Friday, February 22, 2008

I shot this photo as part of a session for Mopar Muscle magazine. It’s of my friend Joe McCaron’s ’66 Plymouth Belvedere I powered by a 526 cubic inch Hemi engine. At the end of the photo session, Joe asked me if I’d like him to do a burnout. Magazines love burnout shots so I didn’t hesitate in saying, “Yes!” I selected my 100-400 image stabilize zoom lens for my Canon 5D. It set the camera on “servo” mode so it would maintain focus with the movement of the car and I set the camera to shoot at three frames per second. I positioned the camera and lens on a tripod about 200 feet away from the front of the car and slightly off to the right. This distance allowed for full framing of the car at 400 mm. My instructions to Joe were to let the tires start churning before easing off the brake. Once I was ready, I gave Joe the signal to start and he executed a textbook burnout. The rear of the car swung a bit to the left, which produced a more dramatic image. I also love the way the smoke is rolling off of the front of the tires. Good job Joe!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Motor Press Guild has selected this photo to be on the cover of the 2008 media guide. The following is how this photo was created.

The car in the photo is a 2007 Dodge Super Bee and the color is Detonator Yellow. Scott Brown of Chrysler arranged the loan so I could shoot it for my 2009 Hemi calendar. In addition to taking the standard shots, I like to experiment with night photos. This photo was shot in local shopping center parking lot at about 10pm. I did this setup and photo by myself with no assistants or additional lighting. The light streaks are from lights at a nearby Longs Drugs, Ralph’s supermarket, and a Discount Tire store. The car is lit with the light from a single parking lot light fixture. I mounted my Canon 5D to the door of the car with a dual suction cup glass handing tool that I bought on ebay for $10. These tools are designed for flat surfaces, so I heated and bent the handle so the suction cups would get maximum purchase on the curved door surface with the handle in a vertical position. I used my 17-35 mm Canon L lens, with no filters, set at 17mm. I added a small piece of tape to the lens’ zoom control ring so it would stay set at 17mm. The 5D is a full frame digital camera, so I get the full effect of using a 17mm lens. I also manually focused the camera on the Super Bee emblem and taped the focus ring. I took a quick reading with the camera set at F8 in aperture priority mode to see how many seconds the camera thinks it needs for the amount of ambient light to capture an image. If I remember correctly it was four seconds. This gave me a ballpark starting point for the shutter speed I needed. I then set the camera function to “bulb” with the F-stop set at F8 and the camera set at ISO 100 in RAW shooting mode. I strung my 30-foot electronic cable release through the open passenger window and got into the driver’s seat. I slowly (walking speed) drove in circles around the light pole, taking several exposures, bracketing each side of the four-second shutter speed the camera initially calculated. I then stopped the car to review what I had shot. I found that I needed more time for my exposures, so I checked the security of my camera, got back in the driver’s seat, and shot more exposures. The painted lines of the parking spaces on the pavement disappear in the blur caused by the “speed” of the car. The lights on the storefronts create the streaks, as I drove in circles around the light pole. I then post processed through Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software and Photoshop for a final look.

I wish I could say the location was exotic, the camera rig elaborate, and the lighting setup complex, but it’s not. I intentionally shot this image in a vertical format with the car going to the right, since most art directors like images with subjects moving in that direction. I also intentionally shot this image with plenty of dead space for text.