I had the recent opportunity to shoot the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance which is modeled on the premier Pebble Beach event outside of Monterey, California. Rare and expensive cars are judged on authenticity, function, history and style, while displayed on the greens of Cobble Beach golf course overlooking the waters of Georgian Bay. Fund raising activities and general admission proceeds are donated to local healthcare foundations.
Similar to shooting portraiture, the cars have to stand out from a distracting background through use of shallow depth of field. By now we all know that it is more difficult with m43 to achieve significant shallow depth of field images than it is with large sensor formats. One way is to shoot with telephoto lenses but that is impossible at a busy car show, one must get very close to the vehicles to get a clear shot without people getting in the way. The same stipulations apply when shooting car interiors in order to avoid having window and door frames appearing in the image. So we are left with using a wide field lens with a large aperture, all of these were shot with the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art lens and 0.71x Metabones Speedbooster Ultra so effectively a 14 mm f/1.0 lens.
The flip screen of the E-M1X allows one to shoot cars at a level of their mid height without having to actually drop onto one knee to compose through the EVF. I feel you need to treat the cars like living models and shoot them at eye level or in this case headlight level. Like you would do with toddlers and animals, you have to get down low on the ground to their level. Superb isolation of the Packard, it even seems to leap out of the plane of the image.
Hood ornaments began life as a means to gauge the temperature of the radiator coolant but later evolved into model branding. Again superb isolation from the irrelevant background but with enough background context to immediately define the identity of the subject.
The 14mm is just about perfect for shooting car interiors, although the wider field from a Laowa 7.5 mm f/2 would make it even easier, but lacks two additional full stops of aperture and AF.
In addition to any interesting stylistic features (and they abound in this era) don’t forget to photograph the engine.
Sometimes the best shot you can get …. is the best shot you can get. I would have preferred to move the plastic rain cover out of the shot, and Walter and his cane.
These brief captions provide important background information. But if I had been tasked with writing a full article, I would discuss how automobile design reflects the economic and political miasma from which they originate. Packard survived the Great Depression and World War 2, but not the unrivaled postwar wealth of America. Germany of 1938 was on a literal march to dominate Europe and could only produce a car like the Mercedes Benz 540K. A shattered postwar Germany could only produce the Messerschmitt microcar.
Similarly postwar America was on top of the world, and only General Motors could produce a car as stunning as the 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.
Only GM would have the audacity to enter the compact car market … with a rear mounted air cooled opposed 6 cylinder engine years before the Porsche 911.
But nothing endures but change. When was the last time GM made anything truly innovative or world class? Germany is once again home to more high end automotive brands than any other country. Throughout most of the 20th century, the British motorcycle dominated with BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) boasting that one in four motorcycles was a BSA. Then came 1969.
The future? Something tells me it’s Made in China.