I’m a commercial photographer with a passion for lighting techniques and for cars. For years I photographed cars using different styles taking inspiration from other automotive photographers such as Tim Wallace. My passion slowly progressed towards creating fine art images of cars. Every car is designed by an artist in their true right and I wanted to capture their art using low-key lighting which would accentuate the curves and lines of the car.
Lighting the reflective surfaces of cars and especially black reflective cars is not easy. To create a low-key light source for such cars, is even more difficult. The light modifiers available on the market didn’t give me the results I needed. The lead to me custom building modifiers.
After many months of research and a fair amount of trial and error, I eventually had the custom built light modifiers to create the low-key lighting effect I wanted. I reverted to the basics of creating soft light and fine tuned these principles to create a light source and modifier that gives focused diffused light, or as I refer to it, the FDL technique. By keeping the light source as close as possible to the car, I was able to overpower ambient light resulting in the desired matt finish on the surface of the car.
Needless to say, I was very excited to have been given the opportunity to test the Profoto A1 as the light source for the FDL technique. It was with much excitement that I opened the box delivered by the courier – as it contained the long anticipated Profoto A1. Ever since I heard of it’s launch I wanted to, and looked forward to using it to create car fine art images.
This was by no means going to be a side by side comparison with other flashes, nor a technical review. I was keen to see what it could do, shooting what I shoot and the the way I shoot. I needed a light-weight, easy to handle, low-key light source, to accentuate the car’s natural curves and lines. Profoto calls the A1 the “world, smallest studio light”, but as 90% of my work is done using speed lights, I would treat it as such.
Opening the black box with it’s all too familiar branding on, had all the other photographers in the studio gathered around me in no time at all – clearly this was going to be a show-stopper.
First impressions are meant to be lasting and in this case the first impression came as no surprise. The supurb built quality was obvious and the lay-out of the buttons, the big dials and large LCD screen made navigating the settings easy and almost intuitive (who has time to read a manual, right?) This flash is easy to use – in fact much easier than the speed lights I am used to.
The A1 is lightweight and small enough making it perfect for the FDL-lighting technique, which calls for a handheld light source held close to the car and at different angles for about 50 exposures. From these 50 images I normally select about 20 which are later layered in post processing to make the final image.
A pleasant surprise came from the battery. The Profoto A1 comes with its own rechargeable Li-Ion battery, which lasted much longer that the usual AA batteries.
Profoto is a brand synonymous with quality, precision and class. Needless to say the models I was going to testdrive this light on had to come from similar elk. I chose a black Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge, with high gloss black body panels and brushed steel and titanium on the hood and grill. The other models were a red Aston Martin Vanquish S and two McLarens.
As a shoot like this, yields approximately 500 images per car, I need the light source to be reliable, the white balance to be constant, recycling times to be fast and no overheating of the flash head. The A1 passed with flying colours, even after 1500 photos on a single charge of the battery.
In fact, I had no much fun, that only after I reluctantly returned the A1 I realized that I had been using it in manual mode and that I never tried TTL. I am looking forward to test that in a future shoot.
In every photographer’s life there is always that one shoot, or project or job, which will forever be remembered and reminisced about. We have been so blessed that we can recall quite a few such jobs, but the 3 years we worked for SKA Africa (Square Kilometre Array) http://www.ska.ac.za is probably one of the greatest ones. It was during those cold night shoots, while waiting for the shutters to close, that we dreamt about and planned where we were going to take our photography and our business. It was also during those nights when the FDL-technique, which we now use on our automotive work, was conseptualised.
These are a few of the thousands of images we made for SKA, many are still being used in their publications and on their website. ( The 2013-2015 galleries)
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.
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.
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.
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.
When a girl drives a supercar such as the Roush Mustang, it is not about how it looks, or how fast it is, nor pretty much about any of the petrolhead talk the guys get in to, it is all about how it makes her feel.
Being automotive photographers, my partner Sarel and I were loaned the Mustang for a few days, in order to shoot it on location, or as we like call it: “to make ‘car porn’”. As a girl photographing cars, I have to know just enough about this 6th generation Ford Mustang to make the right sounds and noises around the guys….so, I know it is a very powerful Roush supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and that the 500kW output and 800 N.m torque makes it an all American muscle car. I know it is fast enough to take my breath away and to make the monotonous Freestate roads I drove on more fun than I ever remembered them being. I know it sports very cool racing stripes, which the guys called “go-faster stripes” but, incidentally, I know too that it was Mustang who first sported racing stripes on a road car back in 1965. I also know that automotive journalists writing about supercars use adjectives such as “adrenaline-pumping”, “pulse-racing”, “sublime”, “thrilling” “engaging” “innovative” and “edgy” but as I am neither writing about the Mustang’s performance, nor about anything involving engineering or mechanics, I get to ignore those and focus on the sensory, albeit girly, experience of driving and photographing this car.
It is not unheard of for car manufactures such as Lamborghini, Bugatti or Mercedes-Benz to team up with fashion designers nor of fashion designers finding their muse in car designs, bringing super cars right into girl territory.
Of all the super cars I have driven, from a cat-walk-curvy Maserati, to blistering fast screen-siren-lipstick-red Ferrari, from the sporty-boho-elegant Porsche to the classy-cultured-haut-couture Aston, none has made me feel so much a woman, as did the Mustang. “Why on earth?” you might ask. Well, it is common knowledge that every girl loves an adventure and getting in behind the wheel of the Mustang is an adventure in every sense of the word in a tom-boyish kind of way. The no-fuss lack of finesse in the trim, the brushed metal on the dashboard and the masculine dials, even the Mustang badge on the car, filled my mind’s eye with images of rough and rugged cowboy-types ready to whisk me away on an adventure involving open spaces and wild horses. This car is bad-ass and every girly fiber in me loved it!
When I realized that the cop who pulled me over somewhere en route to Bloemfontein, did so just to hear the decidedly magnificent sound the not-so-inconspicuous yellow Mustang made on a pull-off, my usually elegant good-girl driving style was momentarily replaced with a pull-off of such awe inspiring unladylike proportions that even Sarel was impressed. Definitively one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. My mother would be horrified…
My creative gypsy soul has incurable road tripping wanderlust and driving the Mustang made me wish the road would never end. It might be a supercar, but it is a surprisingly easy, comfortable ride. Even more surprising is the relatively good fuel economy despite the fact that all those untamed horses under the bonnet inspired less economic behavior from the girl behind the wheel. I wanted to let my hair down and drive with the windows down.
Every pitstop along the way was a crowd-pulling adventure in it’s own right. I had to smile at the newly found diligence of petrol pump attendants. Everyone wanted the opportunity to admire the mustang while filling her up and poor Sarel was drawn into conversations usually starting with “how fast is it?” and then the inevitable ” can I take a selfie?”. The biggest kick for me was a little more self indulgent… I loved the split second shocked-horror on the faces of the Freestate “ooms” when they realised that I was driving this unruly car, and the “tannie” holding on extra tight to her man’s hand…just in case. In all honesty, I might have just once or twice turned the knob thingy next to the gearshift to Sport-mode before the grand exit for a little extra noise and show! This girl was on fire and regretting not owning a pair of cowboy boots.
Photographing a beautiful car makes me happy. I can get lost in the subtle play of light on curves and lines, the boldness of a badge on an aggressive grill, or the magical reflections in a headlight.
The Mustang is a beauty, but in a butch kind of way. My favourite is the line over the back wheel arch seen in the driver’s side mirror. It is the perfect mix between masculine, strong, angular and bad girl sexy curves. The fact that this Mustang had been modeled after the classic Mustang Fastback means that even the smallest detail or subtle line is easily recognizable as a signature Mustang look. I was head over heals after the second or third click.
Finding the right location and light for a photoshoot of a specific car is often a challenge for automotive photographers. The Mustang however, was equally photogenic next to a country road, in a soot-blackened coal shed or on a suburban driveway and our custom made soft lighting made highlighting every curve and line in true fashion model style a breeze. It is impossible to make a bad image of this car.
After three days of adrenaline-pumping, pulse-racing, sublime and thrilling driving in this engaging and edgy car, we were all photo’d out and I settled into the passenger seat for a comfortable meander home. Reflecting on whether I want one? Yes, please – although I would drive it on the open road, far away from city lights, where at just about every intersection, everything with two wheels or more, invites you to a drag-race. But then who can blame them?