Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Location Location

Half the battle of Automotive photography is not only finding potential feature cars or clients, but rather locations to do the shoot. In fact of late I have had more car's scheduled than locations to take them, so in a bid not to double up on previous locations I spent a day travelling around Sydney for some new spots.

Although there is no set rules as to what location suits a particular vehicle, I tend to pay attention to how they relate. The overall theme of the shoot can be determined by the location, think carefully about how the location compliments the vehicle, do they have a fitting connection?

Some examples of a vehicle and suitable locations are:

Race car on a racetrack (wow captain obvious)
Long time Project Car in a workshop
Japanese Sports car near a Japanese Garden, or under a cherry blossom
Midnight Street Racer under a dark highway overpass
Elegant Luxury car in the driveway of a mansion
Those are just some ideas off the top of my head.

So getting back to the original story, I scheduled a day just to find some fresh locations. It was a nice day so got in the car, blasted the stereo and just drove…. No particular place in mind, just a end goal of finding some new spots for upcoming features.

What a battle that turned out to be! I spent maybe 4 hours driving only to find 3 average spots. Nothing that really impressed me.

I like a location that first of all is interesting, yet not too cluttered to detract from the car. It needs to suit the vehicle but right now I had no real cars in mind just on the hunt for locations. But another point often overlooked is the accessibility for Lowered cars. Security, Traffic and bystander rate also needs to be taken into consideration when I choose a spot. Often the best places are illegal to be seen in as I found out early on in the piece (hello Balmain Cement works remember me!)

This is where Mr Technology comes into play.

My mobile phone, a nokia 6110 Navigator has GPS navigation on it, if I find a new spot whilst on my travels, I simply add a point of interest to my maps and done, longitude and latitude co-ordinates and ready for future scoping out, I'll check it out on a weekend afternoon (when I do most shoots) and if it meets the criteria of low traffic, easy access then it's a keeper ready for the next car that suits the theme.

Perhaps the biggest tech breakthrough for finding locations is Google Maps, and more specifically it's "Street view" function. This is simply better than sliced bread in my opinion, I don't even need to leave my house to go location scouting. Just browse my way through the country clicking random streets or industrial estates, double click the street and voila… I'm given a 360 degree photo of the street.

A helpful hint, look for major roadways, but more specifically look for overpasses and access roads to these major Highways. These access roads are open to the public but lead to nowhere so often there is a suitable spot there.

I'll update soon, With a Shoot the spot was found via Google Street view!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


One thing that bugs me is when people ask "what settings were you using" when in Photography there is no real right or wrong settings for a particular situation. I have rules I tend to abide by but that is just personal preference when I shoot. I have relatively steady hands and almost always shoot handheld so I tend to run as low as 1/60th combined with the flash to get a sharp result. For aperture I like to stick around the f8/10 range as the car remains in focus and optically my lens/camera excels here. I always use a circular polariser, if you do any car/bike photography then these are a must as it controls and often completely cuts out unwanted reflections on metallic objects so I make sure I always have my CPL handy. Other than that it's often just a case of trial and error, I run the flashes flat out at full power for the sole reason I can place the flashes further away from the car and obtain a wider spread of light, recycle times are increased but If you cant wait 4 seconds between shots you need a lesson in patience. No light meters, Umbrellas, 10,000W strobes with diesel Generators, 20 man production teams or professional photo retouchers here I'm afraid