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Detail of 1969 Chevrolet Camaro at WAAAM Traffic Jam. (Rick A. Brown)

In my last blog post, I discussed WAAAM’s 2013 Traffic Jam and mentioned how difficult it is to create truly great imagery at a car show. There was one image that I made however that I truly loved and today I intend to tell you a little bit about how I did it.

Detail shots are the best hope for truly great images at a car show. The fact that you are isolating in on a small detail of the car eliminates that big problem of clutter in the image. Look for small interesting aspect of the car; logos, hood ornaments, etc.

Camaros of the late ‘60s are one of my favorite cars. Thus, when I found one at Traffic Jam I was pretty excited and had to look into a wide variety of shots. It didn’t take long for me to come to the conclusion that the Camaro by Chevrolet logo on the hood amongst the flames paint job was my most likely candidate. To frame up this photo I was looking at a couple things I wanted; the angle of the sun to the camera to get the chrome looking the way I wanted, angles of the car being in a pleasing orientation, and I wanted the headlight to be visible as a complimentary element. The lighting angle would’ve been easier to figure out if I was using flash in a softbox, but I was able to setup the shot without too much difficulty.

Then it was time to get it home and in the computer for post processing. I started with my realistic treatment. This was just a slight boost in contrast and saturation and then cleaning up some dust. (Both sensor dust and actual dust on the car.) This resulted in this image.

Detail of 1969 Chevrolet Camaro at WAAAM Traffic Jam. (Rick A. Brown)

Then I created a black and white conversion using Silver Efex Pro2. I went for an overall low key image with strong structure and gave it a slight sepia tone. This resulted in an ok image, one that didn’t even thrill me enough to upload it to my web site and thus I don’t have the example for you here. Finally, I thought I’d try my blend. So I opened the two image as layers in Photoshop. Placed the realistic one on top and changed the blend mode to soft light. Instantly, I thought something magical happened to the paint job on the car. However, the grill had gone too dark. Thus, I stamped all visible layers to the top of the layer stack, changed the blend mode to screen. Then, I held the alt key while clicking on the create new mask button to give me a black mask, followed by painting the grill part of the mask white. Then I lowered the opacity to taste, not much in this case. After this, I stamped all visible layers to the top again, applied a 16px Gaussian blur and changed the blend mode to overlay. This layer’s opacity was then lowered to about 60%. You may recognize this as a workflow that I use a lot from previous blog entries. Well, this time I stopped short at this point, because I thought it looked so good. The only thing I did now was to clean up dust on the car a little bit better even. I wanted this image to have an “idealistic” look.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this story of how to make this image. Take a look at my portfolio of cars and other vehicles.