Automotive photography is such a wide and varied field with a whole lot of options. There are so many different styles and techniques for photographing cars that there’s always something new or different to try. In this video, Bahraini photographer, Moe Zainal shows us one of his techniques which involves painting different areas of the car with flash in different photos, and then compositing in post.
You might notice that this isn’t one of those flashy overproduced behind the scenes videos. It’s a good discussion on how and why Moe used the technique to his advantage. Why he made certain decisions on how to light each shot, what modifier to use, and even the reasoning for position, distance and angle of the light. It’s quite similar to some of Dustin Dolby’s product photography techniques, but it translates very well to larger subjects like a car.
The video has a lot of great little tips and bits of information to help you with your approach. Like, always having your lights coming from the front of the car to prevent it reflecting in rear view mirrors and creating awkward reflections. Moe goes into some depth about the differences between shooting smoothly curved car bodies versus others with more defined angular slightly curved edges. He also shows some of the issues that can arise on certain car body areas, and how to get around them, either at the time of shooting or in post.
Moe doesn’t go much into detail on the compositing side of things as he does with the shooting of it. After all, this is just a lighting technique video. But there are many ways to composite these images together in Photoshop. You could go with the Lighten blend mode, Blend If sliders, Luminosity masks, or one of many other techniques.
Be warned, though, this isn’t a method that you’re going to get perfect from day one. It takes some planning and practice. You have to keep track of all the areas of the car that you’ve already lit and what you still need to do. And Moe even mentions that he sometimes misses a couple of shots because he’s excited about what he’s already got.
I tried this technique myself a few years ago, and it didn’t go well at all, but it did teach me a lot. So, even if you don’t think you’ll do very well, go out and give it a go, experiment, see what happens..