Night photography: Revisiting the flying Imperial

Flying Imperial -- by David J. Lewis

Flying Imperial -- by David J. Lewis

Montana photographer David J. Lewis attended the Paul’s Junkyard Night Photography Workshop in April and produced a superb series of Mojave night photos on his trip. I was hanging out with David when he made the Flying Imperial photo, and this image turned out to be one of my favorites from the spring workshop. David’s image shows careful attention to blending moonlight with light painting, balancing highlights and shadows, and has texture and line to spare.

Last month during the fall workshop I was working in this corner of the yard with another photographer. We were looking at different ways to shoot the 1959 Imperial, and due to all the piled up debris, a 3/4 shot is really the clear choice. The moon was in a nice spot and the clouds were wild. I set up and made the image below.

Imperial etherial -- by Joe Reifer

Imperial etherial -- by Joe Reifer

As more photographers shoot at Paul’s Junkyard, we’ll see more photos of the popular subjects. There is a certain satisfaction in being the first person to make a successful photo of one of the many iconic cars at Paul’s. Kudos to David for killing it on the Imperial. Some photographers are more sensitive than others about setting up in other people’s tripod holes. Learning night photography is the same as learning to play jazz in this respect. If you hear a great song, try playing it. Puzzle it out. Deconstruct the reasons it works so well. There’s no trouble here, unless you’re playing a cover song and calling it an original. The crucial part of this process is to take what you learn and make something of your own.

Speaking of original work, don’t miss David’s Night Scenes gallery. The night photographs of snow covered cars in a Montana junkyard are superb.

Bad Moon Rising -- by David J. Lewis

Bad Moon Rising -- by David J. Lewis

10 thoughts on “Night photography: Revisiting the flying Imperial

  1. Good advice about shooting the same subjects.

    I think the Bad Moon Rising photo is a great example of using the headlight lighting technique in a unique way. The parallel with the moon is spooky. Awesome photo David!

  2. Thanks for the compliments! I like your take on the Imperial Joe. You had a great sky that night. Interesting seeing all the different views of the same scene. The camera set up was all mine but I must say that much of the light painting advise came from you Joe. Between this shot and the interior of the Hudson pickup truck that Troy helped me with, I gained volumes of night photography knowledge. That’s what the workshop is all about. I recommend them to anyone who’s remotely interested. I was most amazed by the creativity and skill of the other students.

    • You’re too modest. I just gave you a nudge in the right direction – you knew what to do. Really glad you enjoyed the workshop!

    • Nice jazzzzz analogy Joe. It’s fun to see everyone’s riff on the same subject.

      Cheers David, happy to help. Love that headlight image.

  3. Great post Joe! Very interesting to see the comparison. I fully concur with your praise of David’s photography. I took a spin around his smugmug page and the night images are amazing. Way to go David! Those winter images give me lots of ideas for my yearly Xmas trip to Norway.

    I like both Imperial shots. Great clouds in your image Joe. I like the spacey feel of it too. Awesome leading lines too. However, I love David’s light painting of the interior of the car. I agree David nailed this one.

    Too bad you’re not at Paul’s again this week! Won’t quite be the same.

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