Challenging myself is always where I want to be in my personal, creative work. I want to fail trying in new things on my own time so that I can experiment and take the few successes we find onto my client work to wow them. In essence, this is my playground, but a fifth grader just punched me in the gut and took my lunch money. You see, lighting a black shiny car at night is akin to photographing a sphere of mirrors. The body panels can “see” all of the lights, and photographers, and cameras, and assistants, etc, etc, etc (in my best Yul Brenner).
We tried small bare strobes to light just the edges and wheel wells. We tried huge PLM’s above and beside the car. We tried just ambient. And we combined variations of all three of these. After more than an hour we got as close as we were going to get. Luckily, I had another kernel of idea that I wanted to try, which was using a low shutter speed to show the car in motion through the streets of Austin. Now, we didn’t have a cool suction cup magic arm. But we did have a 25 foot Dodge Truck with a camper shell (useful for avoiding unwanted attention).
So my ninja light is the ones you don’t notice, mainly straight ambient exposure which doesn’t give off any strange shadows that would give away a strobe’s signature. For someone who loves to add a strobe or two or three, shooting straight ambient and still getting exciting is a good exercise for me. And tomorrow I am getting my lunch money back.
Thanks to Darin and his patient bride for allowing us to photograph your stealth 750 hp car!