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Life Before Photoshop: Alpha Romeo Shoot

Look ma, no Photoshop.

Look ma, no Photoshop.


Every time I write one of these posts it takes me way, way back to the days when Adobe was the name of a style of house in the Southwest part of the US.

The good old days when you had to do everything in the camera, and as a result got the occasional ulcer for doing it. Yes, those do-da days where it took just one screw-up and you became persona non grata at not just the agency you were shooting for, but if that Art Director that picked you went to another agency, and they often did, your name went with them. That’s just the chance you took because the money was so good. In those days car shooters (the good ones) were getting $5000.00 per shot (plus all expenses) and up, and that day sometimes meant one shot at sunrise and one at sunset.

In my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, we work on incorporating the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. We also work on getting as much in the camera before the shutter is clicked so that my fellow photographers can become better photographers, not better computer artists.

That’s not to say that I don’t use Photoshop because I do with just about every photo; not to do anything except minor tweaking. For me, getting it in the camera is a great challenge, and as a result I fell good that I’m a good shooter that relies on my eye and imagination, not Histograms, blinking lights, and that insidious bane of existence that’s called…HDR!!!.

In the above photo, the Art director and I choose The Bonneville Salt Flats for the location because of the simplicity, the great light, and all that wonderful texture.

It may look like a simple set-up but I can tell you that it was anything but simple. The car company that brought the new-never been seen before Alpha Romeo got their huge van and trailer stuck and after hours of trying and a twenty foot hole, we were able to rent a back hoe to get the tractor out that got stuck trying to get the trailer out in the first place…what a mess!!! This took a day. Then, we had to fill in this giant crater so it looked like it never happened…another day of expenses.

Simple set-up????????

Simple set-up????????

The placement of the car was extremely important since as a prototype it came without a motor and had to be manually placed (by hands) to get the right angle of the light. When seconds counted, there wasn’t enough time to move it again (and keep those tire tracks out of the shot. To do this I used my Sunpath readings and my Morin 2000 hand bearing compass to get it at the exact angle to eliminate unwanted hotspots and glare, and the shadow that was important as well. I knew that the shot had to be taken right before the full sun was visible on the horizon. After that the car was subject to those elements that couldn’t be taken out since any thought of post-processing was years away.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.


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