Shooting Car Interiors – In An Improvised Studio

Hi and welcome to this blog post about how to shoot a commercial-like car interior photo in an improvised studio.

! Before I will come to the topic, I want to note that I will publish blog posts in a regular basis from now on – every 1st and 3rd Sunday of a month.

Okay, lets start.

A few month ago, I made my first try on car photography in a more professional and commercial-like way.
Except that I love to drive cars and think that tuning them discreetly is necessary I’m not a real car fan. However, my interest on this field of photography grew because of my ambition to shoot portraits of people in a context to their interests. I started with my grandpa and his 1956 BMW motorcycle and when my cousin Anna-Lena will get her drivers license I also want to take a photo of her and her first car etc. I don’t just want to take an usual photo but something special. To me that “something special” is a commercial-like looking image – shot with professional techniques and camera systems to get high-quality. That’s my approach in all fields of photography that I’m active in. I just love that commercial look and the high-quality.

After I shot an Audi A4 from outside a few months ago, I wanted to take an interior shot this time. Therefor I used a 5er BMW.

At the Audi shoot I recognized that I would need a much bigger white surface to bounce off the flash to flood the car with 5000K warm light.
For the interior shot I built an improvised studio in the garage. The garage was renovated a few years ago and is shiny white now. Because I only wanted to shoot the cockpit of the BMW I would only need three white walls that surround it. I hung up a white plastic blanket to hide the work bench and to have also a plain white surface in front of the car.


Finally, I had three white walls to bounce off the flash to illuminate the car interior with diffuse light.
The wrinkles on the blanket don’t matter because the flash will lighten it up so strong that you won’t see any of the wrinkles in the final image.
Then I drove in the car and began to mount the Nikon Speedlights. I mounted one Speedlight on every roof rail and adjusted it so that its light would bounce off the ceiling and wall. A third Speedlight I just set in the middle of the car roof – it would illuminate the ceiling and blanket in front of the car. Finally, the cockpit would be illuminated from all three sides by a diffuse light.


In the next step, I set up the camera inside the car on the back seat. To have more working space I expanded the trunk by turning down the back seats.
I used a small tripod and arranged it in the right position – in the middle of the car.
To control the Speedlights I used the Nikon SB-800 Commander and set them to manual power. The Speedlights on the left and right were set to group A and the one in the middle to group B – all with an power output of 1/1 and zoomed to 14mm to spread the light as much as possible to flood the cockpit with soft 5000K warm light.
My Nikon D3 was also set to manual mode and I used a Tamron 10-24mm/4.5-5.6 lens.


I thought it would take a bit more of lighting arrangement but right after the second shot the whole shoot was done. Here’s the result:


Very commercial-like.
The white windows an mirrors are easy to select with the Photoshop “Magic Wand Tool” to insert a scenery or whatever.

I gave it a try and inserted the Skyline of Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


However, the next time I will create a 100% realistic car interior image without photoshopping the windows and mirrors …
So, maybe you want to turn your garage into a car studio now, too … Have fun!

Bye!
Chris

Ein Sommer-Shoot

Nach unzähligen Klausuren und einer Menge Lernstress habe ich mich heute nach der drittletzten Klausur endlich mal wieder der Fotografie widmen können. In den letzten Wochen kamen mir viele Ideen, die ich nach den Klausuren auch Stück für Stück umsetzen will.
Heute habe ich begonnen, eine der ersten Ideen zu realisieren: Ein Portrait in einem Getreidefeld während die Sonne untergeht. Dabei sollte es so realistisch wie möglich wirken, allerdings gingen mir die CTOs für die Blitze aus, so dass der beleuchtete Hintergrund von der Farbtemperatur her stark abweicht (5000 Kelvin). Dahingegen habe ich die Blitze für das Model per CTO auf ca. 10.000 Kelvin modifiziert, um das warme Licht des Sonnenuntergangs zu imitieren. Naja,  es war mehr eine spontane Aktion, da der Himmel gerade so passend schien – das soll jetzt aber keine Entschuldigung sein. 😉
Nachdem das Equipment zusammengerafft war, haben wir uns ins Auto geschwungen und sind ins Feld gefahren. Dann musste alles ganz schnell gehen, bevor die Sonne hinter dem Wald verschwand und mit ihr das warme Licht. Der Aufbau war wie folgt:

Ich habe bei jedem Blitz die Leistung manuell geregelt, weil ich die volle Kontrolle wollte. Die zwei SB-800 fürs Model habe ich Gruppe A und den SB-800 für den Hintergrund Gruppe B zugeordnet, um das Licht variabel steuern zu können. Die SB-800 fürs Model habe ich außerdem mit den Bouncern bestückt – für ein weicheres Licht. Habe hier auf Softboxen oder Schirme verzichtet, weil schneller. Der SB-800 für den Hintergrund war auf 35mm gezoomt, um das Licht etwas zu streuen.
Kameraeinstellungen waren auch alle manuell. Als Objektiv habe ich ein Sigma 24-70/2.8 verwendet. Alles in Allem kein kompliziertes Setup, aber: weniger ist eben oftmals mehr – wie das Ergebnis beweist:

Bis demnächst.

Chris