1969 Aston Martin DBS Vantage
Recently I was commissioned to shoot this most beautiful Aston Martin DBS. It was fresh from the workshop after a £110,000 restoration, where it had enjoyed a full nut and bolt rebuild bringing it to, according to Chris Shenton, the mechanic, “better than new condition”. The car is being sold, my images to be used within the promotional material.
I’d never professionally shot a car before, plenty of bikes, but never anything with quite the vast expanses of polished paintwork that this Aston had. But we were lucky with the light, which was bright but gently diffused by high altitude wispy clouds, acting as a “soft-box” of sorts, it gave the light a more even intensity…. Also, shooting from mid afternoon when the sun was lower, and so less intense. The problems encountered would relate to too much contrast between lit and shadow areas, the diffused light helped, as did the “shadows” “highlight” adjustments available in Capture One, my go-to post-production work-flow app (which if unaware is kind of similar to Adobe’s LightRoom).
Within reason, whatever it is you are photographing be it a toaster or a space-hopper, everything has a sweet angle, the one from which all seems to be in balance. The trick is to find it and ensure that the light source hits it in a complementary manner. The other thing I’m looking for are the natural patterns within the subject, its own inherent geometry. If these patterns can be captured with a pleasing light the image is certainly on its way to being a keeper.
Thoughts on Shooting Cars – what I learned…
- Try to keep the background as un-fussy as possible, helps the subject “pop”.
- High contrast is the problem with expanses of shiny paintwork – shoot early or late in the day, welcome a degree of cloud cover.
- Look for the natural patterns, the vehicles inherent geometry, and shoot for these.
Find details which can be isolated with shallow depth of field, but do ensure there is enough image around such to lend context.
I shot absolutely everything with my trusty work-horse 24-105mm/f4L, mated to a Canon 5Dmk2, all images were shot as RAW, processed through Capture One, with some further tweaks made in Photoshop to a handful of images. I tried to stick with ISO 160 – the smoothest quality with the Canon 5D. Also in my camera bag: Canon 17-35mm/f2.8L, Canon 80-200/f4L, Sigma 35mm/f1.4, Canon 50mm/f1.4. Two Canon Speedlite flash guns, Manfrotto tripod.
I thought that the super wide zoom would be useful for cabin images but found that the 24mm end of the workhorse was perfect. I pinged a small burst of flash (set at ca -2/3rds stop, bounced off the ceiling) on the internals. I’d considered using the long zoom to throw off the background but decided to stick with the workhorse and the continuity between images that using a single lens affords. It was also so much faster to work with a single lens rather that constantly changing it. The tripod was used within the garage where wishing to retain a low ISO but with a good depth of field meant shutter speeds over 1 second.