Photographing a Hot Rod with a Fish-Eye Adapter

by | Nov 10, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

A while ago I received an e-mail asking about whether using an inexpensive screw-on Fisheye lens was a good idea. This is my response to Nicholas.

One question I’m often asked about some of my SFX images: Is the final image a photograph or a digital illustration? To tell you the truth I think that all of the images that I create, whether it’s using film or digital capture, is photography. This fast and furious effect shown today isn’t anything new and the concept wasn’t originally digital. Photographers have been using zoom lenses along with s-l-o-w shutter speeds and zooming during exposure since the first zoom lens was introduced. The biggest difference with doing it digitally is that it’s more controllable and repeatable.

How I made this shot: The original image of this hot rod was captured with a Canon EOS 50D camera with the now discontinued EF 22-55mm f/4–5.6 USM lens that produces a 35-88mm equivalent angle-of-view.

To make the image I screwed a cheapo Fisheye lens adapter onto the lens. To hide the soft edges produced by this inexpensive optic while enhancing the overall effect, I used Photoshop to tweak the image further.

  • Step 1: I used Photoshop’s Levels and Curves functions to improve depth and contrast and brighten the photograph a bit.
  • Step 2: When the image looked as good as I could make it, I added a duplicate layer.
  • Step 3: Choosing the Radial Blur tool from the Filter menu, I checked the Zoom option and placed the originating point where I wanted the effect to start. In this case, it was the middle of the windshield but you can put it anywhere you want. I used the Amount slider to set the length of the zoom blur but you should experiment with different settings until you find one you like
  • Step 4: Using Photoshop’s Eraser tool, I erased areas that allowed parts of the bottom original image show through. Tip: While erasing, lower the opacity in the Layer’s palette so you can see through to the layer below. Don’t set the Eraser at 100% opacity. Use something less and use a soft-edged brush, so you can control how much is zoom and how much is from the original picture.

You can leave the image with the layers intact and save as a TIFF or PSD file or use the Flatten Image command to combine layers and save in the file format of your choice. When finished, you’ll have added motion to a still image and created an image that will be as much fun to look at as it was to create.

There are several posts about hot rods on the blog, including this and that. If you enjoy looking at or photographing hot rods, please check them out when you have time.

If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat me to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), please click here. And if you do, thanks so much.