One Trick Pony

Dubai – the city of superlatives. The biggest, the most extreme, the most expensive – all have a home in this oasis of the desert. And the same goes for their taste in cars. Loud, flashy, exotic (provided you have the money, of course). I’m pretty sure that Dubai takes the title worldwide for highest amount of supercars in one area.

However, this poses a problem. You see, if everyone is driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini, they become somewhat usual. A Ferrari 488 might warrant a second glance to a newcomer, but the attraction window will get smaller and eventually close. It’s just not enough to make you stop and say “wow”. Being a photographer with a big obsession for shooting cars, I was on a photography mission to find a car that would stop me in my tracks. And I wanted to find one out in the wild, as going to an exotic car dealership in Dubai is just too easy.

For those of you who don’t know Dubai, the Jumeirah Beach Walk is a shopping avenue along the front of the Dubai Marina, which is quite dormant during the day, but really picks up in activity around 11pm – especially on Thursday and Friday nights. It’s also a great place for residents to show off their cars, as the single lane road makes for an ideal “look at me” road. Therefore, it’s perfect for carspotters, which is how I found myself perched on a bench here on a hot Friday night.

It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to come rolling in. Quite a few Corvettes, plenty of Dodge Chargers, and the odd Lamborghini – nothing extraordinary here. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a Mustang GT lining up for the VIP parking area alongside the pavement. And suffice to say, it stopped plenty of people in their tracks.

This particular Mustang is the 5.0 V8 variant, fitted with an AccuAir air-ride suspension, as well as an entirely custom widebody kit. Underneath the kit, you’ll find a set of custom rims wrapped on some of the widest tyres I’ve ever seen. Further cosmetic modifications include the rear spoiler, the rear window louvers, and minor extras like the blank back plate. There has also been some exhaust work done, as the quad pipes aren’t standard on the 2015 models, but the sound of the V8 is the least of the car’s attraction… I mean, just look at it.

Within minutes, the Mustang was surrounded by curious onlookers, snapping photos on their cellphones. I was a bit more reserved when it came to taking photos, as I knew the crowd would eventually disperse and give me a wider field to shoot in. I had waited days and walked up and down the promenade endlessly to find this “wow” car – I was going to shoot more than just a few quick shots to make it count.

In a situation like this – and especially in Dubai – it’s a good idea to seek the permission of the owner before getting trigger happy with your shutter. However, I didn’t even get the chance to do this, as something remarkable happened – he approached me first.

I had set my camera and tripod down next to the car as I was tired of lugging them around, which clearly caught the eye of the owner in a matter of seconds. I mean, a huge DSLR did stand out like a sore thumb in the sea of cellphones. After walking across to me and giving a brief introduction, he turned out to be an incredibly friendly guy, who was more than happy to talk about his car and insisted that I take as many photos of it that I want.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

For these photos, I was using my regular Canon 6D with a 24-105 lens, set on top of my rather battered Manfrotto tripod (it has seen many international trips, and I think this one may have been the last). Even though the area was quite well lit, a fast shutter speed was still producing an undesirable amount of grain in the image. Therefore, I aimed for a shutter speed of at least 10 seconds, which allowed me to keep my ISO mostly below the 160 mark.

Speaking to the owner beforehand also came with another perk: the lingering security guards left me alone. Shooting in public in Dubai can be difficult, as taking photos of people without their permission in technically illegal – and there were obviously plenty of people who could be visible in the photos. However, as they could see I “knew” the owner and was only interested in the car, the guards didn’t ask questions.

I shot all of these photos in the space of 20 minutes, and spent a bit more time chatting to the owner afterwards to round off the evening. Since he was such a decent guy, it’s only fair to give his Instagram account a plug, which you can view here at https://www.instagram.com/xukdubai/. He additionally asked that I send him some of the photos, so maybe you’ll see them up on his page soon.

And just like that, after 3 days of searching, I found a car to shoot that stopped me in my tracks. I guess you could say… I found a wild pony in the wild?

Ok, sorry. That’s probably a terrible pun.

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