Shooting Exotic Sports Cars at the duPont Registry
Above: A Lamborghini Gallardo shot at the duPont Registry Headquarters in Clearwater, Florida.
When I was at Photoshop World in Las Vegas last September, I ran into an old friend, Manuel Obordo (literally, the guy who taught me Photoshop —- if you’ve heard any interviews about how I got started in this business, you’ve heard me tell the story of Manuel).
Manuel is the duPont Registry magazine’s Director of Technology (the duPont Registry is a luxury car and lifestyle magazine that’s hugely popular here in the USA, and I’ve been reading it, and drooling over the cars in it, as long as I can remember). When I saw him I asked if I could come and shoot some of their collection of cars (I had heard they always have all kinds of cool, and man did they ever). So, on Friday Brad and I went and did a location scouting trip out to their headquarters, and then yesterday Brad and I shot there from 2:00 pm to around 5:30 — all with just one strobe (an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra and then when its battery finally ran out from shooting at full power the whole time, a regular ol’ Elinchrom Ranger for the last car), and just one softbox — a 5-foot stripbank. That’s it.)
Above: A detail shot of a Ferrari’s F-430’s wheel.
Above: Here’s the rear of the Ferrari, lit so just the highlights show. It didn’t hurt that the Ferrari was already black. Also, there’s this program called Photoshop that helped here a bit, too).
Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot so you can see the full rig. That’s Brad Moore with our strip bank and flash mounted on a monopod. The Ranger battery back is on the floor. If you’re wondering how the background went so solid black, it’s because I’m using the camera settings and techniques I learned from a KelbyTraining.com class from Award-winning commercial automative photographer Tim Wallace. I used an f/stop (in this case, f/22) and I got the softbox close enough to a very quick fall-off to the light. I used my Nikon D800 for this shoot so I would have loads of detail and file size.
So, while there are rows and banks of florescent lights above us, and through my view finder I can see the stacks of boxes in the background, and I can see right out the large windows, when I fire the flash, it crushes down the ambient light to nothing and only the light from the strobe lights the car. If you watch Tim’s class, you’ll totally get the technique. It doesn’t hurt to have really cool cars to use it on, though.
Above: Same light, but I had Brad move over to the left a bit and place the softbox at an angle to this view of the Ferrari and the engine compartment in the rear. Those highlights are the soft box reflecting in the car’s rear hood and glass.
Above: Here’s a close-up detail shot using a Macro lens; hand held with the same lighting set-up and settings.
Above: Here’s the set up I used for the hood shot, and for headlight detail shots.
Above: The previous five photos use the same everything; we’re just moving around the car. The cars were parked together really tightly and we couldn’t move the cars, so it made it pretty challenging some times (well, for Brad anyway).
Above: They also had a rare Corvette Sting Ray with Split Rear windows and I couldn’t help but get a few shots.
Above: Here’s one of the rear views [stop snicker — I meant the car] — still only that one soft box — the reflections are doing double-duty.
Above: Here’s a Behind-the scenes shot, and Brad is wearing the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger battery pack over his shoulder on the right. This was our first time with the new Lithium Ion battery and we couldn’t believe how light that battery pack was with it. Brad was super-diggin’ it.
Above: They also had a brand new Fisker Karma (first time I’d see one in person up close), so I wanted to shoot it as well. It’s hard shooting a white car, so we warmed up on this car. I only got a handful of shots I liked but at the end of the shoot I got this one I liked.
Above: To get the perspective you saw in the last shot I needed to lay down on the ground, and Brad mounted the softbox on a boom stand and put it just a little bit in front of the car, as seen here. I’m shooting tethered directly into Lightroom for most of the day, but later we were “runnin’ and gunnin’ so I shot directly to the card in my camera. This gives you an idea of how tight the quarters were to get side shots of the cars.
I took a lot more images, including images of a Harley Davidson Sportster and that 1937 Lincoln Zephyr on the left of the Karma I’m shoot, but I’m running out of space here.
My thanks to Tim Wallace — a brilliant teacher, amazing photographer, and terrific guy because I wouldn’t’ be shooting this stuff without learning his techniques first, so if any of them look OK, Tim deserves the credit.
Above: That’s me with Manuel “Manny” Obordo at Photoshop World last year. He’s usually much more smiley than he appears here. He’s a totally cool guy, smart as anything, and you don’t want to play him in golf — especially for money.
Also, a big thanks to Tom duPont, all the patient crew at the duPont Registry magazine, and especially my buddy Manuel Obordo (shown with me above) who not only made this shoot happen, but 20-something years ago taught me how to use the Pen tool, which I always felt was the biggest breakthrough I had in learning Photoshop, and the whole Photoshop thing has worked out pretty well for me so far, so although thanks isn’t nearly enough Mannyâ¦thanks!