LESSONS LEARNED // AUDI R8
A couple of months ago my buddy Bugra posted on the social medias that he got an Audi R8 and right away I knew that I had to shoot that beautiful bitch. We made a date, and set out to make it happen.
BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE BIT ABOUT BUGRA.
BUGRA /turkish/ /n./ (boo-rah)
1. A baby camel
2. One of the hardest working people I've ever met.
3. This dude is smart as hell.
I don't really remember when I met Bugra, but I do know that it was probably at Sinbad's over some hookah. At the time he had a near perfect STI which was either Alpine or Aspen white, I don't really remember but it was dope- and one of few. I knew right away I was going to like this dude. Pair that with his incredible track record of previously owned vehicles which include multiple E36 M3's one of which was supercharged, A couple of E46 M3's, an amazing Audi S4, a few dope Subaru's and several others. It's no shock that we're friends.
One of my favorite things about Bugra is his insane work ethic. I haven't really met anyone who literally works around the clock from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep. Almost every time I've hung-out with Bugra there's been car buying, phone calls, emails, etc. Even during our shoot he was on the phone a few times making things happen. How he manages to keep his head on straight I'll never understand. Hats off to you Bugra, you're the man.
ANYWAYS // ON TO THE SHOOT.
When Bugra and I originally planned this shoot he wanted the Kauffman Center as a location and I knew I wanted to make a production. I sent a few emails and made several unanswered phone calls to try and secure a permit for the Kauffman Center grounds. This turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. When I finally got a response after 2-3 weeks of trying I was informed that because what we were doing would be for a local dealership we were unable to secure the location because of an existing partnership with another local dealer. I really shot myself in the foot by giving too much information from the get go, so keep that kind of shit in mind when you're trying to secure locations people!
LESS IS DEFINITELY MORE! (I think, I've never been able to successfully secure a location permit. UGH)
This set actually took place over 2 separate shoot days. The first day we met up it was clear skies and sunny. Which typically wouldn't be ideal for the type of stuff I normally shoot. Controlling light is pretty difficult when you don't have strong enough lighting to overpower the sun. We made do with what we had, chose a couple of locations very last minute, and of course...ended the session with a hookah while we looked over the images. We only had a small handful of decent images and honestly probably could have called it good but I wasn't 100% satisfied with our selects, so I forced Bugra to clear off a Sunday afternoon so I could try a few different things.
This set is a pretty strong milestone for me. Most of my past work has been 1-2 exposures pushed to hell in post to make something decent. For this set I wanted to try using a scrim panel (diffusion fabric) to control the reflections of the car to emulate something shot in a studio and brought into an environment, which would result in something like 8-10 separate exposures composited together to give the final look.
Most manufacture imagery you see today has the same look because a lot of the cars are actually shot in a studio and placed into different environments, others that are shot on location have a concept, full crew, location permits, etc etc. Being that I don't have a studio or proper gear to make those types of images we had to improvise and work on the fly.
THANKFULLY Tim- one of the dudes who came to help had a bed sheet in his car that would sub in as our scrim and with the help from him, Bugra, Travis, and Devin holding the sheet in a bunch of different positions we were able to catch the reflections just right. At the time I thought I had a pretty good idea of which exposures to grab to put together a clean reflective car, but as we went on I realized there were several things I could have and should have done better SUCH AS CHARGED MY BATTERY PACK! When we got the car into the first shoot position it was dead...meaning I couldn't use strobes. Good thing we didn't get them out and set them up before we realized the pack was dead! OH WAIT YES WE DID UGH! Thankfully there was enough daylight to make it work. Later on I pulled out my speedlight that lasted just long enough to light the curvature of the R8 for the 2nd and 3rd look before it also died, damn.
*protip: charge your batteries before a shoot.
*protip: one is none, always have an alternate option.
Here's a full breakdown of everything used to make this set.
- 1x Canon 5Diii
- 1x Tripod
- 1x Circular Polarizer
- 1x Yongnuo 600 EX RT Speedlight
- 2x Pocket Wizard Plus ii
- 1x Neewer Remote Shutter
- 2x Bedsheet (white/black)
- 4x Human scrim holders < LOL
- 1x Alien Bee B800
- 1x 16' suction rig coupled with magic arm
I recently had an awesome conversation with Ryan- the mastermind behind 8183 Studio and my mentor. He gave me a few insanely helpful pointers in regards to shooting larger reflective objects paired with architecture. I've known that it's essential to shoot most images in pieces, but it made way more sense hearing it from the dude I'm constantly looking up to. With Ryan's words on repeat in the back of my mind we set out to make the best images we could with what we had.
I've never really lit a car with strobes before and this was a particualrly challenging subject because of the unique body lines carved in the R8. There were several moments of silence studying the way that big hipped babe took light and lots of trial and error to get everything to cooperate.
IF IM BEING HONEST THOSE MOMENTS OF SILENCE WERE ACTUALLY ME REALIZING I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. LOLOLOLOL.
I suppose a little research prior to shooting this car would have been helpful, but given that this was a more relaxed shoot there was time allowance to try a few different techniques before we got what we needed. Which I'm extremely thankful for.
By the time we made it to our second to last location [a building that I pass almost every day that I had been wanting to shoot in front of for awhile] it was fully dark. We were all a little surprised that within the almost 2 hours we spent there we weren't interrupted or kicked out, unless you count the delusional man trying to get inside for medical attention after being discharged from the emergency room across the street.
The best thing about this location aside from the pretty architecture was the outdoor power outlet giving access to use the bees. This was the most beneficial location of the day because I was really able to control almost every aspect of lighting with the help of the 4 human scrim holders and the strobe. Tim actually had a black sheet as well which came in to play perfectly as negative reflection fill. IF YOU CANT TELL TIM WAS THE REAL MVP OF THE SHOOT- THANKS TIM YOU'RE THE BOMB. There was plenty of trial and error here as well and several more "coulda, shoulda, woulda's." But by the time we were getting close to finishing it was apparent that I had beaten a few dead horses and with the sound of hangry stomachs growling around me it was time to break for dinner, haha!
After I fed the Gargoyles I talked 3/4 to hitting one more location for some rig shots.
"They'll go quickly" I assured them knowing damn well I was full of shit...They knew it too.
I'm hyped they stuck it out because rig shots are some of my favorites. For those of you who don't know how these shots work a pole is attached to a pair of suction mounts directly to the car. The camera hangs off and with a shitload of trial and error and some smooth driving coupled with a long exposure a dynamic moving still image is created. The car and the camera never move (in theory) which creates a sharp car, and motion blurred wheels and background.
ITS NOT ROCKET APPLIANCES, JUST GOOD OL' FASHION GEEK STUFF AND SOME OTHER GENERIC PHOTOGRAPHY TERMS.
I can't really remember what time we finally wrapped, but it was definitely too late for those who stuck around with real jobs! I'm SUPER hyped and very grateful for Bugra, Devin, Tim and Travis who gave up their Sunday to help me keep my life together and create a decent set! I'm probably not an easy person to be around with this type of stuff and they've been great sports putting up with the long hours and my random outbursts. THANKS GUYS LOVE YA A LOT.
I'm especially hyped that Travis brought his camera along and got some pretty awesome BTS shots. This dude makes me question my life on the regular especially when I like his BTS shots more than the images I've nearly jumped in front of a bus over! He's also an incredible shooter himself and offers great perspectives when my head is spinning and I'm about to throw my camera against the wall. Not to mention he's one of the people who got me into automotive shooting in first place. I'm so hyped we crossed paths.
This is my first set really trying to take not only automotive shooting, but shooting in general to the next step. I'm insanely hyped for all of the progress and opportunities I've been given in 2016, and I can't WAIT to see whats in store for 2017.
CHEERZ Y'ALL. LOVE YA!
- t r a v i s