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Life Before Photoshop: BMW Motorcycle Campaign


Look ma, no Photoshop!

Look ma, no Photoshop!

In one of my earlier posts, I talked out how it was before the invention of digital cameras and Photoshop. That’s when you had to create whatever idea you had in the camera. In my online class I teach with the PPSOP, and the “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, post processing is frowned upon. It’s not because I don’t like or use Photoshop, because I use it all the time; my favorite tool in CS5 is the Content Aware Tool!!!

I just want my students to be better photographers, not better digital technicians.

However, as much as I like to use Photoshop, I always try to fix whatever problems in the camera, for example why take a distracting telephone pole out later with Photoshop, when all you have to do is move a step to the right or left. That is, if you can without being run over by a very large truck, or falling into a vat of acid.

The photograph pictured above was part of the full line catalog for BMW motorcycles, shot before the days when you could shoot the motorcycle in the studio, and with the help of CGI, make it look like it was actually moving, and then drop it into a landscape.

How very sad!! How very boring!!! What fun is that???????????????

Here’s how we did it back then:

Most of you have either used or know what a softbox is and what’s it for, but how many of you out there have ever seen a softbox this big? It took three and a half hours to set it up by an independent company so the motorcycles could run through it while I shot on continuous. I matched the exposure coming out of the twelve 24oo watt/sec Speedotron heads to the ambient light. That way, I could stop the action and still have the wheels turning and water coming up from behind the bikes.

Now that was fun!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, check out my 2012 workshop schedule at the top of this blog, and come shoot with me sometime. You’ll have fun too.






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    { 3 comments… add one }
    • Tim Lamerton February 18, 2012, 12:58 pm

      Looks like fun, but I dont have a crane, never mind the huge softbox, so I guess I might have to use photoshop!  Saying that I grew up with slide film and did not buy photoshop until I heard the of content aware tool!  Getting it right in camera saves so much time to do other things with  your life, so good on you!

      • Joe February 27, 2012, 11:26 am


        I heard it a little different way from a top advertising executive/owner many, many years. He once said, “You can’t shine chit”.


    • Dom Walton February 27, 2012, 11:20 am

      I agree entirely, always try to shoot for perfection – if you get lazy it shows. When the originals are good quality then any processing in PS is all the easier. I remember one chap I worked with had this phrase… “you can’t polish a turd”.

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