To light masterfully takes a careful hand and keen eye. That is exactly what photographer Ben Sager was equipped with, alongside his broncolor lighting tools.

For a little over four years now, Ben Sager has been an automotive photographer in the Los Angeles area, working with numerous car dealerships and brands to create stunning imagery. After getting a glimpse of McKenna’s personal collection, out of view from the public eye, Ben knew he had an amazing opportunity.

As a photographer, I thrive off of other people’s passion, and when I saw this collection sitting in a warehouse, out of public view and tucked away from the world, I knew I had the ability to do something really special. That moment was the genesis of “Danny’s Garage”.

In this shoot, the subject was a Mercedes 300SL, an icon of design and automotive history. Despite decades passing since its production run, the 300SL maintains a beautiful, graceful shape. The keen eye which Ben uses to shape light can be traced back to his childhood. Growing up, Sager traveled extensively and naturally he photographed the sights and scenery surrounding him. This extended observance of different and unique corners of the globe allowed Ben to nurture a precise visual acuity.

“I think it taught me how to see life within a frame, and how to compose, but most importantly how to find nuanced beauty in the normality of everyday life. It all seems very subconscious, but these principles and practices are apparent in the way I frame and in the styles, I’m drawn to create today.”

This visual training allowed for Ben to walk into the shoot better prepared, but lighting even the most basic car does not come easily. “The one challenge, which applies to all car photography, is that black cars are like mirrors – they reflect absolutely everything and require meticulous attention to detail to achieve a clean look.” Adding to the car’s magnificent shapes, Sager wanted to create a stylized quality of light that highlights the shape of the car.

Combined with a long shutter exposure, Ben was able to use a light-painting technique where the broncolor Siros 800L Battery Monolight was more paintbrush than lamp head.

“The result is a “light painted” look where the lines from the light are actually shown in the reflection of the car. This is a very high contrast look, but I think blends in really well with that dusty-old-garage background feel.”

With a warehouse and ample time to photograph, Ben and his assistant were able to wield the Siros L, combined with a broncolor 30×120 (1×4′) strip softbox. The beautiful shape of the light helped create the flowing highlights while still allowing light to fall off and illuminate the body. One aspect of a long-exposure shot is contending with existing ambient light. Sager was able to use the 800 watt-second output of the Siros L to afford him an f-stop that negated existing light while offering an exposure time that allowed him to still manipulate the light.

“I’m able to stop my camera down so much that the ambient light being reflected in the car is no longer visible. This advantage also saved me countless hours staring at a screen in Photoshop trying to get rid of all the little distractions. ”

With his skills and the world’s best lighting tools available, photograph Ben Sager was able to create mood and evoke emotion from a static image. His careful control of light to highlight the sculpted lines of the iconic Mercedes 300SL allow for an object at a stand-still come alive through its unique shape and design.

Ben Sager is an automotive photographer based in the Los Angeles area. Our thanks to him for the look at what went into making into such a stunning image. You can view more of his work online at bensagerphoto.com and follow him on Instagram as @ben_sager. Check out more images from the Danny’s Garage project on Instagram too, at @dannymckennasgarage!