Revolutionary Photographer Daniel Hartz Creates a Magical Calendar
Picture the scene, the silvery blue light of a full moon reflecting on the misty rocks and murky breakwater of the Costa Paradiso in Sardinia, while out of the shadows the distinctive sleek lines of a Lexus SC430 glint in the moonlight. No, it’s not a scene from a Christmas movie, this is just one of the magical scenes created in conjunction with world-renowned photographer Daniel Hartz for the 2002 Lexus calendar. In keeping with true Lexus style there is much more to each picture than at first meets the eye.
Each photograph was shot against a backdrop of spectacular locations in France, Spain and Sardinia. Hartz chose moonlight as a common theme for the 12 photographs to create a unique, yet fitting perspective to the shapes of the Lexus range. The major challenge was of course, the availability of the moonlight. A full moon only makes its appearance every 29.53 days and is dependent on perfect weather at the time of the equinox. There was no way it could be persuaded to fit in with Hartz’s four-week shooting schedule.
The solution was a Lunix balloon light, a similar system to that used to replicate moonlight in blockbuster movies like Titanic and Mission Impossible. Handling the 3.5-metre diameter, helium filled balloon fitted with its console of halogen lights, proved to be a challenge in itself.
At Salin de Giraud in the Camargue region in the south of France, a backdrop of commercially mined sheer white salt mountains and incongruous cliff faces created the scene for the Lexus GS430 photograph. The crew was forced to fight the mistral wind when it took six people and a clever rope tether system to hold the balloon in place, while windshields had to be erected to prevent camera shake.
Bardenas Reales in the Basque country of Spain is an area dominated by massive, ancient rock formations and barren desert, ideal for the ‘Cracked Earth’ shoot for the Lexus RX300. In the desert, there was nowhere to anchor the balloon light but luckily a local wine trader
loaned his truck to act as an anchor and even turned out to help control the balloon for an entire night.
Perhaps one of the most striking shots came from the Costa Paradiso in Sardinia. In this, the Lexus SC430 convertible almost becomes a part of the sea and elements itself. This was another technical challenge, thanks to strong winds, a heavy sea and a set of physical challenges not yet experienced.
At one point a production assistant had to scramble out over a storm-lashed outcrop to construct an anchor-point for the balloon, while the driver of the car had to slowly reverse it onto a small breakwater used by local fishermen, right at the water’s edge and battered by waves. Hartz, on his cliff-top vantage point was ready with a walkie-talkie to warn if the conditions looked too dangerous. Even so, at one point the car seemed to almost disappear in the breakers. Luckily the Lexus proved both secure and watertight, at times it even appeared to surf the waves.