Night Photography: Big M Automotive

During the March full moon, I made a return visit to Big M Automotive with Troy Paiva. The Big M specializes in 50-60's Mercurys and Plymouths. Welcome to fin-land! We've been shooting at this location since 2009, and revisiting these classic cars was a lot of fun. Many thanks to the owner for his hospitality.

The owner's wife told me that the lettering on this car was from an adventure where the owner & a friend parked this classic Cadillac in front of a casino, and hinted that The Big M might be giving away a car. Viral advertising with a sense of humor.

Technical details: Four exposures of 5 minutes at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 20 minute star trails. The light painting was done with a Stinger Streamlight flashlight from camera left. A low angle was used to skim the ground for texture, and emphasize the bulbous shape of the car. 
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 21mm.

I was scouting for interesting cars to shoot in the daylight, and was getting pretty free with my compositions. I took almost this exact same shot before sunset, and really loved the off-kilter compo on the back of the camera. Once the moon was up, I returned to do a light painted version.

Technical details: Four exposures of 4 minutes at f/9.5, ISO 200 were combined for 16 minute star trails. You can see Venus setting between the trees. The lighting was done with a Streamlight Stinger flashlight. The door, floor, and lower dash were done from camera left. Some additional fill and the speedometer cluster were done through the back window.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 16mm.

As a big fan of J.G. Ballard, the Ballard's Mopar Repair stencil on this car amused me greatly. Lining up the tree behind the C-pillar was the key to making the background work. This shot is pure moonlight.

Technical details: 4 shots of 5 minutes at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 20 minute star trails.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 16mm.

I saw the blue Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight next to the trees during my daylight scouting. I was testing my personal comfort zone with composition, and purposefully cropped out the headlight on the left. I also chopped off the right side of the Dodge on the right. But it still works. And it's fun. How much of a car in a picture is enough to get the idea of the car? No light painting here, just pure moonlight.

Technical details: Three shots of 6 minutes 40 seconds at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 20 minute star trails. 
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 16mm.

This shot was purposefully underexposed by a stop to keep the mid-ground dark, and have the sky look like night. I knew the two billboards would blow out, and lined them up in relationship to the car's headlights - almost like an afterimage. The light painting was done with a Stinger Streamlight flashlight from camera right. The lighting plan was just to light the "face" of the car.

Technical details: Four shots of 2 minutes 30 seconds at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 10 minute star trails. An additional exposure of 6 minutes at f/8, ISO 200 was made to have the option of more moonlit foreground and mid-ground detail, but wasn't used.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 22mm.

The instant I saw this Plymouth next to the field with the lights from town in the background, I knew there was a picture here. At first, I tried shooting from the side at a lower angle, to emphasize the rear fins. After some experimenting with the composition. a 3/4 angle provided the best view of the car, nice light streaks from the road, a good rhythm with the utility wire, and a cool backlit effect on the plants. I stopped down to f/11 on this shot to get the star shaped highlights.

Technical details: Six shots of 5 minutes at f/11, ISO 200 were combined for 30 minute star trails.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 30mm.

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