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Shooting at the MINI Driving Experience – Part 2

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Last week, I showed you how I shot at the MINI Driving Experience. Here’s part two…

Do you ever get too close?

Well, no, because I’m still here, writing. You’ve probably seen the writing on your car’s passenger mirror “Objects in mirror are closer…” That applies to looking through your lens as well. More than once, I was shooting a driver coming toward me to flick the tail out, only to find the car eventually filling the frame. It was CLOSE. The first time, I jumped up. In reality, the car was still many feet away, but it was a good wake up call.

I was splashed a lot too…

MINI John Cooper Works
E-brake turn! Won’t be able to do these much longer…
MINI John Cooper Works
Drifting got me a little wet…

What camera setting do you use for rollers?

  • A full tutorial is here, but in this case with the Z7, you want:
  • Continuous focusing mode
  • Aperture of f/4 – f/5.6
  • Expose for lighting. Allow for an exposure that is long enough to capture blur, but short enough to avoid camera shake.
  • Single shot per click. Some people have multiple releases per click, but I like to make sure the camera stays focused.

Do you mess up?

For every one good image, there are 5-6 bad ones. Tons of things are out of your control, like road bumps, sliding around the back, and the driver framed incorrectly.

Because the Z7 shoots at a very large full-frame size, it can lag when you’re doing rapid fire shots. That means you can’t always see the previews of what you shot, so it’s a little bit of spray and pray.

MINI John Cooper Works
It’s not easy to get the car without any camera shake, so for every one like this, there are two bad ones.

How to you stage the car on the track?

The MINI Driving Experience happens on a race track, but without the rumble strips, it doesn’t always look like a race track. To solve this, I placed the MINIs by striped barriers, or picked asphalt that had a lot of rubber marks. Sometimes, I sacrificed location for lighting – the setting sun provided beautiful back lighting.

MINI John Cooper Works
Shooting them up on a hill gave a clear horizon.
MINI John Cooper Works
Details count too, like the interior. You’re selling an experience.
MINI John Cooper Works
Shooting black wheels means making sure all the detail is still captured.

Is there a difference shooting MINI vs BMW?

MINI as a brand has become more serious. One look at the MINIUSA website confirms they shoot their cars…exactly like BMW. So no, in this case, I shot MINI cars exactly as I would any BMW.

Any advice for doing a big shoot in a short amount of time?

  • Plan as much as you can in advance
  • Know what you’re shooting. Don’t forget details like wheels, or interior.
  • Always try to save your best shots for magic hour
  • Have fun!
MINI John Cooper Works
This was a great day!

Special thanks to RITTA for booking me! Also thanks to the MINI Driving Experience for having me down, along with Matt, Laura and the rest of the crew!

Commissions may be received for product links on this site, so help out if you can. I only write about products I use and believe in.

I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Email me at with any questions.

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Due to factors beyond the control of Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio, I cannot guarantee against improper use or unauthorized modifications of this information. Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio assumes no liability for property damage or injury incurred as a result of any of the information contained in this post. Use this information at your own risk. Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio recommends safe practices when working on vehicles and or with tools seen or implied in this post.

Due to factors beyond the control of Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio, no information contained in this post shall create any expressed or implied warranty or guarantee of any particular result. Any injury, damage, or loss that may result from improper use of these tools, equipment, or from the information contained in this post is the sole responsibility of the user and not Machines With Souls LLC or Mike D’Ambrosio.