My motto for (Customer/Auction/forSale) automotive photography is “Transparency”. With that in mind, I basically shoot the amazing cars my customers bring to the studio just as magnificent they are.
This video is possible thanks to Classic Motors who gave me the chance to show one amazing really clean car (as always) under the process I get into when shooting one of their vehicles.
I designed this 100sqm studio a couple of years ago with some key features in mind like a rotary platform, continuous lighting (Chimera mogul lamps based), custom size for trucks, an easy to access ramp and many others. Those features were planned to meet these requirements:
- Scalability; at least two cars per day. The shooting time should be around 2 – 3 hours max.
- No repainting studio after each car; The way to get the car into the studio, taking care of it, rotating platform so you won’t have to move the car many times and it won’t mess with the floor.
- Color correction; same lighting for every car, the vehicle color should look as close as the real one on most screens.
- Transparency; editing the minimal floor/platform lines, dirt or imperfections, do not touch/edit the cars
- Easy to edit/publish; It should be easy to just develop (RAW files), color correct and upload. That means to create custom actions for more than 30 photos per car.
- Camera; I use a Canon 5Dsr which allows me to take fewer photos and get the most details with its 50Mpixels. Before I used to take more than 70 photos per car. This is the perfect place for that kind of camera, I’ll be posting a comparing article between 3 different Canon Cameras in the near future.
First thing before starting shooting is the detailing of the car. Cars come as clean and detailed by our own guys, but always remember to do your own job after that, your eye as the photographer will always be sharper than anyone, you are the one who knows how the photos will be taken, how angles and light are going to bring details, mostly unwanted details.
“Big cameras will always show the bad things, your job is to diminish them and show the best features of your subject”
Protect your floor, I use shoe booties (shoe covers). This will help me protect the white platform so it would last at least for 5 to 6 cars. You’ll save tons of painting and time.
I also use craft paper so car tires won’t get marks on the floor. You can cut templates for each type of car and you can use them at least for 3 car photoshoots.
Get always degreaser to remove tire stains. That way you won’t need to paint close to the tires every time, you’ll save paint, time and nobody is going to splash paint the car, you really don’t want that to happen.
I use a grey balance card from X-Rite (Made for video and photography), this card is way bigger than a passport and will help you get a bigger sample of the white balance between the studio and the car paint color. Then I take a sample with an X-Rite Color Checker Passport.
First, I rename every photo with the complete year, model, series, VIN and Color of the car, that way it will be easier to find them at any given time, also the .xml files will also be named the same as they get created by LR or CameraRAW; you could do that over bridge or MacOS Automator. Meanwhile, I’ll be creating the color profile from the color checker passport shoot on Adobe Lightroom. Then, I include the color profile on each one of them, correct the lenses profile, color aberration and do some other minor adjustment to all of them.
When I open all of the files on photoshop, I run some personal actions, basically sharpening and levels. I cut the photos using some layout templates I have created over the years, that way photos will have the same air depending on the website they are going to be on and the kind of vehicle (Trucks, sport or streetcars). The only remaining job will be making the background the same “white” color we use on our websites and cleaning all the platform lines and defects I could find.
Some photos will have double exposure as you see on the front, rear and 45 shoots. For rear and front, the double exposure will bring more details on the grills as the black-rear part of the studio won’t reflect any of the softbox light. For the 45 angles, the double exposure will help me get rid of the reflection I don’t want to see over the car. That’s pretty much everything I would correct on the cars.
I hope you enjoyed this video and remember, this is the way I work with customer cars, where photos need to be transparent. I know you can do some other photoshop work to make those vehicles unbelievable amazing and full of creative amazingness, but for that, I’ll do another video sometime in the future.