In some of my images, I seek to represent an image exactly - using realism to depict a subject as it is in the world. But for Hot Rod, I took a bit of artistic license to tell this story. The actual truck is not chopped low and is, sadly, without flames, as you can see in A Sweet Ride. Here, I wanted to have the hottest truck imaginable - so I imagined it - and painted it - just like this.
The lighting I used is also low - low in intensity and low on the horizon. The goal was to keep the shadows down toward the base of the composition to heighten the low-rider feel and to provide just enough light for the peppers to gleam and reflect softly.
One of the differences between me, who collects toys as subjects, and bona fide collectors, who seek out the toy in and of itself, is that I actually prefer items that have dings and dents. Not only does the wear help show the age of the subject, but I think they give the finished image more visual oomph than if everything looked shiny and new. In Hot Rod, the scuffs on the roof and wheel wells attest to how well-loved this truck was by its young auto aficionado owner.