Black Hole Sun-2017 Eclipse trip

I had the opportunity to drive to Nebraska for the Total solar eclipse this past August to view it as it passed over in the path of totality just outside Alliance. My plan was to go to Car Henge, however that was a zoo of humanity by the time I arrived. So, I headed a little south and found a spot off the highway about 5 minutes before the event. I have never shot any type of eclipse before, so I was really winging it with how to set up the camera for success. I employed my Nikon D810 with a #2 ND filter on my 80-200 on a Gitzo tripod. It worked well considering how quickly it all took place. The whole event lasted maybe 2.5 minutes and then the traffic jam started. So Many cars! I was lucky to know the area and escape out a few back roads that most don’t know about. Alliance behind me, I made tracks to another destination-The Badlands National Park for a little night shooting before heading back to Minneapolis. It was a perfect night as right after the eclipse was the new moon. A completely dark night in a completely dark space. I even took the opportunity to do a little light painting trick on my car utilizing my iPhone as my weapon of choice. I do this trick by setting my camera up for either a 30 second exposure or BULB if I need more time. The lens is generally set to infinity. I take a base exposure set for the ambient scene at an ISO between 1600-4000 depending upon my intent. Once I get that set, I can start the trial and error that is light painting. I find the key to success is dark clothes, moving quick and flagging the light from the lens. That way the camera won’t see you. And a little magic pops up on your screen after a few attempts. Enjoy=)

Our Fairlady


My love for the Datsun brand of automobiles goes back to early childhood. I dug all their cars. The B210, 810’s and trucks were RAD. But, my true affinity was for their “Z” or “Fairlady” models. I spotted my first Z car when I was just a 5 or 6 years old. It was love at first sight. Sleek lines, European design nods. What a sexy machine! I never forgot how cool it looked flying down the road. At 16, the opportunity arose to own an 1981 Turbo coupe. I seized it!
Unfortunately, it had one of the worst cases of “cancer” I’ve ever seen in a car still on the road. Complete with holes in both the floor boards large enough to brake like “Fred Flintstone” using your shoes. The paint was a root beer brown metallic (commonly referred to as the sh#t brown shade). It had t-tops with cracks in the glass. The dash was cracked. I wish I had pictures. It was a sight for sure. But, she was a Turbo. And they were just as rare and awesome a find back then as they are today.
I only drove her for a few weeks before I had to concede that she’s was no longer road worthy. She was parked on the hill at my dads house until ultimately the scrap yard got it. Sure wish I would have saved the motor!!!
Bummed, I moved on and found a 1982 non turbo 5-speed. This one more suitable for fixing up. Over the summer of 94, a friend of mine helped me redo the body and we painted it Jaguar Hunter Green Metallic. It looked sweet! Again, I wish I had pictures. I drove that one for almost a year before I sold it in a lapse of judgement. Replacing it with a series of cars that never measured up.
That second Z taught me a lot about how to fix, maintain and improve the ZX platform. It’s powerful straight 6 coupled with a smooth manual transmission putting power out to a solid independent rear suspension system. It could easily match and often out drive a Corvette in handling. Simply put, this is one of the best sports/grand touring cars ever made.

Fast forward to my 40’s,  I have a son of my own. I though, “how cool would it be to keep the tradition going?” I decided it was time to find a sweet machine to build as a father/son project. One I can pass along to him some day when he’s ready. I searched all over the USA for 4 months seeking just the right one. It was rather difficult as these cars were know to rust out after only a few years or be trashed out by people looking for drift cars. We lucked out when this absolutely beautiful 1982 Fairlady showed up for sale on the Oregon coast. After several messages between the seller and I, we agreed on a price and the adventure was set. You see, I wasn’t going to buy a car like that and have it shipped back to Minneapolis. My son and I were going to fly out west and drive it home. Together. And that’s exactly what we did.

We flew out to Portland, Oregon where the seller agreed to meet us with the Z. It was even better looking in person! After settling up, we loaded her up and headed home. I figured we should get a jump on those memories. So we headed up to Canon Beach, down PCH to Crater Lake. Across Idaho to Yellowstone and then finally to the Devils Tower where I taught my son how to shoot pictures of the Milky way and constellations. It was awesome. We had a 10 day adventure that I’m sure he’ll look back upon fondly for life. Especially from the seat of that car someday.