American Icons the Drive-in theater

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On December 31st of 2013 A couple hundred Drive-in Screens across America might go dark simultaneously, and never see another movie played upon them again.

Honda has combined in an effort to preserve our past to give away 5 digital projectors, to 5 drive in theaters who will be voted by the American public to get them. This will only be 5 out of a little over 300 Drive-in theaters to be saved. On December 31st, 2013 film companies will stop producing 35 mm film, and all theaters will have to make the digital conversion. These digital projectors at a cost of a little over 85,000 dollars are expensive, and most Drive-in theaters being open seasonally cannot afford this conversion. The theaters depend on donations, and contests like this to survive.

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The McHenry Outdoor Theater could be one of these that close. They are in this contest. Here is the link http://projectdrivein.com/vote_111.

Here are some things that will be lost not only the experience of seeing a movie under the stars, but also packing your kids up in the car in their pajamas, eating popcorn, hotdogs, and slurping a giant Coke. We will also start to forget Americana, poodle skirts, and Friday nights with classic cars, where carhops would bring you your food!.

The Drive-in became a part of Americana, and was featured in movies like Grease, The Outsiders, and classic Tv series like Happy Days. Please help if you have a local Drive-In that needs help, please vote, or donate they need your help. If we forget our past we will be worse off in our future!

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Drive-In Memories

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       Photo Above: McHenry Outdoor Theater, McHenry, Illinois

As the Sun starts to set, so does the time I knew. Growing up on Friday, or Saturday nights the parents used to get us in our pajamas, pack a couple of bags of Okee-Doke Popcorn, usually cheese and regular, and put us in the car and take us to the Cascade Drive-in, in West Chicago, Illinois. We used to go when I was real young in the 69 Camaro that was my Mom’s, or the 69 Barracuda which was my Dad’s. The Camaro was Blue with a white rag top, what a beautiful car. 

        When the upkeep got to expensive for those cars, my Mom and Dad bought an 83 Citation, It was Maroon with a Hatchback. Again they would pack us in that car, and at the Drive-in they would put the seats down, and we could lay in back. We would usually try to make it through the first movie, and sometimes on a rare occasion we would make it through the second one to.

      I remember seeing some great movies there, but before every movie they would either run a cartoon, like popeye, heckle and Jeckyl, or a Bugs bunny Cartoon. Sometimes if we were lucky they would run a Three Stooges short  until the sun set far enough down for the movie to start. This is not a practice alot of Drive-In theaters do anymore that I would love to see brought back.

       We saw such movies as Karate Kid 2, The Last Star Fighter, Space Camp, Starman, and the Three Amigos. Those days the theaters had playgrounds, of course they were monkey bars, swings and maybe 1 or 2 other items. Playrounds became a thing of the past when people became sue happy, and the playgrounds were all metal equipment. The Insurance companies basically told the theaters no more. Another sad notation in our American culture.

      Years later my family moved to the McHenry County area. It was fairly rural but the one thing we did have and still do, if we can keep it alive is the McHenry outdoor theater. I worked there 11 summers, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The crews I worked with became my summer family, and I even met my ex-wife there. Even though we wound up getting divorced we had 3 beautiful children together. My kids when they were younger would get in the car and we would take them because daddy was working, and they could watch a movie. They basically spent every summer night when they were younger at the Drive-in.

      Now the McHenry Outdoor Theater is facing its biggest challenge. It is becoming to expensive to run 35 mm film anymore, and alot of companies will not produce first run films in 35 mm format. Most theaters have now switched over to digital, and McHenry is trying to do the same. If they do not raise the money to put in Digital Projection they could be facing a grim, and heartbreaking future.

        Most Drive-ins I remember are now a thing of the past. I do not like this because people have become to lazy, and would rather spend time on their couch with cable or red box and watch movies in the comfort of their own home. I would rather be at the outdoor sitting in my car enjoying a double feature, or even a single feature because some theaters do not have double features. I want to eat popcorn, drink Coca-Cola, and eat hotdogs, pizza, and burgers.

     So far this year I have relived some of those old memories I went to the McHenry Outdoor a few weeks ago, and just last week I went to the Harvest Moon Drive-in, in Gibson City, Illinois. Harvest Moon Is a Twin Drive-in in the middle of Gods country. It is the worlds first wind powered theater, with digital projection on each screen. It has a wonderful little concession stand to.

     If you want to see the McHenry Outdoor stay open please patronize it, become a good customer. Lets not forget the Drive-In It is a good family night, and we do not want to forget the way America was. Thank you for reading this I really hope you enjoyed this!!!

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Photo above: Harvest Moon Drive-in, Gibson City, Illinois

Out and About

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          When I am out, and about sometimes, be it with my friends, family. or others I run across events going on. Well last week I wound up coming across the McHenry Cruise Nights, in McHenry, Illinois. It was getting near the end of the night, and the cars were getting ready to leave a few were left over.

      I kept Strolling Tripod in hand so I could get that shot I wanted, and I looked and sitting in the grass area next to the parking lot was what appeared to be an old beat up chevy. I walked up to the car, and started taking photos. The owner was nearby, and he stood and watched me take photos for a few minutes. His daughter was playing in the car, and he told his daughter hey look this guy with the camera is gonna make us famous.

      When I finally got up, I started talking to the owner. He introduced himself and his name was Ryan. So I politely responded ” Well that is close enough my name is Brian”. and we both had a moment of laughter. We got to talking about the car.

      Well while talking I learned that this car was in pretty bad shape at one point. He had told me he had purchased it for $800.00, and it was basically a rolling chassis, and had no motor, the floorboards were rusted, and the top half of the car had a tree fall on it. I was shocked besides the surface rust, and the gritty look it had, which I like by the way the car was in pretty good shape, and now ran.

      Ryan had told me he had banged the roof out himself, put in a 327, new floorboards, and some side panels needed to be replaced in some spots with a little bit of welding, and ingenuity. She even had the up and down AM Radio in her, although it did not work, the radio brought me back to growing up when that is all our Chevy Citation had!!!.

       After talking a bit we finally parted ways, and I looked through my camera and knew this was the money shot the one I liked. The next week I thought about it I decided this shot would look great on a shirt and decided to have it printed, and I ordered It. This is what being out and about gets me. Hopefully you all like the photo, and the blog that I wrote here!!!

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shooting photos at night!

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              So recently I have been out at night alot in different towns. Towns like Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, St. Charles, Illinois, and McHenry, Illinois. Most of these towns are near a major water source of some sort, be it a river, or lake. Being near a Major water source, and the vintage feel to these towns, they can produce some visually stunning images, such as the image above taken of the clock tower in St. charles, Illinois, along the Fox River.

       For this photo I had set the iso low I think it was about 200 , and I brought the F stop to about 20 and then set the shutter to bulb, and let the photo exposure for about 50 seconds. only problem I had that night was the fact I was in and out of buildings, and there was some dust in the air due to a nearby storm brewing, So between the Air conditioning in the buildings, the dust in the air, and the mosquitoes gathering in swarms around the river I would get some spots in the photo because my lens would fog from the air conditioning , and then the dust hitting the lens and sticking because of the moisture buildup, and mosquitoes who decided my lens was a good resting spot. When I went home I would notice the spots in the photos and use the patch tool in photoshop to remove them.

      A few photos I still want to get down the road from me there are 2 baseball fields, and the light towers sit above the trees and at night those lights light up the open field next to it. to me this causes me to think Field of Dreams. Another photo I want to get is rides at a carnival with a long exposure, and last but not least as many times as it has been photographed the Chicago Skyline at night!!! or dusk.

       So these are just a few things why I enjoy night time photography!! for the visually stunning photos, and hey when doing this DO NOT forget to bring your tri-pod your hand is not steady for 50 seconds let alone about 5 seconds. So good luck for all those who want to try night time photography.