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

richard thompson ford GT40 mark IV fstoppers 1

richard thompson ford GT40 mark IV fstoppers 2

richard thompson ford GT40 mark IV fstoppers 3

richard thompson ford GT40 mark IV fstoppers 4

richard thompson ford GT40 mark IV fstoppers 5

richard thompson ford GT40 mark IV fstoppers 6

richard thompson ford GT40 mark IV fstoppers 7

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.

Log in or register to post comments


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.

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.

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

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.

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.)


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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 :-)

More comments