Category Archives: Engineering

Bob Shell: Car Reviews in a Photo Magazine?

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Cars. Rush Hour Boston, Mass. Photo: David Pang, Copyright 2018

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 Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #24

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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CAR REVIEWS IN A PHOTO MAGAZINE?

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At some point in the mid-90s, Don Cooke, our national sales manager at Shutterbug, had an idea to diversify our advertising base. Glenn Patch, Sbutterbug’s owner, had a policy that there would never be any tobacco ads in his magazines, so we turned away their money, but what about car ads? The car companies had crazy money to throw at magazines, too. Don had worked for car magazines in the past and knew everyone in that business. He thought a series of articles on cars for photographers would get the attention of the right people.

That’s why I found myself early one cool desert morning in a parking garage at McLaren Airport in Las Vegas picking up the keys to a sparkling new black Land Rover Discovery. Don had arranged this through the president of Land Rover U.S.A., who was an old friend. I was to take the car out into the desert for a week and put it through it’s paces as a field outfit for a nature photographer. I’d brought a bunch of outdoor gear with me on the overnight “redeye” flight from Charlotte, and I loaded it all into the Rover’s cavernous back.

In the 70s and 80s my “go anywhere” vehicles had been Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruisers, first a 1966 that I bought from Arthur Godfrey (now there’s a story for another time) and later a 1972 that I bought new for $ 3,400. That sounds cheap today, but in 1972 that was a relatively expensive vehicle. The FJ-40 series were built to withstand rough use and to last, but in common with other Japanese vehicles of the day, the steel used to make the body panels was prone to rust. Both of mine suffered from body rust. I see that restored FJ-40s are commanding high prices today.

I backed the Rover carefully out of its parking place and headed out for Highway 15 northeast and let the big V8 open up (I love to drive fast!) My destination, The Valley of Fire State Park. I’d conducted photo workshops there for years, ever since Wayne Collins and David Brooks had hipped me to the location back in the early 80s. The Valley of Fire is one of the prettiest places on the planet, and in all my world travels I’ve never found a better place for photography. The red rocks and clear desert air cast a warm glow on anything and anyone you photograph there. Of course, if you’re doing commercial photography there you need to jump through some hoops, get a photo permit, and pay into workman’s comp for any assistants and models you use. I was keeping it simple this time, no assistants, no models, just me and the car, and a basic photo permit. I did have to get special permission to go off road, and the rangers gave me a limited selection of places where I could do that, and a couple of brooms to hide my tire tracks going off and back onto the road.

You may not know it, but unless you’re that rare person who never watches TV, you’ve seen The Valley of Fire. It’s a favorite location for commercials for cars, and many other products, and as a standin for other planets in SiFi programs.. At the time of writing there’s a commercial for “tactical” sunglasses airing on ESPN that was shot there. Being located not far northeast of Las Vegas, it’s convenient to Los Angeles and the photo and movie businesses. If you saw the movie Star Trek: Generations you’ve seen the Valley. The climactic scenes of the two Captains fighting Malcolm McDowell was filmed on the red rocks there. It was near those rocks that I chose to position the Rover, on top of a big rock.

I’d decided to shoot medium format in case we wanted to use one of the pictures on the cover, so I’d brought my Mamiya 645 Pro and 50, 80, and 150 Mamiya lenses, and several “bricks” of Fujichrome Provia in a Styrofoam cooler. Of course I’d brought a sturdy tripod (I don’t recall which one, probably a Manfrotto) and my Sekonic light meter for both spot and incident readings. I didn’t anticipate needing any wider or longer lenses, but had a 30 fisheye, 40 and 300 in the bag just in case, and I turned out to shoot most of the photos with the 150, a few with the 80. The light was perfect, a high overcast sky serving as a giant softbox. We did use one photo on the cover, and some detail shots with the article. We got a lot of reader feedback, most of it positive, with a few, “Whaddaya think you are, a car magazine??” letters. Unfortunately, the hoped for advertising never materialized, and we never ran any more car tests. But a while later my friend Scott, who worked for Nikon, stopped by my house in his brand new — Land Rover Discovery! He said he’d bought it on the strength of my review. So Land Rover sold at least one car from our experiment. Too bad the advertising didn’t follow, I was looking forward to test driving other cars in a variety of locations.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/09/bob-shell-the-weinstein-matter/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Advertising, Blog, Cameras, Friends of TWS, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Beach Report: Last Days of Summer

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Margate City, New Jersey

 

 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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BEACH REPORT: LAST DAYS OF SUMMER

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Like most folks that visit the Jersey Shore during the summer months, I usually visit Margate City or other shore points between  the Memorial and Labor Day weekends, when thousands of people from Philadelphia and the surrounding area flock to various New Jersey shore points to enjoy the sun and the surf.  In recent years, there has been much concern about the New Jersey shoreline as it has taken a beating over the years because of the increase in violent tropical storms that continue to erode the beaches all along the New Jersey coastline.  The Army Corps of Engineers were brought in to fix the beach erosion crisis that emerged after hurricane Katrina, but a small pocket of resistance to the corps efforts surfaced in the borough of Margate City, New Jersey.  A group of wealthy property owners with multi million dollar investments on or close to the beach in Margate organized a legal effort to fight against an order by then Governor Chris Christie, to allow the corps to make improvements to the coastline by creating sand dunes to sure up eroded sections of the beach.  After hearing the pros and cons surrounding the eventual decision that the dunes be installed, neighbors continued to be concerned about the aesthetic and practical changes to their beloved summer destinations.  

My personal opinion is that the Army Corps of Engineers performed an incredible job by transforming and protecting the shoreline from the eventuality of even greater threats from future tropical storms and or hurricanes.  There are thousands of beautiful newly planted dune brush growing steadily along the shoreline as far as the eye can see.  Long blue mats run from the beach at entry points in Margate City near landmark Lucy the elephant where the dunes transformed the landscape.  From that point forward beach goers are required to walk on the newly installed  sand as they look for a place to to set up  beach chairs and surf boards in preparation for a care free and relaxing summer afternoon.  The great thing about the Jersey Shore during the period after Labor Day is  hardly anyone is there.  You almost feel as though you have the beach all to yourself. I imagine the dunes plantings will grow considerably taller and more lush by the Spring of next year.

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Tony Ward Self-Portrait. September 6, 2018

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About The Author: Tony Ward is a master photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Tony Ward, Click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/04/diary-a-fashion-shoot-at-the-jersey-shore/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Mu Qiao: The Shape of Water

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Photography and Artist Statement by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

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The Shape of Water

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“Water is the source of life”. Water, the basic element of life not only bred and maintained life, but also became the basic environmental factor of human society. The physical and chemical properties of water make it possible to exist in nature in three forms: solid, liquid and gas, and participate in the ecological cycle of nature. Therefore, water is omnipresent. It is as large as a vast ocean, as small as raindrops on glass, and even as invisible in the body of animals and plants. In addition, with the process of industrialization and the continuous development of modern urban civilization, water has more mixed forms, such as drinks and wine, and participates in urban landscapes such as rivers and fountains. Since then, water is not only an element of life, but also a carrier of life.

This portfolio focuses on the impact of water as a natural, environmental, cultural and life factor on human life. And the relationship or interaction between human activities in water bodies. Photographs of natural factors include rain, snow, and other weather scenes in Philadelphia’s city streets. The photos of environmental factors include the landscape of the coastal or riverside cities. Cultural factors include human recreation or fishing in the water. Photos of wine and drinking places are examples of water as a factor of life. The natural landscape is presented with a wider viewing angle, black and white colors and horizontal composition. Objects and activities are expressed in smaller perspectives and prominent colors. I hope that through this series, readers will be aware of the importance of water in our lives, discover the details and beauty of water which we usually neglected.

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About The Author: Mu Qiao is a Graduate student enrolled in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Mu Qiao, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mu-qiao-the-game-of-sunshine/

 

Also posted in Blog, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Wenjia Guo: View on the Roof

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Photography and Artist Statement by Wenjia Guo, Copyright 2018

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View on the Roof

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As an architecture student, I always treat design as a process of choice. Choose to show the real structure or hide with decorative materials. Choose to display the mechanical equipment or dress up with modernist elements. It is the same with the photographic medium, photographers choose the light, the subject, the environment as well as the attitude. So, this time, I used my pictures to discuss something that architects tried to hide from the public, the roof view. Nowadays, architects value roofs as the fifth façade. They came up with the concept of a green roof tried to turn the roof into a positive element in life and the environment.  However, during  development over time, architects used the parapet wall to prevent people from easily seeing the roof from the ground. I found several roofs to photograph and recorded these views. From an aerial view to observe these buildings, I found them familiar and strange. The equipment on the roof is still in the quiet of day there to complete their functions, do not look forward to my visit, but once I pay more attention, the snow in spring, the narrow skylight, the huge heating all tells their own story. Architecture design for me is a way of expressing my thoughts to the world and  to photograph structures like this provides me with an opportunity to read to the world.

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Portrait of Wenjia Guo by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Wenjia Guo by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

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About The Author: Wenjia Guo is a Graduate student in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Wenjia Guo, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/wenjia-guo-travel-friends/

 

Also posted in Architecture, Blog, Cameras, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, Travel, UPenn, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #8

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Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

 

 

Letters From Prison: Part 8, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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As I said earlier, in the early 70s I was working for a small TV station in Roanoke. I did a little of everything; ran a camera, directed, produced live TV shows, even introduced late night horror movies on Saturday nights, even filling in for the weatherman on our local news a time or two. It was a real shoestring operation, and when we picked up our paychecks we had to rush to the bank and cash them because those brought to the bank later frequently bounced. The best paid were the engineers, so I went down to Atlanta and took a crash course in electronics at the Elkins Institute, took the government test and got a first class FCC license. Suddenly I was an engineer! In those days the FCC required that an engineer be present at the TV transmitter at all times when the station was broadcasting. Our transmitter was atop Poor Mountain near Roanoke, to get the widest coverage. I got to work there on a “road” that was really just a fire trail. Luckily my car at the time was an FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser with four-wheel drive, a real mechanical mountain goat that could go anywhere. Amazing vehicle that I kept into the late 80s, and was sorry to part with. I retired the Toyota in favor of a Citroen DS21. Eventually I owned seven of these wonderful French vehicles, ranging from early 60s models to my last one, a beautiful sky blue 1972 model, the last year they were sold in the USA. I bought all of the special tools, shop manuals (some in French), and learned to do all my own maintenance. These cars have an active hydropneumatic suspension, that makes them seem alive. The softest ride ever. Jay Leno says his DS21 is his favorite of all his cars to drive. Of the many cars I’ve owned I could say the same. I stuck with the Citroens after they stopped selling in the USA because parts were sold by Peugeot, but then they also pulled out of the USA and parts became harder and harder to get. I ordered from Holland for a while, but finally gave up and sold my last one to a homesick piano tuner from Paris.

I seem to have gotten sidetracked into automotive things. I love a number of things, and cars are just one more. I can’t bear owning any mechanical device without knowing how it works, so all of my cars, household appliances, and cameras have been taken apart and reassembled. My old friend Marty Forscher was the dean of camera repairmen. He ran Professional Camera Repair in NYC for many years until he retired. He told me he taught himself how to repair cameras by completely disassembling a Rolleiflex, putting all the parts in a box, shaking it up, and then putting it back together. I did the same with an old Pentax Spotmatic, and only had a few parts left over!! So I signed up for the old National Camera home study course in camera repair and learned to do things the right way. For years after that I made money on the side fixing cameras. But that ended when cameras became heavily electronified, and required specialized tools and equipment that were brand specific and were too expensive for anyone outside a factory repair service. No room anymore for a generalist mechanic. I did for a while sort of specialize in repairing the Swiss Alpa cameras that were literally built like Swiss watches, but they went out of business and that work dried up. So my sideline of fixing cameras came to an end except for an occasional favor for a friend and tinkering with my own equipment. Today’s digital SLRs are foreign territory to me and too expensive to risk messing up.

That being said, I took to digital very early on and learned Photoshop before there was even a version number. I believe I shot the first totally digital magazine cover (for PIC magazine in London in 1993 or 1994.). I’ll tell you all about PIC next time…..

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-7/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women