A week of Variety

Variety is the spice of life so the say and it sure helps keep the creative eye working in photography. I love it when I have to change up my thinking from one shoot to the next. This week, this lucky photographer shot maternity, headshots, boudoir, pin-up, products and even automotive.

Frequently I will have clients come in and wish to combine to photographic needs. Often I will have a boudoir client who also needs to have a headshot done. Boudoir is often also combined with modeling.

By combining a clients needs in to a single photography session, I can give my clients some great value.

Of course one of my favorite parts of my job is when a photographer is needed to shoot an amazing car like this Ferrari Testarossa. This car was on-site for a fashion photography class that was being held at my studio and I took a few minutes to grab photographs of this beauty.

Next week is already jammed packed with a great variety. I can’t wait to see what else is on the horizon.

Busy week

Have some fine art nude photographs showing in a local photography gallery starting this Friday. I always enjoy these type of events as I get to see a wide variety of work from other photographers.

I also did some automotive photography this week, which I really enjoy. This AMX’s color just popped in the studio.

Good news is next week has a full schedule too. So I should have some fun images to show from those shoots too.

Street Rod – 1937 Ford Roadster

Custom street rods are really fun to photograph.  This car shown here is a frequent show winner and as a photographer I felt lucky to shoot such an amazing looking car.   The removable hardtop made getting a shot of the interior so much easier.  Of course the suicide doors just create a great overall look.


Orcatek Automotive and Motorcycle Photographer – Phoenix, Arizona

Custom Mercedes in Black

This week I faced the fun challenge of photographing a black custom Mercedes in my studio.  As with all black cars, dealing with the many reflections was key to success. 


It is always worth the effort as I really enjoy photographing cars.  From classic hotrods to amazing exotic cars, each presents their own set of challenges for the photographer.  Finding the perfect angles to show off the curves of a fender, or just the right type  light to bring out details hidden in shadows are just a few of the problems I enjoy solving.

I’ve got another great car coming into the studio soon that will provide the opportunity to use some new techniques.

Orcatek Automotive and Motorcycle Photography – Phoenix, Arizona

Motorcycles and Automobiles in the Studio

Automotive or motorcycle photography in the studio presents some interesting challenges.  This week I will take a look at some of the options for dealing with these details. 

Motorcycle Photography Phoenix Orcatek

First of all they are big and don’t move easily to “adjust their pose”.   Motorcycles are a bit easier to photograph as they can move easier, but cars or trucks are just a lot of work.  Careful planning is required. 

The first thing you need is a studio with enough space to hold the car and allow the photographer to get far enough away to shoot it.   If you are too close you will need to use your wide angle lens leading to shots where the vehicle will have a huge front end for example.  Sometimes this look can be desired, but more often than not, it is problematic.  I prefer to be a good 20 or more feet to keep proportions correct.

For moving the car around, car wheel dollies are great.  One goes under each tire and you can jack it up then basically push the car in any direction you want, even spin it in a circle.  They are not a cheap tool, but if you shoot a lot of cars, they are well worth the investment.

The other most difficult thing to deal with is reflections.  The whole automobile is one great big mirror.  Chrome on motorcycles can be even worse.  And of course the classic black hot rod looks great, but shows everything.   A very clean studio area is critical.  Anything that must remain should be pushed as far away as possible from the car.   This includes yourself and your assistants.

I actually have my assistants step off set behind a wall in my studio.  I wear black to help hide my reflection.    Another reason for keeping the photographer to automobile distance large during the shoot, is that it makes the reflections much smaller and easier to deal with in post.

Lighting is another key.  You need a large soft light from above for most automotive work.   Since I shoot on white, I have painted my light stands and cords white to hide them in reflections.  Nothing more annoying than a beautiful white highlight on a car with a light stand jumping out at you.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.  And if you are in the Phoenix area, I do rent my studio to other photographers.

Orcatek Automotive and Motorcycle Photography

Photography Challenge, Motorcycle on the Beach

This week presented a challenge, off to the beach for to photograph a motorcycle.  Shooting a motorcycle or car at a beach is typically very difficult.  The biggest challenge is the motorcycle will sink into the soft sand of the beach.  On a soft sandy beach I would need bury a layer or two of plywood just below the surface of the beach and then smooth it out after placing the bike.  

Next challenge is timing as the tide will be moving either in or out, and depending on the location this can be a foot or two,  to hundreds of feet if the slope of the beach is very gradual.  One of my favorite beaches the low and high tide lines are tyically 200-300 feet apart.   The smallest tide swings on at the half moon phases.

And of course waves will also present a challenge as they roll in and out.  Salt water is very bad for vehicles, so keeping them dry is a priority.

In this case the beach had a hard area that was not sandy at all in this area.  Being hard and dry the bike could stand on its own.  The area was sheltered enough and the sea was very calm, usually mornings are the best time to find this calmness. 

Motorcycle Photography

In the end, everything came together.  When things were set-up, I liked where the sun was, creating a good shadow, the tide was moving in slowly to position and the sea was calm.  With the addition of some supplemental lighting to fill in and create some sparkle, it came together as I had imagined.

 Orcatek Automotive and Motorcycle Photography – Phoenix

Shoot cars at The Studio

This week I had the chance to shoot a car in my new studio.  Having done a lot of automotive photography, I knew just what I wanted as the new studio was created.   As I moved the test car into the studio I could see that everything had come together perfectly.

The lighting was everything I had hoped it would be.  This shot gave me just what I wanted using the standard configuration.

BMW Z8 it The Studio 

I plan on doing a lot more automotive photography in future in the studio.  Location work falls off so much here in Phoenix during the summer due to the heat.   Now I can do the shoots in the studio while I enjoy the air conditioning.

The only thing that I will be adding is some hydraulic car wheel dollies to make positioning the car easier.  With them if the photographer needs to rotate the car and inch or two it is a quick job to do as opposed to trying to drive the car back and forth to get it perfect. 

The Studio is available for rental to other photographers.

Orcatek Photography

The Studio – Phoenix

Canon 50D does Barrett-Jackson

I love January in Phoenix as it is the time of year when all the car auctions come to town.  I enjoy the opportunity to see so many wonderful cars all gathered in one location.  Last week I spent some time at Barrett-Jackson with my Canon 50D.


The lighting is all over the board at these auctions – full sun, open shade, tungsten, and mixed.  I knew this would give the 50D a good chance to be tested.  I had done some shooting with it outdoors and in studio, so I knew it worked well in these environments, but the indoor shots with random lighting seemed like it would be a challenge.


With prior cameras I would just crank up the ISO and shoot in AV mode keeping an eye on the shutter speed vs the focal length, tweaking the ISO where I could get away with it.  The 50D now has an auto mode for ISO that I decided to get a test shooting the stage.  As the cars move across the stage the lighting varies dramatically, and I wanted to get the cars in the clear, so I there was no one spot that they could be shot.


And not being a bidder, this meant I had to shoot from the cheap seats, so flash was out of the question.  So I decided to switch the ISO to auto and see how the camera behaved.  The ISO swung from 400 to 1250 depending on where I had the camera pointed and what aperture I selected.  It kept the shutter speed within acceptable hand holding for the focal and length and never seemed to falter.


Upon reviewing the shots I was quite pleased with the results.  Even though the noise level is acceptable for this type of work at the highest range the camera selected, it was nice to have even cleaner shots available when the light was better.   I can really see where this feature can come in handy and why the Nikon users have always spoken so highly about the usefulness of this setting.

Auto ISO put to the test





Auto-focus is also something I got a chance to test under the poor lighting and the 50D did great.  I was very happy to see that it locked quickly and accurately under some tough conditions.  The images were focused correctly and the camera only hunted when it faced the toughest targets where there was no contract to be seen.  Experience has taught me to just focus on an edge and then recompose to the low contrast area as needed.


I will feel quite comfortable using the Canon 50D for this type of event in the future.  Next week I hope to spend some time with my 5DII in the studio.


Orcatek Photograrphy – Phoenix

Monterey Car Week

Well I spent the past week or so at Monterey Car Week 2008 photographing many amazing cars.  The weather was cold to a desert dweller as the fog seldom lifted at several of the venues, but it was worth it to have a chance to photograph so many amazing cars.

Classic Car

Classic Car Race

I took my time and drove from Phoenix to Monterey.  I went thru Yosemite on the way out and Death Valley on the return trip.  Both parks provided some beautiful photographs – it was a photographers dream drive.  I timed my over nights so that I would hit both parks in the early morning when the light does such amazing things.

Even outside the events the cars were amazing.  Every time I turned around there was some amazing car driving by, from Ferraris to Cobras.  As my hotel was located at auction central, the cars for both auctions were often parked or driving by the front of my hotel.  It was all I could do to keep myself from running inside to bid on some of these amazing cars.  Not sure why, but I think spending $2-3 million on a car might put a hole in my budget.

The best thing about the week was the chance to see some amazing cars and spend time with some good friends.  Everyone enjoyed seeing some very rare cars.

Orcatek Photography – Phoenix, Arizona