This motion blur of a truck driving out of downtown one morning symbolized the chaos we are living in right now. Recognizable but distorted, interesting while being dark and ominous at times.
I haven’t found solid ground after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. It is sorrowful to watch as they stand alone on this longest night with a world watching. Watching but not joining the defense of a nation. I had a long rant but in the end the words felt empty – mine mimicking the outrage voiced by countries the world over. Voiced but not actioned. War is never sought but if there is no response to tyranny nor to domination of the weaker, then I fear what this world will look like. I am a secular person but I am praying for the people of Ukraine.
I have a lot of fun photographing just about anything in motion. Thinking about how a picture could look, using different techniques to realize that and then the element of luck throwing in a wildcard or two. Here are a few car shots from last year which came together pretty well.
Night suits this type of photography as the darkness allows for slower shutter speeds. I set a longer exposure, often between 1/10th and 1/50th of a second, and then pan with the vehicle as it passes by. The background blurs and, hopefully, the vehicle remains in sharp focus.
And then, sometimes, you find a car just sitting patiently in an empty parking lot in Montréal under a light rain in the early morning that simply looks amazing.
Coach Hill, a rise in west Calgary, affords a great view of city’s downtown. I found a place there where vehicles traveling along Sarcee Trail pass in front of the knot of skyscrapers. The play of perspective, especially the relative size of the cars to the buildings, was very interesting to me.
I stopped under a railway overpass to photograph a small piece of the morning commute in Berlin. It was interesting to see and compare the vehicles on a German roadway with what I’m used to at home in Calgary.
I have a lot of fun photographing things in motion and the half hour I spent on this street just outside of downtown was no exception. Playing with the shutter speed to isolate subjects as they speed by is a good challenge and can make for strong, dynamic images. Here then are a few more from that session beside the road.
We met some good friends and their boys in Cochrane for a classic car show just outside of the town. The kids had a great time looking at all of the roadsters, muscle cars, coupes and funny cars. I was drawn to the emblems and lettering used on the cars from the 50’s and 60’s – there was a style that was spread across most makes and models that was very compelling.
Great lettering script on this Mercury Monarch Richelieu
Headlights from a Dodge Challenger
A detail from a Ford Galaxie at the show
Chevrolet’s brilliant chrome past as found on a ’56 pickup
I love this classic Mustang’s grill, particularly the horse itself
The morning’s are still dark when I’m downtown so the lights from the buildings and the vehicles create these illuminated pools. With a longer shutter speed, I sometimes play with stretching these pockets of lights while capturing the motion of vehicles driving around Calgary’s streets.
Along 9th Avenue in downtown Calgary, Gulf Canada Square’s dark panes of glass often provide a large mirror that abstracts the traffic heading east on the one way road.
I watched traffic for a while, looking down from the 12th floor of Banker’s Hall, until this taxicab drove by distinctive and separated from the other vehicles in that moment. The slight curvatures of the glass did the real work to create this warp of a simple scene.
This beaten down shell is on a salt pan in the middle of a barren stretch of prairie near Gull Lake, Saskatchewan. The country roads that connect all parts of the Canadian prairie hold many long forgotten photographic treasures like this car, farmsteads and weathered buildings. I love finding these great locations and try to re-visit them whenever I can. I have visited this car and a neighboring broken down farm several times over the past five years.
With a little down time so far this holiday, I have been working with some different software to test them out. Here, I’m using Topaz Adjust 4 to process the photos for a saturated, over the top look. The software integrates seamlessly into Adobe’s Lightroom (my main developing and cataloging software) and is reasonably priced at $50. I am usually less garish in my post processing but it is nice to try some different looks.
In these images I have started with the Topaz Spicify preset as a starting point, then adjusted some of the levels to my taste within each picture and then re-imported into Lightroom to adjust some of the color channels and the edge smoothness.
A neighbor has this lovely old hot rod that he’s brought up to show condition. He takes it out for a cruise now and then. Here is one of the photos I’ve made as he rolls past.
The blur is created by using a slow shutter speed on the camera and then panning with the car as it drives by. Here, the shutter is set to 1/8 seconds using a 300mm lens on my Canon 1D Mark III.
In this second image, I have softened edges in the image to play up the painterly quality of this motion blur. In Adobe Lightroom, I reduced the clarity to -84, set sharpening to 0, and adjusted noise reduction (luminance 100, detail 0 and contrast 0). A different look, I’m going to print both to see which I like more.