Car Cannon

Have you ever wondered how those cars in action movies get launched in the air and explode?  They actually get shot out of a gigantic car cannon.  Yes it is true and extremely cool.  I wish I could give you more details but alas I am not part of the special effects department.  I am the person with a camera sent to capture this awesome event.  There is a scene in XMen 3 where the character, Magneto uses his metal controlling superpowers to toss cars off of the Golden Gate Bridge.  One may think that this would normally be a Computer Generated Image,  however, why miss such an opportunity to actually toss cars through the air!!!!
Now shooting cars out of a cannon is not a very precise science however they do the best they can.   We spent many hours setting up for this iconic shot and there were many different motion camera teams there to catch as many camera angles as possible.  I was the only still camera so I needed to do a lot of research during the 8 hour set up to make sure I had found the best angle.  Brave people from the stunt department surrounded each person who was working a camera to pull them out of harm's way should anything unpredictable happen.  After all this prep it was "showtime" and exploding cars were flying all around us.   Amidst the mayhem, stunt performers, playing innocent frightened bystanders on the bridge;  run for their lives literally just outside the predicted landing spots for the cars. I must admit I would have run in the other direction if there wasn't a large stunt guy squeezing the life out of me while he was supposed to be protecting me.  I eventually found my cool and stayed in place as the fast moving motor drive of my Nikon caught a variety of frames.  I love this particular frame because of the silhouette of the person running in the foreground.
It was a challenge to predict the exposure as I was not too sure in advance of how bright the fire would be in the exploding cars.  I chose an exposure based on the ambient light and took it down about a stop and a half to compensate for my assumed brightness from the fire.  I also chose a fast shutter speed of 200 to freeze the fast moving  cars and people.  My iso was 1000 and my lens was nice and wide at 18mm.  My aperture was wide open at 2.8.


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