Have you ever seen those magazine ads or TV commercials where you see a still image of a car perfectly still while you see the nighttime cityscape lights rushing by reflecting movement? The effect is relatively easy to achieve, it will require a few pieces of equipment to get those artistic looking shots but are fairly affordable.
With the addition of the GoPro series cameras you can easily mount a small, lightweight camera to just about anything and they are a fantastic piece of equipment producing high quality stills and movies. When shooting stills you can set the shutter speed and the frequency they take the image but I still prefer the absolute manual control of a DLSR full body camera.
When using a full body DLSR, in addition to the body and lens, you’ll need these pieces of equipment to mount to a vehicle in motion safely without causing damage to your camera or vehicle.
If you are just getting into a car rig set up, my suggestion is to start off with something that is budget minded in case you don’t use it very often and minimize your initial investment.
Film Tools: I have bought many pieces of equipment from www.filmtools.com up to and including full car rigging set ups, they are fair on prices but are very fast on shipping. Their service department was very helpful with getting me acclimated with what directional wanted to go without trying to sell me their entire inventory.
B&H Photo: Simply put, the only place I buy camera bodies, lenses and accessories for my Canon DLSR equipment is www.bhphotovideo.com I have NEVER had an issue ordering through them and have always gotten my orders on or before their promise time.
What will you need?
(1 ea.) The Filmtools Gripper 3025 6″ vacuum/ suction cup camera mount with silver metal mount is perfect for film and video cameras, scopes and camcorders with a standard 1/4-20 thread receptacle base. http://www.filmtools.com/gripper-3025-suction-cup-camera-mount.html
(1 ea.) Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 with a 2.6’/80cm cable is a remote shutter release which is designed to prevent camera shake for super telephoto shots, macro photography and bulb exposures. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/164276-REG/Canon_2476A001_Remote_Switch_RS_80N3.html
The equipment listed below is what I used and are on the higher end of price spectrum and quality simply because I bought an entire car rigging system and accessories for commercial shoots. If you use their search took and type in “car rig” or “suction cups” you’ll find more options that can better suit your budget.
(1 ea.) BH-30 6″ Vacuum / Suction Cup Camera Mount is a lightweight camera mount designed to be used for rigging cameras on cars or any smooth non-porous surface. The base is a Filmtools 6″ vacuum/ suction mount with a 3/8-16 threaded spud married to a Matthews BH-30 Ball Head. The vacuum cup can support 70 pounds and the Matthews BH-30 ball head can support 40 pounds, but Filmtools recommends the maximum load put on this mount not exceed 30 pounds. http://www.filmtools.com/gripper-bh-30-camera-mount-kit.html
(1 ea.) Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Control is a remote switch with a 2.6′ (80cm) cord and a self-timer, interval timer, long-exposure timer, and exposure-count setting feature. The timer can be set anywhere from 1 second to 99 hours, 59 minutes, or 59 seconds. A dial enables you to easily enter the numeric settings with a single thumb. The LCD panel can also be illuminated. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/164271-REG/Canon_2477A002_Timer_Remote_Controller_TC_80N3.html
One last thing to suggest is Safety Cables. I used these in addition to my camera strap as a secondary safety device in the unlikely event that the suction cup failed or came loose by loosing suction. I have never had a problem with that happening but better safe than sorry having your DLSR falling off and smashing onto the pavement scratching the paint job on your vehicle or the clients that’s being used in the shoot. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=safety+cables&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=
A few suggestions before you get started and mount the camera to the car:
1.) Always start with a clean surface before mounting the suction cup to the car. A clean surface will not only provide a better suction but dirt and debris will cause scratches to the cars paint. Careful preparation has to be taken here as you do not want to cause damage to a client’s car, even if it is yours. After the shoot is done and you careful remove the suction cup you will notice a ring where the cup was mounted but a wipe with a clean cloth will remove the “kiss mark’ it may leave behind.
2.) Find a secure mounting point for your camera strap and safety cable, I do NOT recommend the rearview mirror as all of them are clued to the windshield. You may consider the clip or swivel rod that holds your sun visor or the handle just above the passenger window.
3.) Since you’ll be using long exposure times, fully charged batteries and spares will need to be in your bag.
4.) Scout your route. Choose a street that has a lot of traffic lights, they’ll add nice color streaks in your image. Interesting lighting on the side of the road is also a nice bonus and traffic can be a nice edition. Also make sure the street isn’t full of pot holes, perfectly smooth is not necessary but too bumpy and the image will be too shaky.
5.) Use manual settings: Start with a low ISO and work up, I found that ISO 400 worked best for me but your lighting situation may differ than mine. I held the shutter open from 2 seconds to 3.5 seconds. Play with your settings to what suits the look you’re after.
6.) HAVE FUN and be creative.
© 2015 Butterfield Photography All Rights Reserved