It’s a small world out there, and gosh darn it if we in the import industry don’t know that better than most. This month’s Longshots installment brings one of Import Tuner’s premier freelance contributors full circle, to when his masterpiece shoot of P&L Motorsports’ orange WRX sedan (http://bit.ly/r6Mdal) first caught our eye and graced our pages exactly three years ago this issue. Today a world traveler and proud owner of a clean WRX wagon of his own (uh...below), Jon Domingo drops some knowledge of how to snap shots and cash checks like a pro:
2006 Subaru Impreza WRX wagon
Location: Chicago, IL
Shot location: Hawaii and Chicago
Equipment: Canon EOS 7D, 16-35mm f/2.8L lens, 24-70mm f/2.8L lens; Alien Bee strobes; Adobe Bridge, Photoshop
Shutter: 1/25 sec (car); 1/50 sec (background)
Aperture: f/3.2 (car); f/11 (background)
Focal length: 70mm (car); 24mm (background)
Subject-camera distance: 58 feet (car)
Camera height: 3 feet
From The Artist
You’ve probably already guessed it, but the final image here is a composite of the two smaller (raw) ones next to it. Most, if not all, modern professional photographers composite images to create the final picture they desire, and with practice, knowing how to identify and shoot images to be composited later can make all the difference in “saving” an otherwise dull shot.
The raw photo of the car is one I took of my own WRX wagon during a simple equipment test. The photo was taken in a preconstructed residential parking lot—not very stimulating to the creative senses, even with the off-camera lighting supplied by my Alien Bees. The background is just too plain and boring. But this is where composite photography saves the day.
Hawaii is one of the most scenic places on earth, so the last time I traveled there, I made it a point to shoot a lot of landscapes at varying focal lengths, focal points, lighting angles, and camera heights, to use for future composites. Matching these qualities in my crappy car shot and a landscape shot I took on that trip, I started the process of creating a stronger image by merging the better parts of the two images in Adobe Photoshop.
That’s when the fun began (you have to be a little sadistic to enjoy this). Using the pen tool in Photoshop, I roughly sampled the car and pavement, and copied it into the background image from Hawaii, and blended the two elements together using layers and masks. Another point to mind was depth of field. The car was shot with a wide aperture (shallow depth of field), but the background with a small aperture (deep depth of field); to make both images look like they were actually supposed to be together, I had to get creative with layers/masks and the blur tool. Next, I manipulated the two elements’ curves, levels, and color balance, to help blend both smoothly together, giving that uniform look. My final step: Running the combined and flattened image through my normal editing process to help polish the whole photo and give it a refined look.
Final tip: Patience and practice are your most valuable tools in learning any sort of photography. Be conscious about the results you expect when trying new things, and re-evaluate and try again when things don’t go as expected.