Posted by: Jerry Garrett | May 22, 2012

The Mille Miglia at Night: Caught on Camera

A competitor in the 2012 Mille Miglia is caught on camera as he speeds by at midnight. (Jerry Garrett Photos)


The above image is my favorite, from an evening of standing around at midnight along the route of Italy’s famed Mille Miglia vintage car rally, which runs over the course of three nights and two days, from Brescia, Italy, to Rome and back. 1,600 kilometers in all!

How did I take these images? I don’t claim to have a special camera or photographic wizardry.

I just like to take pictures, and I know from experience that digital photography sometimes gives you results that you could never see with the naked eye.

But I think it is a form of art. And there is no more colorful palette than a car race at night. Especially the lively Mille Miglia, with its 1927-1957 vintage cars.

I don’t know who this guy is, what car he is driving (it is a post-war British sports car), or whether he did anything significant in the race. I just happened to be standing about six inches away as he went roaring past, and I caught this image on my 16.2-megapixel Sony Cybershot. A better photographer might have actually got something in focus; but I like that the one point that is in focus in this photo is the steering wheel – which I would argue is the center of attention. The blurriness of the rest of it sort of suggests to the viewer that speed is involved.

Here is another Unknown Soldier in the 1000 Miglia. The Cybershot seems to specialize in blurry, over-color-saturated night photos.

I would be upset if I were trying to take pix of my family members at a party, or something like that (in fact, I have been ticked off at the results in staged situations). But the camera’s relative incompetence can be used to the photographer’s advantage in such situations!

I learned this technique quite by accident, while standing in the median of a busy highway in Japan (I don’t recommend for anyone to try this). I was trying to get one of those photos of long streams of headlights and taillights going down the road; although I have since learned the manual exposure settings (a tripod is also essential) needed to get the type of photo I was looking for, that night I couldn’t figure it out on a dark median.

But now I know you just wave the camera at passing cars, and push the exposure button, while everything else is set to automatic. Try this, you will probably get some surprising and – I think – pretty results.

I will close this with one more beautiful blur.

Jerry Garrett

May 21, 2012



  1. They may not be focused, but you took some real good shots, and I agree, that first one is the best! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks! Location, location, location!

      • So, are you a motorsport and car fan, or just the Mille Miglia in particular?

      • Longtime gearhead, who finally got to spend some quality time with the Mille Miglia. I had previously been given the opportunity of driving several cars that had actually competed in the race in 1933, 1935 and 1956.

      • Wow, I’ll bet that was fun! Racing cars from 1933 and 1935… I don’t think too many people get the chance to do that!

      • Cars were very different then!

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