Moonstone: A Life in Color

This post originally appeared on Substack.

Moonstone is a rare, lilac-ish color offered by Porsche from 1979-1980.
You probably have never seen it in person, because only about a dozen people ordered it.

Why make an 11-minute video about a single rare, weird Porsche color? 

That question never even crossed my mind. It seemed obvious to me, because I knew that Justin would be able to convey his passion and knowledge of this niche subject in an interesting, engaging way. If I could capture and edit it well, it would work.

I first read about Moonstone in the pages of Panorama – the Porsche Club of America’s monthly magazine. One story, in the July 2021 issue, stood out: it was about this guy named Justin, and his pair of 1979/1980 Porsches in this strange color.

I probably read it at the time because I saw the 911SC — a welcome reprieve from the monthly churn of brand new 911-variant first drives — but once I started reading, I was totally drawn in. It was educational, and opened up my eyes to a whole other world of how people enjoy these old cars.

Fast forward to this year, I spent some time with Justin at the Hill Country Rallye, and later, for a photo project. He had moved from Seattle to San Antonio, and I finally got to see the Moonstone cars in person, and hear him speak about finding and owning these unusual cars. Hearing him talk about color, and what color means to him, was engaging and fascinating. He’s never mentioned “value” or “resale” in any discussion we’ve ever had — not once.

It struck me that I should commit this to video. The article in Panorama — titled “Moonstone Destiny,” and written and photographed by Randy Wells — was brilliant, but I wanted to expand on it, using Justin’s own words, and I wanted more people to have the chance to see it. Of all the car videos out there, how many are about one paint color? The idea of making the definitive video about Moonstone was appealing (even though I arguably have the definitive video about the Toyota Harrier Zagato, and the views have not exactly been gangbusters!).

Justin was immediately onboard, and brought his own ideas to the project. He chose all the music, and had the idea to setup a timelapse video.

“No one has ever captured this color in that way,” he said, and he described how a timelapse could show how it shifts as the light changes. He then did everything he could do facilitate our shoot, by setting aside time, providing hospitality, and even finding a secure parking lot where we could shoot the timelapse.

Filming everything went smoothly, but I knew that capturing the color would be a challenge. If you make a video about a car color, you better represent it accurately, and this color is notorious for fooling the camera’s white balance reading (White balance is a camera setting that establishes the true color of white). For example, at sunset, white might appear beige or orange, and at night, white may appear blue or purple-ish. The camera meters this, and adjusts accordingly. Moonstone, however, is close enough to white that if you focus on it, the camera can read it as white, and compensate for it by shifting it closer to white.

A solution is to manually set the white balance: show the camera true white, so it doesn’t try to correct the scene. But still, I ended up having to make adjustments in editing. I thought about bringing a swatch book, so I could have a sample to refer to when I got home, but I ruled against it. Color is emotional. When editing, I adjusted for how it looked to my eyes in the moment, which may have differed from a Pantone sample or a calculated RGB figure.

All that said, I hope people enjoy this, or at least learn something new! It’s always a treat when I can step back from being on-screen in my videos, and focus on telling someone’s story from behind the camera. I like making tutorials, but I think things like this are crucial to growing and improving as a videographer.

Watch Moonstone: A Life in Color on YouTube
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