Visual Effects

Portals – First Encounter

Portals is one of a few personal projects I had planed for this year. Below is the first photograph of this series. I wanted to create something mysterious, something dark. My client work usually goes very much the opposite way. So this should be a nice change.

I am handling the term ‘portal’ very loosely. To me it doesn’t mean there is a gate that I can use. Portals can have any kind of shape and size. Something might slip through them unnoticed. I want to play with the unknown.

As for the setting: It’s the early 20th century. Entities appeared after a glitch in Dr. Curiovsky’s last experiment. His is eager to study this discovery, not knowing what he is dealing with. This is his first encounter.

If you think you know where the story goes, leave me a comment with your opinion.

Portals Photography


CG For Advertising

CG stands for “computer generated” and means that I created certain or all elements of the picture in 3D. The use of CG gets more and more common for advertising and commercial projects. Especially for complex objects such as cars. The initial effort isn’t smaller than for photography for most cases but the client has far more control and options to change things down the road. Using 3D, I can roll back to an earlier project state without having to rebuild a set or having to travel back on location. Weather and time of the day are also not a major factor.



There are basically three ways a project can be set up and it all depends on how easy it is to realise the idea with traditional photography.  #1 The subject is photographed and the background is done in CG. This approach is ideal for locations that need to be customized to the subject. We talk about set building here.. like in movies. We can travel in time or place or adjust the complexity and abstraction.



#2 The background is photographed and the subject is done in CG. Ideal if the location has been covered by a small crew travelling with light gear, because the subject, a car, will be sorted out later. Very good for remote locations. The next step is CG. In 3D I then suggest different perspectives and focal lenses so that the client can pick their favourite. Same goes for colour and materials. It is all adjustable. That’s creative freedom!



#3 Everything is done in CG. We have a digital set and subject. Maximum creative freedom but not always the most cost-effective choice. If one tries to recreate something that can be photographed with less afford, than that should be the way to go. If it can’t be photographed, CG is your best friend. Of course there is still option #4 where everything is done with photography, but as mentioned, CG is trending more and more for creative freedom and keeping the costs low.

If you’ve an idea that stretches the envelope of everything you’ve done before, contact me. The possibilities are endless.

Product Photography for Aroma Diffuser

Who doesn’t want to come home after a long day at work and relax on the couch while the living room smells just beautiful? Aroma candles, room diffusers or perfumed oils. The choice is yours. Manuel Czepok Photography (MCP) took on a product photo shoot that looks rather simple, doesn’t it? But in its simplicity lies the trick. I’ve been approached by this client to spice up their web-experience. They wanted action shots. They wanted it to be elegant and it had to be on a white background in order to match their cooperative style. As the image gives it away already, this is all about luxury and aesthetic. I couldn’t just throw in bursting flames and exploding wax to cover the action. So, communication is key in order to get on the same page with everyone involved. That pretty much goes for all projects but for this one especially, because the client wouldn’t be able to see the final image until everything comes together in post-production.

The first part of the trick was to understand what “action” means to the client. What do they like? After some talk and research I provided several mood mock-ups to explain the idea using pictures instead of words. A crucial step as the client had to understand where we are heading creatively and again, they wouldn’t be able to see the result of this product photoshoot till the very end. Which brings me to the second part of the trick. How to visualise aroma? One can smell it, taste it, but it’s generally invisible. This is where MCP’s experience with post production comes into play, to achieve truly original advertising photography. All elements in this photograph had to be shot separately for maximum control and quality. Those elements where then married together in post-production, giving me maximum flexibility to tweak all aspects to the clients expectation.

Knowing what is possible beyond traditional photography allowed me to tackle this project on a completely new creative level. This project is truly one that separates me from many other creatives.


Fashion Photography Strip

We all have days when we could use a second me, don’t we? STRIP was a personal project to see what is possible, when I’m in front of and behind the camera at the same time, multiple times. I’m not a quadruplet just to clarify. Everything can be done, if you can imagine it, but good planing wins half the battle. This trick is used to multiply the size of armies in big budget movies, but it can also be used to show a company in a more impressive manner. Show massive storages, office spaces or multiple very expensive items next to each other. Who doesn’t want to have a garage full of Lamborghinis?

Hands down. Often it is the way an advert is presented that gets it stuck in the peoples’ heads. They find the idea interesting enough to look at it a second time and read which company or product is connected to this advert. Now, find the five name giving letters in the picture!



Landscape Car Photography

This client request was a remote job from overseas. In fact, the photos had been taken already by someone else, but the result didn’t turn out as promised. In order to avoid additional costs for a re-shoot I’ve been asked to save things in post-production. The images below served as a quick mood mock-up that gave the client several choices to pick from. I changed the landscape, the colour palette and the lighting. The results are definitely more impressive than a drive between piles of gravel.


Product Photography for Shoes

Shoes n’ Tie – I shot this project a few years ago. The breakdown shows the process from photography to retouching.

Why shoot on green-screen? Sometimes it’s easiest to give the client more freedom in post production. Sometimes the final decision on the background hasn’t been made while I have to start to shoot. Sometimes the requested material isn’t available and has to be added in post production. Shooting on green-screen can be a very effective way to keep the budget low and to assure the project doesn’t come to a hold. Of course one has to be very experienced to anticipate how the different elements will look together in the final image.

Car Photography OPC

Some ideas need a bit of magic to come alive. That can have several reasons. The idea might need expensive set builds or takes place in a very remote location that is hard to access with a full-blown crew and heavy gear. Perhaps sometimes it is simply not possible to produce in reality. That is when digital set extension comes into play. It explains like this – some parts of the image are created in front of an actual camera and others are created on the computer to enhance reality or achieve the impossible.

Corsa OPC Black


Digital set extensions can also save money. How many productions have a budget to hang up a car on the wall or to build a set to make it look like it’s hung up a wall?

Drive Up The Wall


It can go further of course. The images below have been entirely created on the computer. Going this way gives you great freedom to tweak things like angles, materials or backgrounds, even after the shoot. Those change request are definitely a lot more expensive with photography or film. Because, one would need to get all set elements, the subject and the crew back on location. There, they then have to match what has been done before.

Corsa OPC Orange

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