manufacturers all went out of business – defunct. ¬†I find most of these at car shows but have also found them¬†sitting on the streets, sometimes unrestored.

The above photo, titled Transtar, is the grill of a 1956 Studebaker Transtar¬†pickup. ¬†If I could make a living shooting car grills and hood ornaments, I’d do it in a minute because all have their own identity. ¬†The¬†Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company was based in Southbend, Indiana and while it¬†survived the Great Depression, it couldn’t survive the sixties; Studebaker went under in¬†March 1966.(1) ¬†The Studebaker Transtar was produced¬†from 1956-1958 and 1960-1963 in 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton, 1-ton, 2-ton, and even 2-ton heavy duty models. The Transtar name was eventually dropped and replaced with the Champ. Studebaker closed its US truck factories in December of 1963.(2) ¬†¬†One interesting side note,¬†the¬†wagons pulled by the¬†Budweiser Clydesdales¬†are “Studebaker wagons (circa 1900) that were converted to deliver beer.”(3)¬†Transtar was shot with a Canon 6D, EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens at¬†f/8, 1/100 sec, focal length 60mm, and ISO 100.



This photo, called Sportsman, is the¬†reflection of a 1959 Cadillac on the side of a 1959 DeSoto Sportsman that I found sitting in downtown San Diego. I wanted to capture these two classic cars at one time but keep the focus on the DeSoto Sportsman.¬†The DeSoto make was introduced in 1929 by Chrysler to compete with the competitor’s mid-priced line¬†of cars. The DeSoto brand was the lower priced version of Chrysler cars.(4) ¬†By 1960, Chrysler had “plans to modern DeSoto‚Äôs styling and image” but this¬†was negated when “production came to a halt November 30, 1960. Dealers were notified by telegram.”(5) ¬†Sportsman was shot with a Canon 6D, EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM¬†lens at¬†f/5, 1/80 sec, focal length of 31mm, and ISO 100.


Hudson Hornet Dash

On the right is the the dash and interior of an unrestored 1953 Hudson Hornet with the twin-H engine. ¬†In my opinion, this is one of the coolest cars to come out of Detroit, period. ¬†The Hudson Motor Car Co. was in business from 1909 to 1954. Hudson merged with the¬†Nash-Kelvinator Corp. to become American Motors (AMC) and the last Hudson rolled off the line in 1957. ¬†The¬†Hudson Hornet was produced by Hudson from 1951-54 and by AMC from 1955-57.(6) ¬†The Hornet featured a¬†“step-down” design with a dropped floorpan, chassis, and lowered center of gravity making it ideal for racing.(7) ¬†Hudson Motors was the very first automobile manufacturer that got¬†involved with stock car racing.(8) ¬†They “dominated stock car racing in the early-1950s, when stock car racers actually raced stock cars.”(9) ¬†This photo, Hudson Hornet Dash, was shot with a Canon 6D, EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at¬†f/8.0, 1/15 sec, focal length of 18mm, and ISO 100. Sometimes these cars are even cooler when unrestored.


Boat Tail Speedster

This is a 1935 Auburn Boat Tail Speedster, the¬†Auburn Automobile Company of¬†Auburn, Indiana began in 1874 and was “modestly successful until material shortages during¬†World War I¬†forced the plant to close.” In 1919, the company was sold and was only barely¬†successful until it was forced to close its doors during the Great Depression in 1937.(10) ¬†These 2930’s cars are incredibly impressive and beautiful in every way, not to mention they could hold 100mph! ¬†This photo,¬†Boat Tail Speedster was shot with a Canon 6D, EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens at¬†f/4.0, 1/400 sec, focal length of 24mm, and ISO 100.

The below photo, Woody, is a 1949 Oldsmobile Woody Wagon, a very cool car. I can’t help but think of Jan and Dean or Beachboy tunes just looking at this ride! ¬†Oldsmobiles were¬†produced for most of their¬†existence by¬†General Motors and it’s hard to believe they were around from 1897-2004. In those 107 years, Oldsmobile “produced 35.2 million cars” and when phased out in 2004 “was the oldest surviving American automobile” brand.(11) ¬†Oldsmobile was not the only company to make the “Woody” body style, they were also produced by Ford, Chrysler, Nash, and Pontiac to name a few. ¬†I wanted to shoot this car capturing wood sides that made it famous plus the owner’s preseutation from the back was really cool at this car show in Pacific Beach, CA. Woody was shot with a Canon 6D, EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens at¬†f/8.0, 1/80 sec, focal length of 24mm, and ISO 100.





1. Johnson, Dale (March 4, 2006).¬†“(Copy of)The last days of Studebaker. The Toronto Star. Archived from¬†the original.
2. Wikipedia, Studebaker Transtar, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studebaker_Transtar  (accessed February 23, 2016).
3.¬†“Clydesdales”. Archived from¬†the original¬†on 2009-05-09. Retrieved¬†February 2,¬†2013.
4. Kimes, Beverly (1996). standard catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. Krause publications. ISBN 0-87341-428-4.
5. AllPar, A Full History of Desoto, 2016, http://www.allpar.com/history/desoto.html  (accessed February 23, 2016).
6. Wikipedia, Hudson Motor Car Company, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_Motor_Car_Company (accessed February 23, 2016).
7. “1954 Hudson Hornet Club Coupe”. Popular Mechanics. April 1999. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
8.¬†Cheptea, Constantin (24 June 2006). “1952 Hudson Hornet”. TopSpeed. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
9.¬†Nerad, Jack. “Hudson Hornet (and racing) ‚ÄĒ as seen in Pixar‚Äôs movie Cars”. Driving Today. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
10. Wikipedia, Auburn Automobile, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auburn_Automobile  (accessed February 23, 2016).
11. Wikipedia, Oldsmobile, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldsmobile (accessed February 23, 2016).