When some people see the above photograph they typically assume I was just walking by this little tableaux and happened to have my camera with me and took a picture. The truth is much more complicated than that. Let me tell you the story.
It began with a request from a local racer and car collector’s significant other to photograph her boyfriend’s cars as a birthday gift. I suggested a location at an outdoor living history museum that has a relocated 1920’s gas station located on its property. I asked for and received permission to photograph the cars shortly after closing when nobody but the curator would be there and the light would be just right.
Then I assembled a team including drivers that would bring the cars to the location—I drove the ’56 Nomad. The little caravan included a chase truck filled with camera equipment and a tall ladder that I planned to use as a shooting platform. When we arrived at the collection, one of the cars, the ’56 convertible, had a flat tire and we had to put the spare on. Then on the way over to the museum the ’57 Bel Air tossed a wheel cover and we had to retrace our steps to find it. Thankfully.
When our merry band arrived at the museum, the parking lot was packed with cars because an emergency meeting of the board of directors had been called. I asked the car owner’s SO if she would ask the people to move their cars and while they were glad to oblige, it took time.
Rather than playing it by the seat of my pants, I had made a sketch of the final composition and gave it to my assistant and between the two of us we gradually moved the cars into position that you see in the final composition. All this took a lot more time than making the actual photo—I was perched atop a 25 foot ladder—that was made with a Canon EOS 10D with a 16mm lens and an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/16 and ISO 100.
And yeah, he liked his birthday gift just fine.
Joe is the author of a new e-book called “15 Tips for Better Car Photos.”
Sponsored by PMA – It’s not too early to mark your calendar because this is big. For the first time in the USA, the PMA tradeshow and conference will be open to the general public – September 6-11, 2011 in Las Vegas. See you there – http://bit.ly/9yaL2I