Desert VW

A few months ago I was introduced to the night photography of Troy Paiva. He has spent years photographing old cars, airplanes, and abandoned building across the American Southwest. What makes each photograph come alive is the use of light painting. I was struck with the beauty and power of his work and decided to try out some of his techniques.

I travelled to Ocotillo Wells on a moonlit night, where I knew that my brother-in-law had an old VW van on his property. I set up my Nikon D300s for ISO 200, f/16, in bulb mode. Using a remote trigger, I opened the shutter for approximately 2 minutes. During this time I walked into the frame, opened the passenger door and manually fired my red-gelled SB-600 5 times throughout the van’s interior. I then shined an LED flashlight on each headlight for a three-count. Finally, I painted the driver’s side of the van with the flashlight to eliminate a shadow that was being thrown by a nearby RV.

The light over the horizon was not caused by a recent sunset (it was 10:30pm). That is light pollution from Borrego Springs and Palm Springs behind that.

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