Topics Sun, 17 Jun 2018 14:42:55 -0700 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Do you really want to go pro? Do you really want to go pro?

One of the biggest complaints I've heard from many amateur photographers that have spoken to pros about the business is that they always seem to get put down and told to stay away from the business and not go pro. I've basically heard people trying to scare others away from professional photography.

To those wanting to go pro, while it may not be as serious as trying to scare people away, do try to find the reasoning behind the warnings you're getting. Lets be honest, anyone that can buy a camera and create a Facebook "fan page" seems to now claim to be a professional photographer. Even the recent redesign of Flickr came with a comment from Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer.

"There's no such thing as Flickr Pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there's no such thing, really, as professional photographers when there's everything that's professional photographers." Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer

This isn't for the weekend warrior or the hobbyist, this is for those who actually understand what they're doing and are at the crossroads of keeping their steady job or taking the leap of faith to go pro with their photography to support themselves. Here's a few things worth considering if you're on the fence.

1 Money - Contrary to popular belief, there still is some money to be made in photography, if you know where to find it. However if you don't know where to find it and you think you're going to rely on the few "clients" you had while you were shooting for fun, then this isn't going to last very long. You're going to need to keep yourself paid and in a decently steady stream of work to make this happen. With the devalued nature of the business, everyone seems to expect photographers to work for free or for exposure. I'm sure you've seen plenty of internet memes and posts shared by photographers all over about this subject. The key to not working for free.... is to not work for free. Value yourself and your work and keep it moving when you're expected to work for free. "Exposure" never put food on anyones table.

2 Full Time Job - Working for yourself means that you're almost always working. There's always an email to be answered, a bid to submit, an image to retouch, a call to be made... you'll always be doing something so get used to it. Invest in Red Bull because you're going to definitely be pulling some all nighters to make deadlines. If that bothers you, self employment in a competitive business might not be for you. If you're going to make it you're going to have to be hungry and go get the work and assignments you want.

3 Networking - Until you've hit the level where you can hire a rep, you are your own rep. If networking and dealing with people bothers you it may be time to reconsider. You're going to have to meet people and conduct yourself professionally at all times. Design a great business card and keep some on you at all times. You never know when you're going to bump into someone that can become a potential client.

]]> (Andrew Link) Knowledge Thu, 23 May 2013 16:45:17 -0700
Post Processing: Lamborghini Superleggera Final Image - Lamborghini Superleggera | © Garrett Wade

About a month ago, I set out to shoot an image for the light-painting contest put on by this site. I was lucky enough to get the perfect subject for the shoot, but that luck would quickly run out.

After lining up a rare Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera I started brainstorming and thinking of locations all over town that might be fitting for this car and ones that would work with the rules of the contest. In usual fashion none of that mattered as conflicts between my schedule and the car's owner, mixed with Florida rain shot all of that out the window real quick. We ended up bringing the car to a small garage and got to work wiping it down as it had begin to rain on the way (of course).

Stage 1: Ambient Light Photo of the Car

I used a 4ft florescent light purchased for about $8 from the local hardware store plugged into my vagabond mini - turned the lights out in the garage and started making some passes on the car.

IMG 9473 As Smart Object 1

I ended up shooting settling on a 8 second exposure at f/6.3 and ISO100. After a few passes and figuring out what height and angle holding the light on the car worked the best I thought I had that about figured out for the shot.  With the ambient light not looking very flattering on the car I setup the strobes to go off and giving me a low base exposure to build off.

IMG 9483 As Smart Object 1

...and now it was time to mix them. I set the 10 second timer on the camera and waited for the strobes to go off then ran past the car with my florescent light-painting in the darkness after the flash. After about a dozen or so times I thought I had it.

IMG 9507 OriginalMain Exposure of the Car | © Garrett Wade

Stage 2: Adding the Wheel Exposure

Next I used a small softbox to strobe the wheels and make them pop.

IMG 9514 As Smart Object 1

IMG 9523 As Smart Object 1

All of these images along with a few bit from other passes where then combined to make my base image.

IMG 9507 No BgMain Exposure of the Car w/ Wheel Exposure | © Garrett Wade

Stage 3: The Background Swap

Finally coming together, but still rather boring I started digging through my old photos to see if I had some sorta background I could swap into this to make it a little bit more interesting. After a little bit of digging I came across a a few long exposures I did on a rooftop in NYC a few years back. With a few quick adjustments it looked like something that would work well for the image.

IMG 4618 As Smart Object 2

After dropping the old shot as the new background the image was finally almost there.

IMG 9507 As Smart Object 1

With a little bit more work in cleaning up and coloring the image I finally had a final product.

IMG 9507 As Smart Object 12345Final Image - Lamborghini Superleggera | © Garrett Wade

]]> (Garrett Wade) Knowledge Mon, 06 May 2013 10:52:57 -0700
Lamborghini Aventador Full Set Lamborghini Aventador | © Johan Lee

Perillo Collision Center is considered by many to be one of the top auto repair shops in the Chicago area, and the Lamborghini Aventador, with styling by The Dark Knight and a howling V12 engine by Pavarotti, is arguably one of the best supercars on the market today. Regrettably, PCC met the Aventador the way they quite often meet these wonderful cars - someone had crashed the Lamborghini, and it was up to Perillo to fix the damage. 

As usual, the crew at Perillo performed an amazing job, and soon had the low-slung monster back to its usual menacing self. Below is a link to some before and after photos of the repair.

When I arrived to document the completed work, however, the weather was raining and abysmal, so instead of being able to use some prime locations for shooting, I chose to set up the camera in the alley behind Perillo's garage. The plan then was to composite the car into the backgrounds you see in the gallery. A sample of the before and after with Adobe Photoshop can be seen here.


Special thanks to Jeremy Cliff Photography, who came out to assist me in setting up the shoot. It was a real pleasure to be able to capture such a thrilling supercar, fully restored to factory condition!

]]> (Johan Lee) Work Wed, 01 May 2013 13:50:11 -0700
Mudfest 2013 Mudfest 2013 | © Armin H. Ausejo

On April 17-18, the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) held their 16th annual Mudfest, which brings together the latest and greatest SUVs and crossovers for a competition to see which is the best, voted among NWAPA's members. This year, 23 vehicles from 13 manufacturers participated in the competition at Dirtfish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Washington and I was honored to be chosen to cover the event for NWAPA. The two-day shoot had me outdoors for most of the day, with the second day primarily out in the mud and rain, but it was a lot of fun overall and I'm quite happy with how the photos turned out.

Here is a link to more information about the event, including the officially-published photos:

I actually ended up with almost 700 photos from the two days, which you can all find here on these links:

Special thanks go to my old friend and editor Ryan Douthit from Subiesport/Driving Sports/Media Spigot for giving me the opportunity to shoot the event. Here are a few of my own personal favorites:

Mudfest2013DayTwo 13

Mudfest2013DayTwo 94

Mudfest2013DayTwo 189

Mudfest2013DayTwo 234

Mudfest2013DayTwo 254

Mudfest2013DayOne 135

Mudfest2013DayOne 139

Mudfest2013DayOne 270

]]> (Armin H. Ausejo) Work Mon, 29 Apr 2013 14:29:26 -0700
Top 10 Automotive Images of the Week | © Frederic Schlosser

Gabrielmilori | © Gabriel Milori

Gfwilliams Mclarenp1 | © GF Williams

Visualechos Lotus1Visual Echos Photography | © Andrew Thompson

Emotiveimage Grandprix | © Alex Wong

Seagrampearce Com | © Seagram Pearce

Romanlavrov Com | © Roman Lavrov

Prestigesportcars Eu Arnaudtaquet | © Arnaud Taquet

Pepperyandell Com | © Pepper Yandell

Notbland Com | © Webb Bland

]]> (Steve Demmitt) Inspiration Thu, 25 Apr 2013 04:42:32 -0700
Formula Drift - Long Beach 2013 motivelife making it's presence known at Formula Drift - Long Beach 2013

I will be following the Formula Drift events this year as the official team photographer for Lutz Performance. It is the black and green 350z driven by Kenny Moen. He was champion in the Norway series a few times and this year he has decided to bring his talents to the good ol USA. Here are a few images of the first round of Formula Drift in Long Beach, CA. Let us know in the comments section what you would like to see for future events.


]]> (Garrett Wade) Work Tue, 23 Apr 2013 15:24:38 -0700
Post Processing: Creating Transparent Hoods - Anthony Massie Nikon D90 w/ Nikkor 18-105 @ 25mm | F10 – 1/200 – ISO200 | © Anthony Massie

If you’re shooting a car with a particularly nice looking engine bay, you might want to consider giving this transparent hood effect a try. An image like this shows off the powerful nature of a car and is sure to evoke questions from your viewers. In this article I’ll break down the step by step process that I used to create this photo of IND’s M5.

Equipment Used


1Ladder - The focal point of this image is the engine lying just beneath the hood. For this reason, it is good to have the camera positioned up high and aiming down at car in order to capture more of the engine bay in the photo. Shooting from up high also allows for an increased focal length, which keeps distortion to a minimum. However, it is ultimately your own stylistic preference that will decide the angle of your image.

2Magic Arm or Tripod - When creating a transparent hood photo it is imperative that the camera remains 100% stationary – shooting handheld simply will not work. The reason for this is because you will need to take two identical photos and later overlay one on top of the other in Photoshop. For this reason, a Magic Arm can be easily attached to the top of the ladder enabling the camera to be positioned exactly where it is needed. If you would rather shoot from a lower angle, then a tripod will suffice.

3Remote Shutter Release - This tool assists in keeping the camera 100% stationary. Standing on the ladder and pressing the shutter button can possibly move the camera - even if only slightly. This would cause your two images to be misaligned when you later overlay them on each other in Photoshop. For this reason, you should stand on the ground and used a wireless shutter remote to take the two photos.

4Lighting (Optional) - For this image I used two Alien Bee B800 strobes equipped with 36” soft boxes positioned at about 45° on either side of the car.


With your camera and lighting set up to your desired specifications, take one photo with the hood closed and one with the hood open. As for the camera settings, I would recommend using a high f-stop to ensure all the details of the engine remain in focus.

Hood Up Hood Down The two images above will later be combined to create the transparent hood effect.

Post Processing

Start by opening the closed-hood photo in Photoshop, and then place the open-hood photo directly on top of it. At this point you will have two layers: the bottom layer will be the closed-hood photo and the top-layer will be the open-hood photo. Next, reduce the top layers opacity by 50%. By doing this you will instantly begin to see the effect take place.

Images Aligned 50The open-hood photo is placed directly on top of the closed-hood photo with its opacity set to 50%.

This image is not yet complete – the hood is still floating directly in front of the windshield and will need to be removed. The next step is to add a layer mask to your top layer and fill it with black. This will remove the open-hood layer from view, thus showing only the closed-hood layer below. In the black layer mask, draw a white radial gradient extending from the center of the hood to just beyond the edges of the car to expose the engine. Try experimenting with the size and position of your gradient as well as the open-hood layer’s opacity percentage to achieve the desired effect.

Radial Gradient Layer MaskA white radial gradient drawn on the open-hood layer mask exposes the engine. Even though we started with a layer opacity of 50%, you may need to adjust this percentage depending on the color of the car and the lighting conditions.

This image is almost complete. Next, use a black linear gradient or a large soft brush to paint over parts of the white linear gradient; this will remove the remaining unwanted elements of the top layer and create a smoother transition from opaque hood to transparent hood.

Adjusted Layer MaskNotice how I changed the shape of my white linear gradient to better fit the engine bay. By doing this I was able to completely remove the open hood make the transparent hood effect more transitional.

When satisfied with your transparent hood effect, merge the two layers and continue to edit the photo the way you normally would. You’re finished! Now you have a captivating and technical addition for your portfolio that is sure to impress anyone who sees it.

IND M5 FinalNikon D90 w/ Nikkor 18-105 @ 25mm | F10 – 1/200 – ISO200 | © Anthony Massie

]]> (Anthony Massie) Knowledge Mon, 08 Apr 2013 14:22:33 -0700
Virtual Motion Blur Walkthrough: SLK350 - Shutterlit Photography © Ste Ho

Motion shots have always been a great way to emphasize the speed of a vehicle.  It allows the viewer to use their imagination to picture the vehicle in action; and this is what makes these motion images so critical amongst automotive photographers. There are many ways to create these shots but in the end it boils down to the photographer’s preference.


A year ago, I made a detailed post on my blog here about how I was introduced to automotive photography. Over the past few years, I spent time creating motion shots with a rig system to sharpen my skillset.  Recently, I began to use motion blur software such as Bleex as a replacement for my rig. Bleex allows you to create vector paths within your image in which the motion blur will follow. This even works around curves or bends allowing you full control over the motion in your image.

The List of Items You Will Need

1 A Vehicle (Something nice would be ideal)

2 Digital Camera w/ Lens (35-60mm focal length is what I normally use)

3 Tripod (To keep the camera stationary for each shot)

4 Hydraulic Jack (If needed to blur the wheels)

5 Virtual Motion Blur Software (Bleex was used for this image build)

6 Adobe Photoshop for the Image Merging and Post Processing

The Three Essential Shots

1 A shot of the car on location.


2 A shot of the location without the car for motion rendering in the software (Bleex).


3 A shot of the wheel in motion with matching angle. This can be done on location while the car is in place or anywhere after.




The reason why I prefer using the motion software is because setting up my rig system takes up a lot of time on location. When I want to shoot something for my personal portfolio, I cannot always obtain a location permit. In those instances, motion software makes life much easier.  It is true that shooting car to car can be fast and effective but you need more than one driver and two or more cars to execute it. It can be a little tricky to get the desired shot while shooting car to car on a public road in traffic. With the motion blur software it is easier to shoot inside a small area like a parking garage safely while allowing full control over the end result.

{loadposition sh_motionblur}

Above is the image build with a brief description for each stage.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.



Virtual motion software is a great alternative to creating realistic action shots like the ones you see in most automotive brochures. This has become a common technique by most professional shooters besides using commercial rig systems. This may not be the easiest or the most affordable way to produce an automotive motion shot compared to other methods I mentioned earlier and there is definitely an art to combining the different elements together to form the final image, however as challenging as it is the results can be well worth it.

If you would like to give Bleex a try, feel free to download their trial version on their website.


]]> (Ste Ho) Knowledge Fri, 29 Mar 2013 01:14:51 -0700
How to Pack Your Photo Gear - Andrew Link Photography


So I get this question a lot, "What do you bring to a photoshoot?" While there is no real catch all answer for that since every shoot is different and I'll need different gear depending on what I'm shooting, I have narrowed my gear down to what I bring on EVERY shoot. I have two Pelican cases built for traveling and when I need extra or specialized gear I just add it, but these two cases get me through just about any situation.

The video posted above shows the two cases and all the important toys they contain but I've also included a list below.

Packing Gear List

Pelican 1510 Case

FAA Approved Airline Legal Carry On Case -

1Canon 1DS-MKIII

2Canon 17-40L Lens

3Canon 24-70L Lens

4Canon 70-200L Lens

5Vulture Equipment Works A4 Camera Strap

6Really Right Stuff Tripod Head

7Really Right Stuff L-bracket Quick Release Plate

83 - Pocketwizard Transceivers

9Canon 1DS-MKIII Battery Charger & Extra Battery

10Lens Cloth

11Firewire and Usb 3.0 Cables for Hard Drives)

122 - Card Readers

13CF Card Wallet

142 - Lacie 500GB Rugged Hard Drives

15Grip Clamps


Pelican 1650 Case

The Lighting Case -

12 - Profoto Softboxes

23 - Profoto D1 heads (2x - 500 watts and 1x - 1000 watts)

3Profoto D1 10 degree grid

42 - Profoto Softbox Speed Rings

5Westcott Ice Light

6Various Chargers

7Profoto - Pocketwizard Cables

8Misc. Grip Stuff

9Profoto BatPac

Similar to the Alienbees Vagabond, this is my battery source for my strobes when I'm on location and don't have outlets to use.

]]> (Andrew Link) Knowledge Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:53:29 -0700
The Life of a Car Photographer The Life of a Car Photographer

A live feed of instagram accounts from various professional automotive photographers across the globe. Refresh to stay updated.

{loadposition insta_feed}

]]> (Steve Demmitt) Life Fri, 22 Mar 2013 13:00:12 -0700
Automotive Photography Tips and Tricks: A Beginner's Guide By Armin Ausejo - Part 3 © Armin H. Ausejo

After going over capturing light in Part 2, we now conclude these basic tips and tricks to automotive photography with using your equipment to its fullest potential.

Making the best of your equipment

You don’t need the latest and greatest DSLR to take good photos, but SLR cameras definitely have more of an advantage with their interchangeable lenses. However, that isn’t to say that you still can’t get good results out of a point-and-shoot. For example, the photo above was taken with my camera phone, and I took this photo with a disposable film camera:

Disposable 1000x662

In fact, many people end up spending a lot of money on a DSLR, but since they don't take the time to really learn how to use it properly, their photos end up looking worse than if they used their camera phone. All you really need is the know-how to use what equipment you have properly, and this counts for DSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras, and even your camera phone. It's not as simple as fully comprehending the manual, but it definitely does help.

Tripod, Tripod, Tripod

‘Nuff said. If you don’t have one, get one. I cannot stress this enough. Using a tripod will not only help give you a good, stable platform to take pictures from, but it'll also help you slow things down so that you're not rushing your shots. Setting up the tripod will also give you time to re-examine the scene and your composition. Are there distractions surrounding the car? Is the lighting good? Are you shooting from a different elevation other than standing eye level? There will undoubtedly be times when using a tripod will be impractical or even impossible, but I'll still default to the tripod on just about every automotive feature shoot that I do.

Adjusting your aperture and how it affects shutter speed and ISO

Ever wonder how photos have one thing singled out, and the rest blurry? That’s because the aperture is adjusted to shoot wide open, creating a blurred effect away from the focus point. Shooting “wide open” means that you lower your aperture down to the lowest possible f-stop. Many lenses have a lowest f-stop of ƒ3.5 (more often written as f/3.5), but other lenses can go down to ƒ1.8 or even ƒ1.2. On the other hand, using a higher f-stop will keep more things in focus, but at the expense of letting in less light, which again leads to a tripod being a must. Experiment and see what kind of results you can get, since there is no right or wrong when it comes to your aperture. It all comes down to how you want to present your subject to your viewer. Switching your camera to aperture priority mode will help you play around with things. Also, remember that if you zoom in (in other words, use telephoto) for a photo and use a lower f-stop, you’ll get even more blurriness away from your focus point. I use my telephoto lens with a low f-stop very often to make a car pop out from the surrounding area. Here is an example of how different apertures can affect a photo, using an 85mm ƒ1.4 lens:

Aperturetest 1000x1998

Also, remember that your aperture affects the amount of light going into your camera. A wider aperture lets in more light, which will consequently result in having to use a faster shutter speed to ensure proper exposure. Your ISO will also play a role here, since the ISO adjusts how sensitive your camera's sensor is to the incoming light. It's this tricky balance of these three main factors that affect your photo, and really the best way to understand this triangle relationship is to get out there and experiment.

One filter to rule them all

I stressed the use of the circular polarizer filter in Part 2's "Managing your reflections" section, so I'll stress it here again. It really is a filter that I won't leave home without, especially when it comes to automotive photography. The only other filter that I use often will be a neutral density filter, which basically acts like window tint to let in less light. This is helpful when you want to use a slow shutter speed, but the overall lighting situation is too bright. Otherwise, I prefer not to use UV filters or anything else that acts as another piece of unnecessary glass on the front of my lens.

Turn off your flash

There are certain ways to use a flash effectively on a car, but you usually need more than one, and it definitely won’t be the one attached to your camera. Thus, keep it turned off, and refer to the tripod rule above one more time.

JPEG vs. RAW and post-processing

It's important to understand what happens after you take your photo on your DSLR, point-and-shoot, or camera phone. If you're shooting in JPEG mode, your camera's manufacturer will apply its own formula of color saturation, contrast, sharpening, etc to the photo. With most cameras you can control this to a certain degree, but the options are typically very limited to settings such as "Vivid" or "Monochrome." Thus, you've pretty much turned your photo processing over to your manufacturer to determine, much like how you'd just take your film to a developer and they'd have full control over everything. The way you can truly make your photos your own is to shoot in RAW mode where available. RAW is quite literally the raw photo data that your camera captures, and thus it doesn't apply any adjustments that would normally take place when you shoot in JPEG. There are many technical differences between the formats, but in the end, RAW has all of your photo's data, whereas with JPEG you lose data since the file is compressed.

That doesn't mean you can't post-process JPEGs though. There's no reason that you can't apply more edits to a photo from your point-and-shoot or camera phone. Often times you’ll take a photo that looks absolutely perfect right out of the camera, but even doing little things like a little sharpening or a little boost in saturation or contrast can turn your photo into something more. Just don’t go overboard with it! It’s very easy to go overboard with contrast and saturation especially. Too much contrast will remove definition and details from dark areas, and too much saturation can make a photo look very artificial. Use your best judgment and discretion, as you’ll know very quickly if something’s starting to look too extreme. Here's an example that I took with my camera phone, showing the original and just a little bit of slight adjustments to shadows, highlights, and contrast that took all but 30 seconds:

Basicedits 1000x1500

Garbage In, Garbage Out

This is a mantra that I will always mention when it comes to photography. Post-processing can help make a good photo into an exceptional photo, but it can never help transform an already bad photo into an exceptional photo. If you don't start out with a good photo, no amount of post-processing will make it awesome. At its root, that is main thing I've tried to stress in these tips and tricks. If you start out with good composition, good use of light, and proper use of your equipment, then you will almost always end up with a great photo. However, if your photos starts off with bad composition, overly exposed or drastically underexposed, and your camera isn't steadied with a tripod or doesn't have the right aperture, shutter, or ISO settings, then you really can't expect to be able to completely rescue the photo through post-processing. This is why the basics are important, and once you've gotten a good understanding or even mastery of the basics, then you'll definitely be going down the right path toward great photography.

I hope these tips and tricks have been helpful. Happy shooting!

]]> (Armin H. Ausejo) Knowledge Wed, 20 Mar 2013 00:52:39 -0700
2013 Geneva Motor Show © Ciprian Mihai

After a long flight from Romania, I arrived at the 83rd edition Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, where I had the pleasant surprise of viewing an entire show based on supercars instead of green-technology from years past. This show felt like a return to the roots where the cars were made to please the soul and not the body.


Lamborghini celebrated 50 years, launching a completely new supercar, the Veneno. My first impression was a resemblance to the old Countach with a revamped aggressive design. With 750 hp for almost 4.5 Million, it would break almost any piggy bank. The LaFerrari also made its debut with a whopping 950 hp. I'm a fan of the back of the car but the front needs work in my opinion. McLaren presented the long-awaited McLaren F1 successor. The new McLaren P1 impressed me with it's curves and overall visual impact. On the german side of things, Audi brought out the new RS familly with the RS Q3 , RS6 Avant , RS5 Coupe DTM and S3.  And last but not least the new 911 GT3 and GT3 Cup was revealed from Porsche. 


Like every motorshow where there are supercars there are super girls.

]]> (Ciprian Mihai) Life Fri, 15 Mar 2013 09:31:46 -0700
Automotive Photography Tips and Tricks: A Beginner's Guide By Armin Ausejo - Part 2 © Armin H. Ausejo

In Part 1, we went over very basic composition concepts in regards to automotive photography. Here in Part 2, we'll visit what photography is all about: capturing light.

Photography is Light

Remember that when you’re taking a photo, you’re capturing how light is reflecting off of everything in the photo. Light rules everything with an iron fist, and getting the proper exposure is key to a good photo. After all, if you can’t see anything, what’s the point?

Be careful with backlights

Generally speaking, you want to avoid backlights in automotive photography. Remember that typically you want your light source behind you, so that it lights up your subject. If you’re taking a photo of a car with the light source behind it, such as the sun or a streetlight, then you’ll more than likely get lens flare (the ugly green or brown series of circles that emanate from the light source in question) and your subject will not receive enough light. You can still make it work such as in the photo above, but you just have to make sure you understand what problems might arise when you capture the photo. Another option would be to use artificial lighting such as strobes, flashes, or light painting, but those create their own limitations and don't really fall under the realm of basic tips and tricks.

High ISO / high-speed film is no substitute for a tripod

A tripod solves almost all of your focus and noise issues, whether you’re using a digital or film camera. If you don’t have a tripod, get one! It will be one of the best investments you can make. Sure, you can turn the ISO up or use high-speed film to increase your light sensitivity, but only at the expense of more noise and graininess in your photo. Ideally, you want to set your ISO to your camera's lowest base ISO that you need in order to capture your photo. Your camera's base ISO numbers can be found in you camera's manual, but typically it'll either be ISO 100 or ISO 200. Make sure you check on your ISO settings before you start shooting, otherwise you might end up with something like this:

BimmerhighISO 700x474

If you’re really getting serious about your photography, make sure you don’t go cheap on your tripod. Even a slight breeze can cause a cheap, flimsy tripod to move or vibrate enough to throw off the focus of your photos. You’ll want a tripod that will properly hold the weight of your camera and lens, and is adjustable enough for your tastes. Most good and stable tripod head and leg combinations will be in the $300+ range.

Avoid midday sun

If you can help it, try not to shoot in the middle of a bright sunny day. It will mess up your colors and create rather harsh reflections, especially from the windows. The best times to shoot by far are right before sunrise and right at or just after sunset. Cloudy days can be good as well, but you need to be mindful of your contrast and saturation. An overcast day can almost be ideal for even lighting, but just about any shot pointed upward toward the sky is going to have a very overexposed, ugly background. If you're able to get a nice balance of blue skies, clouds, and soft lighting, then you can get capture something truly awesome:

Erichvantagereprocess 2 1000x665

Manage your reflections

Unless the car you're shooting has a matte paint job, just about every car you shoot is going to act like a mirror. Managing reflections is vital to good automotive photography, since the last thing you want is for glare to ruin your photo. One of the easiest ways to help manage your reflections and glare, especially those given off from windshields and other glass, is to use a circular polarizer. The front of the circular polarizer rotates so that you can set it to remove the reflections of your choice. Here's an example of the difference that the circular polarizer makes. The first photo shows how it looks without the polarizer, and the second shows what the polarizer does to the reflections on the windshield, hood, and more:

Polarizationexample 1000x1330

The circular polarizer will also help reduce glare when taking interior shots. I never leave home without my circular polarizer, and it should ALWAYS be in your camera bag. The only excuse not to have one is if you have a point and shoot camera that doesn’t support one.

Don't forget to also be mindful of reflections that can't be controlled by a circular polarizer, such as things in the area surrounding the car. Watch out for distinct colors, lines, and even people that will show up in the paint of the car, and try your best to position the car to minimize these things.

That's it for the basics of capturing light. In the conclusion to the basic tips and tricks to automotive photography, we'll go over using your equipment to its fullest.

]]> (Armin H. Ausejo) Knowledge Wed, 13 Mar 2013 18:04:39 -0700
Falken Tire: Honda Tuner Cars - Group Photo Shoot

{vimeo}57100618{/vimeo}A behind the scenes video of the entire photo shoot produced and edited by Falken Tire | © Falken Tire

At the end of 2012 I was commissioned to shoot a Falken Tire advertisement involving forty-five Honda Tuner cars organized in a massive group photo. The final ad would be printed on the backside of Honda-Tuning magazine and shown for the entire year of 2013. The original concept involved shooting from a helicopter to achieve an aerial perspective of the ground with the group of cars laid out in the shape of an "F" for the Falken Tire logo. Due to time constraints, it was decided to forego that idea and find an alternative.

The Plan

Empty Parking LotThe empty parking lot at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana | © Steve Demmitt

As you can imagine the sheer scale of the photo shoot would involve some serious planning. After a few mockups and some back and forth discussion, it was decided to shoot the cars in a tight symetrical formation. A scissor lift would be used to achieve a high enough angle to position the camera so that all the cars were in view. To accomodate a large enough space for the photo shoot, we scouted various locations and decided on the parking lot at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The camera used for the photo shoot was a Hasselblad H4D-60 w/ 80mm Lens. A medium format w/ digital back capable of capturing 60 megapixel images with a 8956 x 6708 resolution. For lighting, we used a combination of ambient light, Alien Bees B800 strobes w/ Vagabond power packs and PocketWizard remotes to trigger them.

IMG 0112Scissor Lift w/ Hasselblad H4D-60 and Tripod | © Steve Demmitt

The Layout

The cars couldn't just be positioned haphazardly without any flow so coming up with the right layout was key. Finalizing that configuration was done by utilizing Hot Wheels cars in various positions. Once a configuration was agreed on, a picture was taken for reference. A variation of seven cars was also setup and shot before shooting the forty-five car image. You can catch a glimpse from that set in the gallery below.

IMG 0097Hot Wheels configuration for the forty-five car image | © Steve Demmitt

The Assistants

IMG 7998John Zhang (left), Jesse Lee from Falken Tire (middle) and Richard Thompson (right) slacking on the job. | © Steve Demmitt

John Zhang and Richard Thompson, both accomplished automotive photographers were my assistants for the day. They were tasked with moving the lights (Alien Bees B800 Strobes w/ Vagabond power pack) around as well as helping in positioning the cars. 


A6541153Forty-five car configuration in an ambient exposure straight out of the camera | © Steve Demmitt

IMG 8012Looking through the viewfinder of the Hasselblad H4D-60 | © Steve Demmitt

Camped behind the viewfinder of the camera I was able to relay information to John and Richard via walkie talkie on where each car needed to be placed. From there the camera was locked down and the lights were brought in. The massive number of cars in the shot meant that externally lighting all of the cars would prove near impossibile to do in one exposure. Because of that, each car was lit (Alien Bees B800 Strobes w/ Vagabond power pack) seperately as an exposure and the images were later aligned and combined in post production. Over fifty exposures/images were used to create the final shot. 

Falkentire Honda Richard John AnimationRichard Thompson and John Zhang at work | © Steve Demmitt


Post Production

Taskmanager32gb of RAM.....Where did you go? | © Steve Demmitt

Having to work in Adobe Photoshop with over fifty exposures at nearly 9k resolution put my computer to the test. The 32gb of RAM I upgraded to just months before proved to be well worth it for this job. The computer maxed out the RAM on numerous occasions and I had to merge layers and condense the image a few times in order to go any further. The finished image was then sent to Falken Tire's creative department where they laid out the design/text for the ad.

Falken LGroup Honda Web1Final Image | © Steve Demmitt

FTC AZENIS HondaTuning 0513Falken Tire Ad | © Steve Demmitt

Other Notes

Next to positioning the cars I would say the most difficult part of the day was enduring the cold weather. Some of you may laugh at the notion of it being cold in sunny Southern California but I kid you not,  the temperature was in the low 40's that day and none of us were prepared for that. Having to stand on a scissor lift for much of that time without the ability to move around proved to be quite a challenge. At the end of the day I had to let my brain thaw for a good two hours until I was back to normal.

A6541244End of the day....the last car leaves the parking lot | © Steve Demmitt


]]> (Steve Demmitt) Work Sun, 10 Mar 2013 05:50:48 -0700
Post Processing: Lexus LFA Final Image | © John Zhang

This image of a Lexus LFA driving along the coast in Big Sur, CA was shot at the beginning of the year. The kicker here is that I didn't shoot the car at that particular location at all. What I am about to show you goes against the photographer's code and I may be banned from the...... Nah I'm only joking. Image compositing is not a new technique and has been around for years. The trick with image composites is piecing the images together seemlessly so it does not look forced. Perspective, angle, lighting, and composition all play a major role here. 

The original shot below is what I took hanging out of a car window on the highway with the sun setting. As you can see the image is nothing special and the abundance of other cars on the freeway, light poles and electric lines detract the eye from the overall flow. However the intent of this shot was to capture the car in a moving state, while keeping it sharp and in focus, wheels in motion (at ISO 400 from a 1/80 shutter speed at 60 mph) and limit the overall reflections in the paint. From this image, the car itself would be masked out in Adobe Photoshop and composited into a completely different environment.

8533912429 Be6a76d661 BNikon D800E w/ Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 | 1/80 – ISO400 @ 60mph | © John Zhang

I had originally planned for this shot to be composited into an "endless" parking lot with mountains in the background along with some epic clouds. However, after a few hours post processing, I was just about ready to give up on this image as a whole. I set this image aside on my desktop for a week until one day I happened to be talking to Richard Thompson of Richard Thompson Photography and he told me he had the perfect background image for my rolling shot. On his recent trip to Big Sur, CA, he photographed numerous images of road environments to be used for this exact purpose. He was kind enough to let me use one as a base background. With this new-found hope, I ventured back to compositing the original shot of the Lexus LFA.

During the post processing workflow, one problem right off the bat was the overall lighting did not match both photographs so while I was putting the two images together, I had to be conscious of that and do my best to not bring attention to it. The motion of the background was added with Bleex. It is also important to note that when creating a composite image it is best to keep things as simple as possible. As the final image gets more and more complex it may detract from your overall subject. In this case the car. Hopefully this example gives readers some insight into my approach to automotive composite photography. If you have any questions feel free to comment below.

{loadposition jz_lfa}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (John Zhang) Knowledge Thu, 07 Mar 2013 10:31:41 -0800
The Simple Art of an Automotive Rolling Shot: The 10 Rules by Josh Mackey Nikon D200 w/ Tokina 12-24 @ 12mm | F/4.5 – 1/40 – ISO100 | © Josh Mackey

There is something unique and personal in a car to car motion shot that tends to give the viewer a raw look into the subject. Rolling shots, aka car-to-car motion photos, are seemingly a thing of the past now, often the last resort in capturing cars in action when in reality it could be the best option available.

The trend for the past five years has been to do rig shots, but why mess with expensive rigging systems and the post processing work? Some might say the new trend is Virtual Rig Studio, compositing shots of the car not in motion onto back plates and making it move. That also costs a hefty price tag if you want to invest in the software.  If you sit down and think about it, the only accessory you need for a really good rolling shot is a driver and preferably a car that is on stock suspension to ride in.

The 10 Rules

Shooting rolling shots isn’t exactly about dialing in the settings, but more about confidence in your ability to execute the shot you’re going for. There are a multitude of factors that you need combine to make the shot: how fast you’re going, what road you’re on, what lighting conditions you have, etc.  So, I have developed some “rules” to follow; unlike most rules, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to bend and/or break these rules.

Go Fast!

1 A true motion shot should convey…. motion! So, if you’re going 30mph on a back road, chances are you’re not going to get the speed in the shot you would prefer. Obey the laws of the road of course, but anything over 50-60mph is ideal. Between 70-80mph is the sweet spot, best on a highway or road that allows those speeds.

NWMotiv Project3Canon 5D Mark II w/ Canon EF 17-40L @ 17mm | F/5.6 – 1/30 – ISO1600 | © Josh Mackey

Slow Down

2 Slow down your shutter speed, that is. Sometimes getting the PERFECT rolling shot requires some sacrifice in settings. For years I’ve used Shutter Priority Mode and let the camera determine the aperture. If you think you can manage flipping the aperture whilst hanging out of a moving vehicle, more power to you. I prefer to use anything between 1/20-1/40. If you’re brave and think you have a steady hand, I’ve shot as low as 1/10 in focus. For those manual diehard types, just test your settings before actually starting so that way you’re not wasting time while driving. The only other setting might be ISO, but that’s really pending where you’re driving, such as in a tunnel.

Nissan S13Canon 5D Mark II w/ Canon EF 17-40L @ 17mm | Left: F/7.1 – 1/20 – ISO50 – | Right: F/4.0 – 1/30 – ISO50 – | © Josh Mackey

Go Wide

3 Bringing anything over 24mm (especially on a cropped body) is asking for problems. Roads aren’t kind to even the steadiest of hands. The longer the focal length, the more vibration shows in the camera. Yes, you can buy mount devices to help you with this, but seriously, it’s not the point of this article to buy more crap you don’t really need. I prefer my Canon 17-40L F/4 lens for these types of photos. 17mm is super wide which can get me right up on the car or enough distance for a good crop from a lane away. I also find it a good thing to bring a polarizer filter: cutting down as many reflections as you can is a good thing.

Mazda RX7 1Nikon D200 w/ Tokina 12-24mm F/4 @ 14mm | F/4.0 – 1/40 – ISO100 – | © Josh Mackey

Trust your instincts

4 If you’re already hanging out of a car going 80mph on the highway, chances are that if you’re going to drop your camera, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking through the viewfinder or not. I usually get enough photos looking through the viewfinder but then I drop the camera as low as I can outside the shooting car and just aim. Aim with instinct, with knowledge and experience. LOOK at what you’re aiming at and try and nail the spot that gives the best focus, the front wheel. A lot of people over the years have asked me if I did a rig shot on the highway because the angle is so low. No, it’s just a well-placed shot from me hanging half way out of a moving car.

Mazda RX7 2Nikon D200 w/ Tokina 12-24mm F/4 @ 12mm | F/4.0 – 1/40 – ISO100 – | © Josh Mackey
Armin RichardLeft: Richard Thompson | Right: Armin H. Ausejo

Shoot a lot, then shoot some more

5 Make sure you have ample memory for the remainder of the shoot, but make sure you shoot a lot of rolling shots. Shoot a couple, do a quick check, keep shooting. Chances are getting a perfectly sharp rolling shot at 1/20 going 70mph on an average highway is going to take at least 20-30 shots. When you think you’ve got enough, take some more. Loop back again if you think you need to, until you’re confident knowing you have enough shots to get what you want. It’s best to have a lot to choose from versus none.

Rolling VW CelicaLeft: Nikon D200 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mm | F/3.5 – 1/40 – ISO100 | Right: Nikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mmF/6.3 – 1/20 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey

Don’t fake a rolling shot

6 I can tell. We can tell. When someone enhances their photo with additional motion in a rolling shot, it’s pretty obvious, and it’s pretty bad. Take my advice on the subject and do it over again if you didn’t get it right. Don’t be so butthurt when you’re called out and offered some really good criticism. None of the photographers contributing to motivelife are here without taking a good beating; you shouldn’t be an exception to that rule.

Skyline R33Nikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mm | F/5.6 – 1/45 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey

Post Processing

7 You should always present your photos how you want people to see them. A lot of people prefer to see the SOC shot, however in my experience, cleaning up a good rolling shot is always a good thing. Cloning out a random car, fixing some reflections or making the shooting car disappear are things that shouldn’t be ignored outside the standard adjustments. You can view my post processing workflow below.

{loadposition jm_rollingshots}


8 Some photographers have an innate ability to capture a good rolling shot, others aren’t so lucky. The only way to get better is to practice and keep testing your settings to get the exact look you want. 30 minutes and a driver is all you need, get out there and do it.

Toyota CorollaNikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mm | F/22 – 1/45 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey


9 If you live in a big metropolitan city, you’re more than likely going to have to plan your shots around heavy traffic. You know your city better than anyone: coordinate times and plan.

Have fun

10 It’s fun hanging out of a car on a 30 degree day getting pelted by hail. You should try it, I promise you’ll love it.

Subaru WRX StiMy very first rolling shot for print. | Nikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 35mm | F/4.8 – 1/45 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey

Andrew Link of RIDES Magazine hanging out of a car during the Gumball Rally taking some rolling shots of the cars as they pass him.


LinkCanon 1D Mark IIII w/ Canon EF 17-40L @ 29mm | F/6.3 – 1/125 – ISO100 – | © Andrew Link

Some samples from Armin H. Ausejo

Armin STINikon D300 w/ Tokina 12-24 @ 12mm | F/6.3 – 1/40 – ISO100 – | © Armin H. Ausejo

Armin MazdaNikon D200 w/ Nikon 17-55 @ 18mm | F/2.8 – 1/60 – ISO100 – | © Armin H. Ausejo


Warning! Attempt at your own risk. We are not responsible if you fall out of a car, get hit by a random object, get hit by a car, get sh#t on by a bird, or anything else that happens to you in your life.

]]> (Josh Mackey) Knowledge Wed, 06 Mar 2013 13:54:10 -0800
DSLR vrs a Medium Format Digital Back: Why I bought a Hasselblad Hasselblad H3dII-31 w/ Hasselblad 150mm F/4 Lens and a Lee Wide Angle Bellow | © Allen Chu

I recently made the jump; the jump to digital medium format, and more precisely Hasselblad. I sold my Canon 5D Mark II and series of L lenses and am now the proud owner of a second hand Hasselblad H3DII-31 with roughly 7k actuations. Having spent personal time with the Hasselblad system now, I thought I’d do a small write up on why I made the full switch and ditched my DSLR.

Before I start I just want to preface the following by mentioning that I am mainly a portrait photographer who mainly shoots fashion and beauty. I rarely shoot in situations where I do not have access to strobes, whether on location or in studio. 99% of the time I shoot I am in a situation where I need not go over ISO 200. Also all the images are raw and were converted to sRGB and 72dpi so the colors and general quality will not be as true to the original form. Keep this in mind when reading the rest of this write up.

While technology becomes more and more advanced, older generations of products decrease in value. That’s just typically how the world works. Newer is better. It’s true, but it’s also relative. I’ve always struggled in truly believing I would need to make the switch to a digital back, but through years of shooting I’ve come to realize that the switch was inevitable. So rather than bore you with numbers and charts to show the difference of the DSLR vrs Medium Format Digital back on paper, i’m going to explain a few pro’s and con’s I’ve run into while making the switch and why the system works for me.



1 The Nikon D800E is probably the best DSLR on the market right now when it comes to quality. It has a 36MP full frame and a great 14-bit Nikon sensor. The 16-bit 31MP digital back on my Hasselblad is still bigger. Why does this matter? More real estate means more room to capture light and color information. When it comes to taking portraits of people, I love all the texture and details it is able to pull. While the D800E and it’s lack of an AA filter make it the sharpest sensor on the DSLR block right now, it’s still a night and day difference between a digital back.

Why does this matter? For me, texture. I can’t even begin to explain how many times I’ve been frustrated trying to figure out how my favorite photographers were able to create such amazing skin textures. That one reason made me push myself as a retoucher to the point where I finally understood. It wasn’t me. It was the camera. I wanted more to work with and my 5D Mark II just wasn’t capable. Shooting with the Hasselblad now, I can shoot a looser frame and not be scared of not being able to get the details I want.


2 Rather than just having blotches of red, skin tone is comprised of lots of different colors and tones. The digital back makes for a much more true and life like capture that is more flattering and easier to work on in post. The majority of my work these days is actually post processing and it still makes me cringe every time a client sends me an images shot on even a Canon 5D Mark III or Nikon D800E. The colors are just so flat. With a bigger 16-bit sensor, the Hasselblad is able to pick up a much wider range of colors and tones and produces a more flattering quality.

Just look at the following examples. These are both lit with a beauty dish.

Motive Life H3d Allen Chu 04Shot with 5D Mark II + 100mm f/2.8 | © Allen Chu

Motive Life H3d Allen Chu 09Shot with Hasselblad H3DII-31 + 150MM | © Allen Chu

Flash Sync

3 This is one of the bigger reasons I decided to make the transition. While DSLR’s are limited to a flash sync of 1/200, the Hasselblad has lenses built with leaf shutters allowing it to sync up to 1/800. The Schneider lenses from Mamiya can run up to 1/1600. What does this mean? No need to over power the sun with a 3000W pack and kill your battery in 100 frames.

This allows for a much easier time to get that infamous balanced exposure look photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Dave Lachappelle have become famous for. Balancing ambient light with strobes is insanely easy. It gives me a whole new facet to my photography.

Motive Life H3d Allen Chu 06Shot with a Hasselblad H2 w/ Phase One P45+ & Hasselblad 50-100MM | © Allen Chu

Build Quality

4 Hasselblad is built by the Swedes, and it’s built well. Everything feels solid and like how a real camera should. I remember the first time I held a 1D body and thought to myself, this is the way every camera should feel. Now I hold the rubberized grip on my Hasselblad and realize that boy was I naïve. There are qualms I have with the button layouts, but that’s just me being picky having been used to Canon’s layout for years.

Beyond the feel of the body is the infamous medium format view finder. If anybody has ever looked through a Hasselblad 500 series or Mamiya AFD series, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The viewfinder on my Hasselblad puts my 5D Mark II to shame, and I loved how bright that viewfinder was. It’s an amazing feeling being able to see everything crystal clearly. While I know my Hasselblad can handle some abuse, I also baby it because, well, it’s expensive. I’m really glad I have all my gear insured, and if you’re a professional photographer without insurance, do yourself a favor and sign up for some right away.


5 There’s a certain stigma that is attached to the word Hasselblad. There’s an assumption that because you’re wielding such a precision instrument that you are a seasoned and talented professional. While I’m sure that’s not true, the digital back shooters I know all share a certain prideful quality about them. I’ve noticed my mentality towards my photography having changed since I bought my Hasselblad. I’ve become a lot more detail oriented towards all aspects of my photography. I’ve started to push my photography harder to achieve that aesthetic I’ve been chasing.

To me my Hasselblad was a bit of an achievement. It was a way of telling myself that I had reached a certain level that justified me becoming a Hasselblad shooter. It still hasn’t truly hit me that the camera sitting in my Pelican case is mine, and I still feel like a fan boy. Having rented Hasselblad for shoots, I never had time to truly appreciate the magnificence of how mind blowingly good the camera really is.

Beyond my own appreciation for the camera comes the impact it has on clientele. Since I shoot fashion and beauty, it’s almost a given that high-end photographers all shoot with Hasselblad; it’s just expected. With clients with smaller budgets, walking into a shoot with a Hasselblad makes them feel important. It justifies my day rate. With clients with bigger budgets, Hasselblad is expected and budgeted. And while they book me based on my reputation and portfolio, the word Hasselblad seems to do as much good as years of grinding and networking.

Motive Life H3d Allen Chu 07Beauty test shoot in studio with a Hasselblad H3DII-31 & Hasselblad 150mm tethered to Phocus on a 2010 Macbook Pro | © Allen Chu

Initial Cost

6 Yes you read that right. Digital backs are now more affordable than ever.. as long as you buy used. Prior to buying the Hasselblad, I was chatting with a friend of mine about how relatively affordable they are now. The Hasselblad H3D-39 on ebay runs on average of $7,000. This includes a body, the digital back, the 80mm f/2.8 lens, and a battery grip. For the price of a Canon 1DX body you can buy a Hasselblad system and be able to shoot medium format. Compared to the retail price of an H4D-40 that runs about $20,000, this is relatively inexpensive and you’re only missing a few features such as True Focus, better resolution screen, digital level, and etc. This also leads me to the first con.



Costs After Purchase

1 While the initial purchase of an H3D-39 may be less expensive, prices on everything else hasn’t dropped. If purchasing the body and back alone, you’ll have to buy the 80mm for $1,400+. I got lucky and bought one for $1,000. The Hasselblad 50-110mm will run you roughly $2,800 used. The Hasselblad 35mm will run you about $2,000 used. The issue is you’re never sure of the condition of the shutter, and since leaf shutters are built into the lens, if the shutter is bad you’re screwed. The battery grip for a Hasselblad , which I currently have 3 of, runs $250 each. I spent an extra $500 on top just for two extra batteries.

Hardware is also an issue. I’m also being forced to retire a 2010 Macbook Pro because it just can’t handle even tethering 31MP images that take up about 51MB per image. For now I have a 2011 iMac i5 to tether to which is stored in a $600 Tenba case I purchased to travel with. Everything just gets more expensive and buying used is really a luck of the draw. I’ve been lucky with second hand purchases so far but if I ran into any issues and had to send parts to Hasselblad for repairs, I doubt I could even handle the costs right now. I’ve heard that repairs have run into the thousands where it’s not even cost effective to fix.


2 This ain’t no DSLR. Focus is noticeably slower and if you’re trying to shoot anything action related, forget about it. This isn’t a huge issue for me as the most I have to deal with is a modeling jumping up and down or leaping forward. If I had to follow focus a car or athlete it’d be near impossible for me to do so. The 1 fps shooting rate also isn’t a huge plus for anything dynamic.


3 After ISO 200 noise starts becoming apparent, once again not an issue for me as I rarely go over ISO 200. On occasions when I do, I have a Fujifilm X-E1 that is superb up to about ISO 6400 where low light performance is acceptable. The X-E1 is also good enough for me to shoot in commercial and editorial situations where I don’t feel the need to have every single detail in the frame. The out of camera image aesthetic is as good as a 5D Mark II and was the reason why I felt okay moving away from DSLR.


4 A Hasselblad H setup is heavy. I regularly shoot with the 150MM and 50-110MM and the entire setup kills my arms. For beauty work I’m typically on a tripod or studio stand, but on location I like to move around and it gets exhausting. I know a lot of people will say that weight isn’t a huge issue, but my particular shoots tend to involve a lot of micro managing the rest of the team and physical fatigue on top of mental fatigue from dealing with a production can really wear you down, especially as a photographer dealing with models all day.

Most of my team will tell you that I’m physically exhausted after a full day of shooting, and that’s to be expected. I use to cover full day concerts and Formula D events. I’d have two bodies, one with a 70-200mm f/2.8L and a 16-35mm f/2.8L. Those days were exhausting and I could honestly say that my energy level is as drained on the set of a fashion shoot as I was running around trying to cover an event. At the very least the two Canon body with lens felt much lighter than a single Hassy setup.

Motive Life H3d Allen Chu 08Model viewing proofs over wifi via Phocus app on an iPad. | © Allen Chu


5 Phocus is the proprietary software that’s downloadable for all Hasselblad owners. It’s basically Lightroom, but complete crap. It’s not intuitive to use at all, and does basically everything Lightroom does. The only benefit of using Phocus is the iOS app that allows you to wirelessly preview images on an iPad or iPhone live. That is literally the only redeeming factor I see while using Phocus. If it weren’t for the live previews via iOS, I’d be tethering via Lightroom. Phocus crashes, it’s slow, it’s a mess to deal with, and for such a good camera system it’s truly a shame that the software is so weak. If you have a choice, go Phase One or Leaf and use Capture One. It’s just better.

Motive Life H3d Allen Chu 03Phocus Software - It may look nice but it is far from useable | © Allen Chu


6 That leads me to another main point that I didn’t realize until I bought the Hasselblad. H3D and up do not accept backs from other manufacturers. You are limited to an H1 or H2 body if you decide to use a Leaf or Phase One back. While the Hasselblad H bodies are improving in features with the H4 and H5, it’s not really enough for me to truly want to stay with a Hasselblad back. If I had the funds to go with a Phase One DF body and Phase One IQ series back, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

Motive Life H3d Allen Chu 02Left: H2 with Phase One P45+ Digital Back vs Right: H3DII with 31MP Hasselblad Digital Back | © Allen Chu

Other Notes

Phase One recently release the IQ2 back that includes a number of mind blowing updates including on board WiFi for wireless preview, a hi-res 1.15MP touch screen display, USB3 tethering, and low noise long exposure options. My back has none of that, and while I would just rent Phase One on jobs with a large enough budget, the quality of digital backs just increases with each coming year.


I think any good photographer with aspirations of greatness, pushes him or herself to the limits. With digital cameras being so accessible these days, it’s easy to shoot. The hard part is shooting well. The reality is that most photographers will never be able to use the full potential of his or her camera.

Technology has just evolved to the point where even the most basic point and shoot is capable of shooting amazing images. As for myself, i’ve shot in almost every situation thinkable while searching for that niche of photography I wanted to settle in: club photography, drifting, sports, weddings, street, product, and fashion. The change from DSLR to Digital Back wasn’t a huge transition for me as I’ve shot with it regularly through the past few years while renting for productions. I’ve shot enough to know my particular needs for each job and since the main focus of my photography has mainly been static photography, the Hasselblad system suits those needs well.

I’m sure that this list has left a lot of things out, but the main thing to take away from this is that this was completely based on my own needs. As photographers and artists, we all use our tools the way we see fit, and we choose the tools that best fit our needs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss how quick and easier to use DSLR’s are to use, but I don’t miss the lack of refinement in images.

For 99% of photographers out there, a DSLR will work beyond their needs. While I still don’t consider myself to be in the top 1% of photographers, I’m pushing to get there and the purchase of a Hasselblad has given me that much of an advantage to continue pursuing those goals. Hopefully some of this article was enlightening to you. Feel free to comment and leave any other questions you may have.

]]> (Allen Chu) Gear Tue, 05 Mar 2013 11:55:33 -0800
Automotive Photography Tips and Tricks: A Beginner's Guide By Armin Ausejo - Part 1 © Armin H. Ausejo

Like many automotive photographers, I got my start in taking photos by simply being a car enthusiast, and as a car enthusiast, it was natural for me to take part in various Internet-based forums. One of the main forums I was and continue to be involved in is the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club, or "NASIOC." It was from this forum that these tips and tricks to automotive photography originated, and the thread is still going very strong today.

Below is the latest revision of my tips and tricks, which actually represents the main purpose of to provide a solid, no-nonsense guide to learning and improving automotive photography. I started shooting cars professionally as part of Subiesport Magazine since the magazine’s inception back in 2004. I learned a lot along the way, since at the time I was really a complete newbie when it came to photography. Consequently, I must thank my good friend Josh Mackey ( and Subiesport Publisher Ryan Douthit for their help and tutelage. Ferg, a NASIOC Super Moderator, asked me to write something up, so I am honored to pass on some of my basic automotive photography methods to NASIOC and now, and I hope that these can help both beginners and experienced photographers alike. By no means do I regard myself as all knowing in automotive photography, but I love to help people take better pictures and learn new techniques right along side me. Without further ado, we’ll first start out with basic composition.

Part 1 -- Point and do WHAT?

Just because you don’t have the latest and greatest neck-breaking digital SLR doesn’t mean you can’t take good pictures. Even a camera phone can take good pictures, even if they’re not the clearest in the world. First and foremost, composition makes or breaks a picture, and shows the difference between a snapshot and a photo. Some things may seem rather basic, but even I myself forget certain things from time to time.

Centered is rarely best

It’s easy to take a picture and put everything you want in the center, but unfortunately it doesn’t make for good photography. Generally, you want to follow the Rule of Thirds, which basically means that you want to put your subject at the cross section of two lines that cut your photo into thirds. An easy way visualize this is to imagine a tic-tac-toe board on your screen or viewfinder. Some cameras may even have this as an option to overlay on the screen. Here is an example of the Rule of Thirds in action:

Ruleofthirds 1000x666

I've overlaid the "Rule of Thirds" grid from Photoshop's crop function so that you can see the grid lines. You can see how the car is situated right at what I call a "thirds crosspoint" to follow the Rule of Thirds. Keep in mind, while this is called a "rule," it's actually more of a guideline. I definitely recommend that you practice the Rule of Thirds so that you find yourself always doing it, and then you can get more creative with breaking the rule. This is one of the most important things to learn in photo composition, so definitely make sure you master it before feeling like you can break it any time.

Angles can be good...and bad

Going overboard on crazy angles to get a unique picture is very easy to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Remember that you want the viewer of your photo to truly grasp what you’re trying to capture, but if they have to break their neck or do a headstand to see it, then they’ll probably just look elsewhere. Make no mistake, there’s a time and place for crazy angles, but use them sparingly and make sure that everyone can tell what they’re looking at. Here is a very bad example from when I first started taking photos:

Badangle 1000x750

Also, keep in mind that a very slight angle can change the feel of a photo. Here is the same car, just with a slightly different angle to the photo. Which do you prefer? It all depends on what your purpose is:

Jeffhillangles 700x931

Avoid the cut-off

Just a quick and simple tip. If you’re trying to take a picture of the whole car, make sure you actually take a full picture of the car, and don’t cut off the bumpers, wheels, spoilers, etc. It makes sense to cut off sections if you just want to single one or two things out (such as close-ups of individual parts in an engine bay), but if you want to get everything, pay attention not to cut off parts of your subject.

Wheels vs. Tire Tread

In this grudge match, the wheel always wins. If you’re taking a picture of a car, especially from ¾ position, angle the wheels so that the face of the wheel is facing the camera, not the tire tread. While some tire tread is really aggressive-looking, 99% of the time the photo will be better showing off the face of the wheel instead of the tire tread, especially if they’re aftermarket wheels. Even stock wheels can look good in a properly taken photo, but we won’t know that unless we actually see them, right? There will be times when you just want the wheels to be straight, but turning the wheels to face the camera often gives a more posed look that shows that you've taken your time and put effort into the photo, rather than just taking a photo of a car off the street. Here is an example using a 100% stock car:

DSC 7226 700x466

The background is not just noise

While the car is going to be the subject of your photo, that doesn’t mean that the background doesn’t matter. Even with proper composition, a good background can substantially help or wreck a photo. Industrial backgrounds are very overused, but it’s understandable to use if you’re in a pinch. Ideally, you want a background that helps add to the theme of a photo or just plain looks good overall. A driveway photo shoot isn’t all that great either unless the driveway is filled with a bunch more nice cars. Just be careful not to choose a background that blends in too much with your car, because then your subject won’t stand out. Here are a couple of my favorite backgrounds that I've been able to use:

Erichvantagereprocess 1 1000x665

DSC 7438 Edit 700x468

It is also very important to make sure there aren't distractions in the background that interfere with your subject, such as trees or poles growing out of the car, power lines dominating the scene, or random garbage on the surrounding ground. Attention to detail is very important when it comes to your background, and can easily be the difference between a simple snapshot and an actual thought-out photo.

Camera elevation

A key point of any type of photography is to try to capture something that isn’t normally seen by your naked eye. Thus, try your best not to take photos from standard standing height. If you get real low or get real high, you’ll have a much better overall photo. Very rarely will you see me taking a photo from a standing position. I sometimes even bring a stepladder with me to get a higher elevated shot, since being Filipino, I’m not a tall man. And, don’t be afraid to get dirty with a low shot. Here’s a high and a low example:

DSC3169 700x474

DSC 1025 Edit 700x468

That just about wraps it up for basic composition. In Part 2, we will go into properly capturing light. Also be sure to check out my site No f8 But What We Make for even more photo tips and tricks.

]]> (Armin H. Ausejo) Knowledge Mon, 04 Mar 2013 09:12:36 -0800
Post Processing: Matte Black Lamborghini Aventador Final Image | © Johan Lee

Photographing exotic cars is always a unique challenge. They usually maintain very dramatic lines, shapes and surfaces that must be highlighted in the final image. I was recently commisioned to shoot a matte black Lamborghini Aventador for Perillo Collision Center and it was no exception. 

It was shot at their garage with the intention of compositing it into a black background. The car was shot in multiple exposures and lit with a single Alien Bees B800 strobe in a standard reflector and overhead flourescent light. My lighting assistant and also an accomplished automotive photographer, Jeremy Cliff positioned the strobe for each exposure. Afterward I used photoshop to blend all the images together, replaced the background with black, and added in smoke and light flares from seperate images to polish it off.

{loadposition jl_aventador}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (Johan Lee) Knowledge Wed, 27 Feb 2013 23:29:47 -0800
Camera Tethering: The Mobile Solution - Part 2 of 2 Handheld in Portrait Position | © Steve Demmitt

In part one of this article we covered utilizing an Android tablet with the DSLR Controller app to tether with a DSLR camera. For many photographers having a Manfrotto Magic Arm connected to a 10" tablet protruding off their tripod might prove to be a hinderence rather than a helpful solution. Some may have no use for a tripod and instead prefer handheld shooting. And of course we have the budget minded photographer that would just find the tablet solution too expensive.

Sizing it Down

For this next installment we are subtracting the Android tablet in favor of an Android phone to create a smaller footprint and possibly a smaller dent in your wallet. The basic connection from phone to camera will still remain the same as it was with the tablet. The main difference being where and how we mount the device.

 Samsung Galaxy SII w/ Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2DSLR Controller App on a Samsung Galaxy SII w/ Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2

First step, you will need an Android phone preferably with the latest Android however anything above 4.0 will work. This phone must support a USB host connection. Most newer devices have this capability however it is best to check anyway before purchasing. If you have an older device without this criteria, it is time for an upgrade.

To create a connection with the camera from your phone without a mounting solution, you will need a USB OTG cable that plugs into the phone and a usb cable that connects from that to the camera. Most newer Android phones utilize Mini-USB but you may want to double check your phone anyway.

1 USB OTG Cable

2 9-Inch USB to Mini-USB cable

DSLR Controller

Next you will need the app and you can install it on the Google Play Store here.
Not all Android devices and cameras are compatible. It should be noted that the app is still in Beta so expect bugs as well as occasional crashes. To view a list of compatible devices, click here.

Main Advantages

1 Touch screen user interface provides quick access to all of your camera controls from image capture and video record to ISO adjustment.

2 Pinch to zoom for quickly checking focus and exposure areas upon image review.

3 Larger view external screen complete with live view that can be manipulated into various angles for viewing. Makes low or high angle shots a cinch.

4 Remote capture and image review with live view through a wifi access point (must have two android devices with the DSLR controller app for this feature to work)

P1090143Low Angle Shooting with Ball Head Adjusted | © Steve Demmitt

The Mount

Testing the stability of the mount by shooting the camera handheld, it was quite stable; granted you tighten everything down firmly. It should also be noted that it is possible to mount the device without the mini ball head but you are limited in your viewing options. Below are a list of items used to mount the phone to the camera as well as images displaying the system in detail.

Android Phone Item List

1 i.Trek Super Mount

2 Mini Ball Head

3 Hot Shoe to 1/4"- 20 Tripod Screw Adapter

Connected via USB running the DSLR Controller App

A Few Notes and Tips

1 Shooting handheld with the phone connected via DSLR Controller won't allow you physical use of your camera's shutter button. Everything must be done through the app itself. If and when this is a problem a workaround would be to only run the app to review images.

2 If you are shooting a RAW workflow I recommend shooting RAW + Jpeg/Small to make the image transfer almost instantaneous when reviewing the images on your device. You will need to set DSLR Controller app to only import the jpeg files for review and you can find that in the settings section of the app itself.

3 Pocket Wizard or remote flash trigger users can purchase a rail mount to allow for additional shoe mount accessories. If you want to go with a cheaper method you can opt for Velcro reusable self-gripping cables and wrap it around your camera strap.

Rail Mount Velcro Straps Rail Mount
Velcro Reusable Self-Gripping Cable Ties


]]> (Steve Demmitt) Gear Tue, 26 Feb 2013 21:10:24 -0800
Creating a RIDES Magazine Cover © Andrew Link

Shooting a magazine cover involves many things, sleep not being one of them. Planning the shot, packing the camera/lighting gear, traveling to the location, spending hours on end moving cars around, tweaking lighting and camera angles, and let us not forget the time spent retouching after the shoot is over. Here is an animated gif of one of my recent cover shots for RIDES Magazine which walks you through the 56 layer image build process leading to the final result.

Packed Suv The Ford Explorer packed full of camera and lighting equipment.

My assistant for the day, Mr. William Stern, aka the Beard, helped move all the cars into position while I looked on through the camera at the top of a 16ft tripod. Once the cars were where we needed them we fired off an ambient lit shot tethered to an iPad and sent the image back to the offices in NY for approval. The Art Director in NY quickly mocked up a cover with the image to see if everything fit and looked right. Once we had the thumbs up, we locked off the camera and shot a series of 56 individual photos. Each photo lit a different part of the car and the images were later assembled in photoshop like a puzzle to create the final cover. Below shows the post processing workflow in a step by step process.


314799 10150934941271218 596233330 N Final RIDES Magazine Cover Tearsheet | © Andrew Link

]]> (Andrew Link) Work Sat, 23 Feb 2013 15:34:06 -0800
CLS Shooting Brake: Post Processing Final Image | © Thomas Larsen

Wanted to share an image build from a recent CLS Shooting Brake shoot I just finished. One of my valued clients needed images of this car for an upcoming promotional / marketing campaign, and fast. With bad weather forecast for the coming days I decided to try a shot I've been wanting to do for some time – a tunnel rigshot.

Since we lacked a budget for proper location permits, it was impossible to set up and shoot the car in the tunnel, so the car and backplate were shot seperately, then combined in photoshop.

Below are my initial reference shots for the second image in this set.


Only one light (AlienBees B1600) was used to light the car – the first image in the slideshow below shows 11 different exposures masked together for the desired starting point. This process takes some experimenting with brush sizes, hardness and opacity before you get the hang of it. Once you do though, it's a really nice and time efficient way to create images otherwise only possible with more lights – and assistants – than you could possibly fit in your car.

Once the seperate exposures were combined the car was seperated from it's background and aligned with the tunnel backplate. Notes were made of tripod height, angle and distance between car and camera to make sure the two images would fit together. During the post processing workflow, a lot of time was spent drawing a new shadow under the car, adding spinning wheels, cleaning up the body panels and adjusting highlights, removing snow and unwanted reflections using various brushes, clone tool, patch tool, healing brush and curves adjustments. Global and local contrast and color adjustments were then made to complete the image.

{loadposition tl_cls}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (Thomas Larsen) Knowledge Fri, 22 Feb 2013 13:45:08 -0800
Camera Tethering: The Mobile Solution - Part 1 of 2 © Steve Demmitt

Let's face it: when it comes to tethering your camera in the field, laptops are the way to go. However even though they are considered a "portable" on the go solution they are not exactly a quick and simple setup. The alotted time for a shoot and the amount of space you have to shoot in can be a photographer's worst enemy. When shooting editorial projects often one is given little of either. So how do we achieve the benefits from tethering to a laptop but also provide flexibility and speed to meet these stringent demands? Enter the DSLR Controller app for Android.

DSLR Controller

Get the app on the Google Play Store here.
Not all Android devices and cameras are compatible. It should be noted that the app is still in Beta so expect bugs as well as occasional crashes. To view a list of compatible devices, click here.


Main Advantages

1 Touch screen user interface provides quick access to all of your camera controls from image capture and video record to ISO adjustment.

2 Pinch to zoom for quickly checking focus and exposure areas upon image review.

3 Larger view external screen complete with live view that can be manipulated into various angles for viewing. Makes low or high angle shots a cinch.

4 Remote capture and image review with live view through a wifi access point (must have two android devices with the DSLR controller app for this feature to work)

The only thing this solution doesn't provide is a post processing workflow that would be available with your typical laptop or computer setup. But I would argue if you are keen on that feature, you will most likely have the time pre-shoot to set that up.

The Tablet Solution

Running DSLR Controller App

To start you will need an Android tablet preferably with the latest Android however anything above 4.0 should suffice. This tablet must support a USB host connection. Most newer devices have this capability however some don't so it is best to check before purchasing. If you have an older device like I do, (HP Touchpad) it may support a USB host connection but be unable to provide built in power to this connection. For this type of configuration there is a solution below.

Android Tablet devices that support a built in powered USB Host

To just create a connection with the camera from your tablet without any mounting, you will need a USB OTG cable that plugs into the tablet and a usb cable that connects from that to the camera.

1 USB OTG Cable

2 USB to Mini-USB cable

Android Tablet devices that support a USB Host but is unpowered ( e.g. HP Touchpad )

Along with the items above you will also need the items below. The USB Y Cable will connect to the USB OTG cable, USB to Mini-USB cable, and the Tekkeon Mobile Power Pack which will allow you to supply power to the USB host.

1 USB Y Cable

2 Tekkeon Mobile Power Pack and ( 4 AA batteries sold seperately)

The Mount

A list of items used to mount the tablet to a tripod as well as various images displaying the system in detail.

P1090155 Edit

1 1/4-20 bolt with washer
Purchase at any local hardware store

2 ProClip Mounting Plate

3 ProClip Extension Plate

4 ProClip Swivel Mount

5 Manfrotto 143A Magic Arm

6 Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp

Mounted on a tripod


A Few Notes and Tips

1 If you have a padded tripod you can mount the super clamp to the padded area. This particular tripod has carbon fiber legs with no padded area. I did not want to risk damaging the tripod legs so I mounted the super clamp to the center column. Mounting to a padded leg would provide easier center column adjustment.

2 If you are shooting a RAW workflow I recommend shooting RAW + Jpeg/Small to make the image transfer almost instantaneous when reviewing the images on your device. You will need to set DSLR Controller app to only import the jpeg files for review and you can find that in the settings section of the app itself.

In the next installment of this two part article, you will learn how to create an even smaller setup at less than half the price. Stay tuned!


]]> (Steve Demmitt) Gear Wed, 20 Feb 2013 07:51:59 -0800
Hot Cars & Porn Stars - Jayden James © Andrew Link

As Photo Director of RIDES Magazine, when you're working full time as an Automotive Photographer, every day is a good day. Sometimes, though, you get these special kind of calls... and those calls turn a good day into a GREAT day. This is the perfect example.

In this shoot for RIDES Magazine we set out to feature a few hoodies and jackets for our upcoming spring issue. Sitting around a table we brainstormed various ideas on how to shoot them. Turns out a staff member is friends with the gorgeous... "adult film star" Jayden Jaymes and so, the concept was born. She just so happened to be flying in town for an event, so we set a date and made it happen.

Now I know what you want to hear. Jayden James showed up and the studio broke out into an orgy... but c'mon man, we're better than that. Jayden was an absolute pro and a joy to direct. She knows what works for her and it helped us get our images quickly and easily. She's also super down to earth and was awesome to hang around with in the studio. Check out some of the behind the scenes shots below.


The light setup I chose was something I hadn't tried before, two strip boxes on either side behind her for a rim light, a boomed hair light over her head, a boomed background light with a tight grid facing the background sweep, two 54" umbrellas behind the camera over my head which were touching each other and facing straight at her which sort of combined the two 54" umbrellas into one bigger light source, and finally suspended between them was a ringflash.

Andrew Link's lighting setup for Jayden James's shoot

Hope you enjoy the images! And pick up this months RIDES Magazine to see them in print!


*The above lighting diagram was created with Kevin Kurtz's Lighting Setup Tool which can be found here 


]]> (Andrew Link) Work Mon, 18 Feb 2013 18:45:09 -0800
Z3 LS1 Swap: Post Processing Final Image | © Dale Martin

Had a chance to photograph a LS1 Swapped BMW Z3 with my buddy Brandon Lajoie at Vorshalg in Plano Texas.  We originally decided to light the car with strobes.  After the first few test shots we decided to scrap the strobes and break out an LED light from my light bag to light "paint" the car. It turned out pretty well. More info on the light being used after the break.

Light painting involves taking a long exposure in relative darkness anywhere from 10 seconds and up(normally) and using one light source to then "paint" light into your photograph. It can take a few tries to get the overall look you are going for. I suggest experimenting with different lengths of exposures and light intensity. Afterward through post processing it's a matter of combining the different exposures in photoshop.

With 126-LED lights for optimum illumination and diffuser.

Neewer CN-126 LED Video Light for Camera or Digital Video Camcorder

The light above was intended for use with video as it comes with a built in shoe mount to sit a top of your camera however it works great for long exposure photography too. There is a built in dimmer switch to allow for brightness adjustment. The color temperature is rated for 5400k which provides a pure white light although there are additional filters that come with the kit to modify this. Most of all it's affordable and provides a good quality light source. A special thanks to Ste Ho of for introducing this light to me. I bought three of them. =)

{loadposition dm_bmw}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (Dale Martin) Knowledge Fri, 15 Feb 2013 21:50:45 -0800