I’ve been keeping a secret from you.
Car Photography. I’ve never written about this subject in a professional capacity before. Since COVID has been pushing businesses big and small into oblivion, I thought I would write about something dear to my heart and try and stir up the universe to deliver some great news for a change. This post, and others that will follow, is about my love of the automobile. In some strange way, it’s more about my love of photographing the automobile. It won’t be in order, so every post will be a surprise.
Like this one for example. You’d think If I was going to write about cars and my experience photographing them, I would start with something still and luxurious like a Rolls-Royce, or a Bently. Instead, I chose to lead the series with a blurry photo of a car at night. See what I mean? SURPRISE!
ABOUT THE PHOTO
What you are looking at is a long exposure of a race car passing by me at the exit of a turn, at night. I shot this with a 135mm lens with the camera mounted on a monopod. The event was the 2006 edition of the 24 Heures du Mans (sounds like “van-cat ehrrr do mawh”) and this car was photographed at the exit of the Mulsanne Corner. The car had slowed to about 100mph to negotiate the corner and then I pressed the shutter release as the car ramped back up to 200+mph. Since it was a transcontinental flight, I was limited to bringing a monopod to support the camera. As a result, as I panned the car, inconsistencies in my horizontal movement added some of the vertical unevenness of the light streaks.
I’m not sure if I like it a lot, well, I do, but I don’t have an even-smooth version to compare it to.
How long was the exposure? What ƒ-stop did I use?
Whatever works. I know you don’t want to hear that. Why can’t (or won’t) I give you that information? Because this is art! What worked for me in this circumstance will not work for you in yours. Night car photography can be hit or miss, and it doesn’t all happen in-camera. Some of it you have to exploit in post-processing. I’ll give you some good working tips for photographing cars throughout the series.
In my next post, I’ll show you something slow and luxurious.