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The "Wilie Coyote" Gets The Photographer...

Updated: Sep 28, 2019

So a few months back I started talking with a car owner over Facebook messenger and asked him if I could shoot his car. I love finding rare muscle cars and telling their story through digital art. This rare 1970 Buick GS Stage 2 was no different! Of course all my photo shoots are free, so he said yes. Needless to say we were both excited - so we set a date and I started to look for places to shoot the car. The biggest issue with photographing a car is that good paint is like a mirror, it reflects EVERYTHING. So getting a nice large open parking lot to shoot in was going to be a task. I reached out to a few organizations that have large parking lots to see if we can set something up at a quiet time so we wouldn't be in anyone's way - and there is no room for illegal trespassing!


The Strikers Fox Valley Soccer Club in Geneva, IL let us use their parking lot with no issues and they were glad to help out. Here's an aerial view of their parking lot. It's right next to a AAA baseball stadium so I knew we were good to go with tons of space - there will still be reflections, but just not as much and they'll be easier to manage in post production editing. And no, the burnout markinging in the map image is not from the shoot. (:


As we're talking, Pat mentions that he wants to re-create an image that was taken in the 1970's at a drag strip. I think to myself that will be interesting. Then I saw the photo that he texted me - my mouth dropped!!


I looked at the image above and thought how in the world am I going to get the car to look like it's launching off the line.... I told Pat to give me a few days to think about how to setup the scene. That night my creative brain started working. We'll jack up the front end of the car to the right height as in the picture. That will give us not only the lift in the front but the squat in the rear. Just rotating the image in post processing wouldn't do the trick - we need to keep as much reality in the final image as possible. So we had a plan and I got to work sketching out what all needs to happen the day of the shoot. That's correct, photographers have to plan for what they will need to do when the day comes. That includes factors such as sun, camera angle, lens, tripod, strobes, how many images to take for stacking, etc etc. It's not just show up and start clicking - there is a science to this process.


So we get to the lot and now it's time to set up. I positioned one strobe light just to get some unified lighting across the side of the car near the rear quarter panel tilted towards the front quarter panel. It took a few shots to get the camera angle as close as possible to the original image. Then we jacked up the front end of the car to get to the same height as on the original image.

I took roughly 35 images of the car - changing my focal point to different areas of the car. This way when I stack them in post processing I can get a nice smooth and sharp image across more of the car than I would with just one image. It makes the final printed image stand out and pop when printed in a larger format - this one will be 24"x36".


Once all the images were taken it was time to start working on the post processing. This is a more time consuming task than taking the images. I always focus on the small details to make the scene look uniform and realistic, even in a difficult shot such as this one. This image was going to be our base image - as you can see there's lots of work to do. Just a few items that are on the list that need to be done - erase the jack, the background, some of the foreground, the tire in the rear needs to be wrinkled - after all the scene is se