Tutorial: The garage sequence at MPACT 2019

Last week, I went into the sunset sequence on Sue’s beautiful BMW M2 during MPACT 2019, and this week, I’ll cover the garage portion of the shoot. It’s the same principal concept with layering exposures, but takes more practice because of the differences in light. I’ll go over one of the harder shots to do, and show a few others at the end of the post.

The location

If you’ve never been to Pocono Raceway, the garage encompasses 2 big, long buildings with about 30 garage doors on each side. Everything from NASCA, to Indy, to HPDE events are held here, and these spaces are usually bustling with racing teams trying to put finishing touches on their cars, or repair them. It’s never empty, except for the evening before MPACT. The polished concrete floor would give great reflections, and the darkness of the garage vs the light coming in from outside would give some nice contrast. It was a great spot to shoot!

Setting up the car

Since we had the time here, I shot multiple angles, which you can see below, but for this one, I wanted to capture the vastness of the garage and the light coming through the doors. I had Sue angle the car as you see, and turn the wheels toward the camera to show off those BBS wheels.

Gear

Simple here. Your camera with lens, a polarizer, and a tripod. We’ll be taking multiple exposures.

The shots

Start with a nice base plate, or exposure, to work with. Settings:

  • Aperture: f/4
  • Exposure: 1/5s
  • ISO: 64
  • Focal length: 27mm

NOTE: It’s important to note that every lens, no matter how good, has something called “barrel distortion” . At certain focal lengths (different for each lens), the image can become somewhat distorted. My Nikon Z7 automatically adjusts in camera for this, and it’s actually really good at it, but if you don’t have that feature and you see a somewhat fish-eye bend, Photoshop can fix this for you in Camera Raw with their lens correction settings. I note this here because it’s usually more prevalent at the wider angle we’re pulled back too.

BMW M2 at pocono garage
The base plate exposure.

Check the halo effect coming from the doors – shooting at magic hour is key, even indoors. Exposure number 2 should highlight the car itself, so we’ll raise the exposure up to 1/3s, and hit it again while turning the polarizer. The result:

BMW M2 at pocono garage
Shooting for the car itself here.

Finally, one more for the outside portion, and some shadow details. Exposure here is 1/20s:

M2 at Pocono Garage
The exposure for outside the doors, and shadows.

The post experience

Usually we focus on just making the car brighter, but here, we also want to emphasize the light from the doors. So, open your 3 images in Photoshop (Camera Raw will come later), and then stack them into one canvas, with 3 layers. I put my “bright” exposure on the bottom, then my dark, and finally my middle.

Add a mask to your dark layer, then paint away the sections where the garage doors are. This gives the shadow on the ceiling and floor that we want, while emphasizing the light where it naturally should be. Then, bring in your middle layer to place on top, add another mask to it, and then paint in the well-lit car.

M2 Pocono garage
All 3 exposures combined with layer masks.

Group and combine your layers into a new flat one, then make it a smart object. Add a Camera Raw filter with these settings:

Settings
Camera Raw settings.

Copy the layer and make it a smart object. Add a Camera Raw LUT filter called “High Contrast”, then set the layer opacity to 50%. Then, copy the layer once again and change the LUT effect to “Warm Contrast”, then set the layer opacity to 70%. You’ll have this:

M2 Pocono Raceway
Adding the LUT filters give additional contrast and warmth.

From there, it’s basically some highlight and tone corrections to achieve the final look. We’re bringing in some detail from outside the overexposed doors, making sure the car is well-lit, while adding some atmosphere with a darker, moody garage. Three exposures are the key here, so if you have a scene with a lot of contrast in lighting, multiple exposures are a way around it. More examples follow below.

BMW M2 Pocono garage
The final image.
M2 Pocono garage
A hint of lens flair makes some drama.
M2 Pocono garage
A contrast in color tone. I emphasized the blue tone from one side, and orange form the other.
M2 at pocono garage
Shooting into the light will give the halo, or “heavenly” look.

Feel free to email me at mike@machineswithsouls.com with any questions.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

Due to factors beyond the control of Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio, I cannot guarantee against improper use or unauthorized modifications of this information. Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio assumes no liability for property damage or injury incurred as a result of any of the information contained in this post. Use this information at your own risk. Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio recommends safe practices when working on vehicles and or with tools seen or implied in this post. Due to factors beyond the control of Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio, no information contained in this post shall create any expressed or implied warranty or guarantee of any particular result. Any injury, damage, or loss that may result from improper use of these tools, equipment, or from the information contained in this post is the sole responsibility of the user and not Machines With Souls LLC or Mike D’Ambrosio.

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