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Stabroek News

AUTO FOCUS
published: Sunday | May 8, 2005


Photographs by Howard Moo Young (The yellow Morris Minor 1000 taken in Cuba)

Howard Moo Young, Contributor

One of the most dominating influences of life today is the motor car: coveted by almost everyone, cramming our highways and byways, towns and cities to bursting point. At the same time, it is both a nuisance and something very enjoyable to own and, in the right conditions, drive. Isn't it always the other driver who gets on your nerves?

Photographically, the car is a constant subject for newspapers, advertising, motor car supplements and so on. But for the hobby photographer, it is perhaps one of the least inspiring subjects, certainly where the mass production and 'deportee' models are concerned. Today's models sometimes tend to look so much alike, it is difficult to produce more than just another record of just another car.

Nevertheless, there is a natural wish to include cars amongst one's subjects, and my attitude has been to shoot whatever may present itself in the daily use of cars rather than consciously set out to take shots of them. If I had to do it, I would try taking either good quality 'straight' images, which show the car in a flattering light, or move in close and concentrate on a part of a car, such as making an abstract-like study of headlamps. Here one can employ a more imaginable approach; using the car to create a photogenic composition.

Travelling around Jamaica, and even abroad, means constantly seeing cars; so much so that most of them make no real impression (unless one bumps into you!). A visit to Cuba some years ago, made a lasting impression on me when 15 of us, all photographers, visited Old Havana for five days. Ninety per cent of the cars were all classics in tiptop shape, it was unbelievable! Sometimes when you take a town or village scene, or a landscape, the parked cars within the view can be a nuisance. However, by carefully selecting a suitable viewpoint they can be part of the composition. It all depends upon the subject, as shown in the picture of the yellow Morris Minor in Cuba, or the white Austin Cambridge cruising through Holland Bamboo in St. Elizabeth.

There are still some outstanding - usually very expensive - models being made, and in the right setting, these do inspire one to take pictures of a car. This also applies, of course, to those odd occasions when one comes across a fascinating veteran or vintage car, but these are so photogenic, they are quite another matter.

stunning vintage vehicles

Last week Saturday, April 30, members of the Jamaica Classic Car Club presented a stunning array of vintage vehicles at the Liguanea Club to the delight of the many car enthusiasts who turned out to feast their eyes upon these beauties. President of the club, William Potopsingh, car enthusiast and photographer, invited me to photograph the cars on display.

I used the opportunity to capture hood ornaments, front grills, rims, steering wheels, dashboards, fenders, trafficators, horns and headlamps. Having arrived late in the afternoon with the sun behind the clouds, I took advantage of the ambient lighting to capture the subjects without the harsh shadows. Nevertheless, I found myself back there early Sunday morning, with a few of the

cars returned to their places of safety. The bright morning sun brought to life the true metallic colours of the exquisite Jaguars sitting quietly, including the classic V12 ready to pounce.

The viewers had the opportunity to relive a little of the past and imagine how these wonderful machines were the transport of yesteryear. I can still remember, as a little boy, staring in awe from my father's grocery shop at Manchester Square, at the top of Duke Street every evening, at the 'Studibaker', a car that appeared to be driving backwards, and the black 'Mayflower' that was 'squared off sharply' at all the edges. I still can't forget the first VW bug (with the sweetest gearbox around) that crossed my path, the subject of one of the best advertisements ever created in the motor car industry. I remember the fleet of black Vauxhalls, used by the police force way back when. Did you know that a Citroen motor car was actually driven through busy Crossroads on only three wheels, to the amazement of everyone?

Many times I could recall seeing Alexander Bustamante flashing by in his two-tone Buick, decked out in his 'Tower Isle' shirt, or Norman Manley speeding around the corner behind the wheel of his black Jaguar. And many of us remember Hugh Shearer, looking quite dapper, as he cruised along Barbican Road in his metallic gold two-seater sports Benz.

I will never forget Sir Winston Churchill and his wife on their first official visit to Jamaica, being chauffeured in the silver convertible Austin Princess escorted by outriders on their Triumph motorbikes. That car would be a real 'classic' today, maybe it's stored away at King's House.

most popular Ford

My family's first car was a black Morris Minor 1000 that I crashed into the gate post of our family home as a learner driver. I remember the day when my parents bought a spanking new burgundy 1968 Ford Cortina 'E' from Caledonia Motors with walnut panel board and chrome rims, it was a real beauty! This must have been the most popular Ford car to hit the shores of Jamaica, with the 'Lotus' model as the fastest car around at the time. The many accidents involving the 'GT' version wasn't a 'good thing', and drove up the cost of vehicle insurance.

Having come to appreciate these works of art, I hope that these photographs will drive you to take camera in hand and do likewise. Can you imagine what a collection of today's vehicles will look like 35 years from now?

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