Aug 10

Mini Postcard from Road America

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Given the tight weekend schedule, I wasn’t expecting much time to get out and explore this weekend. But, on the way to the track this morning I decide to see if I could come up with a good cup of coffee. I took the exit of State Highway 23 into downtown Plymouth (Wisconsin), knowing it’s a quaint town and might have a nugget or two tucked away. Low and behold, I couldn’t have been more right.

As I drove down East Mill Street, there on my left the word ‘espresso’ caught my eye. I immediately parked the car and discovered a very cool building housing the Exchange Bank Coffee House. It looked too good to be true.

To get the point, this place was fantastic. Situated in the historic Exchange Bank Building, the Exchange Bank Coffeehouse occupies the corner space once home to the Plymouth Exchange Bank. Built in 1906, the Sheboygan County Landmark building remains one of Plymouth’s finest examples of the classic revival style.

According to the Coffeehouse’s website, he bank’s interior is virtually unchanged making it an ideal location for owner Leon Rabuck to create a unique, comfortable place to relax and enjoy high-quality coffee and a light meal. And I’d have to agree.

Leon is a friendly guy and genuinely appears to enjoy what he’s created. The counter sports a dropdead gorgeous Italian La Marzocco espresso machine with (count ‘em) four brewing heads. This is the big time, folks. The coffee was excellent and my Breakfast Muffin… seemed like an inside out cinnamon roll… totally hit the spot.

Not open on Sundays, I’ll have to delay my next visit until next year… but rest assured, this will be where I’ll be hanging out anytime I’m at Road America.

Images were created with the Leica M (240) using a Leica 35mm Summicron and processed with Aperture.

Exchange Bank Coffeehouse
301 East Mill Street
Plymouth, WI 53073
1-920-893-2326

©2014 | T H A W L E Y


Jun 08

May 13

The Revs Institute

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Located in Naples, Florida, The Revs Institute is a mind boggling tribute to the automobile. It exists, in their words, for ‘Elevating the study of the auto.’ And elevate they do. The 80,000 square foot facility was purpose-built and, again in their words, ‘dedicated to achieving world-class excellence.’ Mission accomplished.

While visitors will certainly be blown away by The Collier Collection … over 100 influential cars… the facility also includes a private archive and research library comprised of over a million original documents and 20,000 book titles. All available to serious researchers both on-site and online. This includes books, periodicals, over 700,000 photographic images and ephemera.

And if that weren’t enough, there is a Revs program at Stanford University. The program is an academic interdisciplinary project that focuses on the automobile as a technical, industrial and aesthetic human achievement, as well as a social change agent and powerful historical force. You can learn more about the Revs Stanford program at revs.standford.edu.

But lets get down to the most visual feature of Revs, The Collier Collection. This was my mission for today’s outing… and the only disappointment was I hadn’t allotted enough time.

I had heard about the Collier Collection when I first moved to the area, but getting access seemed to be a well kept secret. Every lead ultimately fizzeld out. Then just recently, Tom Reusse, a gentleman and friend who runs a local photo club, invited a few of us to visit The Revs Institute… all of a sudden, everything fell into place. Finally, The Collier Collection had found a home and a safe and secure way to present itself to the public.

For obvious reasons, the collection takes up a large portion of the 80,000 square foot facility. It’s on three floors and is divided into four group exhibits:

AUTOMOBILITY: The Car. The Road and Modern Life
VITESSE: Sports Motoring and Motoring Sports
PORSCHE: Designed to Excel
REVS: Racing Cars and Racing Men

Trust me… while every important car might not be represented, every car represented is important. The New York Times recently declared this the finest sports car collection in a America. You can view quite a few of the cars on the Revs’ website at http://http://revsinstitute.org/the-collection/

Every detail of Revs raises the bar. The lighting, the displays and, most importantly, the access is a feast for the senses. There are no barriers to prevent you from standing toe to tire with the very first Porche 550-01, Clark Gable’s short-chassis 1935 Duesenberg SSJ or the very first Ferrari race car to be imported to the United States. The experience is like no other.

I arrived armed with two Leica rangefinders, an M (240) and an M9… one mounted with a 28mm and the other with a 90mm. I had originally planned on shooting only in black and white…. that was until I came face-to-face with the #23 Martini Racing 1971 Porsche 917…. and the best part, it was unrestored. Oh my. For three hours I roamed around. There were times I didn’t know where to look first. The word incredible falls short.

I’ll definitely be going back. I think I could easily spend an hour photographing each car. 

Visiting hours are 10am-4pm, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All visitors must reserve tickets for specific dates and times in advance. Regrettably, walk up visitors cannot be accommodated. Reserve tickets online, or call (239) 687-REVS

For now, here is a humble offering of what I saw today. Enjoy.


Apr 27

Honor Flight

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Saturday night, April 26, Marlon and I were treated to a very unique and humbling experience. We were invited to the home of our friends, Kim and Chuck Anderson. The occasion was an evening of barbecued burgers, a movie and a trip to the Southwest Florida Regional Airport.

The movie was a documentary called Honor Flight, an incredibly moving documentary that tells of a national movement of people who set about to honor our World War II veterans by organizing and mobilizing trips to Washington DC and making sure our veterans have the opportunity to visit the World War II Veteran’s Memorial. The film and the stories of the organizers and veterans alike was truly awe-inspiring.

If you are not aware of Honor Flight, I urge you to see it… and to find out more about our World War II Veterans. As we are told in the film, these unsung heroes are dying at a rate of 900 per day. It is important we acknowledge them and thank them now. They didn’t simply make America free… they made the entire world safer and helped end an era of what easily could have become a world of people living in tyranny.

Our friend, Chuck, became active when the company he works for, Swiss watchmaker Breitling, honored World War II veterans with a limited-edition watch collection and contributed a percentage of the proceeds to the Honor Flight Network. It was at Chuck’s invitation we went along to conclude the evening at Southwest Florida Regional Airport celebrating, applauding and thanking the Collier County chapter of Honor Flight upon their return home from their Honor Flight trip to Washington DC.

As I said at the beginning of this journal entry, the experience was both unique and humbling. I’m forever grateful for Chuck and Kim’s invitation and the exposure to this incredible group.

Here are a few snapshots of the evening. No high art here… but hopefully the imagery is enough to move you to check out Honor Flight in your area. These men all walk among us… and they are truly are heroes.

Find out more about Honor Flight at: http://www.honorflight.org/

And the movie, Honor Flight at: http://www.honorflightthemovie.com/


Working Toward A Reasonable Level of Confidence


I can recall the moment like it was yesterday. I wanted a rangefinder. I wanted a camera that was tidy, discreet and would shoot like a boss.

My friend, Mike Levitt from LAT USA, let me try two of his… a Leica M8 and an Epson RS. Both very, very cool looking and equally as cool feeling. So off I went to roam the paddock.

Upon my returnto the photo room, you have know idea how disappointed I was. Sixty images… three in focus. I was stunned and totally disheartened. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to focus. After all, I started shooting in the 70’s…. all you had was manual focus. No… the problem was my eyes. Time had caught up with me.

Fast forward a few years, I had found a reasonable source of satisfaction for my rangefinder jones and was shooting with the Leica Digilux 2. I loved the camera. But along the way, I picked up a couple of converted Polaroid Pathfinders… vintage folding Polaroid’s from the 1950’s. Oddly… they used a rangefinder focusing system. Lo and behold, I discovered that if I used my reading glasses I had great success in focusing.

From there I jumped into a Leica M5… it was great. I was shooting with a rangefinder and loving it. But I wasn’t loving the workflow involved with film. The next step was obvious.

I soon swapped the M5 of a digital M8.2 and ultimately the full frame M9. Heaven.

Shooting with a rangefinder, for me, is the most satisfying and enjoyable form of photography I’ve ever done. I love it. I can’t get enough. I love the challenge. I love the process. And I love my time doing it. It’s personal. It’s emotional. It’s incredibly (creatively) satisfying.

I’m telling you this because I’m beginning to finally feel “in control” of this journey. Shooting with a rangefinder isn’t easy. Well… it is, actually. But we tend to make it complicated with our own fears. At least that’s how its been for me.

When I say “in control”… I guess I mean relaxed, confident, comfortable… and, yes… in control.

I’ve been taking my Leica along with all my Canon gear, to every race for the last two plus years. I’ve been trying to work it in to my workflow whenever possible…. though not at the risk of missing opportunities that result in necessary images for my client.

This weekend at the Long Beach Grand Prix I chose to use my Leica exclusively for all of my background and atmosphere shooting. All my personal and spadework was done with the Leica M along with the Leica 35mm Summicron and 90mm Summarit lenses.

I’m thrilled with the results.



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