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Car Corner
Photographing a Boss 302 Mustang

August 1, 2014
By Scott Lewis

Recently I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with the owner of a 2013 Boss 302 Mustang. The owner was very accommodating. He was very willing to work with me on the vision I had for his main photo.

Before I even got to his house to do the shoot I had it in my head I wanted to do a kind of silhouette of his car. I wanted to use may strip soft box and take several pictures and "stitch" them together in Photoshop. Stitch is the wrong term, since each photo was exactly the same... except where the light was. I only have 1 soft box. So the plan was to hold the soft box over one part of the car, take a photo, move a few steps, take another photo, and continue until I had enough sections of the car lit by flash.

Here is a sample of one of the photos where the flash did not fire (probably the flash had not finished recycling, as I was shooting at full power on the flash to overcome daylight).

Notice it is daytime (and sunny), and I am standing holding the soft box on the end of a light stand. My assistant was taking the photos. Here is the next photo (directly from camera) when the flash fired.

I was not completely sure how I would remove the background when reviewing the photos on the back of my camera. Fortunately, in Lightroom I merely made a couple of simple adjustments to get started. I first dragged the Blacks slider to the left. I wanted the black stripes to be as black as possible. The background darkened a little. Next I increased Contrast and the background immediately went black. I was surprised it was that easy. All you could see of the background was a tiny slit of light from the soft box itself (and only in some of the photos).

From there I did some mild adjustments to exposure, clarity and vibrance. Then I highlighted the 8 photos I was going to use, and synced them. Now all 8 photos had the same Lightroom adjustments. Next was to open all eight photos in Photoshop in layers. This last part is where the magic happens. With 8 photos in a single document, all I had to do was add a layer mask to the top 7 photos, and then paint in the mask to reveal the part below.

The screen capture to the left shows the layers after masking.

Once back in Lightroom it was obvious there were bright and dark spots. No problem. I took an adjustment brush and set it to increase exposure by 0.50. I set the flow rate to 20% and just lightly brushed over the darker areas until they were as even as I could get them to the brighter areas.

Then I cropped the image and brought it back into Photoshop to put a nice border on it. You can see the final image here.

Lessons Learned

The next time I do this type of shoot I will take quite a few more photos. I think somewhere between 12 and 15 photos would have given me a better consistency of light. It would eliminate the extra time in Lightroom to blend the highs and lows, but more importantly I think it would give better reflections in the overall appearance.

I will also zoom in more when taking the photos. I don't remember why I was not zoomed in further, but looking at the photos afterwards I was surprised.

Conclusion

If you you have an interesting car and are located near San Antonio, please contact me and we can work something out where I can photograph your car. If you know of someone who wants to have their car photographed... send them my way.

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