I love movies; even bad movies are entertaining for me. In the early 90's there was a movie about snipers starring Billy Zane and Tom Berringer, that while not the greatest movie, it was definitely entertaining. A great guy movie.
To sum it up; you have Berringer the older experienced sniper who has been in the jungle so long he has lost most of his humanity. Then you introduce Zane; the young, top of his class sharp shooter who has incredible talent but no experience. They are forced to work together and drama ensues. Not an incredibly original story line, but the look into the workings of a sniper team is interesting.
Again not the greatest movie, but for some reason I kept thinking about it on this last shoot with the all new Lamborghini Murcielago LP640. European Car's Editor Les Bidrawn was leading this hunt. He had myself and Karl Funke as support and Eric Simpson along as a secondary shooter. I love doing shoots like this. One, because I get lots of seat time in whatever it is we are shooting, and two, I am slowly trying to become a photographer myself.
This shoot will make its way into the magazine as a Road Trip. The idea is; we took the Lambo out to a little town called Trona in California's Mojave Desert. Not only is Trona an incredibly scenic place to visit, it also happens to be Karl's home town. Even though this is a sleepy little town, we still feel like we have to sneak around a little bit to avoid unwanted attention. I would imagine most snipers would tell you that camouflage is as important part of what they do as is their rifle. I am pretty certain that a bright orange LP640 would not be their first choice of transport. This thing even turns heads in European Exotic saturated Newport Beach, so you can imagine the reaction to a car like this in a place like Trona. Most of the locals reacted as if they were seeing something extraterrestrial, which this thing may as well be when compared to our Saab chase vehicle. It was almost impossible to stop anywhere without attracting attention. When moving around with a target that's about as subtle as an ice cream truck with a playboy party on the roof, you need to get positioned and take your shot fast.
Getting the shots you see in magazines often involves stopping the target in areas you normally wouldn't take an exotic. It would probably surprise most people to know that Editor Bidrawn spends more time lying on everything from black top to piles of corrosive minerals than he does behind his computer. When you're shooting, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get that perfect shot.
Our first location was easy; a highway pull-out on a cliff overlooking a huge valley. Bidrawn found a great position across the street. Elevated above the Lambo, shooting down with the sun at his back. Simpson headed for even higher ground, working through the brush to get longer shots and from different angles to triangulate off Bidrawn.
After the cliff we head back into town for some urban shots. Trona is home to a huge Chemical processing factory that makes for a great worn-industrial backdrop to contrast the sleek lines of the LP640. We move fast, positioning Lambo in the middle of the street and Bidrawn taking shots up at the car from a prone position. Lying in the middle of a city street isn't the safest thing so I stand guard at the intersection.
Some locals begin to notice us and start moving in. We decide that we have been here long enough and set out in search of different location.
On the way into town we had noticed a mineral storage pit for lime. The hills provide elevation as well as concealment. The orange Lambo jumps off the white backdrop making this seem like target practice for Simpson and Bidrawn. They have their choice of angles, elevations and distance. The white surrounding the car reflects the natural light onto the body of the Lambo revealing all the angles and subtleties of it's shape. Some of the locals swing by, and we expect the worst. It turns out they are more curious about the car than anything else and let us continue with what we are doing.
Once this position is utilized to its fullest, we head back out on the road. Most people don't realize what involved in getting the moving shots they see in the magazines. It generally involves a shooter hanging out of or off of a car at anywhere from 20 to 50mph. Luckily our long term Saab Sport Combi (wagon) makes it easy to shoot out of the back. We travel down an empty highway that seems to go on forever. This is an ideal shot for car to car shots. No one else around, our only concern is getting everything we need before loosing the light. The front shots of the Lambo are taken from the rear hatch of the Saab. It is quite comfortable in the back and it makes the job easier. To get the rear shots Bidrawn ends up hanging out the rear driver's side window and at one point even sitting on the roof to get his shots. Luckily the Saab has a roof rack and we weren't traveling that fast, so we were never really in danger of going home one man down.
Once the sun started to set, we made the decision to get stationary shots using the golden light of the dusk sun. We again end up setting up in the middle of the road. Luckily we have miles of visible highway on both ends, so we can see if traffic is approaching. Since we are out in the middle of the dessert, we see more coyotes trotting across the ribbon of black-top than cars using it for its intended purpose.
We end up shooting until it is pitch black. Those of you who have been in the middle of a barren desert in the middle of the night know the kind of darkness this is. The moon was faint that night and looking out more than a few feet was peering into infinite space. Bidrawn set up with a tripod for a steady shot. Some shots were taken over long periods of time, 10 second exposures were used to try and catch every stray bit of light that lingered around the Lambo's fiery orange body. After those, shots were taken using strobes in surrounding positions. Simpson even moved around the target with a handheld strobe to get every corner and crease of the body highlighted against the black backdrop of asphalt. The Murcielago truly looks like a bat out of hell.
After all this work we ended up with some amazing photography. The Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 is the quintessential exotic; fast, angry, gorgeous and exhilarating to drive. The Road Trip featuring this car will give you a better idea of what it's like to drive, but hopefully this gives you an idea of what goes into shooting one of these beasts in the wild.