Now no one’s ever going to accuse me of being a motorhead any more than they could accuse me of being a gearhead. Cars don’t provoke a tachycardic enthusiasm from me in the same way as other subjects do. But there happened to be a car show at a summer festival nearby yesterday so I ambled along with my camera to see the display. I was certainly tempted by the beautiful lines, form and colour of classic car anatomy.
Perhaps in keeping with my relative ambivalence I only took one lens with me, mounted to my E-M5 (no bag or accessories or even a lens cap; just the camera and lens). The Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 pancake is not the best or worst lens on the planet but it does allow for a light and compact set-up to walk around with (in contrast to the few visitors sweating profusely with their DSLRs and backpacks in the humid afternoon heat!). It also focuses pretty close and quickly.
Having one prime lens, of course, also forces one to think more about compositional options. The 40mm equivalent field of view did make some of my framing choices a little tight, as you can see here, but it also helped me exclude unwanted elements, such as the hordes of people wandering around. It was not easy to isolate a car from the one next to it but with a tighter field of view the cars could fill the frame and bring the viewer closer to them.
No one will accuse me of finding particularly original compositions either but I did try looking for more interesting angles and spaces to shoot from. Sometimes it’s enough to just focus on the details and features rather than the entire vehicle, and such features were often more interesting to me than the car as a whole.
Forgetting to bring my polarising filter led to some vigorous head-banging against a few bonnets but once I regained consciousness I realised that the reflections in the windows and metal panels actually gave me some appealing results.
A polariser would certainly have helped me see into the interiors through the windows but all that would have given me were images of the interior. Luckily on some cars the windows had been rolled down.
And speaking of reflections, it’s always an easier way of taking a selfie :)
Cars mean engines and mechanics, of course, and there was ample opportunity to capture the internal organs, albeit while suffering the deafening roar of their revving.
All of these images were shot using the flip-out LCD to frame and the touchscreen to lock the AF point and shoot. I shot in Aperture Priority at a variety of apertures and between ISOs of 100 and 200. The camera chose the shutter speed, of course. As many of these were classic and muscle cars I processed the images in Lightroom to emphasise the shape and form of their anatomies, pushing the contrast, black and white points, and clarity sliders to deepen the blacks and accentuate the lines. I’m sure someone will someday write an article about tailoring one’s post-processing to the subject but alas it won’t be me. I just did what I felt worked for these images.
For certain shots, I found that black and white was appropriate to the subject, either because it was an older car or because it enhanced the classic appearance. Or simply because colour added nothing to the overall image.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed at least some of these. T’is the season for summer fetes and festivals so do get out and have a look. There will always be something to shoot and make a study out of. Try to pack light, perhaps using just one small lens or a compact camera so that you don’t become consumed by the image making endeavour and actually enjoy the experience of whatever it is that you are shooting. It will also allow you to hold an ice-cream in your other hand. That’s obviously way more important than the photography.
More images from this car show can be seen here.