In our first installment of the View Finder series we looked at a photo shoot of a perfect 1971 Lamborghini Miura. In that article I remarked on how incredible it is to shoot an older vehicle like a Miura. All the little details, all the intricately machined and assembled components not seen on today's cars.
This time we are taking you behind the scenes at a shoot for a brand new Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. This much younger sibling of the Miura may be from the same manufacturer and cut from the same cloth, but in actuality is a much different animal.
While the Miura was beautiful in every detail, the Gallardo is aggressive and emotional as a whole. Some will argue that it doesn't have as much soul, as much feeling as the Miura, and maybe it doesn't, but it inspires lust in a whole different way. This car truly lives up to the charging bull depicted on its hood. While cars keep getting more and more complex, the aesthetics seem to be regressing into simpler, smother, less complex shapes.
On the inside the Miura is extremely simple. No electronics to save unskilled drivers, no computers to monitor the engine and the environment to constantly adjust one to the other. On the outside however, the Miura is an amazing collection of complex curves and contours. I don't know if there is actually a single flat panel on the entire car. Lamborghini was not apologetic at all about the need for adding vents, lights and bumpers to the outside of the car. The designers in fact seemed proud of the need for the outlets on the hood as if showing off just how much heat that big V12 produces that it needs to spread it around the car. Not only did they scoop out the sculpted front fenders for the pop-up headlights, they even painted them black to add to the effect.
The Gallardo on the other hand is an exercise in simplicity. While this car is anything but understated, the intimidating character is translated in much less complex and less deliberate way. The Miura is the SWAT Team member in full body armor and the Gallardo is the Secret Service Agent in the black suit and glasses, they may look very different but you know the outcome will be the same if you mess with them.
Getting the car into the studio was the same exercise as with the Miura. No running cars in the studio and no tires rolling on the painted floor means everything happens on the wheel jacks. The first concern with the wheel jacks was whether they were up to the task of straddling the massive rear tires, luckily this is the baby Lambo and the rear tires measure a "mere" 295mm wide. They barely fit, I am not looking forward to trying to get the jacks on the Murcielago's 335 steamroller-esque monsters.
The pearl white paint almost glows under the studios lights, almost as if it is lighting up the space as much as the light box above it. In the studio is were a cars lines can really be appreciated. There are no reflections in the paint, no weird shadows or glares from the outside, just smooth uninterrupted light bathing the car. To see a car like this is like studying it in an art gallery or museum. Suddenly the shape of the car is sculpture, the lines are pure and the car can truly be judged as a vision and not as machine.
It didn't take nearly as long to position this car. With its flatter panels and in your face styling, everything is right in front of you. Shadows and highlights don't hid from you like on the Miura. You see how the light lays on the surface and it doesn't play any tricks on you.
Photographing the car still took the same amount of care. Senior Editor Rob Hallstrom was the matador with this bull, he has a little more down to business attitude about shooting than Editor Les Bidrawn. Both are excellent photographers but you get the feeling that Les shoots from the hip a little more than Rob. Rob came in with a plan; he knew what he was after and what it would take to get it done. Les is a little more free flowing, waiting to get the car in the studio to see what happens.
The studio is lit with an overhead light box that can be seen floating above the car in several of the accompanying shots. It might surprise everyone that the light box also contains strobes that basically perform like a flash, but instead of just hitting the face of the car that is being shot, it flashes the entire studio. It is really amazing at just how bright the strobes are. The strobes are actually much brighter than daylight, but with the diffuser are not nearly as harsh.
Rob shot completely handheld in the studio. With the strobes there was no reason to shoot on a tripod. A large portion of the shots were done using a Canon 28-105 lens. According to Rob this is his go to lens. He uses it in the studio and out in the field. It gives a nice field of view with even coverage. For the wide shots he uses a 16-35, it is amazing just how close you can get to the car and still get the entire thing. At the wide end of the lens he is probably two feet away from the rear corner of the car and he can still get the entire car in the shot. It really pops the corner of the car out and really gives a three dimensional feel to the shot.
For long shots Rob likes the Canon 75-300. Most of these shots were done from anywhere from 12 to 25 feet from the car. With this lens Rob was actually shooting some of the shots from outside the studio. A Long shot like that can really flatten out the car and really shows off the car's silhouette. The particular lens he was using utilizes Canon's image stabilization technology so he was still able to do these shots hand-held.
This shoot was less intensive than the Miura. The Gallardo just doesn't have all the little details of the older car. Everything on the Miura opened up, the boot in front, the decklid in the back. It was meant for showing off the mechanicals underneath the beautiful body of the car.
The Gallardo however is much more difficult to see any of the mechanicals. While the front boot opens easily enough, there is nothing to see but a small carpeted compartment. There is no proudly displayed spare tire, the suspension isn't visible, you can't even see the tool kit, it is all inside and tucked away. We wanted to throw open the decklid and get some shots of the amazing V10. Unfortunately the rear decklid is only meant to be opened by trained factory mechanics and not by curious and often clumsy journalists. The decklid actually requires a "procedure" and specialized tools to open, I think a telephone call to the Pope is recommended also, but that can be circumvented in the case of emergencies.
We decide we could get a few "good enough" shots of the engine by stopping in the middle of raising the top with the decklid in the open position. Luckily for us, Lamborghini still believes people are smart enough to determine when they would like the automated process to start and stop, so pausing the top and decklid is as easy as taking your finger off the button at the point you want it to stop.
The biggest difference for us on this shoot, was that at the end of the day, instead of just loading this car back onto a flatbed, we actually got some seat time in it. For some reason this made getting it out of the studio much faster, the car feels especially lighter when you know you are pushing it out to be driven and not just to say good bye to it. This is a car that is meant to be driven. To be honest, I would have been scared to drive the Miura, if I or even someone else does something stupid to damage it, there is no replacing it. The parts aren't being made, and there were only 25 cars to begin with.
With the Gallardo however, it's game-on. Lamborghini will be building replacement parts for many years, plus they are selling so many enough of these, they don't need to worry about keeping everyone for posterity. This doesn't mean we are reckless or careless with our test cars. I still fully understand that a bent wheel or wadded up fender would mean I would be a volunteer at work for next ten years because of the amount of money deducted from my checks to pay for repairs, but it still doesn't stop us from having some fun. Our driving impressions are probably too many and rambling for this article, but don't worry you will see them soon.
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