Behind the scenes of a RACER In-Focus shoot

Behind the scenes of a RACER In-Focus shoot

Off Road

Behind the scenes of a RACER In-Focus shoot


This month’s new issue of RACER will feature a graphic throwback to the past, as Jimco Racing’s new Ford Raptor prerun truck is the subject of the magazine’s In-Focus feature story. Longtime RACER readers will look fondly on these very special image-driven stories that bring some of the world’s greatest modern and historic race cars into a local studio for artfully-executed photo shoots. The stark contrast of world-class motorsports craftsmanship set against a pure black background produced one of RACER’s most memorable and enduring monthly features.

All that photographic magic didn’t happen automatically. After tagging along with photographer Boyd Jaynes for this month’s In-Focus, it became clear that the time and effort it takes to capture these images are as special as the hand-selected vehicles themselves.

One thing becomes clear when walking into the massive photo studio in Anaheim, California that Jaynes uses for these special automotive portraits. It’s all about the lighting. With a varietal mix of old school rock and techno creating just the right atmosphere, Jaynes is on a short ladder, looking through his camera’s viewfinder while coaching his assistants Anthony Cobos and Micah DiStefano on fine-tuning the lighting for the session’s first shot – the all-important front three-quarter hero shot. In marked contrast to the old method of relying on jacks and having to physically take the vehicles out of the building to turn them around, here the truck has been placed on the facility’s hefty turntable that allows Jaynes to rotate the 7,000 pound plus machine with ease.

Jaynes makes magic happen in his southern California studio.

Unlike many similar in-studio productions that rely on a rather simplistic overhead soffits to light the bodywork, all of the In-Focus illumination is done with up to seven high-powered lights, some adorned with scrims and gels to fine-tune the overall image while also allowing certain important components to be amplified in detail. White and black foam core panels also help to deflect light in certain cases.

If all this sounds cumbersome, it is. Once the vehicle is rolled onto a manicured black cloth (painstakingly freed of wrinkles by hand and long brooms), it can take up to two hours of set-up to capture just one angle or detail. The Jimco is a complex piece of rolling artwork dripping with detail, so even with help from two of the company’s mechanics taking off body panels it will take eight to 10 hours to complete the shoot. The fact the truck has many flat pieces of dark, flat and also camouflaged bodywork demands even deeper talent and expertise.

Jaynes admits that many of his skills were first learned as a photo assistant from original RACER In-Focus photographer Rick Graves. As ancient as it may seem now, those early shoots used 4×5 film, which represented a different set of challenges to overcome. Today’s digital imaging allow Boyd to use special exposures (like that needed for tire treads) to create more composite shots with less lighting, while also making previously impossible shots a reality.

To date Jaynes, who also happens to be a winning desert racer at the annual Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000, estimates he has massaged light, reflection, angle and exposure like this on nearly 100 race cars and trucks,.But that doesn’t matter in the midst of another all-day studio shoot. Before we depart Jaynes is showing off how he uses canned Arrid Extra Dry to generate a fog effect needed to make the truck’s blinding off-road lights even more dramatic. Of course, even this has a technique needed to spray it properly.

Such is the magic artistry of Boyd Jaynes.