The Dark Knight

“As predominantly an editorial automotive photographer, for this project I wanted to do something different and create something with a more commercial feel. I wanted to give this car more of a persona. I wanted to create a very dark, dramatic and mysterious feel for this high end vehicle, giving it character. This required me to specifically control the light a lot more than I might be able to with a few strobes. So this called for a light painting exercise. I also wanted to try something different which I thought would add to the effect and have the car covered in water droplets.

I feel it just made it more interesting more than anything, and added detail. It was also an experiment to see how it would change how hard a black car can be to light. The water droplets help reflect the light being used. This was shot in Perth, Western Australia and was done out on-location at one of the local racetracks and NOT in a studio. (If you adjust the levels on the image you will actually see the outline of trees in the black background.)

The image was a composite of a series of light painted photos. I specifically lit different parts of the car using an hot-shoe LED video light through a number of 30 second exposures. Once I found the right angle the camera was mounted on a tripod and locked off for all the shots. I used a remote trigger to fire the camera as I painted the car with the LED light. It’s a real art to light painting and it takes a bit of practice to get the feel of it. After reviewing half a dozen shots I was confident I had all the elements I needed to build a nice dramatic shot.

It was then into Lightroom where I selected the 5-6 photos I wanted to use, and I opened them as layers in Photoshop. Using masks and the blending mode set to “lighten” I merged those layers into one image which you see. A few little extra final touches and some colour grading resulted in the final piece.” - Brodie Butler

30mm (on a 24-70mm L 2.8)
30 sec exposure
ISO 320


  • jr456

    Great shot!! I would have never guessed this was not done in a studio.

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