How I Got the Shot: Easton Chang

Posted by: on Sep 30, 2020

How I Got the Shot: Easton Chang

What was the concept of the shoot?

The concept was conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi for Toyota USA, unveiling the new Toyota Camry as a far more exciting car than its predecessor. Going against the traditional boring “beige” Camry’s of the past, we wanted to capture the new Camry in a brand new aggressive red, tearing dirt and dust through the earth and with a giant, earthly asterisk “*” in the background.

The asterisk is a play on traditional advertisements that is used as a disclaimer to buyers. On the bottom of the ad the asterisk is referred “Not available in beige”. This acts as a parody of traditional car advertisements.

What setup and lighting did you use to get the shot?

Technically, we wanted to capture as much in camera as possible, but the giant asterisk was better done in CGI. We captured 360 dome “plates” for the CGI artists to recreate the asterisk as realistically integrated as possible, and shadow references in place of where the asterisk would sit.

Lighting was entirely natural sunlight, we went with this direction because we wanted the shot to look more raw for an advertisement. The real kicker was capturing the dust and debris flying off the wheels. We literally had the new Camry tear the ground up doing circle work in front of the camera. It was a tremendously windy day and we had desert salt flat powder getting everywhere, so it was going to be a challenging experience.

Photo Credit: Easton Chang

How did shooting tethered help you achieve the shot you wanted?

We had to protect the camera system (Hasselblad lens and body with a Phase One IQ3 back) from the powdery debris, not only to keep the shot clear but also to prevent damaging the camera. We had wrapped the camera system leaving only the front glass element on the lens exposed. One assistant would remove and reattach the lens cap between takes, while the other assistant hits it with a can of compressed air to keep it clean before the next take.

This was an impossible situation to rely on the rear monitor of the Phase One. The camera was tethered out of the Phase One back and onto an extension tethertools cable, leading to the digital workstation which was moved considerably farther away from the “action”. That way the creative team and I can assess the images safely, clearly and far more comfortably.

But most importantly – it was the only way we could review the shots that were coming through and compare with the approved angles and layout. Since the car was actually being driven we had to tether to ensure we captured an exposure that was an exact match with the required angle. 

What was your biggest challenge?

It took several rounds of driving, cleaning the car, reviewing the exposures and adjusting the driving angle before we got our final shot. It’s much more difficult to match a precise car angle when it’s in motion than when it is static. Every round we would carefully scrutinize the exposure angles and adjust the driving angle to match what we needed.  Tethering to a distant workstation made this a lot easier to do!

Photo Credit: Easton Chang

What type of post-processing was involved?

This was heavily post-processed by CGI and retouching studio Armstrong-White based in Los Angeles. Although the final image was based on a single exposure, they had utilized parts of debris from similar exposures to create the final outcome. As well as creating the CGI giant asterisk and matching with the look and feel of the rest of the environment.

Photo Credit: Easton Chang

What was the logistics and/or gear needed to achieve this shot? (List all gear)

Phase One IQ3 100MP
Hasselblad H4D
Hasselblad 35mm f/3.5 lens
TetherPro USB 3.0 to Female Active Extension cable
Gitzo tripod legs
Manfrotto 405 geared pan and tilt head
C-Stands / flags to shade camera from the heat
ND filters for long exposure options
Toyota Camry 2018 & Precision Driver
Macbook Pro 2015 / Capture One

Who was involved and how did they play a part in the shoot (ex: makeup, assistant, digital tech., etc.)?

Photographer / Easton Chang
Producer / Michael Jackson
Agency / Saatchi & Saatchi
Client / Toyota USA
Driver / Scotty Richards
Retouching & CGI / Armstrong-White
Crew / John Rinek, Luke Fisher, John Goetz, Natalie Obermaier, Nicole Kent

About Easton Chang

Based between Sydney and Los Angeles, Easton developed his work and style shooting all things on four wheels using modern, cutting edge methods and creativity. With his strong past experience in the Australian editorial industry. Easton now works with the best production, retouching and CGI teams to produce world-class stills and motion images to the automotive industry.