Cool All Your Testing images

Some cool all your testing images:

Car Show Strobing with a Paul C Buff Einstein Strobe
all your testing
Image by Kᵉⁿ Lᵃⁿᵉ
For a higher resolution & COMPLETE video, check out this video on my YouTube page:

Equipment: DSLR, tripod, strobe, battery pack for strobe, strobe trigger, light modifier, boom arm, wireless camera trigger. Setup: I put my camera on a tripod. My camera has a strobe trigger in the hot shoe and a wireless camera receiver/trigger on the side of the camera. I’m using a single Einstein 640WS strobe which is attached to the end of my boom arm, this helps me to position the light over the vehicle and gives me the ability to stand away from the car as far as possible. I have a wireless camera trigger in my hand and away I shoot.
So most car shows that I have been to are during the worst part of the day…NOON, bright sunlight and usually no cloud coverage. But no problem ! I find a vehicle I really like, setup the tripod, secure my DLSR on the tripod and frame up my shot. I focus on something near the front of the vehicle, or close to the camera, when I nail the focus, then I switch autofocus to manual. The camera doesn’t need to re-focus for every shot, it’s already set one time. Camera settings are usually shutter ~1/250 sec (max flash sync speed, although I have gotten away with 1/320 without the shutter lag/black stripe in my image) the faster the shutter speed, the darker the ambient lighting, right ? So the background darkness is your preference. Aperture setting has to be quite lower then I want, and I set it at f/4 minimum. I haven’t tried f/8 or higher yet, so I’ll probably try some new things this weekend, i got a couple of car shows I’m going to here locally. It’s all about trying new things and learning what works and what doesn’t. Getting back to the shutter speed, we both know that 1/250 sec will not get the ambient dark enough (maybe that works for you ?), but to make things even darker I typically use a 3-stop ND filter to block even more light (I guess this give the appearance of shooting at night, things get really dark). You can screw in your 3-stop ND filter and still use auto focus on bright sunny days. I have even filter stacked a 2-stop ND filter on top of my 3-stop ND filter, but lately I just stick to the 3-stop since it gives me favorable results, but you can try it out on your own and see if it’s something you like. Your couple of shots will be "test shots" and you’ll have to adjust flash power your your aperture from blowing the highlights out. You are going to take quite a few shots of the car, because your light modifier will not cover large areas, I usually have the strobe anywhere from 4 to 6 feet away on average, but I’m still new at this and getting a better "feel" of where things need to be in my setup/process. The more images you take, then the better your post-processing will be as you will have more choices in lighting to blend. It’s funny, my car strobing started with strobing flowers and statues, but I was curious one day about strobing a car and how it would turn out, unfortunately I used my off camera flash and softbox and found out that it was not enough flash power and that the softbox diffuser had actually reduce my light power by 1-stop. It’s all trial and error. Practice, practice, practice ! Learn and try new things.

Other thoughts and additional remarks (things I’m learning along the way):
My first few shots are actually without the flash on. I shoot 2 frames at 1/250s & 1/320s. One of these frames will serve as the "base image" or bottom layer in Photoshop. Just make sure that no person is standing in the background, if you can help it. It should be a clean shot with nothing moving in the background, but sometimes you can’t help it. This image will help set the tone for the ambient lighting level.
It’s sometimes OK if people are walking around the car, just as long as they don’t get between the camera and the area of the car you’re lighting. I always expect people and have had people walk right in front of my camera as I’m shooting. They have no idea what I’m doing and if there’s no one behind the camera, then they think you’re not taking pictures. Just expect that to happen, after all, it’s a car show with lots of people.
In addition to lighting the car, I find it adds more appeal to the image if you light up the asphalt or grass around the car and especially at the corners of the vehicle. I’m finding out that you can have a better image where the car naturally blends into the ground surface, otherwise you’ll end up with an image that looks badly vignetted.
You have to light up the interior of the vehicle, this really makes the image pop ! Just place your light right up to the window and fire away, and take several shots at different angles into the car. Shoot the interior of the car from both sides of the vehicle. It’s OK if you’re standing right at the window, just make sure your body doesn’t get between the camera and the interior.
It really helps to have an assistant help you out. By them standing at the tripod/camera, then most people will avoid walking into your shots, and they always have questions as to what I’m doing. Your assistant can show your portfolio to them to see the final images you’re trying to create. It absolutely baffles non-photographers of what images you can create it bright sunlight and using a strobe. Plus your assistant can help you carry equipment to the next car.
I found out that using the diffusion sock over my beauty dish was reducing my flash output, so I don’t use it.
Shoot the same spot of the vehicle but from different angles. This is because sometime you’ll find out that the light source shows up as a bright reflection of the surface of the car. You can use Photoshop "magic" to sometimes "erase" these unwanted reflections, but I’m still learning about how to eliminate or reduce this in the field.
The color of the car makes a big difference to flash output ! White cars tend to blow out easier, so lower the flash output. Black is impossible to show up at all, so I usually will think about doing a B&W image of it, especially if it has alot of chrome, Shows up good as a B&W image. You will find this out on your own.
Going back to the people and objects moving in the background…I found out recently with an image where there were people sitting behind the car and when I tried to bring in the lighted portion that I had ghosting come through, but I could fix it by making my brush size smaller with a higher hardness on the brush. Avoiding this situation all together is your call. I’m sure you’ll run into this problem at some point.
From Lightroom you’ll bring in all the images you want to stack in Photoshop by using the "edit in…edit images as layers in photoshop" selection. Once in Photoshop, all your images should be in one file, and then you should align the images by using edit…auto-align images.
Be aware of the sun ducking in and out of the clouds if the situation arises. Your light levels obviously won’t match from exposure to exposure. But I don’t think it’s a show stopper, you can adjust for that in post.
I haven’t tried shooting with a polarizer, not sure what it will do, but will try to see if it has any effect. Maybe it could eliminate or reduce the light from reflecting off the surface of the car ?

Here’s what I use:
1.) Nikon D800
2.) Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens
2.) Really Right Stuff tripod
3.) Wireless camera trigger […]
4.) 3-stop B&W ND filter []
5.) Elinchrom Boom Arm []
6.) Einstein 640WS strobe
7.) CST-2 CyberSync Trigger
8.) Vagabond Mini Lithium battery pack (I actually have 4 of them now)
9.) 22" beauty dish (Paul C. Buff)
10.) Photoshop (any version)

Of course the real magic happens in Photoshop by bringing all the exposures together, but I’d have to show you or you might be able to check out some videos on YouTube on how to blend exposures together. I’ve posted some video links in my earlier images online.

Give it try and ask me anything along the way. I think it would be cool to help someone and actually see their automotive photography go to the "next level", for me photography is just a hobby so I don’t mind passing along information, so I don’t mind help a fellow photographer (and automotive photographer at that !) how I shoot and process my photos. It’s all about learning.

These videos may help:

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