Early morning sunlight blasts down a city street. bringing out the textures on a dented and dirty car (for which, in my world, read eminently characterful car).  And the driver, who is late and who does not have any time at all to waste, bites his nails and stares anxiously ahead at the stacked up, stationary traffic.

Two things get to me about this picture. First of course, is the man’s body language – he’s in a hurry and in a traffic jam – bad news!

The second thing is that, for quite sometime now, when out photographing I look for good light and then try to decide what to do with it.  As I’m writing this post, its a warm summer’s day, but the total overcast has made the light flat and featureless – there are no shadows, except those below the parked cars.  This sort of lighting is fine for taking shots of detail, and for some portraits and abstracts, but I like chiaroscuro, a term that started off being used with regard to paintings, and which describes the effects on contrasting light and shadow in an image. 

And in this picture I’m looking at the early morning light glancing along the dirty and dented bodywork of the car.  I really like the textures and shadows that this warm, glancing light reveals, and there is something else  – this is Reality, this is not some auto magazine’s shot of a spotless, pristine and shining car >>> car porn! >>>  this is what Life is really like, warts and all.

The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives (and some new images too), I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  Earlier Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; rush hour, Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 19 July 2016.


About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. Helen Cherry says:

    The car is the star!


  2. bluebrightly says:

    I agree that the dust and dents in that light really add to the story here, but also, the driver is the perfect companion to this car. You caught a great expression on his face. 😉


  3. We always think of a person in a photograph as the subject of the photograph, so I think it’s interesting how strong a role the car plays in this one. Your intention works!


  4. Meanderer says:

    I like the way that he stands out strongly from the dusty grubby surroundings: clear and clean and vivid. He seems like a symbol for many of us at the moment as we find our way through the virus and all other associated issues.

    Just read that Bristol is going into Tier 1 plus, although I’m not sure what that means yet! The Welsh presser today seemed ominous; they are going to introduce some national rather than local restrictions after this fire break is over but we don’t know what they will be yet.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      That’s a very interesting take on the picture – when it was taken of course, it didn’t have that intent or message, but now you’ve shown it does – well seen!

      LOL!!! Tier 1+ is just the inept crew (and I mean really inept crew) at Bristol City Council trying to stop us going into Tier 2, it means nothing at all – and the govt don’t recognise it – but still, that’s what we’re paying our !”£$%^&* Council Tax for! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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