Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Composite Work

Came about this interesting article on my Daily Flickr read.

Some interesting concepts here. I always knew commercial work was a process of highly complex composite images but this is taking it to new levels, nothing really is shot together rather been mashed up later in post. Definately some inspiration to be had here to try out for future work.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Rodeo

This Holden Rodeo was certainly an eye catching car, bright paint, big chrome wheels and dumped to the ground, the owner is also a very good friend of mine so when he bought the car he wanted to get some prints of his new pride and joy, of course I will willing to oblige. The whole objective of this shoot was to try some new stuff, I could re-shoot the car at any time because I see him most days during the week.

We decided after seeing a few examples of "rig shots" in magazines and online we would give it a go ourselves. Between myself and a two other friends we set about designing something that would give us the effect we were after. The whole concept of the rig shot is to keep the camera and car in perfect harmony as the car moves, the camera is fixed to the car to appear sharp and in focus but the background and wheels appeared blurred, this creates an exciting image that can not be replicated by post processing to the same degree.

After a bit of trial and error we had the first basic design complete, a rudimentary pole that just attached to the tray of the car, nothing fancy but it was solid and it worked, so we went out to the local car park, strapped it on and went about replicating what we had seen in the magazines. The idea is to have the car barely moving (walking pace) but to leave the shutter open long enough to give the concept of movement, so I dialled in 2.5 seconds and let the camera figure out the exposure and ran with it, No sooner than about 2 minutes later and I had snagged this one.

I was suitably happy with it when it appeared on the LCD of the camera and it looked even better on the big LCD monitor at home.

Post processing for this was nearly none at all, Adjustment of contrast and a boost in Saturation with some sharpening was all I needed for this one. Because not all the car is seen in the image this allowed the rig not to be seen in the frame at all and hence did not need to be cloned out.

Still, we were not completely satisfied with the shot, this time we wanted the front of the car in frame and the whole thing this time, this was going to require some lateral thinking. After some research we found there is 2 main ways for the rig to be attactched to the car, one been underneath the car to the chassis somehow, either by magnets or by direct bolting to the rails and the second method been suction caps.

We went with the Chassis mount, this both been cheaper and easier to clone out in post processing, so after a trip to the local hardware store and a few dollars later ($12 Australian) we had all the aluminium lengths, some screws and some tie down straps. We were ready for construction.

After a few beers and some messing about we connected it all up, we used an old tripod head and attached it to the aluminium pole. The pole was hinged in the middle by a large screw and then tension was kept via the tie downs, the tie downs looped through the holes in the chassis and then were tied back, checked and double checked, the result was this monstrosity!

Now for testing, with the sun setting very quickly I strapped the camera to the rig, said a quick prayer for the camera's safe return and fired the car up, set the timer and a shutter speed of 5 seconds, it was now or never. Much to my surprise the camera kept near perfectly still, it was a success straight away much to our surprise. Before it got too dark I came up with this one.

Boring composition, boring angle but the concept works, now to build on it and improve the rig for more length. The beauty of our design is that it will fit any car with a hole in the chassis which makes it extremely versatile. The main problem been installation was rather tedious and time consuming at about 15 minutes to make things were secure.

Post processing of this shot was rather intensive and a lesson learnt, stupid me had one of the Rig's arms covering the headlight, I had to clone and airbrush the parts of the light in as best as I could, it took a couple of hours but it was done, one aluminium bar gone, one headlight cloned and the shadows filled in.

Some more shots from the Rodeo Shoot:

Petes Skyline

This was for a friend of mine who wanted some shots of his new daily, a very clean R33 Nissan Skyline GTS-T. The plan was to meet up about mid afternoon, find the location I had scouted whilst browsing Flickr and get some shots to be home for dinner time, things did not exactly go to plan after the first location was way too busy to stop the car let alone to get photos, so we drove around for what seemed like an eternity till we found this location in Marrickville Sydney. The location was amazing. I was literally stuck for words as we slowly drove down a long alleyway littered with amazing Graffiti Pieces, I knew we had found something special here but the problem was it was still a relatively busy one way lane so time was of the essence so to speak.

The owner parked the car as close to the kerb as possible as to not completely stop the traffic flow, a bit to close to the background for my liking but we had to make a compromise, I wanted to take photos straight away. The sun was quickly setting and the sky was an awesome bright orange (Sydney Pollution perhaps)

It was still quite light, light enough to hand hold the camera and enough to get some ambient mixed in with some off camera flash, for this shot I used the following.

Canon 10-22
Manfrotto Tripod/Head supporting Sigma DG500 Super Flash with eBay softbox
Mini Tripod supporting Sunpak Auto3000 (this flash is so cool, more power than a nuclear weapon it seems) with no diffuser.
EBay Transmitter/Receiver triggered the Sunpak, the Sigma fired optically from the Sunpak using the optical slave function.

The Sigma was placed to the left of the camera, aimed around the Hood/headlight area to illuminate the front at 1/32 power, the Sunpak was aimed just behind the rear door as a sort of cross light at 1/2 power.

I set my exposure time based on the car, and then dropped it back a third to get a slightly underexposed look but relied on the flash to give the car some "pop" so to speak and to separate it from the background.

This left me with the following settings.

ISO 100
1/30th @ F4

And the final shot:

Post processing was pretty basic, some burning of the ground around the front of the car where the flash had some spill over, I enhanced the colour of the sky a bit more than what was actually captured. I cloned out a few of the hotspots created by the cross light which is never fun job and then a quick pass with Unsharp mask and a bump in saturation. Nothing too fancy or difficult.

Reflecting back on the shot, it's not one of my best but I chose it because there were a few problems I had to overcome with the location, lighting etc. There are definitely problems with the shot though, and I'm the first to admit that, namely the aperture been too wide open and made the rear half of the car slightly out of focus, simple stupid mistake. I also think the cross light was was too bright and direct. The background though is what I really dig about this shot, it's really full on and combined with the sunset gives it a cool look. If I was to do the shoot again, I would definitely used more lights, especially around the roof area and a strobe to illuminate the graffiti of the wall and under expose the background even more. But alas there is always next time.

Here are a couple more from the shoot.


Oh hi, you found my blog.

I'll post photos, notes, thoughts and other random stuff in here.

Basically, there are a few major parts to my life, these been my friends, family, photography and cars/bikes. I live for these things and it's what makes me happy.

Bit about myself, Im 21 years old, live in Sydney Australia. Im an Engineering Officer by Day and Photographer/Male Stripper come night time.