My buddy David worked for a company called Coda that makes a pretty cool all-electric automobile that is designed and built here in California. David asked me if I wanted to take a test drive, and I brought my camera along, just in case there was some place to make a cool picture.
The sun was a little high for an ideal car photo, but we drove by the back of the landmark mansion Villa de Leon and as luck would have it, I thought an HDR shot might work. It’s really tough to set up a shot like this without some help moving cars, directing traffic and dealing with blinding sun. Digital cameras are not usually very cooperative in these situations and if you want to find every piece of dust on your sensor and in your lens, this is a good way.
It took us a few minutes to arrange the car. Villa de Leon has some issues with the degrading slope in front of the house and the lower driveway was closed with an ugly chain-link fence and florescent signage, so we put the car in front of it, and I got low to hide it. At that point I was shooting directly into the sun with my Canon 5D MKII and it was hard to tell what was going on. My white Panama hat was not doing a very good job of shading me enough to check my focus, exposure or anything on the display on the back of the camera. So I focused the lens using the numbers on the top of the lens, set on manual focus, and went for ƒ/8, Auto-bracket-exposure, +2/0/-2 and crossed my fingers.
When I got back to my office, I merged the images in Photoshop and Nik Software HDR Efex Pro. Some pretty aggressive recovery in Photoshop Raw combined with some equally aggressive structure and saturation in HDR Efex Pro gave me what I thought was pretty good for a limited execution in the field. There are a million things that a car shooter could find wrong with this, but I’m happy considering the circumstances.