classic car photography

Santa Fe Ski Resort Car Show in the BMW M3

Santa Fe Ski Resort Car Show in the BMW M3

Car Show on the Slopes in Santa Fe

The BMW Car Club New Mexico Chapter got invited to a very unique car show right at the top of a mountain at Santa Fe Ski Resort! We actually drove from the Sanat Fe BMW dealership on to the foot of the ski slope itself! Yes, that means my M3 along with a host of other sports cars and classic cars actually went off road. This could not have been a more stunning setting and a fantastic day overall. It felt like a whole different world up there. We capped the day with a hike up to the summit of the mountain, some 11,000+ feet of elevation! To top it all off, they had great veggie burgers grilled right before us with green chili and homemade cookies. In a side note, from the photo below you can see that Jessica and I are living in two totally different temperature zones!

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Cadillac Coupe deVille Albuquerque Car Photography

Cadillac Coupe deVille Albuquerque Car Photography

Classic Cadillac Car Photography Details

For regular readers of this photography website, I often say when I go to car shows I usually focus on detail shots of cars because getting good, full shots are nearly impossible due to lots of people around, other cars parked too closely, and often bad light. There were not so many people around this classic Cadillac Coupe deVille, but I still mostly focused on the details because they were so interesting to me. What kind of car has two hood emblems? When is the B-pillar all the was in the back and emblazoned with yet another badge? Then what I am pretty sure did not come from the factory, how often do you see a skull floating in the cabin?

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Albuquerque Summerfest 2019 Car Show Detail Photos

Albuquerque Summerfest 2019 Car Show Detail Photos

Going for details with car show photography in Albuquerque

To my surprise the car show featured at Albuquerque Summerfest 2019 was much bigger than I expected. As with most car shows, get photos of entire cars is a challenge due to people walking all around the cars, so as is my usual custom, I focus on getting detail shots, this time with my trusty 50mm f/1.8 lens. In the lead photo I cleaned up the background removing a few people to leave a clean shot of the front of a powerful yellow 427 balanced by the double center white line passing through the bottom of the frame. I look for contrasting lines, with the double white and then the black stripe on the car.

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Albuquerque Car Show Photography - NMCCC 35th Annual Museum Car Show

Albuquerque Car Show Photography - NMCCC 35th Annual Museum Car Show

I like 50mm at car shows

At car shows it is hard to get a great shot of a complete car due to lack of space, lots of people, and lots of reflections in the sparkling paint jobs on display. That’s why I often focus on details and bring either my macro lens or my 50mm lens to show off one particular feature of a car that catches my eye. I really like the dashboards of classic cars so I always get some of those shots. This time what stood out to me most was the largest convertible hard top I have ever seen frozen in motion (see above). Or maybe it was the 1950s car seat??? (see below) What stands out the most to you from the 35th Annual NMCCC Museum Car Show?

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Custom Classic Van HDR at Madeira Beach Car Show St. Petersburg Florida 2013

Classic Custom Van Photography at Madeira Beach Car Show 2013 - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 9-exposure HDR digital background

I went to the Maderia Beach Classic Car Show this past Sunday on a cold and blustery afternoon.  Apparently custom car owners do not much like that type of weather as there were only 8 cars there total!  Of those only one really caught my eye, a custom van that with the hood open, looked like the roaring mouth of a dragon or vulture or similar creature.  I wanted to make a shot to accentuate that feature of the car.  As is often the case at car shows, the background was not great and there was only a tight space to shoot in.  So even as I was making the shot that cold afternoon I was already thinking I about how I wanted to edit the shot and I knew I would just remove the background.

The graphic below shows what a single exposure would have looked like, a 9-exposure HDR, then the final image with all edits and digital background added.

Classic Car Photography - The Judge Packard Corvette Hot Rod Mustang

Pontiac GTO The Judge - a very famous car - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDRClassic Car Shows are a fantastic opportunity to photograph cars, almost.  The benefit is hundreds of amazing classic cars all in one walkable space.  The main disadvantage is that there are hundreds of classic cars all in one very small space.  This means there is no lack of subject matter, but there is a severe lack of space and clean backgrounds to photograph the cars.  So when I shoot a car show I often choose to only show a portion of the car in order to be able to fill the frame with just the car I want to include in the shot as much as possible.

The Pontiac GTO Judge was the first classic car I photographed that afternoon and one of my own personal favorite classic cars.  I cannot think of a better nickname for a muscle car than "The Judge."  I just love it!

A red hot rod engine - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDRAs soon as I saw this hot rod I knew I wanted to shoot it in a way that highlighted the exposed engine.  I considered an even tighter crop on the engine itself but decided to show it more in context for the final edit.  I like to look at hot rods, but personally they do not do much for me from the aspect of ever wanting to own one.

1960 Corvette convertible - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/2.8 ISO 200 7-bracket HDR

Now this first generartion era Corvette convertible (1953-1962) is my absolute favorite classic car and the one I would personally most like to own.  It is the best looking roadster there ever was.  It looks best in profile, but there was no space to photograph it that way unfortunately.  

Vivid red Packard - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDRI chose this perspective for photographing this Packard because of the wheel repetition.  Also, it provided the cleanest background as well.  A Packard is a very classy looking car appropriate for showing up at black tie affairs.

A blue 1965 Mustang Convertible - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDRI think the most interesting thing to me about classic cars are their interiors, even over the exterior body work.  The purity of the analog dashboard really fascinates me.  I cannot help but think that the first time the owner sat behind the wheel, they thought to themselves, "this is as modern as a car looks."  Now, as with this 1965 Mustang, 46 years later the interior looks ancient, or rather, classic.  It really makes me think, as modern as car interiors look now with large LCD displays, even color LCD gauges and info screens, plus carbon fiber interior trim, in twenty years how dated will they look?  In forty years?  Most importantly, how high tech will interiors have to be to make today's look as quaint as this Mustang's?