• Guest article: France’s hidden beauty.

12 days of comfort and driving pleasure.

Martin Krolop and Marc Gerst spent 12 days travelling through France, accompanied by two elegant vehicles. The G-Class combines comfort and transport volume while at the same time providing lots of opportunities for taking photographs off the road. The A-Class drives beautifully and the 250 Sport version is particularly fun on out-of-town roads. A perfect duo for a lot of photography equipment and 5.000 km over 12 days. Any specific aims in mind? To have fun driving, gain some nice experiences and to come back home with as many fascinating car pictures as possible showing the versatility of France.

The A-Class drives beautifully and the 250 Sport version is particularly fun on out-of-town roads.
A 250 Sport: Fuel consumption combined: 6.7 l/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 156 g/km.*
A black Mercedes-Benz G-Class is photographed on a sandy beach between old shipwrecks.
G 500: Fuel consumption combined: 12.3 l/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 289 g/km.*

Fascinating weather conditions.

12 days of travelling across France doesn’t necessarily mean summer and sunshine all the way. Of course it sometimes rains there and we didn’t exactly pick the best days of the year for travelling around Brittany. But we did have the best vehicle to brace the weather.

The G-Class helps you to cope with things a lot better and even to turn them into good points. In the pouring rain, we jumped into the car and drove right into an old ship graveyard. We headed straight into the mud. And lo and behold, the best pictures come out of the most testing of circumstances.

The front of the anthracite-coloured A-Class 250 Sport on a sandy beach.

Car wash four times a day.

Of course, as a photographer, you’d like to keep digital editing as simple as possible. Everyone wants to avoid making mistakes when taking photos and, while powder is important for portraits, the car wash is just as important in car photography. This resulted in us washing the cars at least twice a day, and sometimes even three or four times. We even went through the car wash in the rain and bad weather, which caused some people to give us strange looks. Who washes their car in the pouring rain? But it was definitely worth it and the right thing to do because a clean car just looks better, even in the rain.

Unusual perspectives.

For photographers, it’s that special angle or the most thrilling camera position which makes photography so special. A new tool has recently become available to help achieve this. Quadrocopters or hexacopters are aerial devices which can be used to get a camera into the air. This way, exceptional photos can be taken which would otherwise not be possible. It is possible to shoot from different angles and the pictures have a fresh, exciting quality. Communication is, of course, a particular challenge. Two technical devices have to be synchronised with one another: the drone and the car.

With the help of a drone unusual perspectives of the mercedes-Benz G-Class are possible.
Even in the cloudy and grey Bretagne the Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport looks great.

Bonjour, tristesse.

In the beginning, we were quite disappointed about the bad weather but then we encountered the beauty of France. On a road trip, you have a lot of time to look around you. You have plenty of time to take a nice detour and then you are bound to discover different forms of beauty. The surroundings look different, the colours have different hues, and the effect of the images is also different. It didn’t take us long to adapt to the weather and soon enough we were on the lookout for the right images.

The cockpit of the A 250 Sport at sunrise near the Côte d'Azur.

Shocking moments at the wheel.

No, it’s not what one might think. These were positive shocks. There’s one moment in particular that I’ll never forget. After we had continued our trip towards the Mediterranean, and, on the first day on the Côte d'Azur had gotten up extra early to photograph the sunrise, the sun appeared on the horizon at the exact moment when I was sitting behind the steering wheel of the A-Class driving along a winding coastal road.

We stopped and, although we would normally have gotten out of the car, we both just remained in our seats. I wrapped my hands around the steering wheel, felt the leather, looked out into the distance, watched the warm rays of sun caressing the instrument panel and just enjoyed a true moment of beauty.

The G-Class is at home everywhere.

I will never forget the positive reactions the G-Class received on our trip. Everywhere we went, people commented on the stylish German car. Every time we filled up with fuel, we were given compliments and had to answer people’s questions. Some people even asked if they could jump in. The most interesting thing was the genuine admiration which we were shown. As a photography subject, the G-Class was, of course, also an absolute dream. Regardless of whether we were at the beach, in the dunes or in town, it just wasn’t possible to take a bad picture of this car.

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class on a road lined with palm trees at sunset near the Côte d'Azur.
The Mercedes-Benz G 500 on its way to the French alps.

500 kilometres per day.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal on first hearing it, but when you have ploughed through 500 kilometres on out-of-town roads, narrow lanes off the main roads, and through enchanted little villages, then that number takes on a whole new meaning. And when you pause to stop and take photos regularly and are always on the lookout for a great location, the physical demands are really quite high. Then it’s especially nice to have comfortable seats and the ride comfort they provide. When the car seats are more comfortable than the hotel beds, you either made a lousy choice selecting the hotels or the car seats are just unbelievably comfortable.

Bends, bends, bends.

On the whole, we steered clear of motorways and attempted to drive on out-of-town arterial routes as much as possible. The roads around the Carmargue region near Montpellier proved to be a real dream for motorists. The winding bends didn’t push the two cars to their limits, rather they gave the cars the chance to show the power that the engines had under their bonnets. We knew right from the beginning that we had to somehow record the dynamism, power and driving dynamics of the vehicles in our photos and this challenge was very close to the top of our list of priorities during the whole journey.

The Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport likes its streets mountainous and curvy.
The black Mercedes-Benz G-Class alongside a ruin on a mountain road in Brittany.

Where getting lost is actually desirable.

Coincidences often provide the best basis for special pictures. Every photographer knows that. For a road trip, that means you have to take the odd wrong turn here and there. In other words, you could say that you have to deliberately incorporate some detours through unknown territory. In the High Alps, you can land on the most beautiful locations by simply taking a dubious-looking pass road and suddenly turning into no-man’s land. A small, inconspicuous path will lead to a mountain stream or to a charming ruin.

A mountainous landscape in Brittany surrounded by clouds with a view down onto the Mercedes-Benz G 500.

A passion for highs and lows.

Of course, you should have a certain predisposition to do this but I can hardly imagine anything more beautiful than clouds, snow-covered mountain peaks, flowering meadows with cheerful cows and a powerful V8 engine to fight your way up the winding roads. What’s special about France is the extent and the diversity of the country at every juncture.

Well, you can see that in Australia or the USA, too. But France stands out with its particular European charm. We went through a kind of time lapse. One day, we were on the Atlantic with the waves whipping up on the sea, and on the next, at the Mediterranean in 29-degree heat and without a cloud in the sky. Later still, we were standing on a high alpine pass with our feet in the snow. Bewildering and absolutely fascinating at the same time.

The black Mercedes-Benz G-Class in the Breton hills in the sunshine.


Neither Marc Gerst nor my humble self are experts when it comes to off-road driving. But we utilised the advantages of the G-Class and left roads and man-made tracks behind us as often as possible. And what was our verdict? The G-Class belongs there as much as it does on out-of-town roads. Maybe even more so. As you slowly drive over tree roots and approach gradients thinking: “This one’s surely going to be too steep,” but then see how the G-Class gently hums its way up, you know what kind of vehicle you are in.

Sophisticated snapshots.

As photographers, we can, of course, employ the odd trick to make our shots look more special. One of these is the so-called car rig shot, for which a very delicate construction is fixed to the car in order to drive the camera with the car. As long as the camera position is not changed in relation to the car, the car is pictured in sharp focus and the background is blurred due to the car’s movement.

The Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport seen from above while two photographers prepare the vehicle for a car rig shot.
Seems faster than it is. A car rig shot of the Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport.

Looks like 100 km/h but it’s actually being pushed.

In the finished photo, it looks as if the car is speeding along. The perceived speed is 100 km/h or more. In reality, a photographer sets off the camera, the other photographer releases the brakes gently and lets the car roll forward for two seconds by about 50 cm.

The image is taken during these two seconds and the result is really amazing. Many thanks to co-author Patrick Lehmann for the help he gave us.

Image gallery.

More Information.