Vintage Gas Station Light Painting

Vintage Gas Station Light Painting

Before I get into the story behind my vintage gas station light painting photograph, I’d love to share the events leading up to it first. So here goes…

Light Painting 2.0

Last week I attended an amazing educational experience right here in Chanhassen, MN! 39 photographers from 17 states and 3 Canadian Provinces were here in town to sharpen our light painting skills with one of the Masters of the craft, Mr. John Hartman.

The class was called Light Painting 2.0. You could only attend this class if you had been one of John’s light painting students previously. As many of you know by now, I had attended one of John’s light painting classes at his studio in Stevens Point, Wisconsin back in May of 2017.

Behind the scenes of our light painting class at Gregg's station in Carver, MN.

Behind the scenes of our light painting class and the ’63 Split Window Corvette at Gregg’s station.

It was shortly after that class that Joannie and I tried light painting at a wedding. Well, we’ve been more than a little successful at it, having created more than 30 wedding light paintings since that class! We are the only wedding photographers in the world that create these one-of-a-kind full scene artworks at weddings!

Light Painting a 1963 Split-Window Corvette

I had just returned very early Sunday morning from light painting my first aircraft, Alan White’s Dyke Delta N71AW, in Superior, Wisconsin and I was excited to see what John had in store for us! He didn’t disappoint.

Dyke Delta N71AW light painting created at Richard I Bong Airport in Superior, WI.

Light painting of the “Whitehouse Limousine”.

After our daytime class, Monday night we hit the ground running by light painting a beautiful 1963 Split-Window Corvette at Gregg’s Garage Vintage Restored Gas Station in Carver, MN. I’m not sure what was cooler, the Corvette or the vintage gas station!

Behind the scenes of John Hartman's Light Painting 2.0 class at Gregg's station in Carver, MN.

Behind the scenes of John Hartman’s Light Painting 2.0 class preparing to light paint a ’63 Split-Window Corvette at Gregg’s station in Carver, MN.

During that light painting experience, I chatted with Gregg, the gas station owner, about his cool garage. He told me that I could use the station pretty much anytime that I wanted to. That made me pretty excited, to say the least! I had no idea on Monday night that I’d be back at his vintage gas station on Wednesday night!

Light Painting a P-51D Mustang Fighter

After class on Tuesday, that evening, all 40 of us were at Flying Cloud Airport to light paint a World War II P-51D Mustang Fighter. That cool aircraft, “Sierra Sue II”, saw action in Europe during World War II. “Sierra Sue II” was light painted alongside a 1944 Jeep and bomb cart. What a cool light painting project!

Photo of the P-51D Mustang Fighter, Sierra Sue II at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, MN.

Sierra Sue II at Flying Cloud Airport.

Now, since the ’63 Corvette and P-51D were both class projects, out of courtesy to John, I’m not going to share the final images on the internet. Each of us has been given the files to create our own versions of both light paintings. I haven’t started on mine yet, but I will soon. When you see me, just ask I’ll be happy to share!

Interesting Tidbits About Sierra Sue

The P-51 Mustang was arguably the best fighter in World War II. “Sierra Sue II” is a P-51D model, has a Packard built Rolls Royce Merlin engine and was armed with six fifty caliber machine guns. The P-51 was capable of carrying bombs, rockets, or fuel tanks under its wings.

She was assigned to the Army Air Force, 402nd Fighter Squadron, 370th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force (Code E6-D), and 1st Lt. Robert (Bob) Bohna. Bohna named the plane “Sierra Sue II” after a girl in his high school.

Nighttime photo of the P-51D Mustang Fighter, "Sierra Sue II" at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, MN.

“Sierra Sue II” all set-up for light painting at Flying Cloud Airport.

There are over one hundred P-51 Mustangs still flying today, but “Sierra Sue II” is but one of a very small number of those Mustangs that actually saw combat in World War II.

“Sierra Sue II”, and several other historic aircraft, are part of the Wings Of The North Air Museum at the Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, MN. I’d recommend checking it out with the family, especially kids.

Extra Credit

Throughout the week, several classmates were asking me about our wedding light painting method using powerful strobes. A few weeks before the class even started, John had asked me to share some of the ways we’ve incorporated light painting into our studio for weddings, high school senior portraits, bunnies at Easter, and of course, for The Best Santa Experience.

A brother and sister take a peek into Santa's Magic Toy Bag at The Best Santa Experience in Mounds View, MN.

Kira and Austin take a peek into Santa’s Magic Toy Bag!

So during class on Wednesday afternoon, I gave a short presentation about the unique way that Joannie and I light paint. Most light paintings are made with constant light sources and long exposures. But at weddings, it’s nearly impossible to do long exposures because frequently the scenes we light paint are in heavy use by wedding guests.

Staying Late After Class

With John’s blessing, I offered to lead a project on Wednesday night after the conclusion of his Light Painting 2.0 class to anyone that was still in town. My first thought was to light paint Gregg’s cool vintage gas station. So I sent Gregg a text to see if it was ok with him. He responded with that was fine with him and he even offered to bring a cool car for us to light paint there too! It made for an easy decision!

That night, we would return to light paint Gregg’s cool vintage gas station with anyone who was still in town to see how we light paint with strobes. Many of our classmates had flights home by then, but quite a few were still hanging around until Thursday.

A nice photo of a 1967 Ford Mustang in front of Gregg's Garage Vintage Restored Gas Station.

A 1967 Ford Mustang in front of Gregg’s Vintage Gas Station.

None of us had any idea Gregg would bring a stunning ’67 Ford Mustang with him! I promised that I wouldn’t keep him up really late, so we got going as quickly as we could so I could keep my word. The light painting of the Mustang was done first so Gregg could go home. I light painted the rest of his cool vintage gas station once he took the ’67 Mustang home to bed.

Light Painting Gregg’s Garage Vintage Restored Gas Station

Several of my classmates assisted me so that it could go smoothly, and I want to thank them for their help. I’m going to share the light painting of Gregg’s vintage gas station first, and then the light painted image with the ’67 Mustang in a few days. Both are really, really sweet!

The one-of-a-kind finished artwork below says it all.

Gregg's Vintage Gas Station light painting photograph created in Carver, MN.

The beautiful light painting of Gregg’s Garage Vintage Restored Gas Station.

As always, I’ve got a short video on our YouTube Channel so you can see Gregg’s awesome station come to life in a really stunning one-of-a-kind light painting. Until then, thanks for reading our post and have a great one! – M&J

“Vintage Gas Station Light Painting” – © 2019 Michael Anderson Photography.

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