Sunday, May 9, 2010

Car portraits in the Southern Black Hills

Some people will say I'm just using this post to show off a couple cars I've owned and I suppose they are right, but I figured there are more people like me that enjoy finding the perfect spot to take "portraits" of their cars. The southern Black Hills offer many great spots for this and here are some of my favorites.

Mount Rushmore is kind of the ultimate backdrop, but unfortunately it's not an easy place to line up a car with the sculpture. This example takes a driver to stay in the car because where it's sitting is in a driving lane between the two parking garages at the memorial. The photographer should be near the highway and will need to motion to the driver where to get the car lined up just right. Then if traffic is moving, the shot has to be done quickly so as to not block the road. A telephoto lens makes the heads seem larger and closer to the car. Early morning or an overcast day work well here.


The town of Custer has several classic roadside attractions that make great settings for car portraits. Flintstones theme park at the west end of Main Street has a fun drive in, plus a large sign with cartoon characters that a vehicle can be placed in front of. Early morning light is pretty and the place is less crowded than later in the day.


On the very east edge of Custer is Ken's Minerals and Trading Post, which has some nice rustic looking buildings to work with. Both morning and afternoon light should work well here.


Further east from Custer on the very edge of Custer State Park is Stockade Lake. Taking the short gravel drive that leads past the replica stockade outside the park's west gate leads to two nice parking spots that feature the lake and mountain scenery as a backdrop. Morning or evening should have good light.


Rockerville is an old mining town turned tourist attraction, but now has fallen mainly into disrepair except for the Gas Light restaurant and saloon. The rustic remnants of it's Old West days are a fun scene to place a car into. Light hits the front of some of the buildings most of the day here, so you should be able to find an angle to work with.


Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park also makes a great backdrop for all kinds of photos, including cars. Nearby Needles Highway is fun too, especially for driving shots of cars in motion. Check out some examples in my earlier post of a shoot with some classic hot rods.

2 comments:

lsdavis0 said...

I like the topic of this post! Unlike you, I just don't have the right vehicle to photograph against these settings.

We happened to be out in the Hills this weekend also, mostly for the SDSMT graduation. We climbed M Hill and had taken a few shots near New Underwood. I'm looking forward to the Black Hills Shootout! West River has such interesting scenery!

Chad Coppess said...

Thanks Larry. Well, I could have even cooler cars, but so far my budget hasn't allowed it - to purchase the cars, to pay for the gas and insurance, or to pay for speeding tickets, so I'll be happy with what I've got.

There are some great landscapes out there, aren't there?