Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I have been photographing my new girlfriend, well not really, just my 2014 Jaguar F-Type. At my age, the car is the next best thing! It’s been challenging to think of new ways to approach shooting the car. I have tons of standard shots I haven’t shared. They are mostly documentary shots. This is how the car looks, etc. Now it’s time for something different. I want to show off some of the amazing details in this car. The headlights were the first place I wanted to go to work. I made some shots of the lights from different angles and under both studio and outdoor conditions, but I just wasn’t excited about any of them. Then I got an idea.

I photograph cars on race tracks and in garages and in studio and on the road. Clearly cars are meant to be driven so I don’t like working indoors on car shots as much as I do working outdoors. But outdoors presents all sorts of technical issues related to sun angle, reflections, specular highlights, etc.

But as luck would have it, when I set out this day to shoot, I had a rare Las Vegas overcast sky to work with. That gave me what I need to execute my shot.

Jaguar have gone to great lengths to make every inch of this car special. Even the headlights wear the Jaguar name. I wanted that part of the headlight sharp and in focus, but I didn’t care about the rest of the photo being sharp. I set my focus point on the word Jaguar, made my aperture f/5.6 and shot at 1/250th of a second, hand held.

Since it’s hard to focus on the headlights when the car is moving, I shot the car stationary. I decided to interject the idea of motion by using the moving cloud reflection in the lights. I got the movement I was looking for. The wispy clouds were floating by overhead. I positioned the car in a place where there was open shade and a chance at a good sky reflection. The clouds recorded as some sort of ethereal movement and even though the car was not moving, I introduced the concept of movement into the photo without so much as starting the car’s engine. The motion in the sky was reflected on the headlight just as I had hoped, but it didn’t distract from the Jaguar lettering inside.

I got the shot I pre-visualized. Whether it works or not is a whole different question. But I got what I wanted. And for me, that’s always the best test. If I get the shot I was going for, it’s good for me and it’s the best I can do. If other people like it – then it’s a bonus. If the client likes it – even better. But here – I am shooting for a personal promotional calendar for my racing team so I AM the client. And I am a happy one.

Regardless of whether or not you like the photograph, the lesson here is try to have an idea in your mind before you pick up the camera. Then try to make THAT shot. It’s not easy but it sure is fun and rewarding – when it works that is.

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