Inspiration Through Time – An Excuse To Take Pictures Of Anything!


This is from a guest post I did for Joe Farace in 2012 for his car blog Joe Farace Shoot Cars.

I’m an amateur imager and love to shoot cars and bikes, usually at crowded shows with the rides parked closely together and tons of spectator’s standing even closer. If you have ever shot a show you know the scenario, an extreme exercise in patience and creativity of framing.  Even on the best days however sometimes there is a shot where the ride is truly an inspiration but there is just no way frame it up no matter what you try.  Many times in the past I just did not make that shot because I thought there was  no hope of producing a quality image but, over the last few years however I became interested in and tried some basic compositing skills and my new approach has opened up many new opportunities!

Years ago while shooting at the Amelia Concours (yes the used to let me in, maybe this shot got me booted!) I took some shots of the amazing “Beatnik” ride sitting in a packed lot waiting to be shown at Auction inside the Ritz Hotel. As you can see from the picture below (middle or 0ev exposure), the surroundings were impossible, I could not even get a set in without people’s heads in the glass, there was an endless flow of spectators. I loved the ride and just did not know what to do with, but I kept it, 7 months later while combing the archives an idea fell into place (this goes for most of my work). Another thing I have put into practice is shoot anything that looks interesting and could possibly serve as a background in the future, not a keeper in itself just files waiting to provide help support spontaneous inspiration sometime in the future.


This shot from the very surreal “South of the Border” in South Carolina seemed to be a possible  background. I shot it at a few angles with possibly setting a bike in the foreground, never a car!


Nuts and Bolts

99% of my work is multiple exposure HDR images so each of the images you see in  Photoshop were already processed using Photomatix using three images each that were autobracketed and handheld @ 2EV.

Does it fit? Using the Move Tool, drag the ride on top of the background

Lower the Opacity so you can see both layers enough to set the car into position.

Bring the opacity back up to 100 and use the History Brush Tool to paint the background into view.


Decision point One

Things don’t always line up quite right, for this one I had to resize the car image after my first draft lineup try to get it to fit properly in the surroundings/perspective. On this corner my thought was to paint in an angled line and then fill the edge of the cement with brush and the extra space with cement to make it appear to be part of the parking lot.


Decision point Two

This was a bit easier to see and execute just a nice fill of cement but leaving the yellow lines and wet deck in place.


Decision point Three  

How to get the heads from the glass and bring in the sign features but maintain a natural look. No idea on this one initially, that’s why I saved it for last!

1. Get rid of the heads and leave a nice layer to work. I used the Clone Stamp tool working from top to bottom on the reflected seat curves.

2. I applied the same basic process to the rest of the dome. For those areas that just did not blend quite right I used the Spot Healing Brush in Proximity match to clean them up.

3. Filling in the sign. I set my History Brush Opacity to 18% and painted in a large even single stroke across the main area of the window, then resized and again for the area above the frame. For the reaming areas using a small brush at 8% I finished it off.


Other Thoughts

As with my shooting, erratic, unplanned and from the hip I find these simple inspirations while archive diving trying to save that one ride image I just loved but couldn’t frame up properly. Sometimes the shots used span a period of years and the idea just as long but the outcomes are always an amazing surprise and well worth the wait.  Shoot backgrounds anywhere and everywhere, if the ride is an inspiration but impossible to frame up shoot it anyway and save it for another day!

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