Back in our June issue, we ran a story called "Get Your Car In PHR," and from the response we got, you really must want to get your car in PHR. Unlike last year's photo contest, we decided to make it a little more difficult. The assignment was to take a quality picture of your project at sunset, twilight or at night, using the photo tips and tricks we outlined. We told you we'd print every entry that met the criteria, and with one exception, that's what we're doing.

We allowed readers to shoot cars other than their own, since we know not all projects are finished, or even necessarily started. And that's what nine of our 20 finalists did. We also elected to limit our coverage to the top 20 entries due to space constraints, but don't worry, if you sent pictures in and they're halfway in the ballpark, we'll be featuring your car in an upcoming Hometown Hot Rodding.

Our Winners
It was a tough choice this year; readers really stepped up their effort behind the camera and under the hood. The number of entries was almost triple what it was last year, and what was good enough to win in 2005 merely placed in the top 20 this time. Last year's winner, Keith Kanak (Scottsdale, Ariz.), submitted pix of his son's Monte Carlo this year, but got bested by some talented newcomers, most notably our winner, Robert McGaffin of Elk Grove Village, Ill.

McGaffin, who is partial to early Novas, met the owner of his subject '66 Nova (Craig Mengarelli of Kildeer, Ill.) at a local car show. After striking up a quick friendship, the two decided to get together for a photo shoot for the purpose of entering this contest. The results, in our estimation, are good enough to appear on the pages on any automotive magazine anywhere. McGaffin uses pro Nikon gear (a Nikon D1X) and has a keen eye for composition and color. No shortcuts were taken with lighting and all his images were in high resolution for superior reproduction.

Our first runner-up, Matt Gassner of Albuquerque, N.M., rose to the top of the list with photos of Lew Knight's '68 Camaro. Gassner impressed us with his strong sense of composition and his emphatic lighting. If there's anything that prevented Gassner from obtaining the winning shot, it's that his image files were too small for large reproduction. Gassner's camera, a Canon 300D, is capable of much larger files, but mysteriously, it was not set on the "fine" setting. Like the saying goes, live and learn.

Ryan Fultz, our second runner-up, shot photos of his own car, a '68 Chevelle. Fultz's effort truly represents what is possible with the bare minimum of equipment. A point-and-shoot Fuji FinePix S5000 set at its highest-resolution setting and used in early morning light with a set of homemade aluminum foil reflectors proves that sometimes less is more. Furthermore, it appears that Fultz didn't even have helpers, choosing instead to balance his reflectors on available objects. In his case, sheer effort triumphed over high-dollar equipment.

Details: RamJet 350 crate motor, Richmond six-speed trans, Centerforce clutch, 12-bolt rear with 3.42 gears, Rock Valley stainless steel fuel tank, 17-inch Torque Thrust II wheels, Chris Alston front suspension, manual rack-and-pinion steering
Owner: Craig Mengarelli; Kildeer, Ill.
Photographer: Robert McGaffin; Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Camera: Nikon D1X with 12-24mm lens and 80-200mm lens
Comments: Here’s what it looks like when everything goes right: good equipment, a good eye,
a great car, a super location and the stars are lined up right. McGaffin’s shots were professional in every way, which is almost an insult, because many “professionals” are incapable of shots like this.
A lot of time and effort was expended to craft these shots, including location scouting, lighting,
equipment, helpers, and plain ol’ crawling on the ground.
First Runner-Up
1968 Chevrolet Camaro
Details: 434-cid Dart-based small-block (650 hp naturally aspirated), Baer brakes, Torque Thrust II wheels
Owner: Lew Knight; Albuquerque, N.M.
Photographer: Matt Gassner; Albuquerque, N.M.
Camera: Canon 300D with Tamron 28-300mm lens
Comments: There’s a sense of immediacy when you look at this photo, like you’re really there. The careful attention to lighting makes this happen. Everything is well-lit without being harsh—that’s hard to accomplish. It looks like there was some post-manipulation with Photoshop. That can spell disaster nine times out of 10—but we really like the effect. We hope our pre-press folks captured it correctly for you. Next time, crank that camera up to the largest file size
Details: Hotchkis suspension, Torque Thrust II wheels, Baer brakes
Owner: Ryan Fultz; Noblesville, Ind.
Photographer: owner
Camera: Fuji FinePix S5000
Comments: All of Fultz’s photos looked great, but we picked this one because of the great color and early-morning light. Without looking low-buck, this photo shows what you can accomplish without expensive gear. He also used a graduated sunset filter, which can go horribly wrong if not used properly. We’re sure there were lots of aborted efforts using it, but this looks pro. A super effort. Can you spot the early-morning dew
on the side of the car?
Details: 17x7 MAS MGR wheels, Kumho Ecsta tires (225/45R17 & 205/40R17), supercharged 3800-series V-6 (from 2000 Grand Prix GTP), and 4T60E trans from Cadillac DeVille. Best quarter-mile ET: 13.4
Owner: Ryan Gallagher; Emmaus, Penn.
Photographer: Jay Albright; Macungie, Penn.
Camera: Canon Elan 7Ei with Tamron 28-105mm lens
Comments: Here’s a very interesting car, having a great color, and shot under ideal conditions. The photographer paid attention to our photo tips and incorporated suggestions for the horizon line, wheel position and lighting. This is a scan of a film print (and thus a tad grainy), but if the photographer wishes to improve without going digital, we suggest a professional high-saturation transparency film such as Kodak E100VS or Fuji Velvia.
1927 Ford C/Altered Replica
Details: 220hp 283-cid small-block, two 350-cfm Road Demon carburetors, Edelbrock XC8 intake, Vertex magneto, Powerglide transmission, 3.5-gallon Mooneyes gas tank
Owner: David Rivers; Las Vegas, Nev.
Photographer: Darwin Pfingsten; Mulvane, Kan.
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel with 28-105mm lens
Comments: This photo ran in the March 2006 issue of Hot Rod magazine, but was also submitted for our contest. We chose to run it in spite of being previously published because of its strong lighting and nighttime theme. Pfingsten will have to start from scratch next time if he wants into next year’s contest.
Details: none given
Owner: Nicholas Webb; Belle Rive, Ill.
Photographer: owner
Camera: Canon A620
Comments: Sometimes it’s very hard to find the right angle—there are so many choices. Here, the photographer wisely chose an elevated position to show the voluptuous curves of the hood and the strong graphics of the stripes—a very smart move. A circular polarizing filter would have absolutely shot this photo into warp drive.
Details: 340-cid, four-speed manual with pistol grip, restored
by owner
Owner: Enrique Sotelo; El Paso, Texas
Photographer: Jesus Reyes; El Paso, Texas
Camera: not specified
Comments: An awesome color car to shoot at just the perfect moment of sunset. The afterglow of twilight paints the ‘Cuda with a luminescent light that is best seen from an elevated point of view. The funky soft filter is best saved for wedding photos. Instead, try some light painting on the grille from just off the passenger front corner.
Details: Mostly stock 440-cid Wedge, 727 Torqueflite, Strange Dana 60, Baer brakes, Torque Thrust II wheels (17 x 8 & 17 x 9.5), Kumho Ecsta Supra tires (245 front, 275 rear), assorted suspension upgrades, set up for road racing
Owner: Johnny Richardson; Tallahassee, Fla.
Photographer: owner & Shannon Gerardi
Camera: Canon Powershot S2 IS
Comments: Rear shots are almost never as good as front shots—unless that car is a ’68 Dodge Charger. If ever there was
a car with no bad angles, this is it. The elevated camera position
is great, but the location is lousy. The parking lot lines and tree reflections destroy what could’ve been a far better photo, but it’s
a great amateur effort nonetheless.
Details: 400hp 402-cid big-block, Turbo 400 transmission,
frame-off restoration
Owner: Ron & Iola Elder; Black Creek, British Columbia
Photographer: Jason Elder; Black Creek, British Columbia
Camera: Nikon D70S with 18-70mm Nikon lens
Comments: If your best shot is going to be a rear shot, then it ought to look like this. The paint, wheels and tires absolutely pop with color, thanks to the perfect angle of camera, car and setting sun. Three things would’ve made this photo a top contender: turn the car around 180 degrees (front shot), pose the wheels correctly, and use a fill card just off the camera’s right side behind the car.
Details: Restored, 455-cid Pontiac, four-speed manual trans,
Cragar S/S mags, BFGoodrich T/A radials
Owner: Chuck & Diane Cook; Coldwater, Mich.
Photographer: owner
Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel
Comments: This is what a musclecar is meant to look like. See how
the strong horizon line really drives the muscular shape home? And note how the selective shallow depth of field prevents background objects from being problematic. Hint: Next time use less camera tilt, show that back wheel more (it’s hidden), leave more margin around the edges and tag the grille from the picture’s left side with some light.
Details: Stock, two-year restoration
Owner: Rob Roy; Melbourne, Fla.
Photographer: David Dewey; Melbourne, Fla.
Camera: not specified
Model: Lisa Callinan
Comments: Photographer David Dewey apparently goes by the rule that all the rules were
meant to be broken. Blinding mid-day sun with a black car, no supplemental lighting in the grille, and
a vertical composition in a horizontal frame are big no-nos, but model Lisa Callinan looks awesome
(is there a car in the picture?) and is exposed perfectly. We recropped the photo the way it was meant to be and fixed ourselves a Rob Roy or three
Details: SSR GT7 wheels with Kumho tires, B&M shifter, PIAA fog lamps, car is lowered
one inch on stock suspension bolts
Owner: Greg Paules; Corpus Christi, Texas
Photographer: owner
Camera: Minolta Dimage G500
Comments: A low-angle telephoto shot is a great way to capture the Corvette’s predatory stance. The wheels are turned right and the horizon line is strong down the side. Needs to kick away the big rock under the rear tire (which we cropped out) and hold the camera more steadily (some camera shake is evident in all photos).
Details: moderately worked 340 small-block with 727 Torqueflite transmission, lowered with two-inch drop spindles, custom leaf springs, Koni adjustable shocks, Firmfeel power steering box, tubular control arms, bigger sway bars, Baer brakes with hydroboost, Torque Thrust II wheels, Goodyear F1 tires (285/35R18 & 225/45R17)
Owner: Jonathan LaPaglia; Los Angeles, Calif.
Photographer: owner
Camera: Canon Powershot SD400
Comments: This shot reminds us of classic old car magazines and dealership brochures; it shows people in the middle of living their life around a special car. The cyclists in the background are a great addition and add a kinetic element to the composition. It’s also shot at the exact moment when the light is perfect. At tad more light in the grille (from a reflector, flashlight or
off-camera flash) would make it perfect.
Details: none given
Owner: Mike Kolodziej; Wood Dale, Ill.
Photographer: owner
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel 300D with 15-55mm lens
We love the rich deep blue color and the razor sharp horizon line. The tilt is nice, the wheels are turned, and the lights are on. Somebody was paying attention to the photo tips we gave. Hint: Next time make some reflectors or stretch out a white sheet and hit the bumper and grille emblem with some sky light. Lower or raise the camera to get rid of the “hair” foliage growing out
of the roof.