At the same time I read Speedhunting At Home… In 1:64 Scale, I was looking for something to make my days at home go faster. My workplace here in Northern Spain was closed for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning I had a lot of free time.
Will all motorsport competitions cancelled, there were no car-related opportunities for me to improve my camera skills, but the Speedhunters post inspired me to shoot some of my 1:18 scale rally models right outside my front door.
For these shots, I tried to mimic the conditions found on real WRC rally stages: mud, dust, gravel, rain. To do this, I used a table, a 2-meter black tarpaulin, a basin full of dirt, some tree branches, a hose, toothpicks, and some red ribbon.
I started by putting the black tarp on the table, so that the scene’s ‘ground’ would be darker than the rest of the environment. Based on the scene I was trying to replicate, I used either dirt or gravel to build up the roadway, whether that be a simple turn, hairpin, or even a jump. The final touches came with small branches – which can look like trees if you cut them the correct way – and ribbon to replicate spectator barrier tape, as you will find on real-world stages.
Once the scene was set, it was time to choose a hero car from my 1:18 model collection and set it in the desired ‘action’ position. When required, I used toothpicks to prop the models up.
To make the shots look as authentic as possible they really needed movement, so I spent some time checking out photos on different rally websites, and in books and magazines. As the models themselves couldn’t move on their own, I decided to use an air compressor to blow the dirt and dust around them to mimic real action.
If I decided that the car should run across mud, I just added some water into the mixture, and then blew it in the right direction. For a raining stage, like the amazing scenes from Rallyes du Var 2019, I combined water from a running hose with the compressed air.
The compressor was also used for this ‘jump’ shot. I needed some extra assistance for this one, and my father and girlfriend, who have always supported me when it comes to improving my photography skills, were happy to help. My father was holding the car in the air; my girlfriend was waiting for my command to press the air compressor trigger; and my finger was at the shutter ready to shoot.
I think anyone could take photos like these. You can probably find most of the necessary components in your garden or garage, and then it’s just a matter of getting creative.
On Instagram, some people have asked me why I’d treat my model cars in this way, as they’d surely get scratched up or even broken during the process. That’s true, but everything can be cleaned or fixed back up to its original condition. It took a long time to wash these cars out, and this usually required disassembly too, but I think it was worth it.
I really hope you like the results. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section.
How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program. Read how to get involved here.
Looks like you had good fun, some of the shots i looked twice to see if it was real cars
Some epic shot!! Post some pics of the clean up of the cars too. I need the OCD to satisfy.
These are great! I had thought about doing this as well given the unhealthy amount of 1:18's I have. If you want more reference for techniques to do this in the future, look up mitchelwuphotography on Instagram. He does this exact thing but with collectible figures, but also used similar techniques with dirt, air, and even some mini explosions!(fire crackers)
Who would have guessed WRC car-in-action shots are made at one's backyard.
Gotta be careful with dirt though. Camera, dirt, water don't get along very well.