Car Photography in the Studio
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Car photography in the studio is considered one of the most difficult specialities in this fantastic profession.
A special studio is required that looks like the inside of an eggshell , it has no corners just gentle curves and of course is very big.
A film studio can be used as well because of its height and size but nothing is better than a real car studio.
All the major manufacturers have their own studios at their factories, for use by their own photographers and ones working for their advertising agency.
The best one I have seen is in Turin at the Fiat factory, there are five in all one of which must be 30x80x8meters.
Normally lights are never shone on to a car but reflected from a wall to create the lighter parts, other parts of the wall may be painted in black or covered in coloured felt to make a darker area of bodywork.
On many occasions we would paint scenes on the wall to reflect into the car like mountains, forests etc.
Mostly we will work with 2 and 5 kilowatt spots, lighting an exact piece of wall , a one or two degree change in placement can destroy the shape of the car , car photography in the studio is an art on it's own.
For the roof bonnet and windscreen we would have a floating reflector suspended from the studio roof and movable to any position by using ropes and pulleys, this allowed us absolute control. The reflectors would be large wooden frames about 6m x 4m sometimes bigger covered with light material and painted white, light would be reflected from these back to the car.
There are many little tricks we use e.g. an airbrush to paint tiny reflections on the bumpers and black plastic. Talcum powder is used if we want to see the tyre treads although that means removing all those spiky bits of rubber found on some new tyres.
This would take 1 assistant about 2 hours for 1 tyre !!
A can of deodorant spray, the type that leaves a white deposit, used to add a little white reflection, normally on the back of the roof or the edge of the windscreen or bonnet.
For a static shot both wheels should be aligned the same way. In the case of the Jeep the writing is in the same position on each wheel.
You will notice that often the car is on a raised floor, there are two reasons for this one is to allow me to light from a low angle the, other as shots like these can take several days I’m not sure that my back would stand lying on the floor for all that time.
People in cars was also a problem with having to use very big flash units and tiny ones hidden inside the car .So in the end I made flash spot lights with halogen modeling lights that enabled me to see where I was putting the light. However you'll never beat the old tungsten spot. Except for the 8 or so minutes of exposure time, it's strange that immediately I opened the shutter I needed to go to the toilet.