How to photograph a black Porsche at night without lights / by Neil Alexander

The other evening I headed up into Trafford Park to meet up with performance car enthusiast and all round good egg, Colin from BAD Power vehicle tuning and sales. They specialise in remapping, bespoke exhaust systems, sports preparation and generally anything loud, fast and stunningly good looking. We've done several shoots together and tonight's muse was no exception.

The idea was to shoot this delightful Porsche 997 before it underwent a major refurb and was transformed from a purring kitten into a roaring tiger. Midnight is a rather surreal time in Trafford Park. The frenetic daytime norm of the relentless onslaught of juggernauts on a deadline is replaced by wide open roads devoid of traffic and lay bys littered with the sleeping giants waiting for their tachographs to cycle. Large empty car parks, run down warehouses juxtaposed with shining chrome cooling towers and smoke enshrouded factories. It's a photographer's dream. 

Except that the roads aren't completely empty. There are some great photographs to be had in the middle of the carriageways, but in spite of 30mph speed limits, any traffic that time of night is absolutely flying. And that includes the artics. You really have to have eyes in the back of your head and your ears wide open. They ain't stopping for nothing. So for most of the locations we wanted to shoot, setting up lights was a no no. In fact it could have been downright dangerous. So without being able to use any of my own lights, I had to fall back to using anything there was, street lights, car park lights, tram lights, tail lights, whatever there was available. 

Shoot street lights at a really narrow aperture and they transform into little orange and white stars. It can be a bit of a faff getting the subject into the right position and obviously the lights are fixed, so I had to move the car backwards and forwards to where it would be lit just right. But we got there in the end.

All in all not bad for a night's work I reckon.