Most people wouldn't think that a cold, wet and dark evening in mid December would be the best time to shoot two very powerful, rear wheel drive cars... but then were not most people... were car people.
The BMW M6 pushes out over 500 BHP from its 5 litre V10 engine, producing a sound that draws the attention of everyone around and projecting the car to 60mph in around 4.4 seconds, not bad for something clad with beautiful leather seats and more comfort than many peoples livingrooms.
Its quite a machine, and we had a few hours to play with one, and its little brother.
The 235i is the baby brother this evening, its quite a bit smaller, not quite as powerful and a little slower on the 0-60 scale, but as we all know big brothers sometimes get their ass handed to them.
The smaller size and weight of the 235i makes it more nimble than the M6, and on a tight twisty road, or a nice flowing track I think it would leave the big boys trying to hold on until a long straight appears ahead. The interior is fully specced out with red leather, fully built entertainment system and navigation and stereo, maybe not as luxurious as the M6 but for the money its tough to beat.
What stood out to me was that both these cars are perfect for driving to the office, dropping the kids off at school and collecting your weekly shopping from Tesco, then when the sun is shining, the road is flowing and you have someone in a hot hatch behind you the pleasure you will get from seeing them fade away in your rear view mirror will bring a beaming smile to your face.
Maybe not a professional race car, but certainly race cars for professionals.
The shoot took place in Milton Keynes, in a location I had spotted a few weeks back, on a cold, wet and dark evening with a tight deadline of just a coupe of hours to complete.
We organised the movement of the vehicles by setting up a conference call, my assistant relayed messages to me and the drivers as I had both cameras, each driver used hands free in car. This allowed us to keep the timing right for when the roads would be clear of traffic (to stop the shots being cluttered), and to feed back if we wanted them to complete another run or meet us at the next location.
The equipment used was two canon bodies, the 1Dx and 5Diii. with my usual lenses being the Sigma 35 1.4 ART on the 5Diii and the Canon 70-200 ISii on the 1Dx, a 24-105 was also used for the interior and shots from above where we needed a wide zoom range.
The 1Dx and 5Dii were chosen for the fast focus speed, and high ISO capabilities. here we were shooting anywhere from ISO 200 (for the interior shots where we had additional lighting) to between 1600-6400 for the available light shots. Infact we even added some grain into some of the shots to add to the gritty movie like feel in post production.
When using available light (as apposed to natural light, I prefer the term available light as it includes things like street lamps, signs and other car headlights) to shoot at night you will come across a few difficulties, the first being focusing.... in low light the camera will struggle to get the contrast on the subject to lock focus, and tracking that focus is even more difficult as light falls on and off the subject.
The second is going to get yourself a solid exposure, without rocking your ISO too high, or having too long a exposure that will introduce blur (when not intended, something like a panning shot is intentional blur on the background used for creative purposes). you can help both the focus and shutter speed by opening up your aperture as wide as possible, this allows as much light to enter the camera as is available, but you will get a shallower depth of field, so be careful if you need a lot of distance in focus.
To combat both of these issues on this shoot, I used the available light to pick where I would shoot. Knowing I would have street lights fall onto the subject enabled me to pre focus on that point, wait for the subject to come into frame then tweek the focus and start shooting quickly. The shot below, the available light was from the car driving behind the M6, it didn't work first try but we knew that by getting the timing right the shot would work.
As ever post work was mostly in Capture one, with a little bit of photoshop and lightroom thrown in for printing purposes.
Big thanks to Arron Gilbert of Deep impact detailing for getting the cars in perfect condition prior to the shoot (sorry to get them wet and grubby on the roads mate!)
and car owners Nuno and Luke for baring the cold weather and leaving your families at home for a bit over the christmas period.
And also to my assistant on the day Alex for the relaying of messages and braving the cold with me.