Targets of Opportunity

· Reading Time: 7 minutes

Sunday, October 27, 2019

I have been needing to work on a project for a few weeks now and finally had a clear night to go out and start working on it.  I can’t give a lot of details on it right now, but I am working on a filter review that might just prove interesting.  I have a few different locales that I want to use it at, so I am not anywhere near ready to do the review on it just yet.  However, the toughest test that I had planned for it has been done now, and I have to say…I’m impressed with what I’m seeing thus far.

Anyway, this first test took me into downtown Winston Salem last night in search of a parking garage to shoot from.  The test didn’t take that long and while I was doing some long exposures I was looking around at the scenery that surrounded me.  I happened to see a late model Mustang parked in the level below that caught my eye.  I thought to myself that I could actually have a little bit of fun photographing it under the artificial lights.  I started to get my mind wrapped around doing an automotive shoot when I was done with the evaluation images I was currently working on.  Within about 30 minutes I was finished with the task at hand and was starting to pack up my gear when I heard a car starting up.  I turned around and saw that the Mustang was leaving the garage.  Well, so much for that idea.  Just goes to show you that when you see a composition in front of you, you can’t trust that it will be there when you get back.  Always shoot what interests you when you find it.  The biggest lie we tell ourselves is we will get it later.

There I was ready to shoot some automotive images in the parking deck, with no subject to use.  I wasn’t ready to go home now that I had prodded my creative energies for a photograph.  I decided to go walk around for a bit to see if I could find something else that interested me.  What I hadn’t seen was the corner near where the Mustang had been sitting.  There was a late model Dodge Challenger parked just out of my sight.  It was nosed in, so all I had was a rear shot which wasn’t all that interesting.  Beside it was a nice late model Audi, but again, nothing all that special.  I could also see a sporty Mercedes coupe with a satin white paint job or possibly a wrap.  It had an interesting look, but not what I was looking for.  Sitting right there in the corner though was a late 80’s Jaguar XJS.  It was dark gray and was in pretty nice shape.  It was just old enough to really get my attention so I started to look at the available compositions.  It was parked right next to the Audi so I was limited in what directions I could shoot from to avoid including that larger car.  On the other side of the Jag was a large expanse of orange where the doorway to the stairs was.  There were some items of clutter on the wall that made me want to avoid it, but after looking for a very brief time, I embraced the wall.

What I was looking at was a very neutral scene with a gray car, in a gray setting, at night.  The only real splashes of color came from the parking lights which were orange and the reflections of the lights from across the street on the side of the Jag which were a warm yellow.  Looking at the scene, the color balance worked out so well with the orange section of the wall included.  The clutter that I was seeing was a doorway that actually helped to frame the image and balance the elements that were present.  There was an exit sign that I didn’t really think added anything to the image which was ultimately cloned out.  The large “Level 4” text on the wall actually helped to tell the story and provided a great element in the upper right third.  The “Downtown Winston Salem” sign gave an indication of place which I wasn’t upset with at all.  The fire extinguisher was the only part that I had a big problem with.  It was a bit too complex to really remove in post, plus there was going to be a reflection of it in the hood.  I figured that it would probably remain a part of the image so I decided to compose with that in mind and leave just enough separation between it and the car so that there were no issues with it being a distraction.  The splash of red, with the bright frame would make it fit with the scene well enough I thought.

I went ahead and pulled out my camera and fitted the 24-70mm lens on it because this is the best option I have for doing automotive photography.  It allows me a moderate wide angle which is usually quite flattering to the cars and also allows me to go to a telephoto composition if the situation calls for it.  I added my Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer filter to help control where the glare and reflections fell on the car.  I mounted it all to my Manfrotto tripod and started to find the right angles where I could get a dramatic image.  The front of the car was what I liked the most with the long hood, so I went with a front quarter shot to showcase that feature and have the orange portion of the wall take up the upper right of the image.  The plan was for the edges to fall in darkness to really pull the viewer into the scene.

On Another Level“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, Singh-Ray Color Combo Polarizer

I think I only shot about six variations on the image to make sure that I had one that would work for my needs.  It was unlike the majority of my automotive pictures since this car was in really nice shape and is obviously a driver.  This image was less about the car specifically and more about the setting and the entire composition.  Finding this color balance between the parking lights and the corner of the parking deck really made this image come alive for me.  The chrome sparkles added to the contrast of a darker area which I liked a lot.  There was even a reflection of the ceiling light on the hood that I was able to place right at the rear of the Jaguar hood ornament which I thought made a lot of sense to the image.  The fire extinguisher ended up having to stay on the wall, but it really doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, so I am fine with it being there.  The blending of light and dark, along with the warm and cool tones makes this image work for my eyes.  It might not be my typical image, but I think that my style shines through in it quite nicely.

The evening was a short one as I only shot 17 frames between my project and the Jaguar.  I looked for something else to shoot, but nothing else jumped out at me.  I have found a new outlet for doing some photography at night though because this was a lot of fun to work with.  I’m hoping that I can continue finding some interesting cars positioned as well as this Jag was.  For me, photography is all about seizing that moment and capturing something that just works, no matter what the subject matter is.  I would hate to think that I would have passed this by shrugging it off because there was no rust, and it was in a concrete jungle.  At the end of the day, the colors here are amazing, and I am so happy with how it turned out.

I’m glad you were able to join me on this short trek, and I will be filling you in on the other portion of it sometime in the future when I get all the testing done of the filter.  I think it will be a pretty exciting review actually.

Until next time…..

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