Making of Juno Cars
An agency I work with, with product photography, hired me to photograph not one, but two race cars.
I had already photographed motorbikes, but cars was going to be the first time, and despite photographing motorbikes is not something that different, with cars the problems are almost always bigger, the surfaces are bigger, the reflexes are bigger, the areas to be illuminated are bigger … everything is bigger.
The indications that the agency gave me were the following:
– The cars should be photographed in the manufacturer shop, Juno Cars Racing,
– The manufacturer shop has white floor and walls and I should keep the background as clean as possible.
– I should do some images of the details and some of the exterior of the car, to show the body lines.
– I should make two “Hero Shots”, one for each car, here I had some creative freedom.
– While photographing, the manufacturer shop would be operating , so it was necessary to disturb as little as possible its operation, I would have one of the three construction bays to photograph.
How I prepared the session
As one of the cars was still being finished the session had to be split in two days.
The first day would be the Formula Ford and in the second day the Mercury R “car (CN racing SportPrototype).
Since I had no assistant available for those days, I would have to do all the work myself, so I decided to reduce the equipment to the maximum, which would good because it meant less distractions for the shop.
As I had never photographed cars, I decided to look at this job as a product photography session, after all a car is a big product, and presents the same problems I encounter when I photograph product, reflections, textures, shapes, colors, etc., I also use this approach whenever I photograph motorbikes.
I opted to take only two studio stobs and to have the camera on the tripod and make several exposures by moving the strobs so as to illuminate all parts of the car.
To avoid camera shake I used the Canon Camera connect on the tablet so I did not have to touch the camera and at the same time to go through the images.
As you can see they were working on the other car , on Bay 2 ( unedited image)
When I arrived to the set. I started by choosing the area to shoot.
I chose the bay 3 that is on the edge of the shop, because that way I did not disturb anyone and also because one side has a gray gate that would give me more options for the background.
After talking with the agency and the Juno car racing engineers we decided what details I should photograph, they know, better than me whatis important to show to their clients.
After confirming that the car was clean and ready to be photographed I started to prepare the lights
I chose to have one of the strobs for the background, and the second would be moved from frame to frame in order to illuminate the various parts of the car.
For light modifiers i decided to go with one white umbrella for the fill light and a a grid for the light that would be moved around.
The light with the umbrella was placed high and on the left of the camera, this would be fixed for all the exposures, the other stob, with the grid was the one that moved around on every exposure, this was i could have light in all parts of the car, that would give me several exposures to build a composite in photoshop, for the final image.
Then I defined the aperture of the camera, which was practically in ISO100, f8 and 1 / 125s for all shots, I defined the power of the background stob..
The moving strobe would have the power, the position and the distance to the car, changed as needed for each shot.
The camera was fixed on the tripod and would be controlled by the tablet using the Canon Camera connect, this way I guarantee that I did not have any movement in the camera, which is fundamental to later combine the images in the composite.
After making the detailed images and the general ones, which in terms of lighting would be simpler I went to the “Hero Shots” where the light would be more complex.
For the “Hero Shots” I chose to use the gate as background and add some color with a gel, blue for the white car and red for the black car.
As the gate is very large I had to make several exposures to be able to illuminate and color the whole background.
For the car I was moving the flash in order to have images with all the parts of the car illuminated, to ensure that nothing was missing, I made more images than I needed.
Me, hand holding the strob, and remotely firing the cam
-Two stobes (really cheap ones) one with umbrella and the other with a grid
– Two PocketWizard PlusII
– Canon 5DMkIV
– Canon 17-40mm 1.4L
-Tablet with Canon Camera Connect
To select and edit the RAWs I used Capture One, which is my favorite Raw editor. After selecting and editing the images for each composite, I exported as Tiff s to Photoshop.
Generally, I export one image at a time, I export the one that will be the base image of the composite, and then I add one by one. And mask it , until I have the whole car illuminated, only after this phase I start cleaning the image , and I leave to the end the adjustments of levels and contrasts and the color,.
Before exporting the final image I will do some sharpening.
The trick here is to spend some time refining the masks, every exposure will be one layer and all layers will have his mask, at the end i ended with a few layers and masks only for the car.
you can see how all the layers como together on this animation.
The greatest difficulties
In this job the first difficulty was in the light, because I had to do several exposures with the strob to light the whole car, and doing this requires lots of concentration in order to don’t forget any part of the car , in these cases I always prefer to make more images, so I guarantee that I illuminated everything but it also gives me more options for the final composite.
The second difficulty was in the editing and for the same previous reasons, it is necessary to keep focus not to forget any part of the car, and the job of selecting the best images for the composite usually is always a time consuming task.
The final images of this job can be seen here: