Behind the scenes – Night Mustang Shoot

I wouldn’t call myself a car photographer. There is a lot more to car photography that meets the eye and it takes a special person to be able to photograph a car – a huge lighting set up for those perfect studio catalog shoots highlighting exactly what needs to be highlighted and years of practice for location shoots to capture the perfect angle/speed/light – I have so much respect for car photographers. Saying this, I prefer to tell people that I photograph cars – so, I’m not a car photographer but I do photograph cars – get what I’m saying? I’ve grown up around cars and car fanatics and am always extremely excited to shoot cars – be it commissioned or for the fun of it. I often run up to random people asking if I can photograph their cars, and after being a bit taken aback, they proudly say “of course”. Being able to photograph the Mustang was a huge honor and a very exciting week for me. I put in a lot of effort creating three concept shoots for the car. Two concepts related to the actual car ( the horse shoot here and the airplane shoot which is still to be released). My third shoot was more for me – a challenge to shoot it at night and show off its beautiful curves:


I shot this in Clanwilliam, just outside of Cape Town, a few weeks ago when visiting a friends holiday house. I want to take this opportunity to send a shout out to my amazing friends who are always keen to help me with my shoots. Sometimes, the behind the scenes stories make the shoot. After all, for me photography is about capturing memories and moments and this shoot is just that. To a regular viewer, these are beautiful night photos of the mustang, to my friends and I, it is a memory we often laugh and chat about. After putting the above image on instagram this week I got a lot of technical questions, what was my lighting set up, what was my shutter speed, aperture etc? Here is the story behind how I got these beautiful night photos:4

This night time shoot was a spontaneous one, I was sitting at the fire place looking at the stars and realized that this was the perfect location for a night shoot. Problem: no fancy lighting was taken on my weekend away, solution: make do with the resources you have.

When I shot the Ranger Wildtrak under the stars I received a few tips from @alexcpt (see his amazing instagram pics here.) I gathered my tripod, 50mm lens and parked the car in a good “spot”. I called 3 enthusiastic friends (my hero of a boyfriend – Tim- who always gets roped into running around on set, and my two besties Caity and Wendy). I began setting my ISO, Aperture and shutter speed according to what Alex suggested for my Ranger shoot. Where did the light come from? A cell phone of course (I know right?!). When I released the shutter I would count to 3 and my 3 friends would run along the car lighting it up – they would then dive behind the car and hide their phones until the shutter closed. So glamorous.  So much fun. It took about 30 mins for me to find a few perfect shots. I tried different apertures and shutter speeds as well as asking one friend to run at a time, or two on either side of the car and finally found my settings and favourite shots. My settings on my Canon 5d mii were:

50mm lens ( I used my 50mm because it had the best/lowest aperture out of all my other lenses)

aperture 2.8

shutter at 13 seconds

Here’s an out take from my shoot where you can see where Tim ran with his phone, he ran too slowly so my camera picked up his movement:


The reason why I used a cell phone and not my camera flash was because the flash would have been too “flat”, I wanted to pick up the lines of the car and the only way perfectly to highlight those lines was to run along the car with a light source- Painting with light! Also making my friends run was more fun.

If you take any night photos, be sure to tag me, I would love to see them! Good luck!

To those who were hoping for a more glamorous set up, here’s a link to one of my favourite car photographers, Tim Wallace – I hope this inspires you, his set ups and editing is amazing! He does some great tutorials on how he gets his shots via guest blogging and his own blog.

Thanks again to all who helped with Advice, Lighting, Encouragement and good memories!



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