Photoshop Before and After

A few people ask me how much post processing is done on my shots. As an example here is the centre spread poster in Custom Car of Steve Brown’s T’n'A Hot Rods. This shot was taken from up a six foot ladder, there was one off camera flash to fill in the rear quater of the back car as it came out really dark in the shot. As you can see the post processing is just a tidy up of background distractions really such as buildings as telegraph wires, some dodging, burning and sharpening. It all helps to keep your focus on the subject matter.





Styling in Photoshop – Camaro

One of the great things about Photoshop is that you can see how things look before spending money doing them for real. I’ve been playing with a shot of my Camaro to see how it would look in a few guises.

Here is the original shot:

1967 Camaro

Lowered and with Foose Nitro wheels:

Pro Touring Camaro

Changed colour to black:


Bare metal with a smattering of rust due to the exposed metal:


Nineties style Pro Street pink:


Larger versions are available in the flickr set.

Tutorial – Creating Motion

I had this tutorial on my old website and it proved to be popular so I thought it was time I moved it to this blog. By following the steps you can create the effect of a very long rig positioned in front or behind a car in motion. As always with Photoshop there are lots of different ways of achieving the same result, this is just how I did it.  The photos have my old URL on them which is no longer active. The cars belong to Derek and Scott Carter hence the title of the image “Father and Son”.

Step 1

The following was all done in Photoshop CS2. I opened up the original file, as you can see it is a little underexposed, this was to retain the detail as there was a lot of glare coming from the windscreens. Have a look for anything that needs fixing, in this case the Plymouths wheels weren’t pointing forward so I had a play with those by using the Polygonal Lasso, Free Transform and then fixing any bits missing with the Clone Tool.

Step 2

Using the Polygonal Lasso I created two new layers (one for each car) that will eventually sit right on top of the image. I created two layers in case I needed to adjust the levels on each car separately (I didn’t in the end).

Step 3

Making a copy of the background layer I cloned out the cars, this is so that when you create the motion blur bits of the car do not create a halo around the cars. You can be pretty rough with this as it is covered and blurred later on.

Step 4

Using the Filter, Blur, Radial Blur select Zoom and best quality, I think I used about 20 for the setting. I offset the centre to the left to be behind the Satellite.

Step 5

Put the layers in the right order. I decided to sort the colour and everything else as a whole so flattened the image and saved it as another file.

Step 6

Now I used the Show/Highlight Tool and played with the levels to sort out the exposure. Gave the image some more colour via saturation and contrast. Once all that was done I ran it through Noise Ninja to clean it up a little.

This particular image went on to be used by UPS for a presentation to Mopar in the US.

Mopar / UPS

Lighting A Car With One Flash

I thought it was time I got to grips with lighting a car in the dark so went to have a play last weekend.

1967 Camaro

HD Version available to download here:


1 X Well used Canon 5D

1 X Abused Canon 24-105 IS L

1 X PT04 Sender and Reciever (AKA Ebay Poverty Triggers)

1 X Vivitar 285

1 X Neglected Manfrotto 055 Pro B

Memory Cards and Accessories to taste.  Similar ingredients are available from other manufacturers.


1. Find a dark space, if it is night this will happen everywhere. Position car as required, something cool works well. In this case my 1967 Chevy Camaro 327 RS.

2. Add lens to camera, add PT04 sender to the mix and then connect to tripod.

3. Set the camera to manual and set as follows: ISO 100, F4.0, 1/200, RAW, One shot, Timer. The actual exposure will depend on ambient light and the power of the flash. You will have to check the exposure and adjust accordingly. Also if shooting other than at right angles to the car F4 may not give enough depth of field.

4. Focus on the car, ensure that Autofocus is turned off to prevent any shift in focus.

5. Connect PT04 to Vivitar 285, turn both on. Set Vivitar 285 to 1/2 power.

6.  Fire shutter and then position yourself around the car and point the flash at the car. Hold the flash until the timer runs down, the shutter fires and the flash is triggered.

7. Repeat step 6 until you feel you have lit all parts of the car in separate exposures. This could include putting the flash inside the car, behind it or under it depending on the effect you want to achieve. You can chimp on the camera and scroll through to shots to check what you have got. Be careful not to get any direct reflections of the flash on the car, watch the angle you are using to fire the flash.

8. Now your ingredients are prepared it’s time to cook them. Layer all the shots in Photoshop or similar photoediting software and use “lighten” to blend the layers. You’ll find that making layers visible or not is like switching flashes on or off in a studio where you would have had lots of different lights all firing at once.

9. I usually then take one blended layer to do any final touch ups and colour correction. Then enjoy the results.

Here are the 8 shots that make up this image:

Photoshop Before and After

Here’s a shot I’ve been working on. We put a trolley jack under this Pro Street GTO to simulate a wheelie, add some photoshop and we go from a park to the strip.





Rig Versus Photoshop

I’ve been trying to build a rig on a budget for a while now. For anyone who doesn’t know a rig fixes to a car and allows the camera to move in sync with the car, the resulting shot has the car sharp and the background blurred with motion. I set out to try my new setup today. The rig consists of some glass carrying suction cups and a decorators extending rod. Unfortunately it’s still not stable enough and the camera was bobbing up and down as the car moved along. I need to rethink my idea. Anyway I wasn’t going to let the rig spoil my fun so decided to resort to my usual tactic of using Photoshop to create the effect.