Photo: Jerry Hansas/Retuscheriet

Still life

Oskar Bakke captures glistening details with the Profoto B1 and Sony α7R II

20 June, 2017

Written by: Jens-Linus Lundgren-Widén

When luxury brand Koenigsegg wanted flashy yet clean press images of their new hyper cars, they had only one photographer in mind. They asked Scandinavian Oskar Bakke to shoot bright and simple images, and yet they sent him to a dark hangar. Read how he overcame the challenge using Profoto B1 and Sony α7R II.

When you look at car buff and travel photographer Oskar Bakke's images it is like staring at the sun on an endless summer's day. Known for taking bright and crisp images, which are almost like an instruction manual for Scandinavian light and simplicity, he has made a name for himself shooting luxury and racing cars.

The mission

Swedish luxury car brand Koenigsegg needed new images to show during the high-profile press event at the Geneva Motor Show 2017. This is one of their biggest marketing happenings and highly important for their brand.

They commissioned Oskar to shoot light and simple pictures with a focus on the cars rather than the surroundings.

"They sent us to an empty airplane hangar close to their factory in Ängelholm. A proper studio would have been preferable, but I was happy to have so much space," Oskar says.

The challenge

Shooting in Sweden in the middle of February means short days and unstable weather. Oskar got around 24 hours to shoot but knew the cars would not arrive all at the same time.

"It was a fun mission and at the same time a big challenge."

To achieve a coherent look and feel he needed to light the cars thoroughly and could not rely on the existing or ambient light. Since all cars were dark it was important that the reflections in the polish turned out particularly well.

"I had two big challenges to overcome. My customer wanted bright luster images and we were standing in a dark hangar. It was too messy to be a proper backdrop."

"The second challenge was the time. I had no control over how long we could keep each car and had to make the most of it."

And Oskar had a plan. Though it was the first time he was about to try something new.

The shoot

To get the reflections to really shine off the car polish, Oskar stretched a white 36×36' Butterfly sail over the car so as to bounce the light from two Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flashes.

"That helped me to generate delicate reflections and gradients in the paint and carbon fiber.

"It was the first time I worked with a sail like this so the shoot was a bit of an experiment. But as soon as I got the hang of it, it was quite easy to handle."

He fitted his cordless monolights with a Magnum Reflector and OCF Barndoors when he was shooting the exterior. For the interior shoots he used an RFi Softbox 1×4'.

"This kind of setup is all about where the reflections and light end up. By moving the sail and my B1's I could find the perfect positions to maximize details and the shapes of the different car parts."

Oskar could use TTL to get the right light exposure with the Air Remote TTL-S mounted on his Sony α7R II, with GM 24-70/2.8.

"I always use TTL for the first test images to set the exposure. When I've got the right light, I switch to Manual. That way I get a super-fast workflow and never need to try my way to find the right power output from the flash."

The result

Using this setup, Oskar had no problem timing the short and undefined changes between cars. He managed to work around the messy background so that his post-production team at Retuscheriet could put in lighter, more pleasant backdrops.

"The image turned out bright and nice, and I managed to get a consistent look and feel. I like the contrast between the dark cars and the light background. And so does Koenigsegg."

Written by: Jens-Linus Lundgren-Widén

Products used in this story

Profoto B1X

RFi Softbox Octa

RFi Softbox Strip

RFi Speedring

Magnum Reflector

OCF Barndoor