I don't very often get to shoot in car studios. I have done, and have shot in some of the best in the UK, but ninety percent of the time, I'm working with cars in busy workshops full of mechanics and with the backdrop of the working day it can be a less than perfect environment to create high-quality photographs.
Another factor is that in workshops there is usually a cocktail of ambient light - daylight, flourescent and HIDs, so the colour temperature is always a little bit chaotic. Add to the mix the distraction of open garage doors, overhead skylights and the whole mix can be challenging. I find it best to try an overpower all those factors using a combination of high-shutter, small aperture and high-powered lighting.
Shooting this Lancia D24 before it went off to Max Girardo's and then heading on down to Autoclassica Milan; I faced the usual challenges of limited time and difficult lighting conditions.
The time limits I'm stuck with, but I can bring all the ambient under control by bringing my lights in close to the car and dropping out most of the background using the natural fall-off of the lights.
This image above is straight out of the camera. The setup from the front looks like this:
To get that cockpit view you'll notice that I was using my Fuji XT-1 hanging from a boom arm. The XT-1 is perfect in this situation; I use the wireless app on my phone to see the view the camera is getting in real time before I trigger the camera remotely on the app. If you look closely at the cockpit shot, you will see a glow in the footwell and transmission tunnel. This was done by placing a Nikon SB-800 speedlight in the corner under the toneau cover. I placed the speed light in SU-4 mode, allowing it to trigger from the main lights - there's enough light bouncing around not to need it own radio trigger.
There's nothing worse than a black hole in a shot and this gives the lift needed to add some depth and to allow your eye to explore what it might be like to sit in the cockpit.
I took another shot of the cockpit without changing the lighting - except for removing the speed light in the foot well and simply re-positioning myself to get a clear view of tacho. I love shots of instruments - reminiscent of fighter planes and chrongraph watches...
The opening image for this article showed a shot taken from the elevated boom arm and here is it used again to get a shot of the factory original 3.8Ltr v6 Engine. This time one light was moved to the front of the car's nose, but the other was left in the original location.
This car has an incredible profile. The cockpit can be re-configured by removing the metal tonneau cover and adding an aero screen for the passenger. Having said that the passenger doesn't get a door - but who cares about such extravagance when even the addition of a door hinge would add unnecessary weight.
It was a privilege to shoot this beautiful car, although the situation is less than ideal it is possible to get studio level results with a bit of patience and the right equipment. You can see more at www.lightflow.co.uk.