Being a petrol head, naturally I would of liked to dabble in automotive photography. I have photographed people for the majority of my career but shooting a static subject seems to pose a whole new set of challenges. Composition is important in all the photos, but it's more so when it comes to shooting cars. The attention to detail is paramount when it comes to using the best angles of the car itself and choosing an interesting but clean background. The same rules apply but trying to make it come together takes more preplanning then photographing people. I use flash in almost all my work and when it comes to car, it's the same situation. I utilize the Profoto B1 and an Elinchrom 1ftx5ft strip bank.
The image above is light with a strip bank and the B1. This is a combination of about 25 images. The car alone is 10 images and for the smoke its 15. Crafting the smoke took the most time so it would look as neat as possible. When using the strip bank, you can only light a section at a time so it is very important to place the strip bank at a proper angle. I like to remind myself that you would like to usually light the way the sun would fall on the car, so most shots are taken with the strip bank light held right above the panel. The Profoto B1 has enough power to over power the sun in the midday. Keeping in mind that modifiers are made to light people, so lighting the car must be done a section at a time.
As you can tell, we beat this location to death. The small strip where they test paint presumably is just beautiful for shooting cars. Its car related so why not. It is also located in the middle of no where with minimal light pollution. We learned of the location earlier in the day, so because we couldn't wait, we headed out later that night. Shooting these photos at night poses a number of challenges. If you would like a background, you will need to light it. When it comes to shooting the car, it is necessary to pay close attention to where you lit and whats left due the lack of ambient light. Shooting with the sun helps minimize how much you have to light and makes it easier to correct mistakes. The night and darkness is less forgiving. This would be the only shot I got that night, because soon after, it began to snow heavily and it would of been a nightmare to make it look clean.
Opportunities come and go, but when it comes to building an automotive portfolio, I try my best to make it out to all potential shoots. This BMW i8 was organized on the same day. If I had my way, I would of loved to shoot the car during the day, but to spite my needs, I made the best of the situation. Lighting the i8 did not pose many problems, but as mentioned above, night shoots can become tedious.
Before going out and asking, I tried my skills on my own car. I had just finishing detailing and with a fresh coat of wax buffed in the car, I lit and photographed my car. There was no wind, so I used a c-stand to hold my light and walked back and forth from my light to the camera on the tripod many times to make this shot. Using the high speed sync function on the Profoto B1, I achieved a shallow DOF in this light without a ND filter. Hopefully this year holds some exciting and unique cars. Now I need a new company name.