Two by Four: Shooting a BMW Chase at Night
I have always had a fascination with freeway flyovers late at night. They have an eerie feel about them—illuminated by the orange glow of sodium street lights.
For a while, I had wanted to see if I could capture the feeling of these nighttime freeway scenes in photos. A particular intersection—where the N1 and M5 meet—looked like the perfect candidate for my shoot.
It ticked all the boxes: multi layered freeway, flyovers and bridges, sweeping corners and loops. I did some recon on Google Maps and found a route that looped back on itself. That meant we could drive continuously while shooting; I knew it would take quite a few runs to get the shots nice and sharp.
With the route planned, I needed vehicles and pilots. Kim had dropped by the Woodstock Moto Co a few days earlier to purchase a new helmet. He’s a Korean national who lives in Cape Town and works in retail design for Samsung, in Nigeria, commuting between the two.
He also owns a tastefully modded BMW R nineT—and some really cool gear. So I mentioned the shoot to him, and he was in.
I thought it might be cool to do a chase scene using a bike and car. My mate, Maurice, immediately came to mind. He has fine taste in vehicles, even though his first car was a second hand 1995 Golf CTI with a Momo steering wheel, dropped suspension and a powerflow exhaust.
He’s since moved forward: having owned two 80s Porches, a Cobra and a Lotus Esprit S1, among others. (We won’t mention the Chrysler Crossfire.) Since the R nineT was on board, I asked Maurice if he could bring his 99 BMW M Coupe.
It is without a doubt one of my all-time favourite cars, and I was honoured to be able to shoot it.
We met at the Woodstock Moto Co at around 9pm on a quiet Monday night, with Barron Street looking very barren—apart from two very fine pieces of BMW engineering. I explained the route we would be taking, and that I would be dangling out the back of my Subaru Outback—so that if I fell out, they should please not run over me.
Once we got going, it took me a while to dial in the camera and get sharp shots in such low light.
I was shooting on my Nikon D700 with an 18-35mm f3.5 lens, and definitely hit the limits of the seven-year-old camera in terms of low light photography. Most of the images were shot at 1/40th sec, at f3.5 and an ISO of 2000, making for a lot of blurry shots—and the noise and grain is very visible.
In the end, I’m very happy with how the images turned out. But I’d love to shoot another series like this using the Sony A7R II…. one day!
Special thanks to Sanela Bozic—my fantastic fiancé, and driver of the Subaru photography wagon, for bearing with a freezing night and silly petrol heads.