When you think about rolling car photography — the art of taking photos of moving vehicles, not just moving cars — using large format film probably doesn’t spring to mind as your first choice. Hell, 35mm film probably won’t either, let alone a ponderous photographic format, exposed one sheet at a time by a box weighing 10lbs/4.5kg (without lens).
Not, that is, unless your name is Dan Crosley.
No need to scroll further, I’ll TL;DR it for you with this stunning result:
In case you don’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of Japanese muscle cars (the later R34 GT-R being a dream car of mine). So, as you can expect, I wanted to find out as much about this shoot as possible and got in touch with Dan.
We spoke about the shot you see above — which incidentally was shot on 8×10 Kodak Ektar 100 film on a Kodak 2D 8×10 camera built around 1920 with a Schneider-Kreuznach Angulon 165mm f/6.8 lens (that’s around 24mm apparent Field of View for those of you counting) — as well as the wider events of the day. You see, he didn’t shoot just one frame on one car. That would be madness.
Specifically, I asked Dan about what led up to the idea of hanging out of the back of a minivan at 30mph taking photos of a Japanese legend on a North American road.
Here’s what he had to say:
I got into photography years ago, mostly doing automotive work. I’ve shot features for a few automotive magazines over the years and tons of rolling shots. However, I found I really enjoyed making portraits, and stopped shooting cars.
Last year, I started shooting 8×10. Towards the beginning of 2021, I had the idea to try and do rolling shots on 8×10.
I had thought that it either hadn’t been done before, or, maybe it had but not in the recent past. Jumping out of my comfort zone and the norms of shooting large format, especially 8×10, I borrowed a 165mm wide angle for my 8×10, tested how it would work in my minivan and set to work finding some people and vehicles to try rollers with.
As it turns out, it wasn’t a one-off and like most things in life (and film photography), took a couple of attempts.
Here’s Dan again:
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I got some friends to agree on a day to shoot, loaded up some black and white, and color film, threw caution to the wind and met up for the rollers.
We made two rollers of my friend Sam’s purple Nissan 240SX, drove to a new location, made 5 more rollers of some guys on their motorcycles. Finally, we shot the last roller of Sam’s Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R.
I was dumbfounded when I got the R33 scan back from the lab (Northeast Photographic). Every other roller I shot that day was a bit too blurry, but the Skyline was just so good. I plan to try more rollers and panning shots in the future.
Dan’s been shooting for about 15 years, has been published in a handful of magazines over the years, and used to be a wedding photographer, so as you can imagine, he’s used to both hedging his bets and giving himself a bit of a safety net.
This shoot was no different. For context, here are a few other shots from the day:
Sure, 8×10 format film might not be the perfect medium for this kind of photography and while the cars and bikes were only caught at ~30mph, I’m pretty sure that’s at the upper end of the speed most people have tried to shoot this immense format at over the past 20 years at least.
To give you some sense of scale, a single sheet of 8×10 film has 60 times the area of 35mm film. In other words, if a single 35mm frame was 30cm (12 inches) wide on the long edge, an 8×10 sheet at the same scale would be 210cm (84 inches) wide.
If you’re interested in development information, the Ektar was developed in a normal C-41 process. The HP5 PLUS was exposed at EI 200 and developed in ILFORD DD-X. As it turns out, Dan is a bit of a fan of Lith Printing. Who’d have thought?!
A huge thanks to Dan for sharing his thoughts and pictures with me. It’s always a pleasure to find a kindred spirit, and while he might (in his own words), mostly document his family and shoot for himself, I’m sure you’ll agree that you’re glad he share these. Please be sure to look him up on Instagram at @dancrosleyphoto 🙏
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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