Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nissan S15 Silvia

This was a follow up location shoot for the same S15 which I shot in the studio a few weeks back

(check my flickr page for higher resolution photos from this shoot)

A very tough looking S15 (Jap Import) with HKS/Veilside Widebody, Impressive responsive SR20DET with good power and a stylish yet purposeful interior. A very nice all round car, show and go!

Once again, Sydney's summer has resembled that Crappy Kevin Costner movie "Waterworld" and proceeded to rain on the day of the original shoot, we rescheduled and yet again a severe storm erupted just as we arrived at the meet up spot. It was now or never, so we decided to just look for an undercover spot and make do.

My friend Michael who was helping out for the day is a local to the area, so we went for a drive to find an undercover location, Out of nowhere; Michael slammed on the brakes, did a U-turn and said "I know the perfect spot!" 2 minutes later we arrived. He wasn't wrong.... this place was pretty good!

We pulled into the driveway, a loading dock for some sort of industrial centre. It was a Sunday so not a car or truck to be seen. The Silvia entered; its lumpy cams sent an echo through the loading docks reverberating from the roof and walls. We got to cleaning up the car, Chamois to the rescue, and I got to setting up my dodgy poor mans lighting setup.

The owner wanted a side on shot first, so the car was driven up the loading dock ramp and positioned to centre the car in front of the garage door.

As with a lot of the location shoots I do, I used small off camera strobes to illuminate the car and highlight the stunning Work Rims and flared guards.

For this Photoshoot, I used:

- Canon 1dsmk2

- Canon 24-70 2.8L

- Canon 70-200 2.8L

- Cactus PT04 V2 Flash Trigger system (poverty wizards - the fact they work every time impresses me)

Sigma DG500 super - Optically slaved, I placed this flash behind the car to illuminate the blue roller door behind the car and separate it a bit from the background. (1/4 power)

Achiever TZ250 - Full Power (sliders all to the right) camera left (aimed at wheel)

Sunpak 3000 - Full Power camera right (aimed at wheel)

Once I got underway, I realised the strobes were a bit too low to illuminate the car, but there was no choice. Unfortunately I do not have proper light stands, rather I use old Tripods and prop the lights on top. Even at full extension, they were not high enough.

And the final shot:

shutter speed - 1/30
aperture - f4
focal length - 70mm
ISO - 100

Making do with what I have, I tried to stop down the ambient light by approximately 2/3rds a stop below my metered ambient light and let the strobes do the rest of the work. As it was still quite bright even under the roof I really used every bit of power I could from the small strobes. Perhaps an upgrade is in order.

I particularly like the smooth line produced wheel arches, I used a circular polarizer to control the reflections.

To make the day even more confusing, the rain had stopped and the sun peered through the clouds, we decided to venture to the original location we had decided on while the rain had stopped.

After driving into the narrow laneway I decided it was best to have the sun behind the car and to backlight it a bit, this proved to be a major hassle as the owner had to skilfully perform a 20point u-turn in such a tight spot.

This time, I really wanted to kill the ambient lighting off to emphasise how dark and stormy the clouds looked, off the top of my head I set up my shutter speed/aperture to be nearly 1 2/3rd stops below ambient. As the sun was rapidly setting I had enough power from the strobes to easily illuminate the car. To avoid the look of light spill over on the ground I got on my stomach (the ground was still wet damn!) Using the telephoto lens to get a good distance from the subject and a very undistorted view of the car.

As you can see, there was still plenty of available light, using the strobes you can precisely control the highlights/shadows of a scene with a bit of fiddling about.

And the result:

shutter speed - 1/180
aperture - f4.5
focal length - 95mm
ISO - 250

A bit of a curves adjustment and colour balance to emphasise the reddish glow the sun gave through the clouds was the post processing involved. I also cloned out the small highlights the strobes give off when fired bare into the car. The drainpipe was removed from the building to clean up the image a bit more.

We ventured back to the original location to do the rear shots. I decided to use the grungy looking brick wall that climbed right to the roof. Once again the strobes were placed around the car (2 on the side aiming at the wheels, one at the back) and got to work. Ambient light had really diminished now so some very extreme hand held shots had to be taken with the poise of a military sniper.

This shot looks pretty cool, like a light shining from heaven or something supernatural.

Eventually, I ended up with this.

shutter speed - 1/15
aperture - f3.5
focal length - 105mm
ISO - 250

Again pretty much straight off the camera with a few blemishes cloned out.

For a bit of fun, I did a rolling shot and experimented with the colour balance later in photoshop, for some reason I really like the shot, sort of evil in a wierd way.

shutter speed - 30sec
aperture - f4.5
focal length - 16mm
ISO - 250

Thanks to the car's owner Tony, here is a bit of a behind the scenes video clip he took while I was snapping away. Also a big thankyou to Michael Vettas ( ) for showing me around the local area and assisting me.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, January 18, 2008

VW Golf R32

A friend of Mine asked me to Grab some shots for his Father's Golf R32 to get some large formate prints done. It's a very nice car, amazing sounding aftermarket exhaust, Coilover suspension etc.

After arriving at his house, we set off. Of all days to do a photoshoot it was a cold rainy summerday in Sydney. After driving for 10 minutes or so to find a suitable location, we spotted this one in an industrial area. The crates were used for a windscreen shop and made for an interesting (yet cluttered) background.

As soon as we arrived, it started to rain, then stop, then start again. Finally the decision was made and I made a start setting up my gear. For this I used:

Canon 1dsmk2, Canon 70-200 2.8L
Gadget Infinity PT04 Trigger/2 Receivers
Sigma DG500 Super (optical slave setting)
Acheiver TZ-250
Sunpak 3000

I propped them all on tripods and got to work, all setup it looked like this.

Without the flash, it looked flat and boring

The whole point is to adjust my aperture and shutter speed to kill the ambient light but still capture the flash on the car, take note the shot below was taken in broad daylight (well overcast)

So I got in my flattering ground humping position.

And came up with this:

1/90th sec @ f8
ISO 200

Post processing was the clouds in background and removal of the downpipe on building, basic levels and a bump in saturation (1ds in "normal" colour mode is very flat, but accurate)

Looking back, not bad but not good. Biggest concern is the reflection on the bonnett of the car, even with the polarizer set at full tilt, the reflection remained. Background is also still a bit too busy.

In the end though, my mates father was stoked with the final image which is what really matters.

Thanks to Ben Wood for the behind the scenes shots.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Camera

Bit of time since I last updated here, anyway... continuing on from my last post. I did get that camera I was lusting for, It is full frame.... but it's not a 5D.

Yes, I scored the deal of the century, no wait.... the millenium, on a second hand Canon 1dsmk2.

Most amazing peice of photographic gear I have ever had the pleasure of holding, huge bright veiwfinder, amazing detail in the images and perfect colour representation. They say once you go full frame you never go back, and I can see why. This camera is the equivilant of holding god in your hands.