Sean Madden, creative director from the ad agency Brains On Fire, reached out to me earlier this year and asked if given an arsenal of stunt drivers, the newest high performance BMW's, and a closed race course, could I create a 58 foot long composite print for BMW. My answer? "When can I start?" Watch the video and read the post below to learn how the shoot came together.
Sean sent me an initial rough composite with his own photos for reference before I even arrived on-location in Greenville, South Carolina, which helped the shooting process immensely. I decided to shoot everything tethered to Capture One Pro 7 with my Phase One IQ140 medium format.
Medium formats are not known for shooting action due to their heft and slower focusing in comparison to the newest 35mm DSLR's, but I prefocused the camera on certain points of the track and shot with a closed down aperture and was able to get very sharp images of the cars. Why shoot medium format when I could shoot with a faster 35mm? Because the nearly 13 stops dynamic range in comparison to about 8.5 stops of dynamic range of my Canon in addition to the 40 megapixel sensor would ensure a higher quality very large 58 foot wide print with exceptional detail in the highlights and shadows.
Shooting tethered allowed my creative director and myself to review the images immediately to see how they matched up to the reference composite. I could actually roughly stitch images together on-site to see if the visual perspectives of the background and foreground matched up. See the reference image below for example:
Thankfully it was a nice overcast sky during the day of the shoot, which made things very easy by keeping tones on the track and the vehicles fairly even as the sun moved through the sky as time passed. I did use a circular polarizer to help minimize reflections on the cars as well. Any person that shoots cars must have a CPL in their kit! The client and I put together a rough composite using the raw proofs from the photoshoot.
I then went to my retoucher, Justin Paguia, who I use primarily for my crazy complicated composite advertising work and provided him the associated RAW files and sample rough composite with those same files. He stitched everything together very nicely, and after a few client revisions he sent me the final file.
For the last touch, I applied more texture, sharpness, touched up the contrast, and added a slight color cast to that final image that the client liked and requested.
Before/after. Color and contrast and texture added to the bottom image. Click the image to see larger