Getting The Shot: Wigwams and Classic Cars

Another Getting The Shot feature for you today! These posts are a chance to hear about the process involved in creating a photo, from start to finish.

Today’s image is from a roadtrip we took at the end of February. We drove all around Arizona and New Mexico, with no plans or schedule, other than a need to be back in time for our flight.

Here’s the shot we’re going to chat about.

Upload from April 11, 2012

Camera Settings:

Camera: Canon 5D
Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm
Aperture: f/5
Shutter Speed: 1/1600 sec
ISO: 200

Image Details:

This scene is from a roadside stop called the Wigwam Motel, in Holbrook, Arizona. Holbrook is on the old Route 66, and is a fascinating little place.

How it Was Shot:

One of the keys to a successful photo road trip is the willingness to change plans at a moment’s notice. We were driving along and noticed a sign for a petrified forest. It sounded interesting, so we turned off the interstate, and found ourselves driving through Holbrook.

As we made our way down the main street we spotted the Wigwam Motel. Even though it was the middle of the day, and the light was harsh, we still stopped the car, grabbed our cameras, and walked over to check it out.

The motel is still operational, and there were a bunch of modern day vehicles parked in the lot. But these two classic cars parked in front of the wigwams caught our attention. They gave a sense of being in a completely different time. Then the fact that one car looked to be in pristine condition, and the other looked like it hadn’t been driven in decades gave a hint that it maybe wasn’t actually a really old photo. A neat contrast.

We walked around the wigwams, taking shots from a bunch of different angles. This shot is Rob’s, and he was able to create a strong composition with the repeating shapes of the wigwams and trees. The angle he chose also showed off both cars, without them overlapping each other. It might seem like a simple task, but often one of the biggest challenges for a photographer is how to frame a scene to eliminate distractions, and bring the attention to the subject. This shot of mine from the motel shows you just busy the scene actually was, and how carefully you have to compose to simplify it enough to make an interesting image!

Upload from April 11, 2012


Walk around. That’s one of the best tips we could give you when it comes to travel photography. Driving in a car is just way too fast to get a sense of whether a scene will make for a great image. When you take the time to stroll, you not only see way more, but you are also able to move around a scene to find the strongest angle.

And go slow. Don’t rush the process. Maybe there’s a great shot to be found, but you have to be patient, and look for it. It won’t always just jump out at you—you often have to dig for it. The more relaxed you are the more you can really open your eyes, and take it all in. If you speed through shooting you may get the standard shot, but fail to find the image that shows the same scene in a totally new way.

How It Was Processed:

Upload from April 11, 2012

Upload from April 11, 2012

We definitely did a fair bit of processing on this shot! It was a fun one with experiment and play with. Everything was done in Lightroom 4. Here are the details:

The image was rotated to straighten out the pole in the background, and cropped slightly.

Since it was the middle of the day, the colours were washed out, and the contrast was very low, so a lot of work was done to compensate.

Contrast was increased, and highlights were brought down to regain some of the data on the bright side of the wigwam. Whites were increased to maintain the brightness, and blacks and shadows were increased to add contrast.

Clarity was increased slightly to bring more pop, and vibrance was increased to heighten the colours.

The tone curve was adjusted in the RGB channels, brightening the red, and darkening the blue to give it a warmer tone.

The blues and aquas in the Saturation panel were increased to bring more colour to the sky and car specifically.

There was a bit of split toning to create a slight vintage feel, to go with the cars.

The adjustment brush was used on the trees to brighten them up (by increasing exposure), and bring out the texture (by increasing clarity). It was also used on the side of the car to brighten up the shadows.

Sharpening was applied to finish it off.

Time spent processing: 15 min (quite a bit longer than normal, but we were playing around with it!)

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photography ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

Super Photo Editing Skills

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3 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. I've actually been here on one of my many adventures in Arizona. So cool!

  2. Great post! I have yet to learn how to play with the tones and curves. The picture turned out great and I'm happy you put that it took 15 minutes! It's crazy how long some photos take.

  3. Best part … I was born and raised there. :~D

    Thank you for sharing your article, very informative. I certainly can appreciate the suggestion of relaxing and taking my time as I sometimes will stop and not think, and start to rush myself.

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