A S C R A P B O O K O F S O L U T I O N S F O R T H E P H O T O G R A P H E R
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31 March 2017
Once upon a time, as every fable begins, there was a Concours d'Elegance auto show on the driving range of the Silverado Golf Club.
And on June 1, 1980 we drove up to Napa to have a look at the rare cars, "many of which have never been seen before," as the Healdsburg Tribune put it:
Concours brings field of rare cars to Napa
A field of rare cars, many of which have never been shown before, will highlight the 14th annual Silverado Concours d'Elegance Sunday, June 1 from 11 a m.-4 p.m. in the heart of the Napa wine country.
The Silverado Country Club driving range on Atlas Peak Road. Napa will be the setting for the event which benefits Children's Hospital Medical Center of Northern California. This edition is dedicated to the memory of Owen Owens, a collector of priceless cars and boats and past Concours chairman.
Some 250 vehicles, built from the turn of the century to 1955, will be competing for trophies in 30 classes (antique, vintage and classic).
Spectators will not only be able to view the unique cars, carriages, fire engines and motorcycles at close hand, but they can watch them drive by when the Parade of Champions starts at 2:30 p.m.
For the first time in the Silverado's history, two special prizes will be won by Concours patrons.
A 1950 Buick Super fourdoor sedan has been donated by Frank Stagnitto of Danville, member of the Silverado Men's Advisory Council which stages the Concours with its co-sponsor, Children's Hospital Branches. Inc., fund-raising auxiliary.
Another special item to be won is a double-bed size handmade quilt with authentic replicas of vintage and classic cars from the '20s and '30s. Jennifer Mutch of Oakland created the multicolored quilt and donated it for the Hospital's benefit.
The day is planned as a family event with food and beverage booths, picnicking on the lawns and lively music by the Rotarooters, a Napa Rotary Club band, which is donating its talents for the occasion.
Tickets ($3 for adults. $1 for children 5-12; free for younger children) will be available at the gate. For more information, call (415) 652-9202 or 655-2561.
We were just learning photography at the time, courtesy of an Argus C3 we picked up at the flea market. It had a leather case and both a 50mm and 35mm prime lens. As we recall, the damage was $10.
At the time, we were pretty sure they were among the first images we'd shot with our new Nikon FE. Processing the JPEG scans in Lightroom CC, the images looked like our Nikon D300 shots taken with our 50mm and 35mm Nikkor lenses.
These images are 37 years old. It makes you wonder if the cars on display have survived those 37 years too.
But we were mistaken. The giveaway was the parallax errors (and some lens flare) we committed in composing several of the shots. Rangefinders are like that. What you see in the viewfinder is not what the lens sees. And the closer you are to the subject, the bigger the difference.
We confirmed all this by digging through our personal archives.
We knew we bought the Nikon FE when Jimmy Carter was still president so it was sometime before Jan. 20, 1981. We didn't remember when the Concours was (or even where, frankly) but the cards on the cars in the photos revealed it was Silverado.
That's how we found the Healdsburg Tribune article. June 1 would have to have been the Argus. We bought the FE, our old notes told us, on Jan. 17, 1981 at Gasser's. And put it right to work:
We finally bought a camera of some refinement: the best 35mm available at the moment: the Nikon FE. The other night we took some pictures with it -- all sorts, time-exposures, flash, hand-held, tripod-mounted. Then I developed them and Joyce printed a few. We were amazed at the sharpness of the prints: to the pores of her face! I didn't know such quality was possible in such a small format!
We had a personal interest in that particular Concours.
Our godfather was showing off his recently restored 1949 MG TC with right-hand drive. He'd acquired it to commute to UC Berkeley after the war, a daily driver that needed weekly lubrication. He never got rid of it and finally restored it himself (with his wife doing the leather upholstery).
So the whole family showed up.
Old cars are certainly interesting, from the rumble seats to the spares to the golf club compartments and the woody trailers, all of which you'll see in this slide show. Old pictures of old cars are not quite as compelling.
But we were amazed at the quality we could wring out of the scans. Just kicking up the Clarity made a world of difference. We sent them to Photoshop to remove the scratches, something we don't have to do with digital originals.
These images are 37 years old. It makes you wonder if the cars on display have survived those 37 years too. The Silverado Concours unfortunately hasn't.
We can tell you that the cars we drove up in that day mostly did not either. The 1966 Chrysler New Yorker is still running but the Pontiac Sunbird is long gone and the Toyota pickup a memory too. Even funnier though, is that they almost didn't make it through that day, with the Chrysler losing a fan belt and the Toyota blowing a tire on the way to dinner.
Good thing the show ended in the middle of the afternoon.