Last week we assembled the ten best tips for taking a perfect car photo from suggestions made by Jalopnik readers. A few days later Ford told us they used all those tips to take one perfect photo. Here's how they did it.
The guy who heads Ford's truck PR is named Mike Levine, and if you recognize that name it's because he was the founder and longtime editor of PickupTrucks.com. It's that background as an online journalist that makes him one of the most hilarious PR pros in the business.
Thus I wasn't surprised when the photo above showed up in my inbox.
"We were excited when we read "The Ten Best Tips For Taking A Perfect Car Photo," but we decided it needed to be a truck, so we grabbed an F-150 SVT Raptor and took it to the roof of Ford WHQ," says Levine. "OK, so yeah, it's 1:64 scale but the photos are completely un-retouched. We also wanted to prove that ALL 10 tips could be accomplished in one photo."
Here's how they followed each step:
Do some research: We put a pretty good, creative team in place to research the best place to take our photo, including various offices, the grounds around WHQ, even exploring the immediate vicinity around Dearborn. Ultimately the rooftop turned out to the be the best location because A) it's a unique location that's never served as a location for a vehicle photograph before, B) it allowed a number of different vantage points of both the Glass House and the surrounding area, and C) we all wanted to see if the stories of a rooftop swimming pool and fountains were true (they're not – all we found was a statue of some geese).
Use a proper camera: Ford photographer Bryan Wybenga used a Cannon EOS 6d.
Rule of thirds: Brian agreed that the "Rule of Thirds" can really help a photo, and composed his photo accordingly.
Think about composition: This was one of the most important elements we employed. Not only were we going for a great shot of the SVT Raptor, but we wanted to capture it in a unique and dynamic environment.
Don't take pictures in a parking lot: Check.
Get a tripod: Check.
Experiment with long exposure: Check. Doing a longer exposure at night allows for that great "streaking headlight" effect, but the long exposure on the rooftop (in the 30mph winds) allowed for a different way to show motion and action in the photograph.
Study Light: All four corners of the Glass House presented different lighting options, and ultimately we chose one that allowed for the vehicle to be well back-lit from the morning sun – and filled in the front of the vehicle with the iPhone flashlight app.
Panning to capture speed: Check. As the Raptor went by us on the track, we were able to capture it in motion, which is evidenced by the spinning wheels and the blurred background and foreground.
Go the extra mile and try things: Did I mention we were on the roof of the glass house in 31-degree weather with 30mph winds? That said, we did spend about 2 hours up there trying a variety of locations, scenarios and shots before we found the perfect shot.
Levine also wanted to add a special thanks to Jessica Enoch, Ron Hall and Brian Wybenga from the Ford team for braving the cold to get the shot.