Highlighting only one photo again this month, Longshots is getting a lot more selective. This issue we have Spain’s Manu Lozano expose a technique we swore a decade ago we never would: the rig shot. But unlike that forum buddy of yours who claims he was doing them with broom handles, “like, before anyone else,” Manu gives you the deets on how to do it right, as evidenced by his stunning 370Z shot (yay, we got it right!):
Twin-turbo 2010 Nissan 370Z
Photographer: Manu Lozano
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Shot location: mountain road outside of Barcelona
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D; 16-35mm f/2.8 L; custom rig
Shutter: 4 sec.
Focal length: 16mm
Subject-camera distance: about 7 feet
Camera height: about 10 inches
From The Artist
For each car I shoot, the first thing I think about is what type of shot would best complement the car. For the front engine, rear-wheel-drive Nissan 370Z, I figured a shot of it tearing through a winding mountain road would be perfect. I also knew it had to be a tight road, with lots of trees that would be blurry all around the car to really accentuate speed. And I figured a “rig shot” would be best, since I could take one without actually hanging out of another car behind the one I wanted to shoot, speeding down the wrong lane of a tight, winding mountain road.
A “rig” is basically a device that connects a camera to a subject car via a long pole. The idea being that, with the camera connected to the car and a picture taken while the car is moving very slowly during a long exposure, the car can remain sharp and the background blurry, giving the sensation that it’s traveling very fast. My rig consists of two Avenger suction cups, two 8-foot aluminum tubes, and a Manfrotto Magic Arm. The suction cups hold the rig onto the car at one end, while the Magic Arm holds the camera to the other, about 7-10 feet away from the car.
With everything attached, the car was shifted in Neutral, shut completely off, and pushed from the passenger-side A-pillar only a few mph while I shot several 4-second-long exposures via a remote shutter release. It’s very important that the car be pushed very smoothly—not driven—and that several shots are taken. If the camera and the car move independently because of engine vibration or bumps in the road, the car won’t be sharp in the image. To get such a long exposure, you’ll either need to buy a really thick neutral density filter, or wait until the sky gets sort of dark.
After the shot, I went back home to edit the image. I opened it in Adobe Bridge to make some exposure adjustments, and then edited the rig out with Photoshop, using the clone tool, healing brush, patch tool, and lots of layers/masks. This is the most difficult part, but if you’re smart, you can take parts of the background of other exposures of the same shot and post them over the rig, skewing and adjusting as needed. I hope you like the results!