2020 has been an unusual year, to say the least, and its meant fewer car shows. In fact, this shooter hadn’t been to any before MPACT. But the weather held out, the BMWs were plentiful, and Pocono raceway is always an excellent atmosphere to shoot in. Take a tour of the paddocks with me in this blog, with some tips along the way.

No closed track this year, but MPACT itself is still a thrill.

Get there early

Yes, I know, getting up at 5 AM can be rough, but if you want a chance at good light and minimal clutter, then getting to the show early is key. Arriving by 7:30, it gave me a good hour to get my gear out and walk alone in the relative peace of the track and garages. It also gave me excellent lighting conditions, because once 11 AM hits, the images will have much more contrast.

BMW E92 M3
Morning mist helps give the cars some depth.
BMW F90 M5
Low sunlight allows you to cheat and add believable lens flair.
BMW E90 M3
I’ve gotta be me, and shoot a blue M3.
BMW F82 M4
Low lighting means more drama.
BMW M3s
I liked how the colors played off each other here.

Enjoy the people

Being the only major car show that wasn’t cancelled, MPACT was busy, to say the least. But don’t get discouraged if you’ve got people in your shoot, embrace it. They help tell the story, especially this year with all the masks and such.

However, it’s up to you to understand the difference between clean and cluttered, so be patient if there is a crowd around. Some might say to come back later, but I find that waiting is better. You’re already in a position you like, so just keep looking through your lens and fire shots.

BMW CSL
This car had a crowd around it all day.
rear ends
I took a few shots here because I liked how they lined up, then picked one composition I liked best.
BMW E92 M3
Candid people are another great way to add to your shot.

Walk around

Shooting MPACT isn’t like a regular shoot. You can’t stage a car, or clear things out of the way, so walk around a lot. The cars are always in motion, and if you see an M3 you love but hate where it is, then look for another.

Finding owners can be difficult as they also want to enjoy the show, but if you see one by their car, go ahead and ask if they can maybe turn a wheel in, or move it over just a bit. Many are very accommodating for a shot.

BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Walking around provides different perspectives.
BMW M4
This Verde Mantis M4 wasn’t alone for very long.
Acura NSX
I loved the position of the car, and simply waited until the garage cleared enough to shoot it.

Motion blur

MPACT is unique in that it’s held at a track, and you can race on it. It provides a great opportunity to get some shots with motion blur in them. I’m able to get behind the car and shoot much closer, so if you’re in the grand stands, bring your long lens (70-200 should be good), and fire away.

It’s a great place to practice, because if you miss one cool BMW, another is right behind it.

BMW M3
The classic. Remember to follow the car and anticipate where it will be, so it remains in focus.
BMW M4
If you happen to see a car driving by, aim and shoot!
BMW M4 race
Many bad shots were followed by a few good ones.
BMW M8
The only 8 Series there that I saw. Looks good in motion.

Take some you time

I’ve been covering car shows for many years now, and it’s both a blessing and a curse. You’re so worried about taking a shot that you don’t step out from behind the lens and actually enjoy the show. So do a walk around, then pause and enjoy the cars just to enjoy the cars. You might miss a shot or two, but gain a friend.

Enjoy!

Feel free to email me at mike@machineswithsouls.com with any questions.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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