If you're attracted to the idea of photographing beautiful cars – vintage, classic, racing or whatever - you might think about buying a 30' trailer first. That's what top car photographer Peter Harholdt needs to transport his mobile studio.
A car in the process of being lit in Peter's light tent
Peter, who told me that he used to be a jazz drummer, combines his passion for racing cars (he has raced the 24 hour circuit at Daytona) and other types of cars with his skills as a professional photographer. He also photographs works of art for museums and collectors and has worked for clients like the Smithsonian, the White House and the Louvre. He photographs for private collectors, private or public automotive museums and on books about cars and motorcycles. His photographs combine technical expertise with intimate knowledge of the styling and engineering of top flight cars.
One of two battery racks powering the flash units
Peter has developed a portable studio based on a 30' trailer that allows him to transport a professional studio virtually anywhere. This way he is able to take a fully-equipped studio to the car collections, where he will typically photograph the entire collection. I met him in the Revs Institute in Naples Florida where he is currently spending two days a week on an assignment to photograph the entire collection which was initially started by Baron Collier and which now comprises over 100 vehicles. In another project, more than 100 cars were photographed by Peter for 'Art of the Hot Rod' at 25 sites across the United States.
Exposure is controlled and monitored from an imac on site
Peter uses a demountable light tent long enough to accommodate even the largest vehicles. The tent is lit from above with a flash tube and from the sides, creating an even light over the car. White reflector boards on the floor fill in the light to the darker areas around the tyres and the lower bodywork. I assume these are removed post. The flash units are powered by 6 car battery-like cells on portable trolleys.
Peter checking the color balance of a shot
Peter controls the set up using an imac. He shoots tethered and controls the shutter of his medium format equipment from the screen. The flash units are fired by using optical transmitters. He takes numerous shots and builds up the final image optimised for exposure and color balance from a number of shots.
Various reflectors control light spill
I looked at some of Peter’s prints and the quality is astounding. You can see his work on his website at www.peterharholdt.com
Copyright © All text and photography (other than where indicated) Alan Ainsworth Photography 2014.
Citation Alan Ainsworth, ''A MASTER OF CAR PHOTOGRAPHY - Peter Harholdt's set up', 3.12.2014 available at http://www.alanainsworthphotography.com/blog/2014/11/pwa-moderne---us-depression-era-post-office-architecture