Car Corner
Motor Trend's "No Limits" Photo Contest

January 1, 2007
By Scott Lewis

Last month I showed you the pictures I submitted for Motor Trend's Unlimited Photo Contest. This month I want to discuss the pictures that made it into the magazine.

The Contest

If you don't remember from last month... Motor Trend ran a Canon EOS Rebel XT "No Limits" Photo Contest. You had to take a picture of your own car, but you could mess with it anyway you wanted, no limits. Well, the winners are in.

The Winner

The winner of the contest was a late 60's GTO Judge. The picture shows the GTO driving in a parking lot along side a big blue building. The solid blue color of the building gives a great backdrop to the GTO. The photographer was in another vehicle so the GTO is in motion. Overall I'd say this was a great magazine quality shot. But it was not a "no limits" photo. Nothing was done to the image. If they wanted people to just take great shots of their cars, they should have said so. But they asked for imagination and creativity. They specifically mentioned Photoshop and then gave the win to a picture that didn't need any enhancements.

I think this picture failed to capture the spirit of the contest. A great picture, yes. An imaginative & creative Photoshop enhanced picture, NO!

First Runner Up

The first runner up was actually pretty interesting. It was a picture of a Subaru Imprezza WRX. It looks like he used a very wide angle lens and took a front 3/4 view of his car. However, he was driving the car and had the camera on a boom. He drove real slow and I guess used a long exposure to make it look like the car is driving much faster than it is.

He also removed the boom with Photoshop to make it hard to know from looking at it how the image could have been taken. Now we're talking. I liked this image though it had too much of a sales brochure look to it.

Second Runner Up

The second runner up was much more creative. He took a picture of a Charger SRT8. The camera is very close to the grill. Clearly he is using some kind of wide angle lens to get the entire front of the car in the shot, but the grill stands out the most. The picture also seems to be taken on a drag strip.

The best part is that the Charger looks like it is driving right at the camera. Yet the car is not moving. He got the illusion of movement by Photoshopping the image. This is my favorite because it looks like something it is not. It looks like it really is moving when it is standing still. Very cool! This is what they meant by a no limits enhanced photo.

Third Runner Up

The third and final runner up was of an Acura TL. The description tells of a professional photographer and his hearing about the contest during a shoot. He snapped a view pics of the TL. They took the picture on gravel, but all you see is black around the car. I assume they used Photoshop to remove the entire background. The photographer said he thought it should be in the Acura catalog, and he would be right. However, I don't see this one as much for the contest either. Anyone can take a really good quality shot of a car and touch it up to get it ready for a catalog. I much prefer the creative things like the Charger that looks like it is ready to run over a photographer when in fact it is standing still.


All of the images in Motor Trend's January edition (just one or two pages into the magazine, so you can easily see it on the newsstand) were very good quality images, but I only liked one... the Charger that looks like it is moving when it's not. Personally, I think my Mini Cooper in the clouds was a better picture than the ones in the magazine. I was disappointed.