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“The driver was able to reach up to 142 miles per hour,” says Dewey Keithly to us in an email interview. “We mounted the Fujifilm GFX 100 and the Red Komodo to the front of the fastest camera car in Utah on the salt flats…The in-body image stabilization worked flawlessly on the GFX.” I’m sure that if anyone wanted a really cool COVID 19 pandemic photo project, this would be it. I mean, working with the GFX 100 is great. And Dewey says that it’s flawless. But they all worked with a 1966 Porsche 906 LH and the owner/driver.
These are seriously cool, but what’s the concept behind this series?
The photos will compliment a short film piece about the car. The concept was to make some timeless images of the car and driver. I worked closely with the film crew to capture images of the car so we can have a different angle and not have to use screen grabs.
Tell me about this subject of the stills.
The car is a 1966 Porsche 906 LH replica which was used in the movie Ford vs Ferrari. The talent in the images is the owner Cary Decker who looked the part and drove the car very well. It was very lucky to achieve both with the owner of the car. When I heard some guy named Cary with the old Porsche was coming to drive, I immediately thought it was a retired guy who may not play out well on film. Luckily he was quite the opposite and really made for a great shoot.
Why choose the middle of the desert?
The location for this part of the shoot was a call made by the Director, James Winegar. He was wanting a look that almost resembled being on another planet. Also, the salt flats allow for us to drive very fast and get those dynamic moving shots.
What sort of logistical challenges were there for you guys? IE. what was some of the most frustrating parts of executing this?
There are a few, but for the most part it wasn’t bad. I’d say fighting harsh light was one of them because of the surface we were shooting on at the Salt Flats. We had to move quickly and get all the shots on the list before the sun got too high. I guess that’s something we are always battling against as photographers. Another thing that came up was shooting the GFX with the phone app. We had tested it prior to the shoot and it worked great. Out on the salt flats it didn’t do so well so we had to go tethered. I’m not sure why there was the interference, but we got it figured out.
Why the GX100? What’s so special about it that made you want to use it?
The main reasons were because of the large sensor and the IBIS. While shooting cars it’s good to have a larger sensor because of what the images could be used for. I can crop in depending on what the creative director is seeing too. We really wanted to test the IBIS while mounted to the car. I’ve shot moving objects with this camera before and it went well. It was really important to make sure it could withstand the speed of the camera car. It worked very well. Also, shooting digital medium format with a body that isn’t 20lbs is pretty cool.
Talk to us about the post-production. It doesn’t look like there is any.
Like I mentioned before we wanted a timeless look, so I went with Kodak Portra 400 pushed 1 stop. Only kidding. But I did want to get it close to what that may look like.
Besides all the COVID safety precautions, what other precautions were taken to execute this?
The other precaution besides covid safety protocol was to keep the driver safe. “Don’t get dead” is a good slogan to go by. When riding in a fast camera car, while shooting an even faster race car, there are plenty of things that could go wrong. We had a small crew to keep it safe with covid, but everyone was prepared beforehand to make sure we would all be safe. We had coms from the camera car to the driver in the Porsche and also to crew on the ground. We had people in place to stop traffic, which there was very little of at 5:00am on the salt flats. Oh yeah, and the driver wore a cool vintage helmet.
“…we wanted a timeless look, so I went with Kodak Portra 400 pushed 1 stop. Only kidding. But I did want to get it close to what that may look like.”Dewey Keithly