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
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