I (try to) post a “car photo of the day” at least once a week 😉 through the year for all my car guy friends to guess, talk about, tell stories, whatever. I figured I’d use one of the last days of the year to post my favorite photo of 2007.
This is Philippe Reyns’ Jaguar XKSS.
Those of you that have followed along with my vintage rally stories over the years know that I am passionate about photographing cars, but I never really talk about HOW I do it. Here is a glimpse of what happens on the other side of the camera for a shot like this…
I took this photograph while hanging out the passenger door of the 65E on the fourth day of the Going To The Sun Rally last September. I have always had a serious attraction to D-type Jaguars and being in their presence is magical. I think I took a zillion photos of the two XKSS’ at the rally this year – most of them while sitting still. The morning we left Banff the light was just perfect and I prodded Shaun to drive fast and catch somebody so I could get some great pics. Shaun drives my car too slow. 😉 Thankfully Philippe & Francoise caught US as as we climbed a long grade out of Alberta and towards British Columbia. Through some frantic hand waving and gestures I made it clear that I wanted to “hopscotch” the cars… passing then re-passing each other while I took photos. Philippe instantly understood my intentions and performed wonderfully. In a series of two or three passes I was able to fire off a dozen or so shots. The light was better as we passed the XKSS, than when he passed us. I was really looking for a low & behind shot of the diminutive Jaguar, but in the end it was this close up frontal 3/4 view that provided the best image.
At no time was I able to look through the viewfinder when I took these photos. I set up the camera, and held onto it as best I could, and at full arm’s length operated the shutter while doing my best to point the lens at the subject… as we passed it. I knew the shots I was looking for even before a subject car arrived, so the camera was set up: wide-angle lens, set to auto-drive, strap wrapped around my wrist with enough slack to move the camera body around in my hand, but not enough for it to get away should i lose my grip. As we approached the subject from behind I would open the car door with my left hand, and slide my right hand and camera out the bottom, hold the door with my left hand and depress the shutter with my thumb as I craned the lens toward the car as we passed. As we slid back into our lane I’d pull my hand & cam back in the car and raise up to a kneeling position facing backwards. As the subject car passed us I’d shoot with my right arm held as high up as I could, with the camera pointing at the subject. I’d be holding onto the luggage rack with my left hand. I have the seatbelt wrapped around my legs and butt to keep me in the car. I’d sit back down then signal Shaun when I was ready for him to pass for the next shots.
I don’t have professional gear… just an old Olympus C-5050Z camera. I have a wide-angle adapter lens I bought that screws on the front. I’m not a gear snob really… I shot for years with a 1.3 megapixel little consumer camera. The primary reason I picked this one (back in 2003) is the ability to manually override the controls. I like a little blurring in my moving car images, and most digicams do their best to freeze the action rather than blur it. This image would be dull if that wheel were frozen in place like the car was parked! As it is, the knock-off is really spinning. The tire is a blur. With this camera I can slow it just a tad to get the look I want. Beyond that… who cares about the gear! Great images are about composition, light, and subject… the equipment used is irrelevant. The best photo I ever took in 1999 was with a cheapo, low quality 640×480 camera. (it has an almost impressionist painting look to it… I love that photo!) Your brain is the tool, not the camera. But I digress.
I thoroughly enjoyed taking these photos. I especially love this photo. Earlier this year I had an enlargement made of this and mailed it to Philippe & Francoise. This “webified” version is rife with compression artifacts, but trust me when I say, it looks great on paper.
It was a privilege to meet the Reyns’ and have them share this wonderful car with me. Truly a highlight of my life… a boyhood wish come true.
I can’t wait for 2008 an what photo opportunities await us all!