By Monica Reekie
The pin-ups in my school locker were all cars, highly unusual in a girl’s school. I’ve always had a love affair with cars, and that affair is fickle. From the Horseless Carriage and Model A to Pierce Arrow, Rolls Royce, Deuce Coupe, Lamborghini or Dragster, and almost everything in between (yes, almost - some do not ring my bell.) On occasion, an elaborately modified Chopper has been known to turn my head as it rumbles by.
My first film camera, an inexpensive plastic model purchased with babysitting money when the going rate was .25 cents per hour, had one button, a dial to advance the film and a view finder. Point, click, advance and hope that something recognizable is printed! I went with a friend and her father in their De Soto to every car show, discovered a plethora of subject matter and developed a fascination with the shapes, colours and highly polished details of these classic beauties, endlessly snapping pics of these magnificent works of art. “Sleeping Beauties”, derelict ruins to some, altered by the elements, adorned with rust, dents and dirt, are also dream finds for a photographer.
Living in Victoria, the seemingly endless number of car shows makes choosing which one(s) to attend a challenge. Thousands of cars to shoot and tens of thousands of spectators to avoid. Capturing an entire car is impossible. Focus on the details, reflections, contrasts, shapes, colour blocks, hood ornaments, or the reflection of a Packard on the hubcap of a Chevy. When focusing on a hood ornament, use the colour of the car beside it for a blurred background. A highly polished chrome bumper reflects everything: legs, Hawaiian shorts, dogs, pavement, litter, you, trees and so much more. Use those reflections to your advantage; capitalize on the buildings, a flash of a bright pink shirt walking by, the colour of the next car. Keep an eye on the periphery, both for “incoming” interference and also for opportunities to use a reflection. Be ready, you only have a second or two. Changes in the position of the sun can dramatically alter an image, so if you find a car you love, go back several times. Cloudy days are no reason to stay home, they present more opportunities, and car dust doesn’t show as much!
Wear neutral colours so that you are not the “interference”, unless you want to be. Stand straight, legs together, elbows in, and move ever so slightly to either side until you find the tiny space where you will not be visible in a reflection.
Since the skyrocketing popularity of “selfies”, when random people see a camera, they stop and mug endlessly as you try to get a photo without them in it. Find your desired shots, plan them, and turn away. In a few seconds, the humans will lose interest and leave you in peace with the car to quickly shoot your desired shots. I stress the word quickly. You have only seconds to get your image before someone else steps into it. If there is a car that you fall in love with, strike up a conversation with the owner who may be receptive to a private photo shoot at a later date. Take a quick snap of any information cards that might accompany a car of interest, it is a valuable source of reference.
Always bring extra batteries and memory cards; tripods and telephoto lenses can stay home. Travel light as you will be moving quickly.
Finally, never delete an image until you see it on a large screen. You never know what wonderful surprises might await you.