How Richard Thompson Photographed a Ford GT40 Mark IV with Only Natural Light

My friend Richard Thopmson just finished the post work on a shoot in the Southern California desert featuring a very rare Ford GT40 Mark IV using only natural light and a Phase One IQ250. He chose an incredible location in the desert and tried out two Schneider Kreuznach zoom lenses including the new 40-80mm LS f/4.0-5.6.

Getting an early start and shooting until the light became too harsh, Richard pretty much nailed these images in my book. He also gives some of his thoughts on the new 40-80mm lens that was officially announced earlier this week (hint: he really liked it). Check out his finals below, which he has shared exclusively with us at Fstoppers and Phase One.

How Richard Thompson Photographed a Ford GT40 Mark IV with Only Natural Light

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The photos have a lot more feeling and visual drama to them than what you tend to get out of studio. The light looks great, and the car looks even better. Bonus? It's not a composite, which is somewhat admirable in this age of super post-produced shots.

For more amazing images from Richard, check out his site.

All images used with permission.

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56 Comments

Charlie's picture

Amazing images. The title of the post is "how the images were achieved" - can't find any content to that effect in the post though.

Jaron Schneider's picture

The 7 minute video is pretty comprehensive.

Charlie's picture

Ha! That hadn't loaded for some reason. I stand corrected.

Austin Rogers's picture

Incredible shoot with an amazing car. Weird that the flare is pentagonal, I would have thought the Phase1 optics would have more blades.

greg tennyson's picture

Thats what I thought as well and assumed the flare was done in post

Richard Thompson's picture

as mentioned the flare shape is a function of the leaf shutter :-)

Mike Last's picture

The pentagonal flare is a characteristic of the leaf shutter.

Jennifer Kelley's picture

Amazing stuff!

Graham Marley's picture

"How Richard Thompson Photographed a Ford GT40 Mark IV with Only Natural Light and 60,000 dollars worth of camera."

(that's me being jealous and bitter.)

Michael Reinhardt's picture

60,000??

Jaron Schneider's picture

The Phase One isn't cheap.

Graham Marley's picture

Give or take. The 645DF+ body alone is like 6000 dollars, the back is 35,000, you might get a deal on a kit if you buy them at the same time (I would hope?) and the 40-80mm lens is close to 9000, roughly the same for the 75-150.

Richard Thompson's picture

60k is a lot of money for anyone. But don't think of it as a barrier for entry. There are many opportunities to demo, rent, or lease a Phase system for a fraction of that price :-)

Graham Marley's picture

Thanks man. Someday, maybe. I'm actually leaning towards the new Pentax because the body seems to be more suited to the kind of work I end up doing, and the price is nice too.

Congrats on the work btw, killer stuff.

Richard Thompson's picture

Thanks! RE:Pentax, Proceed with caution, the obvious negative is that it's a sealed unit not a swappable back. No upgrades. The larger problem lurking just beneath the surface is that Pentax doesn't have a clue what they're doing, very slow reported shooting speeds. I suspect the first batch will be very buggy as they are over-delivering on features with a sensor and hardware they have zero experience with to date...the only benefit seems to be the price, and fire sale prices aren't a great way to enter the MFD marketplace.

Ian's picture

I watched the video the other day (which is very well done, btw) and was anxious to see the results, so thank you for posting these. Personally I'm not crazy about the flare pentagons overlapping the car in some shots, but they definitely have a great style to them and it's an awesome tribute to this legendary automobile. I'm definitely jealous of what he gets to do for a living, with the understanding that he's worked very hard to be in this position.

Filipe Santos's picture

This video is fantastic. Loved the first few seconds the sentence he said about doing what we like.

Richard Thompson's picture

it's obvious to the point of being cliche, but we really don't get a lot of time here on Earth...fill it with the things you love!

Filipe Santos's picture

I agree with you Richard I'm an amateur photographer and the only thing makes me feel good is take pictures. Every day I get in my pequeina Nikon D3000. I hope someday to get to know you because I like you have a great passion for cars.

Stephan Kaminski's picture

can tell anyone something about the head of the Tripod...?

Mike Last's picture

Manfrotto 536 Carbon Fiber Tripod with a ReallyRightStuff Pano-Gimbal head.

bassalop's picture

Very nice, but I would had liked to know how much shadow detail was applied in post and if LR or PS was used and how?

Jaron Schneider's picture

Probably used Capture One.

bassalop's picture

I checked out his webpage and he is amazing. Would like to see his post technique but that would be a trade secret for sure. Thanks for posting article.

Richard Thompson's picture

I believe there will be some CaptureOne video demos with this imagery, if you're following my social feed you'll see the link when they are available!

Richard Thompson's picture

Hi there, I did all of the color processing and local adjustments using grads and brushes in CaptureOne, then exported 16-bit TIFF files to PS for some light selection work. Not too much shadow detail has been pulled out -- a big part of these shots for me was the presence of the shadow and dark areas throughout the frame to create the mood.

bassalop's picture

Thank You, and amazing!!

jonas y's picture

I love this video. the team didn't even brought lighting which lower my expectation for sure, but the result is outstanding.

Barry Chapman's picture

Awesome car, but why a dirt road? It would have looked much more at home on some 2 lane blacktop.

Richard Thompson's picture

Hi Baz, good question! I create a lot of my car work aiming for a surreal or dreamlike effect, and taking a car out of it's context is a great way to do that. The last place you'd expect to find a 60's LeMans car is down a road like this -- which is precisely why I did it :-)

Barry Chapman's picture

Thanks for the reply. Great video and photos but I still think my own dreams would be triggered more by the winding blacktop. Incidentally (although I'm sure you're aware), what you're saying about the 40-80mm lens not shifting focus as you zoom is that it's truly parfocal.

Richard Thompson's picture

For my next vintage car shoot I promise to keep it on pavement :-) Sleep deprivation during our shoot had me sputtering for the varifocal/parfocal terminology but I hope I still got the point across! In the written piece I did it's correctly identified as parfocal :-)

Nick Bryant's picture

Am I the only one that feels this is screaming out as an advert for the new Phase gear? It was just a video tag-along with no real BTS and Richard just verbally spamming how amazing these lenses are from chimping off his LCD...

Dafydd Owen's picture

That's because it was (I think)
Wasn't clear it was initially but then realised it was - copy also mentioned : "Check out his finals below, which he has shared exclusively with us at Fstoppers and Phase One"
- Phase one logo at end
- On Phase One YouTube account

Nick Bryant's picture

Did not even notice it was on PhaseOne's youtube account! The article was certainly titled as a proper BTS piece, Which is my main point.

Richard Thompson's picture

Hi Nick, this was absolutely a demo of the new lens, if you think that was spamming you should put hands on the glass! It really is phenomenal, a cut above any zoom I've seen from Schneider in build quality or zoom sharpness. Regrettably the internet is not a good medium for pixel peeping gigabytes of IIQ files at full resolution but if you find yourself in LA, come by my studio and have a look through the loupe I think you'll be convinced :-)

Nick Bryant's picture

Nice one ;) Just to clarify, my comment wasn't meant to be directed at you, only that the Fstoppers article was titled in such a way that made it seem like there would be literal 'how-to' content. Something a bit more descriptive like 'Richard Thompson photographs a GT40 MkIV with the new PhaseOne... lenses' etc.. I have zero doubt that the Phase and Schneider gear is amazing, as are your images here too.

Richard Thompson's picture

cheers Nick, if you have any process related questions email me :-)

Bob Bell's picture

Yes, 100% nailed it. Quality!

Omar Salgado's picture

The light as a symbol.

Oliver Oettli's picture

How Richard Thompson Photographed a Ford GT40 Mark IV with Only Natural Light.. and spent a lot of time trying to fix the raw files in photoshop since actually it just wasn't looking to begin with.

Barry Chapman's picture

Haven't seen many desert sunrises, have you?

Jennifer Kelley's picture

Or sunrises/sunsets outside in general. I've seen comparable sunsets on Florida beaches. Down here, the color of the sunset depends on how long it's been since it rained and how close you are to the cargo ship docks.

Oliver Oettli's picture

Dude, the sky is basically black. And yet, the car isn't.
No, I haven't seen such sunrises.

Greg Brave's picture

Just another PhaseOne commercial...

Kevin Hatcher's picture

WOW! Nice video and nice shots....Super gear envy with the use of the Phase One, that is one expensive camera! :)

Keep up the great work Richard!

Richard Thompson's picture

Thanks Kevin!

Michael Kormos's picture

Pffffft, this would've looked MUCH better in my driveway!

Barry Chapman's picture

I think I'd prefer to see it in Rod Millen's driveway

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Seb's picture

Nice video. I am wondering what was done in post with these images? They have a great feel to them and from the video you can see quite a bit was done in post.

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