I have always wanted to do a shot from the roof of a car trying to duplicate the “warp speed” effect you might see in a space movie and knew we had a great place near me in Metro Detroit in the city of Rochester Hills. Each year the stores down Main Street in Rochester Hills decorate their store fronts with over 1 million points of light and this happens to be the 10th anniversary too, which means it should be spectacular. It only happens between late November and first week of January and the streets are always busy with shoppers and those just coming to drive by. So, some planning would need to take place.
First the car I am in needs to be going at a somewhat slow and steady speed. It can’t buzz through the city because it’s only a few blocks long and it can’t just sit there in traffic at the busiest times because the light effect may get shaky. So, knowing that the show is open till midnight, I chose a Saturday night after 10:00pm to start the shooting. It doesn’t take much equipment at all. A sturdy tripod quick release adapter screwed onto a suction cup for the car, a cooperative assistant to drive back and forth till you are happy with the shots and of course an Olympus OM-D model camera with Live Composite and the 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens. I hooked the suction cup just outside the sun roof so I could reach the camera while sitting. I could have also used the OI Share app with its new update has the ability to do Live Composite through the Wi-Fi connection. I went with the more manual set up with me depressing the shutter to activate and stop the LC.
Once I had all those in place I started to have my assistant, wife actually, drive in the closest to middle lane which centered me as best as possible and I would start the Live Composite feature at a stop light setting the base image so as we started to leave the light I would commence taking the actual shot. With Live Composite, the best feature is the ability to know you likely will not be losing much detail because of blown out areas as the Live Composite only records the newest highlights over the base image I made while stopped at the light. With the car moving, these newest highlights would blur into a sea of color with the road staying static from the center line while my wife held her spot in the lane the best she could. If you start to swerve at all or switch a lane you will get those blurs in your image and they just don’t have the same effect as your car moving fast in a straight direction.
I know many cities at this time of the year that have very decorative store fronts whether in lights or displays that when passed by in a car can make some amazing images you might not be able to get any other time of the year. In fact if you want to practice a bit, try it in your own neighborhood. Find that street that almost everyone decorates their home for the holidays and start to run some tests from your own sunroof. Technology like Live Composite can really spark your creativity and the best thing to do I found is when that spark hits, let it burn. Have fun and share your results.
|Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II|
|8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro Lens|
|Suction Cup Holder|
|Manfroto quick release adapter|