Cars and Ghost Signs by Tom Pawlesh


1928 Model A Ford Leatherback Sedan. Photo: Tom Pawlesh

1928 Model A Ford Leatherback Sedan. Photo: Tom Pawlesh

Tom Pawlesh got in touch and shared his cool collection of images composed by juxtaposing ghostsigns with a variety of classic cars. He has currently amassed almost 50 in total and I was happy to hear that Tom is already in contact with Dana Forrester who has drawn a similar connection between ghostsigns and cars. Here are some of the images from Tom’s collection, and some of his comments about them, and the processes he uses to create them.

1929 Ford Model A Cabriolet Coupe and Mozart Savings sign, Pittsburgh, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

1929 Ford Model A Cabriolet Coupe and Mozart Savings sign, Pittsburgh, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

I asked Tom about how he got into this line of activity.

“I became interested in ghost signs when I spotted a Champion Spark Plug sign on an old garage near my home. I thought the sign would make a good background for vintage car photography. Then I decided other ghost signs would make good backgrounds for vintage or classic car photographs, as each image would have two points of interest, the car and the sign.”

1931 Ford Model A Tudor Deluxe and Owl Cigar sign, New Kensington, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor Deluxe and Owl Cigar sign, New Kensington, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

Here’s how Tom sources the original images that are brought together to form these compositions.

“I use the internet to locate ghost signs, and attend car cruises to photograph cars. Since most ghost signs are located high on buildings or in narrow spaces, I cannot physically pose the car with the signs. Because of this, my final photographs are made up of two or more images.”

1931 Model A Ford Station Wagon and Champion Spark Plug sign, Mt Lebanon, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

1931 Model A Ford Station Wagon and Champion Spark Plug sign, Mt Lebanon, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

1937 Ford and Gold Medal Flour sign, New Kensington, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

1937 Ford and Gold Medal Flour sign, New Kensington, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

And finally, some comments on the techniques used to create the final composites.

“I use Adobe Lightroom for the initial edit of the car and ghost sign photographs, before combining them in Landscape Pro. Although my final goal is to create automotive art with ghost signs, I am also documenting the signs before they disappear forever.”

1942 Ford Business Coupe and Bloch Brothers Tobacco, Carnegie, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

1942 Ford Business Coupe and Bloch Brothers Tobacco, Carnegie, PA. Photo: Tom Pawlesh.

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