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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rising Above the Crowd

I was watching Willard Van Dyke's documentary about Edward Weston last night (interesting, although it's a bit of a disappointment that Edward never speaks), which reminded me again that both Edward and Ansel, the twin saints of West-Coast landscape photography, had cars with platforms on the roofs, the better to rise above the crowds. A little poking around the internet then took me to this page, which, I believe, is the only instance I've seen of a car ad being pitched specifically to photographers.

When I was young I wanted a cherry-picker to drive around the country with. Now, being older and wiser (...and slower, fatter, lazier and less ambitious), I'd settle for a Mercedes Sprinter (a.k.a. Dodge Sprinter and Freightliner Sprinter) with a ladder up the side. Fortunately for me, when I sold my old Mazda, the buyer didn't ask about all the rumples on the roof, caused by (yup) me climbing up there with a camera.


Featured Comment by John: Willard Van Dyke!? That got me digging around in a print box. Here's a print by him done in 1937. The strange things one might find in a Milwaukee art gallery. Heck, anyone can own a Weston, but how many have a Van Dyke? ;-)

Featured Comment by Chris: Here's top UK landscape photographer David Noton standing on his LandRover Disco:


Blogger Mike Sisk said...

You need one of these:

Several features of interest to photographers includes: an out-of-sight underfloor pass-through compartment for tripods (originally designed for skis); a large sun-roof/hatch up top; and a hidden compartment behind the rear seat big enough for several bags of camera equipment.

Not to mention 20+ mpg...


5:55 PM  
Blogger thinkanythingonce said...

I showed the Sportsmobile to my wife and told her I wanted it as my next camera accessory.

She said that when I die, she'll print a picture of one and burn it, so I can enjoy it in the afterlife.

Thanks, honey!

8:22 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Not to be a buzzkill but I think that considering we're well in danger of wiping ourselves off the planet with global warming, it would be a lot more powerful and timely a discussion to be talking about how to take pictures standing on a backpack than talking about driving around some monstrosity for the sake of taking some pictures. Not that there isn't something great about photographs, but I think at some point each of us has to take some responsibility for the amount of fossil fuels we burn. It's too late to plead ignorance.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Mike Sisk said...

The Sprinter as sold in the US (e.g. only with the diesel engine) is rated by the EPA as a ULEV (ultra-low emissions vehicle) and, unlike many other diesel-engined vehicles, is even CARB-approved for sale in California. Plus, in my case, I buy mine a TerraPass to offset its carbon impact.

Unfortunately, in the US anyway, a landscape photographer really has no choice but to hit the road with their own vehicle if they expect to reach a variety of locations in a timely manner. And -- essentially -- hauling my own hotel room along has practical advantages.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Brambor said...

My wife is puzzled why I want a truck. ;-)

I keep eyeing the smallest truck to pitch a tripod and to have a gas mileage equivalent to my wallet.

7:24 AM  
Blogger JerryAaronHazard said...

Funny this should come up now, just stood on the roof a car for the first time a couple weeks ago and wondered how many others had done so. The roof is still 'contoured', by the way..

8:25 AM  
Blogger bjorke said...

...and of course for the Streetphoto type, be sure to add a rear rack for the Vespa

4:13 PM  
Blogger LostBryan said...

So, Mike, who did the conversion? It doesn't look like my Sprinter at all....

10:47 PM  
Blogger Mike Sisk said...

The conversion was done by Mercedes-Benz themselves -- or rather, their Westfalia division.

It's the american version of the James Cook Sprinter that until just recently was imported and sold in the US by Airstream.

12:58 AM  

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