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Giving Back with Banning Motorsports

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I recently received a call from Andy the Crew Chief over at Banning Motorsports about a project they were working on. Banning along with the help of many other sponsors was building a new Dual Sport buggy to be raffled off by the American Sand Association (ASA) to raise money. The car will tour the off road show and race circuit and will be awarded to a winner in September of 2010.

I was asked if I would donate some time and shoot photos of the new car to be used in promoting the raffle and I readily agreed as it is for a good cause.

Having shot the Banning Motorsports racecars over the last few years as well in frequently running into them while prerunning I am quite familiar with their Class 12, 16 and prerunner buggies and there is no doubt these are well designed meticulously built racing machines.

The new “sand car” built for the raffle is really more of a Dual Sport car based on the Banning V8 4 seat prerunner. It uses the same basic chassis and suspension but is significantly lighter by close to 800 pounds. Premium parts are used throughout with KC Pod lights, Fox shocks and a Turnkey engine with output in the 400hp neighborhood.

I drove out to the Banning farm/shop today for the shoot. It’s a unique place that features a prep shop, a fab shop as well as a working farm. I would be shooting it in the daylight at mid day but I packed all my lighting gear to give me more options with the shoot.

I wanted to feature the farm in the shot as it is a big part of the Banning operation. We found a suitable shoot location behind one of the buildings with some old school wooden wagons in the background. The car was moved into place and I took a few test shots. I wanted to obscure the background a bit with a shallower depth of field so I would be using a Neutral Density filter so I could open up the aperture for a shallower DOF.

Chris and Andy clean the car prior to the shoot.

Chris and Andy clean the car prior to the shoot.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/250th, ND filter.

Firstly I setup an SB900 flash with a pocket wizard to light the inside of the car. After trying many locations to get the look I wanted I called it a FAIL and moved on without the interior light.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, SB900 off camera.

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The sun was giving some nice light on the front of the car but the back was shadowed and that would not do.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter.

I started with a single Alien Bee AB1600 near the rear of the car with a large beauty dish.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600.

This worked well but I still had a dark area near the front tire. I next setup an AB800 (Limited Edition Orange, I know, you are totally jealous) with a honeycomb grid to light the front tire area.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

Below are some shots of the lighting setup.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.


One of the tricky parts of shooting an off road buggy are that the car’s body has many flat spots at various angles that reflect the lights back at the camera.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

By moving myself and the lights a bit I was able to get the clean shot of the car that I was looking for. From there I simply moved around getting some different height and angles of the car so I had options later.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

Later we moved the car for a direct side shot so all the sponsor logos would be clean and sharp.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

The final step was to shoot the car again with its sand tires on.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.


As you can see the car was parked on a gravel area which extended to where I was shooting from as well. While shooting a low angle I liked what I saw and layed down on the ground to get an even cooler look. The problem was that it was 100 degrees out today and the rocks had been baking in the sun for hours making them rather hot. Wearing a t shirt, shorts and flip flops were not ideal for lying on the ground and while making the below shot I let out a long string of expletives.

Ow! my balls!

Ow! my balls!

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, F2.8, 1/250, ND filter, AB1600 and AB800.

With the shoot done I packed up the gear and headed back to the office to work on the photos.

Stay tuned next week for coverage of  the USPSA Handgun National Championships.

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