For those of us who grew up in the 80s, scenes like those above were pretty common to our TV screens. The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Knight Rider, and countless other shows would deliver us 30 minute chunks of the most amazing vehicular acrobatics we’d ever seen. These days, it would probably done with CGI, but there was something about those practical effects that makes them stand out.
One photographer not going the CG route is Felix Hernández. He’s proving that these same images can still be acquired practically. Although, it might not be the way you’d first think. Instead of full size vehicles, these images were created in the studio with miniatures. For those who follow Felix’s work, this probably doesn’t come as much surprise. Felix is a master of making the miniature look and feel real.
In typical Felix fashion, there are several behind the scenes shots showing how the images came together. Utilising several techniques he’s developed over the course of his work, Felix manages to bring life to these simple objects.
Working with miniatures does offer advantages over using real cars. For a start, there’s the cost. But it also allows you to more easily plan and set up the shots. Sure, you could suspend real vehicles from the air, but it takes a lot more planning and effort. Also, a great big crane. Here, though, a simple backdrop stand and some string is all that’s needed.
The thing that always impresses me about Felix’s work is the incredibly attention to detail. We saw it in the Volkswagen bus in the snow, too. Tiny little details most of us would ignore, like the slightly open boot & bonnet (or trunk & hood, if you prefer) as the police car appears to fly through the air.
It seemed to be a common feature in those 80s TV shows that when a car hit something capable of launching them off the ground, they would magically pop open. Unless, of course, you were Luke & Bo driving around in the General Lee.
Felix used a hose to blow dust and debris across the cars while he took each shot. Again, it’s attention to detail. Things like this add little flecks of debris on the vehicles themselves, and creates a sense of motion and interaction that just isn’t easily possible with compositing.
The images aren’t perfect straight out of camera, of course. The lights aren’t lit, and you can see the string suspended above the vehicles.
With a little Photoshop polishing, though, it all comes together wonderfully.
Projects like this really make me miss those cheesy 80s TV shows. They were both awful and amazing at the same time. Despite the often fairly low production quality, they had a great story or fantastic “dad joke” comedy. It just goes to prove that content has always been king, and it’s as true now as it was then.
You can check out more of Felix’s amazing work on his website at Hernandez Dreamphography. Images used with permission.
What was your favourite 80s action TV show? Which was the worst? Do any of them still inspire you to this day? Either photographically or in another aspect of your life? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.