Europa Park is a Europe themed adventure park where guests can experience various parts of the continent through exhilarating rides and roller-coasters. It is also home to Europe’s second tallest rollercoaster - the Silver Star.
It's name originating from the Mercedes-Benz logo, the roller coaster is linked with Mercedes-Benz in many ways. it hurtles you through the track at a whopping 120km/h and you get to experience a maximum of 4Gs on the falls and turns. Honestly, one hell of an amazing experience.
That was just a small highlight of what the Mercedes-Benz global team had in store for us at one of their most sought after content creation events - A night at Europa Park.
This year, Mercedes-Benz invited 10 photographers for a collaborative photo shoot inside the park premises, after hours. There were 9 photographers from various parts of Europe and they had a spot open for 1 photographer from the international market. We were lucky enough to be selected to be a part of this year’s gathering.
The brief and plan was simple. Meet-up at the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, pick up the cars and drive together to Rust, about an hour and half away, to the Hotel Colosseo, a Colosseum themed hotel, part of the Europa Park experience. At the hotel we got a chance to see the classic and vintage cars that we were supposed to photograph along with the new cars.
The list was long consisting of cars from the museum’s “All Time Stars" department. Cars that are either in concurs condition or collector’s items. To name a few that we could have had the opportunity to photograph were a W111 280SE coupe and cabriolet, a W116 350 SE, W110 200D, R107 300SL, W123 230E and the rarest of them all being the 1934 W25 Optik-Siegerfahrzeug racer. A car that everyone had their eyes on.
We got an opportunity to walk around the theme park and scout for locations within the list that was approved. Mini France, Mini-Greece, mini Iceland and mini-Spain were just a few.
Selections were done on a lucky draw basis. All the photographer’s names were written on a chit and put in a bowl. Whose ever name got picked first got dibs on which car and location they’d like to shoot with and at. Each photographer got three rounds at this awesome location.
The shoot started as the sun went down around 1900hrs. Each photographer was given a 90min limit with the cars. The shoot went on till about 2:30am.
Tripods, lights and camera ready, we took to our positions in the park, each one pumped to give it their best.
During the first round we got the 6th draw, the cars we picked we the R107 300SL paired up with the 2017 SL500, the location being Little Iceland. The setting seemed right to shoot the two convertible cars. Right in the middle of the Icelandic market square. Just to give it an extra touch of Iceland we decided to add some northern lights during the post processing.
Round two was where we got completely lucky, 1st pick, that meant jumping straight for the W25 racer. We didn’t really have any choice in where we could shoot that car considering it was engineless and had to be pushed into the desired position.
It wasn’t easy photographing this car. We unfortunately had another photographer working on his creatives with a W111 Cabriolet near the car we were shooting. This meant thinking of unique angles to capture this ultra rare beauty.
Light painting and long exposures were the go to methods for this shoot. Yes, there was some ambient light too but to get the perfect reflections on the car, the Yongnuo YN360 was the perfect light painting tool. Ideally we would have loved using strobes, but carrying Profoto B1s from India didn't seem too practical.
The third round saw us as the 3rd draws which allowed us to pick a car that at the time had only been showcased at the Geneva Auto-show, the all new E-class Cabriolet paired with the original E -class cab, the A124 from 1995. The location we picked for this was the uber warmly lit area of Little Spain.
The shot we had in mind required us to be at an elevated location so as to showcase both the drop top cars. Unfortunately Europa-Park didn’t really equip us with ladders or foot stools, but the Mercedes-Benz team told us that if we found a way up into one of the balconies we could use them, as long as the staff did not have to come and specially give us access to that particular area. So yep, that’s what we did, climbed up a winding metal slide in the adjoining children’s playground as it drizzled making it even more slippery. Nonetheless the three failed attempts to get up to the balcony were totally worth it because it was the perfect angle to showcase both the cabriolets.
After a physically demanding shoot that required us running around the cars light-painting them in countless ways for multiple exposures, at around 2:45am it was time to call it a day. Our work was not done yet though because external light heavy productions like these always require quite a few hours in post, but once processed the outcome was just spectacular. To the extent that our image of the W25 racer with the Red swoosh has been showcased by the Europa-Park team on a 35ft x 25ft billboard right by the Silver Star rollercoaster. What an crazy experience! Absolutely worth it. A massive shout out to everyone at the Mercedes-Benz team for making this happen and to all the other photographers that were invited, for inspiring us with your awesome images.