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Fine Art Photography for MAN Automotive (S.A.) Pty Ltd

The Evolution of MAN

Lion’s Explorer G2

 

When MAN Automotive (S.A.) Pty Ltd contacted us to shoot brochure image for their new photo-type bus earlier this year, we could hardly contain our excitement. To produce beautiful images of a car is one thing, but abus was sure to push our lighting skills to a whole new limit. As this was a photo-type the work had to be done in the manufactoring plant. The FDL lighting technique allows us to shoot anywhere, even in confined spaces, with minimum distruption to the client. These are some of the images we have produced.

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Interview Sarel van Staden – Automotive Photographer Part 1

During 2016 I was asked by OutdoorPhoto to conduct an interview with Sarel.

When we decided this past week that the time had come to introduce our FDL-Lighting Technique to the world, I went back to that original interview.

I was quite taken by how far we had come in just over a year, and how much the lighting had changed and evolved. I am posting that interview as a pre-amble or introduction to the many FDL-Lighting Technique posts to follow…. Photography remains a journey – techniques evolve, trends change….the only constant is our love and passion for our craft.

 

OH, FOR THE LOVE OF CARS

We asked Maryna Cotton to interview her partner and fellow commercial photographer, Sarel van Staden, about his love for cars, their automotive photography work, which they like to refer to as “car porn”, as well as his innovative lighting techniques that give their work its signature look.

It is a love story….

When Sarel talks about cars, his whole demeanor changes. His childhood stories include tales of many hours spent learning about engines and cars from his dad, a motor technician, who rebuilt cars from the chassis up; as well as passionate stories of favourite car posters against bedroom walls. He is, however, quick to set my mind at ease by adding that the only love stronger than his love for cars is his love for photography. It is a well known fact, that great photography is dependent on great light, and Sarel adds: “Understanding the basic characteristics of light and how to applying it, makes photography an amazing creative journey that feeds my soul”.

Most photographers will tell you that lighting a car well poses challenges such as unwanted reflections and hot spots in paintwork, but this is what makes Sarel tick. Figuring out ways to light reflections, enhancing the colour and showing shape in for instance a black car, is what he lives for. “This is my way to express and create art. A means to pay homage to and thank all the cars designers over the centuries, for spoiling me and many other passionate car lovers with their beautiful creations.”

When asked about the industry and automotive photography in particular, he explains that advances in 3D rendering techniques, is limiting the need for conventional automotive photography and it’s notorious lighting challenges. According to Sarel, photographers constantly need to push the boundaries to create something unique and he does that in his endeavor to come up with new and creative lighting techniques. “To be able to use light to bring out the shape and the beautiful lines in cars is almost like a drug to me. In my mind I am constantly conceptualizing new and better ways to create art of cars and this eventually lead to the car porn images”.

Does he take inspiration from any one in particular? Referring to acclaimed automotive photographer Tim Wallace, he says: “the way that he combines the emotional human element into his artistic photography style of cars is just amazing”.

Curves, lines and light

Huge lighting set-ups and studio builds come to mind when one thinks of conventional automotive photography. I asked Sarel to tell us more about the lighting techniques he uses for the fine art car shoots, as well as his preferred lighting tools. “I mainly shoot using instant light sources with extra diffusers or painting-with-light wands, also with extra diffusers. For instant light I use the Elincrom quadra lights or the Prophoto B2 system in combination with a 400mm beauty dish which I modified to create soft, focused light. This I double diffuse with an extra diffuser to create the matt finish, characteristic of my fine art images”.

“I developed and built a custom light wand which I also double defuse, for the painting-with-light technique. With the wand I create soft light and an almost matt finish, without unwanted reflections in the paint work.

To create soft light, a conventional lighting set-up requires a 3 x 7 m scrim positioned 1-2m above the car in a commercial studio. With the wand I create the same soft light with the hand held light wand. The positioning of the conventional light scrim creates spill off light that also exposes the surroundings which in turn reflects in the paintwork of the car. By using the light wand less then 100mm away from the bodywork of the car, there is almost no spill off light, eliminating the reflections of the surroundings. By moving the 2m light wand over the car, during the exposure, we create a soft light source much bigger that traditional light scrims in automotive studios. The only limitation of this technique is that it can only be done in low light.”

Asked about his future plans, he was quick to answer: “Many many beautiful cars!”

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Taking inspiration from Ansel Adams……

Ansel Adams (Feb. 20 1902 — Apr. 22, 1984) was a photographer and environmentalist and has long been regarded as one of the masters of photography. 

“Adams developed the famous and highly complex “zone system” of controlling and relating exposure and development, enabling photographers to creatively visualize an image and produce a photograph that matched and expressed that visualization. He produced ten volumes of technical manuals on photography, which are the most influential books ever written on the subject.”

 http://www.anseladams.com

 

I took inspiration from Ansel Adams’ sea foam images for this series….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photographing Interiors….

We have always enjoyed photographing interiors, especially for the hospitality industry.

Photographically speaking, interiors come which a whole range of challenges, ranging from the distortion created by wide-angle lenses to lighting challenges, from working in confined spaces to finding a great composition or angle.

This is a small selection of images we made for Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel in Pretoria. We used off-camera flash to fill in shadows, bounced flash from ceilings where we could and bracketed exposures where needed. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Personal branding photography – telling your story

Photography is all about story telling – story telling through pictures. The digital age necessitates telling your story or the story of your brand, to be more specific, in a visual way to an online community and your clients. You brand will be judged on how you communicate visually – the better the pictures, the higher you will score. 

Our clients are aware of the importance to tell their stories and how passionate they are about their businesses. We have been loving our recent personal branding commissions. 

MCD MAGIC FACTORY is an innovative and dynamic marketing and communication fulfilment agency. We had the privilege to make images for their new website and to create a library of images for their social media campaigns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photowise photographs the epic Jaguar F-Pace for The Torque

2017 Brought us a new client, The Torque.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Torque is an on-line platform for readers and vehicle seekers to meet honest reviews and ratings from people with real experiences of the vehicles they review and rate. For us, this means weekly car shoots of exciting new cars. Rob’s unwavering faith in our abilities resulted a brief to “make magic pictures” allowing us to freely express our creativity. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These images were shot in Paternoster, Western Cape, on the week-end of the big storm during June 2017. This shoot provided us with the perfect opportunity to test our lighting techniques on location.

See The Torque for the full review on this epic car.

 

 

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Composition: Beyond the labels – Seeing Part 1

I have had the incredible privilege to photograph with and learn from Freeman Patterson on visit to Namaqualand some years ago. Freeman was one of the main catalysts who started my photographic journey and I keep on finding inspiration in his books and photographs.

One of the main subjects of the conversations I had with Freeman was that we as photographers should learn to look at the world around us, without attaching labels to things.

Our first words spoken as babies are nouns aka “labels”. We name things – we describe by attaching labels when identifying objects and in our conversations, thoughts and dreams. Labels often act as the filters, which determine how we will use our senses to experience something, often excluding all but one or two of our senses. Stopping to connect and interact with something, experiencing it honestly enough, to get beyond the “labels”, is where we need to go to really see……we then think in terms of shape, lines, balance, rhythm, repetition etc. It is in this “alternate reality” where waves ebbing and flowing over rocks can be captured as “passing time” and frozen in a single exposure. Or where a range of sand dunes can become a collection of repetitive lines or shapes – almost abstract in their simplicity.

During some pre-dawn moonlit walks, I was struck by how hills, rocks and trees, stripped from detail, colour, form and texture – reduced to mere flat shapes – allowed my senses and imagination to experience them as anything but what they actually are. Two strong lines of repetitive shapes formed by a rocky ridge in the moonlight, had completely disappeared when I went looking for it in daylight. Yes, they were there, but the brownish mottled colours and varying textures had now completely “overwritten” the repetition I had seen in the moonlight. The lines and beautiful repetition had now been reduced to very uninteresting rocks. The strong formidable upright, almost authoritative, monochrome silhouette of Helmut’s tree, became a rather feminine Akasia, decked in pretty yellow blossoms in the morning light.

I was set an assignment at Bokbalbaai – a stretch of coastline approx 1km long, consisting of nothing but pebbles, rocks and kelp of varying colours and shape – to photograph anything but pebbles, rocks, kelp and sea. I sat on a rock feeling a lot of despair, looking at millions of rocks and pebbles…..

Remembering what I had taught so many of our students, I knew I had to simplify the scene in front of me, in order to make any sense of the assignment. Using the viewfinder, I limited my perspective to what could fit in the frame and deliberately deleting the labels “rocks” and “pebbles”, I started seeing shapes, curved lines, shadows repeating the curves and patterns to create form and repetition. It comes as no surprise that “simplify” is the first “rule” first composing great images….

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise5

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise4

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise2

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Vision – “Passionate stories, told passionately..”

David duChemin wrote in one of his books: “Vision is the beginning and end of photography”.

I agree. Vision is that something , the je ne sais quoi, the inspiration that moves you to pick up your camera to photograph it. It will determine how you photograph and why, the settings you choose and the angle you use. For me it is not only the journey of the making of every photograph, but also my journey to discover, define and often redefine my own vision. Often I am defined by my vision.

I get stirred to photograph a particular scene, often not knowing what it is that I am “seeing” or why, only to discover the elusive vision when I look at my images later and then discover exactly what it was what I was feeling at the time. The camera becoming the tool of self-discovery.

DuChemin points out that our vision often grows to meet our skill. I believe we become better equipped to express our vision. I love looking at my older images. I can often clearly see what was going on in my life by looking at what my vision was when I made the images – what caught my eye then…what stirred me. I can clearly see how my technical skills improved with experience, but I am often amazed at how my ability to express grew. There have always been “common” elements in my images, that identify them as my work, but I am just better at expressing my creativity and myself…my vision. I am learning every day how to photograph what moves me, but also how to express what I feel. The more passionate I am about the subject, the more I have to say and to get across to the viewer. Du Chemin worded it so aptly: “Passionate stories, told passionately..”

“Knowing what you love to photograph, and what you do not, is the first step in the recognition and refinement of your vision”. So what happens if I have to photograph something I am really not that excited about? Here, I believe, learning the tricks to communicate through light, colour, camera angles etc can often save the day. I often draw from my love for photography in general – the chance to spend time with my beloved camera – to draw passion back into my vision.

Freeman Patterson summed it up so beautifully: “Photography – both the craft and the art – helps me to be. It allows and enables me to live creatively, which is to honour Creation and my own existence.”

This past week-end the Photowise team was privileged enough to be part of a lovely couple’s special day. All was just perfect and the resulting images reminded me why I photograph in the first place…. I love people and I love telling stories!

Wedding_bride_MAryna Cotton_Photowise

Wedding_Maryna Cotton_Photowise

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Location

N4 Gateway Industrial Park East
Willow Park Manor, 0184
Cnr Solomon Mahlangu and
R104 Bronkhorstspruit Rd

Location Inside the Park:
49 Sneeuberg Street
Unit 3

GPS:
S 25°45'16.358"
E 28°21'51.222"

Contact Us

For General Enquiries:
info@photowise.co.za
012 803 1370

Sarel van Staden:
sarel@photowise.co.za
082 4150 474

Maryna Cotton:
maryna@photowise.co.za
082 8570 479

Map