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Shooting MPACT 2019

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A magical shoot happened the day before the event, but MPACT 2019 held plenty of magic itself.

Take a walk with me through the pits, down the track, and in the garages for a tour of some truly unique rides.

A BMW M3 at sunset by the garages. A quick one before shooting Sue’s M2.
A classic.
A lineup of BMWs show off their vendor’s gear.
Morning is the best time to walk the pits.
Speed and Powa! As Clarkson would say.
A BMW E46 M3 sits near the fence.
Where there is smoke, there is Godzilla.
The mighty BMW M4 GT-S. I designed the original voucher that went along with these cars.
Some selective coloring is applied here. Just make 2 layers, and mask out the parts you’d like to keep the color on in Photoshop.
It’s a wrap! But a convincing one.
M5 and clear blue sky. Life is good.
I miss my E92, and these cars look great despite hitting the 10-year old mark.
MPACT’s own E46 M3 parked in the middle of the action.
A rare BMW 1M parked near pit row.
The E60 M5 features that sweet, sweet V-10 that will never come again.
Behold Godzilla in all his glory.
I love the F10, and these cars still look modern to me.
The NYC BMW M2 in the garages.
The NYC BMW M2 in the garages.
The BMW M2 I shot for BMW NYC had a new wrap on it.
BMW M3 BBS wheel display
The BBS wheel display always features some multi-spokes. BBS was a favorite at MPACT 2019.

How I shot it – the BMW M3.

Shot by a fence, with aperture at f/4, gives us the blurred foreground and background.

MPACT 2019 offered lots of shot opportunities. A question I often get asked is “How do I get the entire car sharp while blurring everything else?” The short answer is, you don’t, but you can fake it! The long(ish) answer follows.

Getting a nice bokeh, or soft background, requires you to lower your aperture, usually to the lowest setting your lens has. Shooting a portrait at f/1.8 will give you that contrast of sharp face and blurred background (or foreground). But a car isn’t a face; it’s much bigger. If you try to shoot a car at 1.8, and you tell the camera to focus on the front, you’ll usually get the back half soft and falling out of focus.

But the background looks so good!

Being soft

There are 2 ways to combat this. First, if you’re shooting free-hand, raise your aperture to around 4 or 5.6. If your lens is sharp enough, and you’re shooting raw, you’ll get a sharp enough car. Zooming in will reveal it getting softer towards the back, but only the trained eye would see this, and only if you’re looking for it. All of Sue’s shots were taken at f/4.

Did you bring your tripod? Then take it a step further with multiple exposures. First, pick your spot, set up the car, and set the aperture to its lowest setting. Fire a shot for the background out of focus. Next, move your aperture up to f/9 or f/10, refocus the image on the car itself, and fire a second shot. Check your lighting here, as a higher aperture requires a longer exposure. The entire image will be in focus. With these 2 shots, you can combine them in post for a sharp car, and blurred background.

Feel free to email me at with any questions.

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