Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Leading Lines

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #80 is about leading lines. Leading lines are one of the “rules” of composition: There are indeed “rules” of photographic composition, which like many other rules, are made to be broken. Whatever their skill level or experience though, understanding and knowing when to use the “rules” of composition can be helpful for any photographer. This week, our challenge will explore a key compositional element, Leading Lines. …Leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be helpful for creating depth as well.

This is how I spent the last two Junes, 2018 and 2019.

Our road trip (mostly) on Route 66: Sedona and Winslow, AZ
We visited the Painted Desert, too: first, horizontal lines.
Undulating formations which slope downward.
In Santa Fe, colorful pillars…
and a souvenir shop with paintings lined up along a counter.DSC_0626
When on Route 66, here’s a sight not to miss: Cadillac Ranch. It had rained the night before.

A year later, we were on a river cruise in Europe. One of the first ports of call was Cologne, Germany with its famed cathedral, with stained glass windows reaching toward heaven…
…and soaring arches decorated with sculptures of saints.
Later we crossed the bridge to return to our ship. The inner side of the bridge is covered with “love locks” – padlocks people leave in honor of their sweethearts. They stretch on as far as the eye can see!
Next stop was Marksburg Castle, which afforded beautiful views of the Rhein River and town below (I wish I could photoshop that pole out, but I don’t have the software).
And here’s a different view: a steeple rises up as seen through a turret.
Marksburg is definitely a “must” on any Rhine River cruise. It’s like a fairy tale castle!
Farther on down the river, a swan swam over near our ship.
We were passing through a lowland area.
I loved the small town of Miltenberg, which was so picturesque!
Inside a church, hymnals were stacked neatly in the narthex. One is drawn to the word Gotteslob, which perhaps means hymnal.
Our final stop on the cruise was Budapest, Hungary. A memorable part of the day we were there was a walking tour through the old Jewish Quarter.


Getting Our Kicks in the Texas Panhandle-Part 2 (Route 66, Day 7)

June 13, 2018                Amarillo, TX

We woke up to a much cooler morning. It had rained quite a bit and puddles were everywhere. After checking out of the hotel, we loaded the car and headed back to Cadillac Ranch. 10 vintage Cadillac models from 1949 to 1963 are lined up, nose down, facing west, supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramids of Giza!

When we got there, I realized we would have been better off coming yesterday – the entrance gate stood directly over a trail of mud puddles, 20180613_094015and the Cadillacs were no longer half-buried in the ground – they were now in the middle of a lake! DSC_0759The cars are covered in graffiti and visitors arrive with spray cans to add their own over the layers of graffiti from those who came before them. 20180613_094415As we walked toward the cars, we heard the rattling of spray paint cans behind us, being shaken by a group of young people. Discarded spray cans littered the ground, which was disheartening, since there are garbage cans just outside the gate, and a few people had sprayed graffiti on the ground as well as on the cars!20180613_094306
Cadillac Ranch was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, according to Wikipedia. The cars are arranged in order by model year, to show the evolution of their tailfins.
The installation was originally located in a wheat field, but in 1997, it was relocated by a local contractor to a cow pasture two miles (3 km) west so it would be farther away from the expansion of Amarillo.
Cadillac Ranch can be seen from I-40, but to get to it, you get off on a frontage road (the historic Route 66). Visitors are encouraged, although it is located on private land.
In addition, spraying the cars with spray can graffiti is also encouraged and the Cadillacs have thus lost their original colors, but they are now much more colorful! If the installation had been placed in a remote location, the cars could have maintained their original state, but that was not the artists’ intention – they wanted people to interact with it.
Periodically the cars are painted in various solid colors – once all white to film a TV commercial, once pink to celebrate the birthday of the wife of one of the millionaires who funded the project, and once black for the death of Doug Michels.
Occasionally they are painted solid colors to provide a “fresh canvas” for visitors.
In 2012, they were painted rainbow colors to commemorate Gay Pride Day.
The last time they were painted over, they lasted less than 24 hours in their fresh coat of paint before being attacked by spray paint again!20180613_094836
Well, no one was going to get near them the day we were there, although Dale did walk around farther than he should have in order to take photos at a different angle. DSC_0761
When he lifted one of his feet out of the mud, his shoe got stuck and he realized both of his shoes had sunk into the muddy quagmire so that they were mostly covered with the brown sticky stuff! He traipsed back to the car and removed his shoes and socks (also covered with mud) and threw them into the back of the car. The picture below was taken later, when he took them out at our hotel in Oklahoma City to clean them off!20180613_183445d
I was not happy with all the dirty smudges made in the back seat of my (new) car as a result!

We headed through Amarillo again on I-40. Once out in the country again, we saw alongside the road a shuttered business which had tried to capitalize on Cadillac Ranch – and the cars (Volkswagen “Beetles”) as well as the building itself were covered in graffiti!
The next attraction was the Leaning Water Tower of Texas (1.5 miles east of Groom, via I-40 take exit 114, go north to Frontage Road – which is what they renamed Route 66 after building the freeway). This was a tourist trap – standing in the middle of a farm field, the old-style water tower was built at a tilt to lure drivers off the road and into the town’s commercial businesses.

After that, we continued on the frontage road (historic Route 66) to our next stop – Shamrock, Texas. The U-Drop Inn and Tower Service Station (101 E. 12th St. – Route 66) is an example of art deco design from the 1930s. The Conoco gas station gained more recent fame as the inspiration for “Ramone’s paint shop” in the Disney movie Cars.


In contrast to the old-fashioned gas pumps, there were also these ultra modern Tesla electric car charging stations!

That was all we expected to see in Shamrock, but we ended up taking pictures of several businesses with murals painted on their facades.


Even a garbage can was painted with a Route 66 theme!
Besides the colorful signs of life in this town, as on much of Route 66, we saw plenty of shuttered buildings, which also made me a little sad to see.
20180613_121026.jpgDale speeded up as we reached the edge of town, but then I yelled, “STOP!” I had to take a picture of a typical Texas motel in which each of the guest room doors were painted blue with a white star in the middle. This, I could see, was a surviving (perhaps not thriving) business which seemed to be well maintained.
I took the photo above while Dale waited in our car, the Prius seen in the picture. I saw a half-dressed man looking out the door of one of the rooms and was going back to the car when he emerged from his room, having thrown on a shirt. He, as it turns out, was the proprietor of the motel, curious about who I was, and he told me the story about how the doors came to be painted with the stars and other local lore.
Our last photo opp in Shamrock:
Leaving Shamrock, we were only a few miles from the Oklahoma border. We got back on I-40 and sped on.

Getting Our Kicks in the Texas Panhandle-Part 1 (Route 66, Day 6)

June 12,  2018

Route 66 cuts across the Texas Panhandle, a part of the state I had never been in before. It’s only about 170 miles, so there are fewer Route 66 attractions. But these attractions were pretty cool!

Leaving New Mexico, we headed toward Amarillo, Texas, where we planned to stay overnight at a Best Western hotel.

We had been experienced temperatures in the upper 90s across most of the southwest, but on June 12, the thermometer soared to 104°F (40°C)!

20180612_165618We got off I-40 at Exit 18 and took about a 5-mile stretch of road (the original 66) through Adrian. When you get there, you will find a sign and a café marking the halfway point of Route 66 between Santa Monica and Chicago!

There are signs marking this midpoint. To take a photo of this sign, we pulled over and I got out of the car to cross the road, so that I would get a better shot. Due to the heat, the asphalt on the road was actually melting! Consequently a little asphalt got stuck on the bottom of my sandals.


There is also a store…
…the Midpoint Café…

…and a (defunct) motel that had seen better days!
Fortunately, Amarillo was only about 50 miles down the road, because it was already 6:00 pm and we were getting hungry. We hoped there would be a place to eat within walking distance of the hotel. We passed the most interesting Route 66 attraction in Texas – Cadillac Ranch – because it was so hot, planning to go back and see it the next morning when it would be cooler.

We checked into our Best Western hotel, and found out that they offered free shuttle service to a famous steakhouse called The Big Texan. Actually, it was just a driver in a big black car, and we only waited a short time for him to return from shuttling someone else over to the restaurant a few miles away.

The Big Texan is not exaggerating – it’s huge!!
It would be hard to miss, driving by – there is an enormous steer in the parking lot. This is me standing next to the big guy.
We met this quintessential Texan in the parking lot who agreed to pose for a picture with his longhorn adorned automobile.20180612_202037d.jpg
Past the giant steer is a Wild-West-style row of store fronts. Actually, it is a hotel apparently owned by the Lee brothers who own the restaurant.20180612_202320d
A somewhat battered sign told the history of the place:  Bob Lee opened the Big Texan steakhouse in 1960 along the historic Route 66.  However, 10 years later, I-40 was built, bypassing Route 66 and Mr. Lee suffered a dramatic loss of business. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – he rebuilt the Big Texan next to the freeway where cars whizzing by at high speeds would have a full view of the place. Needless to say, the Big Texan has enjoyed huge success since then and has become an “international icon.” 20180612_202233d


Danny and Bob Lee Jr. hold a deep appreciation for Route 66, without which there would be no Big Texan today. The cowboy-dressed dinosaur in the parking lot represents fond memories of giant dinosaurs the boys saw when their family took a Route 66 road trip.

Another sign advertises the Big Texan as the “home of the free 72-oz. steak.” What was that about??

It was past 8:00 pm and still the huge interior was filled with hungry people. It was quite noisy, but we were seated at the end of a long table, far from the center of things.

The interior is lined with the heads of various large game animals – probably someone’s hunting trophies at one time, with longhorns attached underneath. The waiters wear cowboy hats (of course)!

There are digital clocks on the wall, which periodically count down from 60 – and when it gets to 10 seconds, voices join in, like a countdown to the beginning of a new year.
This countdown is to see if someone will win the free 72-oz. (a little over 2.04 kgs) steak. Those who have strong (and large) stomachs that are up to the challenge can pay $72 for a 4 1/2 lb. steak, which is served to them along with the usual accompaniments of potato and vegetable. That person has exactly one hour to eat the entire steak and the vegetable and potato. If he (or she – the “winners” are not always men!) succeeds, the restaurant refunds their $72. We asked the waitress about this. She says that a few people try each day, but only one or two a month actually succeed. There is a display case showing the world record, which went to a woman – Molly Schuyler, who (normally) weighs only 125 lbs. (57 kgs.)!

Here is a prime example of why so many Americans are obese, we thought as we ate our $15 beef dishes. I cannot imagine stuffing that much food into my digestive system in one day, let alone one hour! People must get sick afterward! Dale and I calculated how many meals a 72 oz. steak would make for a normal meal – figuring about 4 oz. (113 grams) per person, that would be enough for 18 meals!

Besides the busy restaurant, there is a store and a game room, and they also have fudge for sale, so I bought some (not the best I’ve had, but good).

At about 10 pm, the chauffer came to pick us up and take us back to the hotel. (I gave him a tip although I had been told it wasn’t necessary.) As we were on our way back, the sky had filled with dark clouds and thunder announced a storm coming. It was raining hard by the time we got back to the hotel.