Article and photos by Easton Chang, Easton Chang Photography
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A photographic date with the astounding Porsche 918 Spyder in Outback Australia – opportunities like this don’t come very often.
When Porsche first booked dates in my working calendar, I knew nothing of the car I was going to shoot. Professionally speaking, it’s not my business to ask; a client will brief me when the time is right. Many of these projects are kept secret until an official release date of the resulting photographs is chosen.
Months later, in the lead up to the shooting dates, I was told the car waiting for me to shoot in the Outback was, in actual fact, the legendary 918 Spyder. It never even crept into the back of my mind that I might be shooting one of the world’s greatest supercars.
To add further, I was given the chance to capture it doing a high speed run (it reached 350km/hr, or 217mph), to shoot the car from a helicopter with an experienced documentary film pilot and to capture the car kicking dust storms into the air, all during a perfectly golden sunset afternoon.
This was the most incredible photographic opportunity in my 10 year career.
The high speed run was simple, yet incredibly important to get right. You don’t often see “warp speed” driving dial shots, and there’s a reason for that. The best angle to shoot is basically right where the driver’s neck would be. In the 918, the speed display is particularly recessed deep into the dash, making a passenger angled view of the dial almost impossible. After planning, practicing and finally nailing the run and shot with my driver – Carrera Cup winning Craig Baird – I managed to shoot the angle from just off to the right side of his neck.
It’s amazing how much distance you cover at 350 km/hr. While our high-speed drive out happened so quickly, the comparatively slow 140 km/hr return back to base seemed to drag on for an eternity, making our high-speed run feel more like direct teleportation than linear transportation.
The helicopter session was, by comparison – more complex to perform photographically. The dirt road idea was off the cuff, and Craig could barely make out anything I we tried to communicate from in the blazingly loud helicopter. But keen automotive photographers know that one of the best angles of a supercar to shoot from is from above. And this is something particularly unique to supercars.
Think of it this way. When an eagle looks down at a car, it would normally see just three square sections of panels. But supercars, and especially hypercars like the 918, show a whole lot more. From the view above you see the power plant, the sheer width of the body and, of course, the amazing sculptured aerodynamic designs.
So needless to say, the view from above was simply breathtaking. The combination of the 918 from this height, as well as the view of the Australian landscape during a clear sky sunset, was simply overwhelming.
Shooting from a helicopter was quite different from my usual process of work. My mind was working overtime and making constant observations of where the aircraft was likely to be in relation to the 918 and the sun. This helped determine what settings I wanted my camera to be at in a given position. In stark contrast to being on the ground, you’re constantly presented with completely new angles, changing lighting directions and changing paths of motion against your subject. And it’s all happening at a very fast pace, often unpredictably.
You have to be on your A game if you want to extract the most out of your time in the aircraft and adapt ferociously, or else you’ll miss the moment.
It’s difficult to say what I loved more, the high speed run in the 918 or the chance to shoot it from the air. The high speed run is an opportunity few car enthusiasts could ever pass up, while being a comparatively easier and less challenging moment to photograph, from strictly a creative artist’s point of view.
On the other hand, the opportunity to shoot such a view from a helicopter would be any photographer’s quintessential dream.
But, as a car photographer, I’m ultimately a lover of both cars and photography. I will never forget that day, in the heart of Australia, where I got to experience the best of both.