How To Make a Parked Priceless Vintage Porsche Look Like It's Racing

I'm always amazed at how my car photographer friends can make a car that is parked at an event looks like it is racing at high speed with proper application of post-produciton and back plates. To think that this image by Jordan Donnelly started with a photo of a rare automobile at an event with no lighting or special equipment is incredible. Read about his process below and feel free to ask him questions in the comments section to learn more.
According to Jordan:
 

 "A couple of weeks ago I went out to Circuit Mont Tremblant to watch some vintage racing. It’s (usually) an awesome event that brings out some legendary cars from all different eras. These cars range from full-on racecars that have raced and won Le Mans, to old school Bugattis just for show. Unfortunately, the entire weekend was marred with rain.

"I arrived on the last day and instead of the incredible sound of pre-regulation straight pipes, all that was seen was the sight of tents being packed up and cars under covers. As we were about to leave I noticed this Porsche 917K in the classic Martini Racing Livery. I rushed over and caught a quick snap of it before they rolled it into the trailer. When I got home I did some research and found out that it had raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona back in 1971. It blew a tire at 190mph and crashed into a wall, not finishing the race. It was then retired, with heavy damage to the suspension and body. I can only assume it has since been bought by a collector or someone who has restored it to it’s peak condition and runs it at vintage races such as this one at Circuit Mont Tremblant.

"Having not been able to see the car run on the track I dug through some backplate folders and found some older shots that I thought could work with the Porsche pic I had captured. The car was wet since it was raining that day and so I decided to try to do something a little different. My goal for the image was to create one that would reflect what could have been that day at the racetrack if only the weather gods would have allowed it.

"The first thing you have to figure out on a comp like this, is getting the perspective right. I hadn’t even started to think about this shot until I saw that I had a nice shot of a racetrack that was at the same perspective as the car. The next thing is the shadow, which is another thing that can make or break your image. Using a low opacity soft brush I painted in the shadow, trying to match the one from the original Porsche image. This can be tricky, especially if you are doing a comp with a sunset or any other kind of harsh lighting.

"Once I got the main image down, I decided I wanted to do the shot as if it was driving in the rain. I had never done anything like this before, so it was all very new to me. To make the rain look realistic, I used several layers at different sizes, and blurred them differently to create depth. The biggest challenge was the spray on the ground. This took the most amount of time for me to do, as it was all trial and error. I again used a low opacity soft brush to paint it all in. I used some splatter brushes as well to give it a bit more depth, which you can see if you look closely at the tires right where they are hitting the ground."

You can connect with Jordan on his Facebook and check out the rest of his work at his website.  

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17 Comments

Bob Bell's picture

Very nice work, Jordan. Great job!

Very nicely done! I oughta try this out w/ my '92 Honda Civic some time.

Lee Morris's picture

That's really amazing. That shot of the car is a total snapshot and it looks perfect in the final image.

Federico Guendel's picture

Completely agree, but then makes me wonder what the role of the photographer comes into place with the skills of a really good photographer.

Lee Morris's picture

Really high end photographers are hired for vision these days and the retoucher does the heavy lifting.

Federico Guendel's picture

I know, you've got crazy mad retouchers out there (I've even been to a high end fashion/advertising studio in NY), but it kills a little of the magic of shooting for me. On a different subject, just watched the D810 video you did, good stuff man. I've been tempted to switch to Nikon just because of the D800/810, wasn't aware at all of the price drop for the 800

Austin Burke's picture

The overcast rainy sky probably makes it a little bit easier to manage the shadows but impressive none the less.

That's just smart decision making. Why chose a more difficult background? I'm sure it the client needed something more ridiculous, it can happen too.

Bo Bickley's picture

After capture magic = NICE!!

Lowell Mason's picture

thats just amazing. From the angle to the shadows and the spray just wow.

Henry Louey's picture

What's amazing is that it only took a minute to edit! I can't even make a copy to a new layer in that time :)

Christian Berens's picture

Great job jordan! very believable and impressive! Thanks for sharing the story Mr Sonders!

Bart Edson's picture

Amazing job! Love it. What did you use as your source for the rain drops and the spray?

looks great. It however is missing the driver

Federico Guendel's picture

You could probably get away with it by tinting the windows a tad, but you are right

Daniel Stagner's picture

Wonderful job in post.

all is nice... but if the ground is blurred due to panning with "camera" - the rain should be blurred horizontaly or invissible completely...