traction avant

(from the vietnam gallery)

Why I never throw anything out


We paid a visit to the Crazy House in Di Lat, Vietnam. It is a Gaudiesque construction owned by it's Architect.

Stabled in a glass-doored garage was a Light 15 Citroen circa 1950.

If you have seen the movie The Quiet American set in Saigon during the French rule you will see one being torched. Those of you old enough to remember the French TV detective series Maigret will also know this car.

I grew up with Citroens. My father (an Architect) owned a Light 15 at the time he was courting my mother... I think the story goes that driving his Citroen he chased the bus that she was on trying to get her attention ...well that worked!

Mum called Dad's Citroens his French mistresses....he spent a lot of time under them.

Crazy House

Anyway a photo was necessary.

The shooting was challenging through the reflections on the glass. So on the first review of the shots I relegated the raw files to the "thanks for the memory" pile.

Two lessons I've learned when it comes to reviewing and editing  a collection are:

  • sleep on it and,
  • disable the delete button.

stabled citroen


So when I returned to this series of photos there was something about one of the shots that appealed: it was taken low down, it had some strong design elements that captured the essence of this beautiful piece of automotive design and it had an almost monochromatic palette. The exposure was right so there was room to move in the raw file. I thought it was worth rescuing from the pile.



The challenge was to clean it up. I use Picture Window Pro...I've resisted the Photoshop route (maybe a subject for another ramble).

So it was a case of crop, paint, clone, and masking (21 in all) for selective contrast, brightening, saturation, blurring and sharpening. Eight hours later there was a tidier image.

I had a vision for this as being a black and white image but had two versions the other one colour. You can get too fixated particularly when you are close to something so I called in the Sanity Committee and she reckoned that the colour one was better.....and as usual, in-spite of her protestations of aesthetic incapability, she was right.

The specularity of the headlamp, the fender and the patina of the old chrome trims and fittings reflecting the blue sky and the ochre pavement in the court yard outside added much more to the emotional content.

The proof is always in the print and this print framed will be added to Dad's collection of Citroen memorabilia.
 as printed

as printed

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These works by Mahn England is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.