I thought you might like to hear about about this interesting Porsche 964 Carrera 2 I’ve just photographed and written about for Total 911 magazine. You can read the full feature in the latest issue, so I won’t go into many details on the car’s story but if you buy a copy, I hope you’ll find it an interesting read. I spotted the Porsche parked up at a car meet when over that huge twice yearly gathering of the Yorkshire Big Breakfast created by Specialist Cars of Malton. Yorkshire Big Breakfast has become a huge event, powered only by Facebook and car forums, it attracts people from across the UK these days. Spotted in among the melee of Porsches and the queue for sausage sandwiches was this 964 Carrera 2. It was a grimy day, but such was the cleanliness, the car looked as if it had been parachuted in. “Actually it’s my daily driver” says the owner. Graphic designer Richard subsequently agreed to have the car featured, but this was autumn and in the run up to Christmas, we had some pretty horrific weather.
Sometimes, though, you just can’t wait around and if there’s one thing that 2012 in the UK has taught me, it’s just to disregard the weather whenever possible and get on with it. As it happens, Richard’s workplace was literally just a stone’s throw from The Flash Centre in Leeds. On a typically ice cold, drizzly, dull day, car photography lighting can be a challenge, so we grabbed a large collection of Elinchrom Ranger Quadras and braced ourselves as the wind whipped around the corners of the grey industrial stonework of Leeds centre.
Leeds city centre has been extensively re-developed over the last decade and this area is full of restored industrial buildings and mills, converted into offices and studios for designers and architects. City centres can be a nightmare for car photo locations and while Richard had already offered several useful ideas, the best location actually turned out to be a few feet from his office doorway. A bit of a wind tunnel between two tall stone buildings, but away from traffic and very representative of the architecture of Leeds.
Dark coloured cars in this environment can sometimes display circular polish marks that are reflected on the lighting, but Richard’s detailing guy had done a superb job, virtually no blemishes apparent on the car at all. One of the interesting things about the colour of the car was just how much the Amethyst paintwork sucked the power out of the lights. Using bare heads because of the gusty wind, they were often turned all the way up, using two packs and four Ranger Quadra heads to overcome the deep purple colour and the gloom of the day.
The location had steady stream of people passing through, many often stopping to look at the car, then the photography kit. “So how do the lights trigger, there’s no wires?” And “So how old is the car, must be nearly new?”
Just a few years ago, a shoot like this would have required an assistant, a portable generator and miles of cabling, just perfect for tripping over and sending flash heads crashing to the floor. Today on this shoot I have only me, two small Elninchrom Ranger Quadra battery packs and four of the tiny Quadra flash heads. Softboxes would be nice, but in a gusty location like this, even the heftiest of sandbags would be unable to defend a softbox from damage. Additionally, I was there to shoot the car, not the architecture, so while the flash is more apparent in the final shots, it gives prominence to the Porsche.
The whole thing is triggered using the Elinchrom Skyport wireless trigger, which can also be configured to adjust the power of the packs remotely from your camera position, so no more trotting back and forth to each flash position. That day, however, I was actually glad of the exercise to keep the blood flowing. The entire system of two packs, four heads, triggers and cabling packs down into a single Think Tank Airport Extreme bag with room to spare for a couple of Manfrotto Magic Arms and Super Clamps.
As I write this, the feature will be in the latest Total 911 issue, so you can see the full photo shoot there, plus the full story of Richard and his Porsche. Without the Elinchrom horsepower from The Flash Centre, it would have been a devil of a job to light this car effectively. I’ll write again a little later about it, meanwhile I’m off to think about just how much easier and warmer my job might be if I was based in California….