The secret of a perfect speed shot

Kevin Pratt asks Nigel Harniman from to reveal the secret of his automotive photography success.
Automotive Rig Photography
As an automotive advertising photographer, one of my trademark techniques is to shoot a car so that it looks as though it’s travelling at high speed. The key is to make every detail of the car sharp while blurring the landscape behind and give a totally realistic finish. So how do I do it? And how can you do it? Use modern tech While I have some trusty photographic kit that I’ve relied on for years, I’m always looking for new, more efficient ways to get the results I want.
When it comes to creating the illusion of speed, one of the best, more recent innovations is the short rig – basically a metal boom with a camera on the end of it that produces similar results to a more unwieldy, long rig. Before I was offered a short rig, I had to take my six-metre extendable rig everywhere with me. It’s been air-freighted to LA, travelled to Portugal by boat and been driven across Europe. It needed separate transport due to its size, which also meant it needed to be fixed to the cars I was shooting with industrial strength clamps and bolts. I can honestly say that over the years, my team’s expertise has meant that no automotive company or advertising agency has had to claim on their car insurance after I’ve fitted the rig to their chassis, but I can see how snappy accidents could easily happen!
Lexus South France
The portable, short rig, which is 90% lighter and needs no heavyweight attachments, is kinder to cars, though. Made of carbon fibre and thus feather-light, it can be attached to any part of the car using suction cups. It’s an insurer’s dream! Less weight = fewer claims! Although not risk-free, the only damage that could really be done to a car when using a short rig would be a clumsy scratch or mark to the paintwork. In other words, the damage that could occur is so minor that it would make an insurance claim hardly worth the time. By watching this video, you can see for yourself how I use an incredible length of exposure to achieve the best possible results. It’s a chance to step behind the scenes to see how shoots using the portable rig and my trusty ALPA (with a Phase One back) work.
You’ll notice that I managed to uphold my record of no insurance claims. What’s more, I didn’t need to compare quotes on MoneySuperMarket so that I could insure an extra car to get the long rig to Shelsey Walsh Hill Climb – although that would of course have been my first port of call if I’d needed cover!

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