Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One afternoon, two cars, four pictures...

...or, how to spend an afternoon shooting two very cool cars and have some fun!

So, you already saw the results, the 4 pictures in the previous post. Let's go a little bit backstage and see how everything came to be the way it is.

We started setting stuff up around 3pm. In the first picture you can see the place where the shoot took place. It's the front side of a building facing west, here in Pasadena. There is lots of space in front of it so it seemed like a good location. For the first shot of Sarkis's Pantera, the idea was to shoot it sideways so that you could see just the rim of the car. You can see the result here.

The main lights were two SB-800's at full power in manual mode shot through two home made silk panels about 4'x5' and held together by PVC pipes, the same stuff you use for your sprinklers, cheap, light, easy to find and assemble in any form or shape needed. A few A-clamps to keep the silk tight and you made a pretty basic soft box. It's not great but it's absolutely the cheapest thing you can do. And it works ok, I must say. Also, I put a flag under each SB-800 to limit to a minimum the spillover of the lights on the ground. I wanted to hit just the car if possible and both SB-800's where also zoomed to 105mm.

The left SB-800 is attached to what we called the "airplane ladder", I didn't have enough light stands for everything so...there you go, it worked great. This one was gelled red and the opposite one was gelled with a full CTB.

Then we have two more lights on small tripods, SB-600's this time, at 1/4 or 1/8 power in manual. They are snooted and aimed at each wheel. No gels here.

The two 800's were group A and the two 600's were group B. This way I could just use the on camera flash and trigger all of them. Unfortunately the D300 can only trigger 2 groups, unless you want to use one SB-800 as a commander. But since I could not adjust them separately, I had to move each one of them a little bit back and forth until I got pretty much the power I wanted.

Behind the car we put two curtains and a black bed sheet clamped to the building door to create some negative fill.

And then, there is the sun! So, to get rid of the sun we had two options: wait until dark, or be creative...so, this is what we called a flying fork-lift!

Luckily it wasn't too windy and we were fine. That big sail made of plastic tarps kept me and the cars in shade during the shoot, at least until the sun went down for good.

Here's a view from the Pantera during the second shot and here is yours truly at work with the protection of the big green sail!

I was underexposing the ambient light by at least 3 stops so I wasn't afraid to pick that green up in the shots.

Here is our working area during the second Pantera shot from the camera position while I'm adjusting things around. As you can see the big sail was pretty effective even though we were still adjusting it.

Finally, there are two shots, one of each car, showing the lights at work. When we shot the Pantera it was about 6pm and the ambient light was still pretty strong even in the shade. When we shot the Cobra it was a little darker, but by 7pm we were done.

As you can see from these pictures the main lights are not illuminating the silk evenly, but we had to zoom them to the max not to spill out. We were also reflecting lots of light back but there was nothing we could do about that without real soft-boxes.

The last touch in each picture was the water on the ground, added to create some nice reflections. In the end I'm pretty happy with the results. We can do better, I'm sure, but as a first attempt I think it's a success. So, next time I have to light a car with small lights at least I know where to start from.
Thanks to Juanse, Sarkis and Brad for their help, support and extreme availability. without you guys I couldn't have made it.
And a special thanks to my wife Marta, and my 4 months old daughter Emma that came to see me at work. Emma fell asleep during the shoot and she didn't wake up not even when the guys fired up those amazing engines...now, that's sleeping hard!!
Thanks again

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