Monday, February 10, 2014

Photography Around Pars ~ Retromobile

Off to the Retrombile!

Retromobile 2014 ~ in Red
Just the thing for blasting the long straights of Le Mans...

Even though we no longer own one, I enjoy photographing automobiles.  To get around, we walk, take the Metro, RER/Translien, and TGV.  It's amazing to feel free from maintenance, insurance, and gas costs.  This doesn't mean I can't appreciate the art in automobile styling.  Europe seems to have styled their automobiles with grace, charm, and sometimes brute strength.

Auto exhibitions here tend to be packed affairs.  It's hard to move around with all the people crowding the aisles.  I worried about using a tripod at this year's Retromobile.  It couldn't be all that bad, right?  I was inspired when I saw several photographers using them at last year's event, regardless of the crowds.

For camera equipment I had a choice between taking a Sony mirrorless and one of the big Canon DSLRs.

Retromobile 2014 ~ in Red
Such a pretty little thing, isn't it?

If I took the Sony NEX5 I would have light weight and sufficient detail to make some fun and interesting images.  Things like their HDR function add image creation flexibility that I don't yet have in my Big Canons.  They're cute and, after three years of very heavy use, somewhat battered. 

Cringing, I turning my thoughts to the Canon DSLRs.  They're old, heavy, and... um... why should I cringe?    They have more mpixels than the Sonys.  Not that that matters a bit for the kinds of images I make at these events. Canon lenses are much better built than Sony's low-end optics offerings.  Not that viewing the final results could tell any difference when printed to B+ size 13x19inches.

Retromobile 2014 ~ in Red
 Lamborghini Mura
I can still hear one as it lights up before
heading out into Sunset Blvd traffic...

The decision on what to carry was really an easy one to make.  I love the way Canon's Big Guns feel.  After nearly six years of continual use, I know how to work with them like I was born with one in my hands.  I know where all the buttons and functions and menu selections are.  I can work those cameras like there's No Tomorrow.

All I needed to do was remember to turn the lens' IS off.  You see, I forgot to do that at this year's la traversee and I lost several great shots.  The IS moves the image around as it "settles".  When mounted on a tripod and with a sufficiently long exposure, images are quickly blurred by the IS trying to Work it's Magic.

The kit ended up being this:
  • Canon 5D MkII
  • Canon 24-105L lens
  • Big Manfrotto tripod - legs set somewhat close together so as to not trip the crowds
Retromobile 2014 ~ in Red
 Ferrari 246GTB Dino
Make mine Fly Yellow, please.  It'd be
Just the Thing for touring northern Italy...

The first images I processed were of red cars.  I've been drawn to the color red Italians seem to have used since the Dawn of Time.  Cars and motorcycles look great when draped in it.  Alfa Romeos, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Ducatis, and Moto Guzzis still turn my head when I see the flash of Italian red.

Pixel-peeping the processed files leaves a huge smile on my face.  They are sharp, sharp, sharp.  And I know that if I wanted to make a 40x60inch print, I could and that they would retain more resolution than the human eye could resolve.

Retromobile 2014 ~ in Red
Ferrari prototype
... be still, my beating heart... 

All of these things are technical details and do nothing to predict how a viewer might respond.

The real challenge is "seeing" something interesting.  That's where I get stuck.  I love the overall views of the show that place a subject in the middle of a swirling crowd.  I like seeing entire cars because I like to take in their lines as complete subjects.  This is what I "saw", right?

Is any of it "art"?  Probably not.  I'll just have to live with things as they are, because I like the results.  That should be sufficient.

[My Flickr set from Retromobile 2104]

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