Elgin Park: Visual Memories of America from the 1920's to the mid 1960's at 1/24th Scale

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Member Reviews

This book reflects an interesting and unique project by artist Michael Paul Smith: he has created a fictional mid-century town. Using historically accurate car models (from the Franklin Mint and other sources), his own model buildings and roads, and his outdoor surroundings, he stages photographs that look remarkably real. It was especially interesting to see how he plays with the lighting in indoor and night scenes. Smith's photographs went viral on Flickr, creating a community of people who want to live in the imaginary world of Elgin Park. The authors have included some of the comments left on the photographs, but to me, these could have been skipped as the images and Michael's own explanations are compelling on their own.

In an interesting coincidence, I used to live in the next town over from where many of these photographs were taken, and have seen some of the featured buildings many times, so it was interesting to see them moonlighting in the dream world of Elgin Park!

I have several students who love to build models, so I plan to recommend this book to them as an example of how to share their work with a wider audience.
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Elgin Park: Visual Memories of Midcentury America at 1/24th Scale by Michael Paul Smith is a Photography coffee table book, an arts & crafts book, and even a bit of a memoir all in one beautiful package.

This fictional place, Elgin Park, may have started as Smith's memory of his home town but has become many people's home town, even if they weren't alive at the time. The photographs, which has gained a large Flickr following, draws everyone in. Some are fascinated, some like to get lost in the realism of the images, and some simply find it hard to believe that these aren't real full-size automobiles and scenes without the use of Photoshop. 

This book pulls aside the veil and shows the amazing work that goes into making these photographs. For readers, such as myself, who don't want to try to do something similar the details are still very interesting because this is a labor of love for Smith so looking at the detail work becomes a way of understanding him and his obsession. For readers who might like to try their hand at something similar, the ideas and tips, mostly through trial and error, will be very helpful. Before and after photos, for lack of a better term, also gives some indication for both kinds of readers of the need for trial and error as a planned part of the process. Finally, for those who simply enjoy the photographs, the prints are amazing, especially when juxtaposed with photographs that show the models outside of the scaled environment.

This book will appeal to a wide range of readers. If you see yourself as any one of the readers I mention above, I think you will love this book. It is beautiful, it includes some detail of the process, and it explains the love Smith has for the project, which ties it all together.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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Detailed, obsessive, beautiful. A great how-to on turning your private obsession into the light of day.
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Im fabricated by the 1920s! On a 1/24 scale author michael Paul Smith recreates 1920 scenes.  It's amazing to "see" the 20s come back to life in these pictures.  Educational.  
Thanks netgalley, author, and publisher for the advance read
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This book was just a little too negative and didn’t have the humor I would have liked.  There were a lot of blank pages in the ebook and the spacing was off. With a bit more humor added I Amy have liked it better.
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Unfortunately viewing this book in a pdf format on the screen does not give it justice. I would so love to view it properly as a hard back coffee table book. Something to pick up and devour at leisure in a comfy armchair.

However you can get the idea and there is stunning photography and art. This book is not just the photographs but the story and instructions about how some of the models were made. It's truly a work of art and I will be hunting down a proper hard copy to enjoy.

As it is a pdf I will mark 4/5 but I'm sure I would have no qualms with 5/5 for a hard copy.
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First of all, thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book. Honestly, when I first signed up for this book, I thought it would be a coffee table book of pictures. I was very very wrong and I couldn't be happier about that. This book takes you into immense detail about his 1/24th scale art, why he does, his passion for it, and the steps it takes to get his scales ready for photos. You see EVERYTHING and it's beautiful. The stories are great as well. You can tell this man pours his heart and soul into every thing he does with his scales. Perfect for someone into scale models, and also cars!
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I remember seeing snippets of Michael Smith's Elgin Park work in a History of Photography class I was taking at art school and being amazed at his ability to seamlessly blend miniatures with a background he had chosen from his world around him. It was beautiful. I initially decided to review this book because I thought it would be an expansion of Elgin Park: An Ideal American Town, but I didn't find that to be true unfortunately. 

So much about the Elgin Park photographs hinges on the ability to make 1/24th scale look real to the viewer, which Michael Smith successfully accomplished. This book is about his process through that, his commentary when he shared the images on a photo stream sight, and viewers responses to the photos. 

That's about all it was to me. I really felt this book was unnecessary and the viewers commentary was just placeholder material. It was so full of it, it detracted from the book and the process Michael Smith went through when creating the images.

Maybe it's because I'm a photographer, maybe it's because models aren't my thing. But I know for sure that this is for  very, very niche market. It's over 300 pages and to be quite honest with you, it was hard for me to get through them. 

Overall, if you are a fanatic of Michaels Smiths Elgin Park work, this book might be up your alley. If you like models, this book might also be up your alley. However, this is not a 'photo book' for the average persons reading I feel. I certainly wouldn't choose it to put on the barber shops coffee tables.
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Smith's meticulous attention to detail makes all the photographs in Elgin Park pleasurable to view at first glance, and the more you study each charming frame, the more you notice within it. The photographs reward either careful readings or quick scans, then, making Elgin Park the perfect coffee table book.
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This book prints the masterpiece of a genius. Michael Paul recreates the nostalgic era with his creative work and the book illustrate it from creation to realization. Excellent book!
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I'm auto approved with Animal Media Group books on Netgalley. This was published June 2015. So, it is content you don't have to wait to access.

Though I didn't check to make sure it's easy to find to purchase. I checked it out to browse with my nephew. But wanted to write a quick review of the book.

It comes with background information, images and comments from visitors who have experienced the miniature creations.

It's entertaining enough.  I will see what the nephew thinks tomorrow.
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I remember seeing a piece on NBC Nightly News years ago - probably when the first book came out - and it's always been on my "to read" shelf as it is a little hard to find.  So when this new book popped up in NetGalley I knew it was a must read!  This one was quite interesting - presenting not only the finished photographs but much commentary on how he created each one, his techniques and the work involved and whatnot, as well as selected comments from Flickr from when the original photos were posted.  Forced perspective is very cool, all around!  I mostly enjoyed studying the pictures, but any budding modeler or photographer would love the explanations too.
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This title had been languishing on my NetGalley shelf for a few months, and I am very sorry that I waited so long to read it! My husband and I have been discussing putting together scenes using miniatures for some upcoming art projects, and this book could not have been more inspirational.

I'd never heard of Elgin Park or Michael Paul Smith prior to seeing this title listed on NetGalley, but the instant I started reading the description and Smith's initial motivation for creating his 1/24th scale scenes -- needing something to do with his collection of die-cast miniature cars (!!) -- I could relate. My home is awash in miniature figures of all sorts, and while Smith focuses on buildings, cars, and the outdoors rather than on scenes focused on people, they are very evocative. A car door might be open, a newspaper sitting out on a counter - evidence that someone has been there. Except that they haven't, because the photographs are of miniature scenes he has staged to feature his collection of die-cast cars, many of them replicating historical photographs. 

You can see a lot of Michael Paul Smith's art on Flickr, along with adaptations made by fans who have inserted themselves or other objects into his scenes. The book is not only a lot of fun to look at, but a great resource for anyone who might be interested in undertaking a similar project, as he details the composition of a couple of his scenes and what he used to put them together as well as how he photographs them to get the best, most realistic results. 

I received access to this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Although the photographs are strong enough to stand alone as the main character of this delightful book, there’s another story: how a humble recluse who doesn’t even own a car has created an online community – a global neighborhood of young and old, male and female, many asking the same question: How does this guy do this? 

Michael Paul Smith is a GENIOUS!!! To call this art is almost a misnomer: it is art to the nth degree. I had never heard of his Flickr page and how he created these streetscapes and housescapes (it that even a word??) proves dedication and mad skills!  I am a definite fan of this book and would love to see more of his work online --- what a great Netgalley find!!
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A beautifully told and illustrated text about a fascinating topic.
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I enjoyed this book from beginning to end! The pictures are so beautiful and show you so much meaning behind them. They were captured perfectly! It actually made me pretty envious. Very quick read and so enjoyable!
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This was fascinating to me. I don't know much about model building besides the model trains that my cousin works on, so everything about this was interesting to me. I think my favorite part were the comments from others that accompanied each image. I didn't live during this time, but my parents did so I enjoy looking at how they grew up and the way things were when they were teens.
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Wow, what an interesting read! The intricate detail that goes into making these models is incredible and I am blown away by how amazing they all look! I am a vintage/rockabilly girl at heart and found myself smiling at these pictures, giving me the warm & fuzzies!
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This is an extraordinary body of work, and a fascinating book.

Elgin Park is the exploration of memory and fantasy by Michael Paul Smith, using metal cars from the middle of last century, combined with his model making skills and real backdrops to create scenes of everyday life. All of this is done without Photoshop.

Smith uses a perspectival slight of hand to situate imagined scenes into real backdrops. He places each scene with a road, cars and buildings on a table, using the real backdrops to incorporate a background, weather and the broader environment into each scene. The cars are 1/24th scale so everything incorporated into the foreground must work with the same scale. It’s a cunning slight of hand that gives a sense of reality to what is a complete construction. 

What is so remarkable is that even after seeing how Smith has set up a shot, there is a sense of reality in the work that encourages a more detailed viewing. It is as if Smith has captured the shot in the middle of some everyday scene playing out; someone has just ducked into a shop, or is in the front room practicing on the piano, or popped inside for a cuppa, leaving the ute in the driveway mid tire change. 

It is this sense of story that is so captivating. It isn’t actually the technique, although that is fascinating technically, but the stories that create the idealized town from mid last century. It is part idealized memory combined with the fantasy of what a community could be, that reveals how far America has traveled from this ideal as a country.

The book has been really well produced. It has lush photographs, and explanations from Smith that are often accompanied by comments from his online followers. Many followers offer great insight into how the work affects them. It gives the book an extra dimension to what Smith does as an artist. So often an artist will create work in isolation, with little or no engagement or feedback prior to an exhibition. In this case, modern opportunities presented by social media allow a community to spring up around the work and the artist, offering a more complex and sophisticated examination of American culture.

I highly recommend this book, for artists, photographers, model makers and sociologists. I found it fascinating.

Reading copy provided by NetGalley for an honest review.
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Thoroughly enjoyable book. Would make a really great coffee table book for many. It is perfect for anyone interested in 1/24 scale cars, Americana history of the 1930’s-1960’s, or photographs. 
I would have like a few more photographs, especially full page.
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