Cadillac Stack

People either love it or hate it; there is no in-between.


I woke up to 17-degree weather in Amarillo, Texas, home of the famous Cadillac Ranch.  Cadillac Ranch is a fascinating icon on historical RT 66. It is highly controversial for many reasons.  People seem to either love it or hate it; there is no in-between. Ten Junked Cadillacs buried nose down to the angle of a side of the great pyramids, which had to be moved once as Amarillo grew.  Now the Cadillacs are covered in graffiti which often sports interesting artwork in itself. People from all over the world stop to see it. Love it or hate it, one can’t argue that it has become a tourist Mecca and an icon in American pop culture.

When I moved to Amarillo, I found myself photographing the Cadillacs a lot.  They are bizarre and something to behold; the graffiti sometimes is beautiful sometimes not so much. There is little between the Cadillacs and the horizon which makes for wonderful sunset and sunrise photos.  

This morning I woke up before the sunrise and looked out my window, I saw the snow and the fast-moving clouds and decided that despite the subfreezing weather, pixels were calling.  But, where to go and what to do. Cadillac Ranch is not far from my house, so it was an easy choice. Time is very relative. Einstein, in explaining his famous theory, once summed it up something like this: “When you kiss a pretty girl, ten minutes can seem but a few seconds.  When your hand is on a hot stove, a few seconds can seem an eternity.” We think of time as a constant but if you’re a student of quantum physics, it runs faster and slower even in space.

In this one image, you are looking at about 45 minutes compressed down to one single image.  I did a time-lapse which I simply take sequential photographs which I eventually render to video.  But I often pick a few frames out of the series to use as single images too. There is a technique called time stacking where I blend and stack each photo in the sequence to the next one.  That unique process of blending, then stacking the photos individually, creates the streaky view of the clouds as they move.

Even with the automation of Photoshop, it can be time-consuming if you have a large number of photos.  This single image is comprised of 600 or so single photographs. It took several hours to process all of the images.  Forty-five minutes of photography equals several hours of processing, equals one image. All things are relative.

Cadillac Ranch was abandoned that morning.  That is a rare event. Most of the time, when I go, there are dozens of people milling around.  I love going because of this factor. Historic Rt. 66 draws people from all over the world. I have become friends with people from Japan, Holland, England, India, Bangladesh, Russia and Australia.  And with the magic of social media, have kept in touch with some. I guess 17 degrees F is too cold for most to brave. But the odd combination of the snow, the amazing sunrise, and the effect of the time-lapse creates a whimsical magical odd photo.  

One thing that is also interesting, is that this is a rare self-portrait.  While I was doing the time-lapse, the wind picked up a plastic bag. I didn’t want it fluttering in the photo so I ran up and grabbed it (my camera continued to bang away on the tripod).  You can barely see me. Follow the footprints in the snow. I stood there for a few moments before retreating. I knew that, because this was early on in the video, I could cut me out or…. I could allow the following frames to simply wash my image away leaving the faintest ghost.  Do you see me? My image is barely there. Again, the relativity of time. In a hundred years there will be little if anything left of our problems