Don’t panic. This column has not gone all religious. It is still about photography. But in this case it is not going to tell you how to take control – it is going to tell you how to let loose and let it happen.
I shoot hot rod shows and car meets as a matter of personal interest. I’ve evolved a method of work over the last decade to do what I do with the digital camera in the field. It is somewhat related to what I do with cameras in my studio, but on a lighter basis. As I use the resultant pictures to illustrate this and other weblog columns, I can work with a small size and restricted resolution. But I still appreciate gorgeous colour.
Normally in Western Australia the clear atmosphere and strong sunlight creates deep shadows around the cars. I frequently resort to a fill-in flash to lighten the underside and wheel wells of cars. Even the front grill-work needs a boost now and then. The Fujifilm cameras I use are matched with a dedicated TTL flash and I can generally throw light where needed. It can be hit and miss but if you watch the LCD you can correct it at the time.
The great thing, though, is to get into a situation where the atmospheric lighting or the surrounding artificial illumination does as much as you need to do, and you can shut the flash down and pocket it. The heading image is a of a chopped 1934 Ford hot rod at the recent Saturday Night Fever meet at a local service station. When the sun is up, or when it is just cresting the horizon, you are stuck using flash. Once it dips over the rim of the Indian Ocean you can put the flash away and put the camera on a small tripod. Choose your aperture – I like f:9 to f:11 – and let the camera determine the shutter speed. You will get movement amongst the spectators, but the cars will stay still and the surrounding lights will do more than any flash could.
Occasionally Australia steps in with scenery or weather that makes it all that much better – here is an iconic meeting of GM, Ford, and a storm front. Yes, we did get rain later.