Shooting the new 2014 Lexus IS 350 F Sport

The New 2014 Lexus IS 350 F Sport

Having checked with a bunch of people in the US – and now the car has been previewed at the Detroit Motor Show and is public – I can finally show you a few of the shots I did last year for Lexus.

The New 2014 Lexus IS 350 F Sport. It’s sexy.

For me, Lexus had always been something of a middle-aged-boring-old-git sort of brand. This car – and the one I can’t yet show you, which was just a clay concept car when I shot it – redefine that. This car redefines it somewhat. The one I can’t show you [if it makes it to market looking at least 50% like it did when I saw the concept vehicle] will redefine the brand a lot.

I’d buy one.

I wanted to take this home.

Bit big to stash away in my camera bag….. shame.

Lighting a big piece of machinery, especially one as shiny and sculpted as this, requires big lights. Luckily I was there as part of a video crew, so the lighting crew was sizeable and I got to – as the director put it so very well – steal some light.

Still, despite having a wonderful director of photography, a six-man lighting crew and a massive Fisher Light [a 52ftx17ft, 100,000W softbox] to play with, this wasn’t trained monkey work…. getting the angles is important. Doing a car like this justice is what it’s all about. Something someone has spent years designing. A team effort that has included a lot of people and a very large amount of money as well.

Plus, as the stills guy on a film shoot, it’s about keeping out of the way and – most importantly – not becoming a reflection on the car in their video of it.

When there was spare time, things were repeated for me: lighting patterns, rotations of the car’s turntable. But a lot of the time it was left for me to shoot my stills whilst the video was being shot. I spent a lot of time wrapped up in a black cloth…..

A lot of these shots of min aren’t all necessarily the sort of ‘brochure’ angles you see from the manufacturers. I shot all of those too, obviously. The client wants something specific. They want the whole car in as many shots as possible, then when those are on the can one can have some freedom to get some parts, some more eclectic angles. These shots you see are more in that sort of category. Plus I used some of the moodier moments in the lighting for some of these. These shots are some of MY faves. The ones used to promote the car obviously were more detailed and better lit across every detail of the car.

You can see some of the shots that were used by Lexus to promote the car, here. The ones on the red background are ones I shot… 99% sure of that. I remember all the angles. The red background was added in post-production.

And as for the video? Well, after all, this was really a video shoot that I was there to take stills during. So what about the video? Well, you can see that here, on one of Lexus’ YouTube pages.

What gear did I use?

Tripod is important at this sort of shoot. Not necessarily for keeping long exposures still, as there is plenty of light – usually. No, it’s more for the fact that one needs a stable camera platform because one is holding a heavy camera  long time. Plus, with the legs spread at their widest and at their lowest angle – together with my right-angle finder on the camera – I had a nice, comfortable position and viewing angle to use lenses like the 300mm and 200mm. That long a lens in a studio? Yes.

For one it was a big studio.. more like an aircraft-hangar. Secondly, telephoto lenses compress perspective. Wides distort. A car company doesn’t want distortion for the stills they are going to release first to the world of their new baby. Remember, the designer has designed every curve, every line… and then I come along with a 14, 20, 28 or 35mm and ruin all that hard work in 1/250th of a second.

Mostly it was my 50mm, the 80-200mm, the 300mm and for some of the interiors I did get out the 14mm… just to get what looked like a massive space out of a smaller one.


These have had very little done to them. Just a clean-up of the white and some minor exposure adjustments. The light is so good to begin with that one can nail the shots on-site. Lexus put in some different coloured backgrounds in their shots but their people did that. Everything was shot RAW. Over three days I shot about 3200 images. Every day stills were backed up in triplicate. You don’t want to lose stuff on jobs as big as shooting a new model of car….

These shots are just a little preview of the work I did that week last year, down in Toyota City. It was an amazing week and an amazing crew of people to work with, from whom I learned a lot; especially the Director of Photography and Director of the video.

It will be quite a while before I get to show you the other two cars I shot that week. Nice to be able to share some of the shots from this shoot though.


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Japanorama is run by British professional photographer, Alfie Goodrich, and provides practical photography teaching in Tokyo. Weekly workshops, group and one-to-one lessons bring together photographers of all ages and abilities.

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