The Ranch House Cafe

When I arrived in New Mexico a few weeks ago, I planned to spend a couple of days in Albuquerque.  From there, I would head east along I-40 to Tucumcari, a town on the former Route 66.  Tucumcari’s glory days were probably in the 1940s-60s, when Route 66 passed right through the center of town, with motels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses vying for the traffic. The population peaked in 1960 and began to decline by 1980.  The town was bypassed by I-40, and the traffic along Route 66 declined precipitously.

Today, a vintage motels and restaurants are still in business, but many are struggling.  Others have disappeared altogether, and sometimes only a rusted sign remains.  On the western edge of town along Route 66, a sign still stands for the Ranch House Cafe, which is long since closed.  The sign is in a general state of decline, and an old Chevy sits next to it, gradually sinking into the ground.

I went to this site hoping to take a sunset picture, but there weren’t many clouds in the sky.  That meant the chances of color spreading throughout the sky were low.  As the sun dropped lower, it peeked through the rotting slats of the truck bed.  I waited for the sun to get in between the slats, then shot this photo creating a sunstar effect:


The Ranch House Cafe sign and truck

The Ranch House Cafe sign and truck


These sorts of photos are reasonably easy to take.  Make sure the sun is just barely showing, almost completely blocked by something else in the scene.  Set your camera aperture with a high F-number (small opening).  F16 and above should work.  The quality of the sunstar will vary by lens — some will be sharp, others more bland.  The number of rays can depend on the number of blades in the lens aperture mechanism.

I had a great time in New Mexico and will be sharing more photos from various towns.  I also shot film, plus some vintage digital cameras, so more to come!



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