St. Petersburg car photography

Audi R8 Clearwater Car Photography on digital orange background

Audi R8 supercar at Crown Audi in Clearwater - Nikon D300 f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDR - orange background added digitallyWhile photographing an Audi A3 premiere event at Crown Audi in Clearwater, I took a moment to make a photograph of an Audi R8 supercar that was also on site.  It was parked just outside the greenhouse like showroom, which made for a pretty good background, but when I was shooting it I already had in mind I would remove it from the existing background and put it on a digital one.  

Below is the existing background HDR image.  Despite the complexity of the background, it was not too complicated to use the Quick Select tool in Photoshop and cut out the Audi R8 onto an empty layer.  I chose an orange gradient digital background as recently I am starting to really like that color (also used for a headshot).

The same Audi R8 as above in its original setting at Crown Audi in Clearwater Florida - 5-exposure HDR

One day it would be nice to be able to just shoot a car in a large studio with an existing white background for an even easier and more efficient editing process.  

Ferrari 458 Spider Nero in St. Petersburg Florida Supercar Exotic Photography HDR

Ferrari 458 Spider in Nero edited in a stylized HDR way processed in Silver Efex Pro 2 in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRI have actually seen this Ferrari 458 Spider many times.  I first saw it at the Cars & Couture event at the Tampa Jet Center in November 2013.  Then the next week I saw it driving in my own neighborhood in St. Petersburg!  I regulary saw it after that, especially on Friday afternoons.  So I recognized it right away when I saw it at the 2014 St. Petersburg Grand Prix Gala.  

A nero Ferrari 458 Spider fills the frame in St. Petersburg Florida supercar photography - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRThere was only one car next to the Ferrari, a Maserati Ghibli, so from some angles I had a clean shot at the car, although I chose to make a tight composition for the above shot and fill the frame edge to edge with the supercar.

Profile view of a nero Ferrari 458 Spider in St. Petersburg Florida Professional Car Photography - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRThe profile view was the cleanest angle I had to photograph the Ferrari 458 Spider.  A downtown skyscraper provides the background.

St. Petersburg Grand Prix Gala 2014 featuring Maserati Ghibli & Ferrari

The 2014 St. Petersburg Grand Prix Gala featuring a Ferrari F430 and a Ferrari 458 Italia - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRLast Friday evening was my second year in a row receiving a media pass to the 2014 St. Petersburg Grand Prix Gala.  I got to see a number of interesting cars last year, including Lexus LFA #406.  This year, there was only one car I had not seen before, the Maserati Ghibli.  

Mingling among supercars at the 2014 St. Pete Grand Prix Gala - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRMaybe it was because I got there just as the event started at 7pm, but it seemed to be a bit of a low key affair this time.  Then again I only go to be able to see supercars, so having not that many people around when I was shooting is a plus.  

Guests of the 2014 St. Petersburg Grand Prix Gala with a racecar - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRWhen photographing the same event as years past, I try to find shots I did not before.  This year I went up to the open second floor to make photographs from a bird's eye view of the gala.  I am not sure why this never occurred to me last year.  

I have seen this Ferrari 458 Spider many times before - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRContributing to the smaller feel to the gala this year also was that there were only three cars outside.  Last year I got to make one of my favorite images of the year, framing a row of cars with the open scissor door of a Ford GT supercar.  At least the lack of cars let me photograph the above Ferrari 458 Spider from a couple of angles, which I will feature in a future post.  However, I already saw this particular Ferrari last year and actually see it regularly driving around my neighborhood.  Is it possible for a Ferrari to become commonplace in my mind??

The stunning Maserati Ghibli at the 2014 St. Pete Grand Prix - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDRThe best part of this year's gala for me, by far, was getting to see the Maserati Ghibli in person.  Immediately I thought this is a stunning car and the best looking sedan I have ever seen.  The Ghiblie previous to this was not a car I thought about much or daydreamed about.  That all changed after seeing this beautiful metallic gray Ghibli seemingly waiting for me to just come and photograph it, if not drive home with it!

Aston Martin Vanquish in Cobalt Blue in St. Petersburg Florida duPont Concours d'Elegance Car Photography

Aston Martin Vanquish in Cobalt Blue a stunning supercar St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDRThe highlight of going to the duPont Concours d'Elegance in St. Petersburg Florida last month was getting to see this Aston Martin Vanquish in person.  To me, it is the most beautiful car in existence, as seen here in a special Cobalt Blue color, although I think it looks its absolute best in Skyfall Silver.  I just stood next to this supercar and appreciated all the lines and details in the carbon fiber bodywork.  It was parked in the far back corner of the event space, but I would have put it right by the entrance!

The original image used to make the finished edit of the Aston Martin Vanquish above.As is often the case with photographing cars at car shows, the background was less than ideal.  There was also a Mercedes S550 right next to it limiting the angles the Aston Martin could even be photographed from.  To minimize distraction I cut just the car itself out and dropped it onto a digital black background in Photoshop (top photo).  This particular Vanquish as of this moment is still for sale at Dimmit Aston Martin!

A trio of Ferrari Supercars at duPont Concours d'Elegance St. Petersburg Florida Car Photography

Ferrari California 30 the updated version on display in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDRFerrari of Tampa Bay brought a trio of Ferrari to the duPont Concours d'Elegance 2014 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  These three supercars show the great diversity currently in the Ferrari range from a hardtop convertible like the above Ferrari California 30 to the ultimate GT supercar in the Ferrari F12berlinetta below.  

Ferrari F12berlinetta the most powerful Ferrari to date in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDRI was very surprised and very glad to get to see the F12berlinetta in person.  It is still a very rare car, though one Ferrari staff person said three clients had taken delivery in the Tampa Bay area.  Resting in the shade on green grass it is hard to imagine the capabilities of the F12berlinetta with its over 700hp V12 mounted up front.  Basically the car is unstoppable on the road!

Ferrari FF an amazing 4-seat supercar in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR

Actually, maybe the most unstoppable Ferrari is actually the Ferrari FF above.  It is the first Ferrari with an AWD system and it can also comfortably seat four people.  It has a hatchback design allowing for good road trip gear storage too.  This makes the FF to me very unique.  If I could only have one car, it would be the FF.  It is a supercar that can be driven in all weather (even snow!) and you can bring your friends and backpacks along too.

Lamborghini Aventador in black at Cars & Coffee St. Petersburg August 2013

Lamborghini Aventador in black at Cars & Coffee St. Petersburg Florida August 2013 meetup - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th handheldA car enthusiast acquaintance told me about a monthly car meetup called Cars & Coffee (Facebook page for the meetups).  I had no idea the size of the event so when I showed up Saturday morning at 8:25am (event schedule says 7am to 9am) I was very surprised to see hundreds of cars there, many of which were already pulling out to leave!  As I walked from my car into the main area I saw most major current model supercars pass by.  I never thought people would leave early and I thought thirty minutes would be more than enough to check everything out, but I was totally wrong.  Still, I was able to talk to a few people and perhaps even make a few new car photography contacts.

The car highlight for me was seeing a Lamborghini Aventador in person for the first time.  There were a lot of people around it naturally and the above shot was the cleanest one I could get of it.  It is so low to the ground I felt like I could jump over the car!  I look forward to the September meetup and know that I have to wake up much earlier next time!

Photography Tip - replace a busy background with clean sky Corvette Photography

This Corvette is real, and the sky is real, but they were not really photographed together.

I went to a Corvette car show in South Straub Park this past Saturday mostly to meet the owner of the above customized Corvette.  I first photographed his car back in November.  He was not by his car at the time and only by chance found my photograph of it.  Since then I have been in regular contact with the owner, Bobby, about possibly doing a full shoot of his Corvette.  That still has not happened yet, but at least on Saturday I got a chance to go see him and say hello.  

This is the original image as made on site at a car show in St. Petersburg FloridaI have written several times that shooting cars at car shows often results in less than desirable images, if you want the focus to be on the car itself.  This case was no different as the trees in the background compete for the viewer's eye just as much as the Corvette.  The solution for a busy background?  Replace it with a better one!

Corvette cut out from the background using Photoshop Quick Select ToolIt was pretty straight forward to remove the Corvette from its background using the Quick Select Tool in Photoshop.  I kept the grass foreground as seen above.  I was careful to of course not select the inside of the window so that too could be part of the background replacement.

The replacement background used in the composite image.I went into my photo archives to look for a suitable replacement background.  Using actual objects is rather hard to do as proportions can be very difficult to match (car looks giant, buildings look tiny, etc).  A sky background is usually a good and easy replacement background subject.  I used one I made of Sunset Beach on Treasure Island, Florida.

The new background slipped right behind the Corvette, window included.Then it is just a matter of slipping the sky background layer behind the Corvette layer in Photoshop.  I positioned it taking into consideration cloud placement.  I did not even need to cut out the sandy beach part because that is all hidden behind the Corvette.  The above image is the final composite photograph which allows the viewer to focus on the Corvette as the subject.

Motion blur added to a more advanced edit of the Corvette composite image

After getting a composite image I liked, I experimented with even more Photoshop editing.  I added a motion blur to the grass and a radial blur to the tires to create the illusion that the Corvette is speeding along on the grass.  I darkened the window and put in a silhouette of my own head to show a driver inside to help complete the motion illusion.  What do you think of the motion shot?  Is it convincing or not quite there yet?