Recently I had the opportunity, or privilege really, to do some work for a new client that sells performance cars here in London.
Walking into the showroom is a dream for any boy, or inner boy, as you're just surrounded by some of the most beautiful and iconic dream cars - and some bikes - ever made. Starting on the far right with a gorgeous DMC DeLorean replica of the Back to the Future film fame, the showroom spans various decades' worth of absolutely gorgeous Ferraris, Porches and Aston Martins, to name but a few.
Of course, it also boasts a gorgeous red LaFerrari, right next to a ridiculously beautiful, and rare, Ferrari 250 California Spider, pictured left.
Moving to the far left and back of the room, you'll come across various models of beautiful cars also from the 60s, 70s and 80s, that I dreamt about as I played with my Micro Machine versions of them as a boy.
This is a place where many childhood dreams live, and it's clear from the visiting dads strolling around with their boys, that just walking around is enough to ignite big dreams for their future.
Back to the project... when I arrived on the day, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that they'd chosen their flagship car, which goes with them to trade shows, as the car for me to work with: the one-of-a-kind bare carbon fibre body Ferrari Enzo, pictured below. Badass, right?
Sporting beautiful bodywork done by Carrozzeria Zanasi, and an immaculate interior from Rosso Alcantara, this car is just pure design magnificence.
While the car was gorgeous to work with, and I was given the whole afternoon to get creative with it and shoot what I could, I knew that I'd be faced with the challenge of how to actually turn it into a cinemagraph.
Cinemagraphs are usually distinguished by having a mix of static and moving elements in the shot. For a car that's in a showroom, everything would be static; we weren't able to take it outside or to a studio with a nice lighting rig, or do anything with it other than what you could accomplish inside the showroom. In fact, in the absence of normal movement, sometimes people in shot, kept in still format, help to give the illusion of the cinemagraph, but the client didn't really want people next to the car, nor did it solve the problem of what to do to create some motion.
The solution I came up with, was to approach the really nice details of the car with a sense of style and finesse. The best car ads out there usually put their car in a studio and film it with some really elegant lighting, so I thought I'd go for that - only this time I had to take the studio to the showroom.
Focussing on detail was quite appealing to me personally, as I do have an eye for detail, and a manufacturer like Ferrari has spent years perfecting and building a reputation on the elegant finish and detail on their cars. So bringing details to life, with some creative lighting, seemed like a great solution for the cinemagraphs, and one the client seemed really excited by.
The result of the few hours of shooting, is a collection of detailed shots in and around the car. It took a lot of work over about four hours of shooting, as most shots had two elements of lighting involved. Firstly, I had to create the general tone and feel of the shot with a lighting setup comprised of a few lights and white 'bounces' that reflected or diffused the light at various stages. I also had to block off nasty reflections in each shot with a black drape, and then the movement was comprised of a hand-held LED 'ice light' (basically a hand-held, LED light saber-y type light) that I could use to move a singular streak of light around the car's details and emblems.
The shoot was a challenging in a few respects, but largely also because of the environment. I really wanted to avoid the car having a bland, 'showroom' feel with flat, all-round fluorescent lighting, so at various points I had to carefully try to block the worst reflections coming off the walls and ceiling, along with the many pictures hanging on the walls, which all showed up too clearly in the car's shiny exterior. The showroom also has really big, two-storey-high windows, through which the sun blasted at some point in the afternoon, before going down, at which point it then got really dark, so fluctuating lighting conditions were part of the day.
The showroom was also still functional for the entire time, so with potential clients and guests walking through, I had to keep my equipment setup to a minimum, and to reduce activity on the floor, I ended up working alone without extra crew.
Here's a collection of some behind the scenes shots to show the shoot.
Despite my small equipment footprint and lighting challenges, I'm happy with the results and, while you can see some reflections of the ceiling and walls in the some of the shots, I like that it still has a bit of a stylish studio feel, rather than being very bland and washed out from the lighting that you'd normally get with showrooms.
This car is so beautiful in so many aspects, that it was just rewarding in itself to be able to shoot with it. From the bad-ass looking exterior, to the beautiful red suede leather interior, nothing was missed in producing a car of superb quality. And no, I did not get to drive it, unfortunately. But maybe someday!
We also fired up the engine for the revving shots, which brought out that all-too-iconic Ferrari rev pitch, and I shot these from the rear of the car, with the camera looking in, over the engine through the 'rear' window, if you could call it that. The engine was so powerful, that it blasted out these heat waves with every rev, which can be seen in the spedometer shots when it looks like the camera is 'bumped' with each rev. What you see there is pure power in the form of a 'heat mirage' rising from the engine with every rev.
Please have a look at the results below. If it inspires you for any shots in your own work, please do let me know!
Here's a collection of the cinemagraphs: