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One Car, Two Different Approaches, Two Very Different Images | How You Shot It

By Guest Contributor on March 5th 2015

How You Shot It is a series where you show us how you shot an image. Many who use our presets love to share their special processing recipes. You can join the SLR Lounge Textures and Presets group on Facebook and share your favorite images and recipes as well! For our wedding and portrait photographers, please join the SLR Lounge Wedding and Portrait Photographers group.

Today’s post is from Antti Karppinen. Antti is Digital artist, photographer, retoucher from Finland. Antti is was named Portrait photographer of Finland for 2013 and is an internationally awarded commercial photographer. He belongs to a new generation of image artisans, who believe all things are possible and creates complex visual concepts and images with unlimited imagination.


accobra_finished-2 accobra_finished


I’ve always loved how certain cars look, especially this AC Shelby Cobra. I knew one of my friends had this car so I contacted him and asked if I could make some cool images with it.

I had two images in my mind that I wanted to create. One was this “James Bond” feel image with a car and a man in suit, and the other image, a silhouette style of just the sexy car.

I also called my other friend, a Finnish actor Karri Lämpsä and told him my vision. In my mind, he would be perfect to portray the role of a mysterious Agent who drives this beautiful car in the middle of desert. Karri was happy to model for me for this shoot.

The whole photo shoot happened behind our studio in this open parking lot. We lined up the car to begin working on the first shot. I was really happy to get few extra hands helping me with the photo shoot. My friend JP assisted with the lights along with our studio’s other photographer, Tuomo.

accobra_making of-4

Since I knew this image would be a composite, I didn’t care much of the background which was just a garage wall. I just needed to get the car and the actor to look their best. First, I shot the car with ambient light frames and then we started lighting up small details with Elinchrome Quadra Flashes. When we were done with the car and I knew that we had
all the needed frames, we started taking pictures of the actor in many different poses inside and outside of the car.


accobra_making of-2

For the second shot, the car stayed in the same position. I just moved my tripod and camera to face the car straight from the side. Since the idea was to have an image where it looked like there is a huge light source on top of the car, we needed to do many exposures since we had only a 1m x 1.8m Lastolite reflector to use. My friends walked with the flash and reflector behind the car and we took exposures almost every 30cm to get all the reflections we would need for the composite. Then we lit up all the small details inside and outside the car.

I knew it will be lot of work and masking to get these reflections the way I wanted, but I was sure it would be worth it.


The Post Processing

For me, it is easier to show how I retouched the image than writing it, so here goes:

Gear List


I’m really happy how both images turned out. The desert version of the image won me an Honorable Mention in the IPA awards last year. It is just all about your vision and turning them into reality. Don’t be shy to contact people if they might have something you need for your images. People are usually happy to help, especially when they get really cool pictures in return.

Many thanks to Tuomo and JP for assisting in the photo shoot! And, of course, Karri for being a model and Rami for bringing that beautiful car for us to shoot.

About the “How to Shoot It” Series

This educational series highlights amazing images from our writers as well as our community. The goal is to not only feature inspirational work but to provide valuable education for our photography community. If you would like to submit your work or shoot to be considered, please click here to submit.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mark Romine

    Nicely done! But I can’t help but think that it would have been a lot easier and faster to have shot the board side view with a single overhead 30 foot soft box. That as an enormous amount of making of all those layers to get your highlights/reflections.

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  2. Francisco Hernandez

    I really liked the video and thanks for sharing, but please speak with more enthusiasm. Your voice being too soft made me drowsy.

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  3. antti kappinen

    Thx for the comments. I will try to push more How I shot articles here, hope they are helpful!

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  4. Ed Rhodes

    wow, a lot of work went into that. thanks for sharing!

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  5. Paul Empson

    really good insight and I like the images created too… always a bonus… Cobras are just awesome..

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  6. Bill Bentley

    Nice images but I have a problem with the composition of the second image. Tight crop on left side in the direction where car and model are facing and extra negative space on the right side doing nothing. I also don’t like that the model is blocking the rear of the car. Take two steps to the right side and let us see the fabulous rear fender while at the same time not having the leading line of the crack in the road come up between to models legs. Also a poor choice of model and wardrobe for this shot imo. I don’t believe for a second that guy is going to drive that car.

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  7. Tosh Cuellar

    Final product of both shoots is fantastic, beautiful car and great shots.

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  8. Greg Geis

    Awesome shots!
    On a side note, the intro to the article says to join the SLR lounge textures and presets group. When I clicked on it it says the group is closed and linked to another closed group. Is there currently a Facebook group where people share pictures/presets?

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  9. Vince Arredondo

    This is incredible! Great work!

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  10. Florian Bodea


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  11. Duc Hong

    thanks for the in-depth article, pick up some really nice and neat tricks here

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  12. Brandon Dewey

    I like both shoots. Great Job!

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  13. Rafael Steffen

    Wow thanks for sharing some of the most amazing commercial shots I have ever seen! This work takes photography to a whole new level! Thank you.

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