Professional Automotive Photography…

I recently got an opportunity to do some work for the company Flowmaster – they manufacture and install vehicle exhaust systems and mufflers. I was out in Hayden, ID doing some work for Flowmaster on my “real job” – but it just so happened that the days that I was out, they were doing some testing on three vehicles to measure performance increases. They had a small handful of professional freelance automotive magazine photographers on site to catch the action for upcoming articles.

After my work was completed, I got an opportunity to chat with Mike Chase (mikechasephoto.com) about various photography topics. I noticed he was using an Omnibounce diffuser on his Nikon DSLR’s flash. I happened to have my gear with me – so I showed him my Gary Fong photojournalist diffuser. It was rather amusing when I brought it out – several of the other photographers noted it and said, “Hey, it’s Gary Fong!” I guess Gary’s got a name for himself – and rightfully so…his diffuser products are excellent, though disgustingly expensive for what it is. Mike made some test shots, comparing his Omnibounce against the Photojournalist. Though the test shots were just simple shots of a thermostat on a wall – comparatively, the Fong shots were much more diffused. Mike said that the chance to check it out caused enough interest that he intended to purchase two for his flashes – and was quite appreciative of checking it out.

We discussed other things as well – spent time talking about Photoshop and techniques that can be used. I learned an interesting post-processing concept that struck me as absolute genius. I’ve often struggled with the the idea of “when am I done?” with post-processing. It seems, with powerful tools such as Photoshop, there are limitless possibilities when it comes to a photo. I could easily spend hours on a single photo trying all the various combinations. These guys use a technique which makes perfect sense – they conceive what they want the photo to look like based on their criteria (such as vivid colors, fidelity to film, or possibly even “how it will look” when it goes to press) and then work from there. It’s kind of funny…I think this way when I’m taking the photograph, but when I go to post-processing I was just kind of tweaking until I found what I liked.

Overall it was great to meet some of these guys. Mike really has an eye for quality work and is a wealth of information about automotive photography. He’s developed techniques to get the “flecks” in sparkling paint and has a good understanding of how to expose his shots for the best possible overall exposure. He’s also a really nice guy – very helpful and friendly to a complete stranger. I was very pleased to meet his acquaintance and will hopefully run into him again someday!

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