Fire! What a collection of trucks, cars & stuff

But not easy to photograph

Recently my camera and I had a field day meeting up with Pat Aust, the retired fire chief for Redondo Beach, to see his unbelievable collection of stuff. I was on assignment for the Easy Reader, a community newspaper that covers the South Bay area of Los Angeles.

When you have a 1,400 square foot garage to house 13 of your vehicles, underneath a 4,000 square foot home full of automobile, fire fighting and 1950s memorabilia, you know this guy is serious. So much so, he has another facility as well, to hold onto the rest of his vehicles, which includes a 1921 American LaFrance fire engine. That’s where we sat and did one of our interviews. I’d love it if you clicked the link above to watch the video.

I call this a Photowalk newsletter, following my adventures in photography, with occasional tips on how to be a better photographer, so I thought I’d give you some behind the scenes on the challenges of this highly entertaining shoot.

When you stuff 13 cars into a garage, you don’t have a lot of room as a photographer to get your bearings. Here Pat is standing in front of an old Fire Chief car, lit by the available light from the garage door. I couldn’t move back much, because there was a car behind me. I thought these shots were pretty good until I got home, and realized I’d photographed him with the car cover mostly on. DOH!

I called Pat afterwards and asked if we could meet again, and maybe this time remove the covering on one of his fire trucks? This one was taken at his overflow facility, where I had the same issues. It was so cramped I couldn’t move back far enough to show the entire truck. But at least it wasn’t covered!

Getting in tight on the cars and signs really helped tell the story without too much distracting clutter.

These shots should have been great, but I messed up. I first snapped it on my Sony A7C with a 24mm lens, which is a wide angle view, but in this case, not wide enough. I missed a lot of the soda bottles, beer and motor oil signs, hats and such. So I switched to the iPhone and tried it as a panorama, which is a super wide shot. I asked Pat to stand in the middle of the room, with his fire hat on. So far so good.

And I did indeed pick up way more stuff, making the room look that much more impressive. But he just stood there with his arms by his side. Imagine if I had said, “Hey Pat, how about extending your arms out,” to say, “Look at this amazing collection?”
That would have dramatically improved the shot, IMHO.

My favorites are these two environmental portraits, showing Pat at home, surrounded by his stuff, and in the top shot, doing something. He’s with an old “speaking trumpet,” which the fire officials used to use to bark out orders before amplified speakers came into being. What’s your top pick?

The week’s tech headlines:

You’ll probably be waiting for that new iPhone: Every year Apple tends to sell out of new iPhones early, but this year, it said to except more severe wait times when the company releases its new lineup in the fall. Problem: that same worldwide chip shortage that has plagued new car shipments, video game consoles and computers.

Your old Kindle will stop working. If you have an edition that connects to 3G wireless networks, it will become a brick, at least when it comes to downloading new books. Beginning Dec. 1, Amazon warned owners of the popular e-reader device they won’t be able to connect to 3G to download books, and so have all sorts of offers to buy new replacement models at a discount. The Verge has the skinny.

Elon Musk wanted to be CEO of Apple? A new book claims that the Tesla CEO tried to sell his then struggling car company to Apple in 2016 and that the Apple CEO agreed. However, Musk, according to the book, insisted that he be CEO. Not just of Tesla, but Apple as well. Cook, the book claims, said, “F*** you,” and hung the phone. According to Gizmodo, both Apple and Tesla deny the story. But it’s a fun read.

Leave a comment


My friend Wade came over this week to check out one of my cameras, and since he was there, I figured, why not pick up the guitar and play some tunes? I’ve got 8 classic themes in this short clip. Can you name them all? (Thanks again Wade!)

From guitar slinging and cartoon Jeff, thanks again for taking the time to read, watch and listen to the weekend installment. Please let me know your thoughts, with a HEART or reply. And tell your friends to subscribe!




Jefferson Graham's newsletter
All about Tubi
Photowalks, my travel photography series, moved to Tubi this weekend in a new and expanded longer format, produced in association with Rugged Entertainment. Watch here:, but better yet, please check it out on the TV, where it looks awesome…
Read more
Jefferson Graham's newsletter
But wait, there's more! Remembering Ron Popeil
Ron Popeil on the cover of the “Salesman of the Century” book, which I wrote for him in 1993 Ron Popeil died this week. You may not know the name, but you do know the lines “But wait, there’s more,” and “Set it and forget it.” “As Seen on TV,” was a Popeil invention…
Read more
Jefferson Graham's newsletter
Stupid things: Clapton, Bumble & Grindr
Stupid things people did this week: For years, I’ve been ranting a simple truth: if you don’t want people to know about something dumb you did, keep your mouth shut on social media. Or, if you have an opinion that is sure to crater your career if you say it aloud, keep those thoughts hidden…
Read more