Blue Jet: Corvette Grand Sport

Posted: 16th August 2012 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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It was a dark and still summer night.  The sky was black and the air was sweet.  The suburb of Langford was enveloped in peace, with no living souls on the streets except for those coming home from late shifts and the odd taxi here and there delivering weary party-goers to their waiting beds. Under a thick blanket of stars,  a small group converged at the doughnut shop with a clear and collective purpose.   Something extraordinary was about to happen…

This day had been in the plans for months now.  I knew we had to get up at 3:45 a.m. to make it down to the rendezvous point where everything would start to happen.  As the seconds ticked by, I struggled to get to sleep.  With only 2 hours until the alarm was set to go off,  my mind ran back and forth over all the finer details.  Angles, perspectives, what lens to use…  questions raced through my mind, questions I’ve pondered and asked a thousand times before.  Yet all of a sudden, all of the previous answers seemed to lack finality, requiring me to revisit the entire plan looking for anything critical that might have been missed.  I knew it was going to be a highly dynamic situation with the light changing by the moment.  I also knew we were going to get only one chance at this to do it right.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

Thus began one of the most exciting photoshoots I’ve ever had the pleasure of performing.

I’d like to introduce you to “Blue Jet”, a 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe.  Packing a formidable 6.2L LS3 with 436hp and 434 ft-lbs of torque, this car can run with the best.  The very best and brightest engineers working at Chevrolet have put everything they have into this platform design, creating a car that is just as much at home eating up the laps and winning races on the track as it is rolling up to the finest restaurant or night club.  This ability to straddle both worlds, and to do the job very well, is a real hallmark of the Corvette brand.

As the sun rises, the situation changes very quickly.  After arriving in the city center shortly after 5:00 a.m., I quickly set up to take advantage of the light around us.  The first few shots required super-long exposure times, reaching upwards of over 2 1/2 minutes for the +2 brackets.  Traffic was nothing like it would become as the day began to unfold, but it wasn’t completely quiet in town.  More than once a bracket in the process of being shot had to be tossed due to a car or pedestrian making their way into the frame.  You really feel a sense of urgency as literally every 5 minutes the entire scene appears to be painted in differing tones.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

Of course, having such a beautiful subject to work with helps.  During my planning phase, I knew the results were going to be just breathtaking, but only when we were post-processing all the shots in the digital darkroom did the full extent of this concept really hit home.  I have to admit it here, these are some of my favorite images.  Ever.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

As the blue hour gave way to the golden hour, the scene changed around us.  The blue tones in the car really began to pop.  The wonderful lines in this gorgeous car begin to emerge, as do the fabulous light reflections caught in the paint.  The fountain serving as the backdrop to our scene adds a touch of nostalgia and interest, and the neon colors used to light the fountain accent everything with a touch of color.

It was the picture-perfect setting for a picture-perfect car.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

If there was ever a danger of receiving a speeding ticket while standing still, Blue Jet here would definitely be a candidate!  Looking mighty formidable and serious with its wide stance and strong fascia, this car means absolute business, moving or parked.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

The Grand Sport package features all the ride and appearance details of the Z06, including wider wheels, fender flares, the now famous hood scoop in the front as well as the functional brake cooling ducts.  The flowing lines of the car find themselves emulating the elegance that is found in the natural world around us, mirroring a sense of beauty vs. power.  As gorgeous as the flowers that decorate the fountain truly are, there is no mistaking who is the real star of this scene.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

Fountain Diner makes for the perfect backdrop in this shot, adding further to the feeling of nostalgia that has so long been a part of Chevrolet muscle cars.  The bright neon signs seem to blend perfectly with the deep metallic blue finish found on the car itself.  Once again, we find that light and shadows intermingle here to bring a touch of drama, as well as to highlight certain lines and edges.  The shutter speeds had dropped dramatically by this point in the morning, now requiring around 8 seconds on the +2 brackets.  This made for a much easier time shooting as it reduced the odds of encountering obstacles or interruptions during the shoot.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

The exquisite contours of the car are really front and centre here.  They create long, fluid lines that draw the eye naturally across the vehicle, much like brush strokes in a fine painting.  Again as the sun further rises, we find the hues in the blue paint take on a life of their own as more and more golden light drapes across the city.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

This is undoubtedly the view that most who come across this car are accustomed to.  The dual-mode exhaust system brings two distinctive characters to bear upon the scene; one that is timid and is at home making its way to and from the grocery store, and one that shouts at the very top of its lungs that it’s a true champion and not to be trifled with.   Gentle sweeping lines across the back present a distinctive character, one that is definitely unique to Corvette.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

As the light made its way across the central court, compositions and photo opportunities revealed themselves from all angles.  For a car that sports such striking beauty, it’s really amazing to consider that it is just as much at home in getting the commuter to and from work on busy city streets as it is on the track running flat-out.  These cars are remarkably reliable and in all actuality get surprisingly good gas mileage due to their lightweight nature and design.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

Sweet and low are the words of the day here.  The quad tipped exhaust pipes further remind those traveling behind this beauty who is truly in charge at the moment.  One of my personal favorite parts of the Corvette are the tail lights…  even our 1987 Corvette Roadster  sports the same lights.  This continuation of certain nostalgic elements of design fosters the strong sense of dedication and pride that most Corvette owners seem to possess.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

As light and shadow compete for the stage, the sun is now just above the horizon and is creating its own unique elements that produce an ever-changing scene.  Shutter speeds are now much more normal, and I found that during our post-processing phase I had to constantly change tactics to deal with the water fountain to make it look the way it does to the naked eye.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

Light was glinting off almost all of the surfaces of the car, bedazzling it in shimmering jewels like a beauty queen proudly sporting her shiny tiara. We couldn’t help but feel that we were a part of something special this day, that we had managed to capture a few moments that belonged to us alone.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

The Grand Sport moniker is a storied one with its history rooted in the racing heritage that helps create the reputation that Corvette has on the track.  This Wikipedia article states:

In 1962 Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov initiated a program to produce a lightweight version based on a prototype that mirrored the new 1963 Corvette.  Concerned about Ford and what they were doing with the Shelby Cobra, Duntov’s program included plans to build 125 Grand Sport Corvettes to make them eligible for international Grand Touring races.  After the GM executives learned of the secret project, the program was stopped, and only five cars were built.  All five cars have survived and are in private collections.  They are among the most coveted and valuable Corvettes ever built, not because of what they accomplished, but because of what might have been.

The cars were driven by famed contemporary race drivers such as Roger Penske, A.J. Foyt, Jim Hall, and Dick Guldstrand among others.  Dick Thompson was the first driver to win a race in the Grand Sport.  He won a 1963 Sports Car Club of America race at Watkins Glen on August 24, 1963 driving Grand Sport 004.

This is a mighty rich pedigree, well deserving of the respect it merits.  Even today, the Grand Sport name is spoken in a hush amongst circles of car enthusiasts, almost as if they are talking about a sighting of a fabled unicorn.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

The cockpit is where all the business decisions are made.  The short-throw shifter affixed to the 6-speed transmission makes for easy shifting for the pilot with a quick flick of the wrist.  This is a highly responsive environment, one where the driver is in firm control of all aspects at all times.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

This is one of my personal favorite photos of the day.  The two-tone leather seats make for a perfect cradle for the driver, keeping you firmly planted in the seat as the car performs its spirited duties.  The Grand Sport logo is exquisitely embroidered onto the headrests giving a personalized touch to a beautiful interior.  If you look closely, you can also see the Corvette logo on a ball cap sitting in the back area of the car.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

The perfect balance of class and distinction vs. power and prowess comes to a point here.  The quad exhaust ports deliver dulcet tones as you make your way around the city, but when pressure is applied to the gas pedal that all changes as the car roars to life producing sounds that only a finely tuned V8 performance engine can.  It’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and will elicit howls of excitement you didn’t even know you had buried deep inside you.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

The tail lights are an icon of the Corvette, maintaining an anchor to its design history with this familiar view.  Very few changes have occurred in the design over the years, mostly just focused on subtle changes to the lines to create the contemporary look that everyone has become accustomed to.

"Blue Jet" - 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

“Blue Jet” – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe

As we wrap up this feature of Blue Jet today with this final image, we can honestly say we had a great time being involved in this project.  Our love for everything mechanical runs deep here at Toad Hollow Photography, and we can’t help but take pause when something truly special and unique crosses our path.  This car has the ability to generate excitement whether you are driving it, watching it move gracefully or just admiring it parked.  The quickening of the heartbeat, the sweat forming in the palms of the hands…  these are all signs we stand in the presence of greatness, and these are all signs that we are truly alive.  What a great way to celebrate this.

We really do love to photograph anything mechanical; cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats…  there isn’t anything we don’t love and admire.  If you’re interested, please see our Automotive Photography page here on our site, and please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your specific requirements.  If your needs fall outside our packages offerings, we’re all too happy to create a personalized quote for you so please feel free to call (250) 510-7693 or email us at [email protected].

To see the entire collection of 35 HDR images of Blue Jet, please visit our gallery “Blue Jet – 2011 Corvette Grand Sport“.



  1. avatar ehpem says:

    Wow Toad – what awesome dedication to get up so darned early to get the right light. But it sure paid off. Great colours and lighting and I bet you were moving fast to set up each shot. I can tell you were having fun just by looking at the pictures.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks my friend, and I have to say you’re right on all counts! I was moving very quickly as the light changed around me, and I really enjoyed the challenge. Thanks so much for taking the time to come by and see us, and for leaving these great comments!

  2. avatar Edith Levy says:

    While it’s hard to do getting up at that hour is well worth it given the beautiful light. Beautiful images. I absolutely love the first one.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much, Edith, I’m really pleased to see you pop by and leave us your great comments here! Yep, that was a might bit early, but you can clearly see it was well worth it! Best shoot I’ve ever done!

  3. Great set of photographs. The morning is the best time for the taking of clean and dramatic images and it shows in these photographs.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so so much Joseph! I really appreciate you taking the time to swing on by and check this out today! :)

  4. avatar Rich McPeek says:

    Gorgeous set of shots Toad! Terrific Post!! Love the lighting of the first one! Well worth the loss of sleep to get those early morning shots! Still looking for the $$ for my 1969 Stingray I’ve always wanted! ;)

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You, sir, have fabulous taste in cars! Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and support here, Rich, that sure does mean an awful lot to us!

  5. Oh My!! What else can I say? That early morning shot is intense, those colors are electric and mesmerizing. So very well done Toad, congratulations! Hope you get to shoot many many more like this.

  6. These are terrific my friend. The early morning light adds so much to the images, and really makes the car stand out. Definitley some of your best work.

  7. avatar Jim Nix says:

    just so I am clear on this: you like Corvettes? ;) magical shots Toad, esp that blue hour stuff, it’s awesome – nice work!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so much Jim! That’s awfully kind of you, my friend, I sure appreciate you taking the time to pop on by and leave us your comments!

  8. Wow Toad, what a great set of images, the planning payed off big time, congrats

  9. avatar LensScaper says:

    Oh My! What a morning, what a set. Fantastic images and a joy to read. That has to be my favourite American car. But if I was fabulously rich I think in the UK I would still go for an Aston Martin! (sorry!)

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hey, no need to apologize there at all, Andy! There’s NOTHING wrong with that choice! As a matter of fact, I believe that is the car of preference for the world’s most famous spy, Mr. James Bond 007! Thank you so much for taking the time to come by and see us today, and for leaving us your awesome comments, my friend!

  10. A fantastic car which your wonderful shots did justice to. Great series of shots, and, as always, a wonderful story.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you Mark, both for taking the time to come see us today, and for leaving us your meaningful comments! It’s a real highlight of our day when you pop by here, we sure do appreciate it!

  11. avatar Chris Wray says:

    Sweet looking ride and terrific photos, Toad! Love the lighting.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you, Chris! Definitely some of my personal favorite photos I’ve taken! It’s a real honor to have you come by like this and leave us your comments, my friend!

  12. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Beautiful car and beautifully captured! Love that you integrated the blue neon, blue hour with the blue Grand Sport! The detail shots are awesome. Love the shallow DOF and make the story of this vehicle whole! Well done sir!

  13. avatar Robert Teeling says:

    Toad,

    The first one is my absolute favorite as you captured a nice warm amber tone of the lights of the building and the blue tone from the fountain. The colors are just stunning with my eye being drawn to the vette first, and then to the surrounding colors that make the picture pop. Well done!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Sure is a pleasure to see you here at The Hollow, Robert, thank you for taking the time to visit us and for leaving these very much appreciated comments! Please do come again, we’d love to see you here!

  14. This my friend is a truly wonderful set. I guess most of us have had those sleepless nights before a big shoot. I’m pretty sure that the worry was not needed, if these shots are the product of 2 hours sleep then I take my hat off to you sir.

    Hard to say which I prefer really, the first couple are amazing, the close ups stunning, well they are all cracking.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so, so much Chris!! Coming from you, my good friend, your comments here are very much appreciated!

  15. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Tremendous series of images, Toad. What a fantastic car. I LOVE that top shot with the soft lighting. Outstanding work, my friend.

  16. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    I didn’t think that a Vette could look any better but then when I saw these images in the perfect light – wow Toad. Pretty awesome.

  17. avatar Perry Bailey says:

    Amazing set! Not sure a car could get any better.

  18. While I don’t envy you having to get up that early, it was so worth it to get those shots! Very nice collection too. I love the DOF on the back end shots. I’ll bet the owner of the car loved these!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      He really does, thanks Michael! It was a mighty early morning, but well worth it! Thanks so much for taking the time to pop by and see us, and for leaving these wonderful comments!

  19. avatar Terence says:

    What great shots … I love the shot that has a phone with the logo …

    Great color combination …

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much for your kind visit and comments here, Terence, we really appreciate it! Hope to see you around The Hollow again sometime soon!

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