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Life Before photoshop: VW Car Campaign

Look ma, no Photoshop!

Look ma, no Photoshop!

Well I’m back again with yet another example of what it was like when Adobe was a type of house in the Southwest part of the US. In this Life Before Photoshop post, we’ll look at how we made things look as if they were screaming down the road back before we could just do it in the computer; before there were personal computers.

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I want my students and fellow photographers to work on getting as much in the camera as they can…why? Because it will make them a more rounded photographer. One that depends on his or her skill with the camera, their ability to use the right side (the creative side) of their brain. Someone that cares more about “making pictures” than being a good computer artist. For me that’s the fun, to challenge myself every time I go out shooting knowing that I can come back with the illusive “OMG” photo that everyone hopes for each and every time they go out…without any help!!!

Ok, let’s talk about the above photo and how we use to make things appear to be moving fast all on one frame of film; and just one exposure.

If there was a decent budget, I would rent a camera car that had all the bells and whistles, and cranes to position yourself in the front, the side or the rear of the vehicle you were shooting. If there wasn’t a budget, perhaps because it was for a regional and not a national market, we renting what use to be called “The poor man’s camera car”.

That was a Lincoln Town Car, and it worked like a charm, especially if you were doing a 2/3’s frontal view  and the client wanted to have the car coming at you down the road. The best part about the Lincoln was that it had an extremely smooth ride and a unique stabilization system. You could be in the trunk of the car and it would be as smooth as a camera car at five times cheaper. Did I say trunk??? Yes, that’s where my assistant and I shot from.

In the above photo, we had wet down the road, then I got in the trunk. We moved at the exact same speed so I could make the car sharp while blurring the rest of the scene. We didn’t have to go very fast. In fact, in the above photo we were moving together at approx. 10 to 15 miles per hour. The blur and movement comes to play from the slow shutter speed. I would vary that to create different looks, and the shutter speeds ranged from 1/4 of a second to 1/30th; depending on the speed of the two moving cars.

FYI, if you’re wondering why the emblem and the rest of the front of the VW is bright, there is a small convertible to the left of the Town car and in front of the VW. In that convertible are a couple of my assistants holding a large silver reflector bouncing light into it.

It was great fun, and one hell of a challenge!!! Now, the car is shot in a studio on a blue screen, made to look like it was moving and the background is usually put in after the fact. How sad…how very sad.


Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2014 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My first of 2014 is my third “Springtime” workshop. This next May 27th, it will be in Paris, France. Come shoot and enjoy a glass of French Bordeaux with me.

Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: askJoeB@gmail.com.


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    { 1 comment… add one }
    • Paul Danger Kile March 14, 2014, 12:39 pm

      The folks that I know, that shoot digital photos that look like this one, do it exactly like this.

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