Light Painting

I am finding it fascinating how car photography lighting has evolved over the years since i started shooting cars commercially in the early 1980s.

Whilst i was serving my apprenticeship we used Strobe of London flash lighting in the studio bounced off the floating ceiling, 2 x 5000 power generators with 4 strips light and 1 ‘’swimming pool light’ and 100’s of flashes of the lights to build up the exposure shooting in the dark studio.

When i set up our studio in Cape Town we bought 4 x 2K ‘’blonde’’ tungsten lights and I lit every car and trucks using these 4 lights bounced off the ceiling. Over the years i have purchased and used more and more lights until i ended up with 52 tungsten lights, but still bouncing the lights off the white bounce and off the studio’s infinity curve walls.
Direct lighting was ‘’forbidden’’ and 1 tiny ‘’hotspot’’ would lead to the shot being rejected.

Fast forward to the age of digital and i could start exploring new lighting techniques due to the film budget constraints going out of the window and retouching becoming way cheaper and quicker, i could direct light the cars combined with bounced light leading to more saturated paint colour.
I still needed to shoot in a studio with a big power supply or on location with generators and lots of flash and big budgets

The invention of LED s has changed the game once again, i borrowed an Ice Light from PhotoHire and light painted my daughter’s  Mini Cooper Cabriolet in my garage at home as a test.

Mini Cooper Cabriolet

I am now hooked on light painting cars and other products as the light penetrates the paintwork which really shows off the patina to its best ability.
It is also fast to shoot and you can shoot in really small spaces, in fact anywhere, all i need is my camera, tripod and 1 light wand that fits in my carry on luggage.

A few the photos i took in Peter V/D Spuy’s ‘’Man Cave’’ extended single garages of 2 of his vehicles light painted using my single light wand.

Porsche 991 GT3RS
Roger Bourget Fatso
Mini Cooper Works GP


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