Sunday, January 24, 2010

Starlight, star bright ...



A lot of people who know me might be surprised to find out I when I was 18 years old, I completely tore apart and reassembled a 289 cubic inch Ford engine from a 1966 Mustang I bought from a friend. I did this over several weeks in my friend Doug Gordon's parents' garage. I already owned a 1965 Mustang 2+2 fastback (pictured below at right), and I don't recall why I bought this car or why I tore the engine apart. Back then cars and girls ruled my world and I for some crazy, unexplainable reason wanted to be a mechanic. Auto shop was about the only class I didn't skip in high school. Thankfully reason finally took over, and I decided I didn't want to spend the rest of my life with banged knuckles and a rim of grease under my fingernails. OK, reason didn't complete prevail because I became a journalist instead.


Nowadays, I much more prefer taking photos of nice cars than working on them. One of the benefits of living in the Metro Detroit area is that it is the home of the annual North American International Car Show. While the show has lost a little of its luster since the days when the Big 3 ruled the world, it is still a pretty significant event that attracts nearly three-quarters of a million visitors and news media from around the world to view the latest and greatest from the car makers.

As a photographer, it is an event I look forward to each year. It is a wonderful setting of machines and people. And the lighting is spectacular. A lot of thought goes into how the cars are lit with an emphasis on the dramatic.

This year's show gave me a chance to try out my new Canon 7d, plus I decided to bring along a star filter. The filter adds a starlight reflection to lights and specular highlights along surfaces such as the reflective body of a car. The photo above is of a Subaru concept car called the Hybrid Tourer (yeah, I know, really innovative name for a fancy futuristic car). The car was the centerpiece of the Subaru display, posed on a revolving platform with one of its gull-wing doors open. The interior was lit with pink lights and its silverly exterior was aglow from strategically placed spotlights. It was a perfect setup to use the starlight filter.

(For you photo buffs, I used a Cokin P 056 star filter. I had it in a filter holder but did not mount it to the lens. Instead, whenever I wanted to use it, I would just hold it up against the front of the lens.)

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