Last night Honda sent out a preview of the upcoming 2023 Civic Type R. A photo and a video accompanied by the one fact we’ve all been waiting for: a reveal date. But July 20th is like that far away (Editor’s note: only 8 days), and I’m an impatient guy, so I took it upon myself to see the upcoming car early. With specialized astrophotography software. I’m not a weirdo.
Look, Honda helped me out of here. Towards the end of the teaser video, there’s a short panning clip over the front end of the new Type R. While on camera it all looks cool and dramatic without giving you anything to much of a look at the car, it’s also not far from the method used in an actual photo technique: light painting.
Light painting uses long exposures with a moving light source colour your topic with bright (Photographers are extremely creative with names). Of course, Honda has released a YouTube video and not a single minute-long exposure in RAW format, but that’s still enough information to work with.
I captured the video, saved it in the highest resolution I could manage, and used Photoshop to extract the relevant frames of the light pan across the Honda’s hood. Then my first thought was to go back to Photoshop – use an HDR combiner to import each frame into a perfect image.
OK, maybe not perfect. The Photoshop attempt revealed some major difficulties. First off, videos uploaded to YouTube are pretty heavily compressed – you lose a lot of detail in dark sections, as you’ll find out if you ever watch a video that contains a dark gradient. Things get blocky and warped to ensure the video loads smoothly on your internet connection.
The second issue is how the video was filmed and not uploaded. As light moves across the car, the camera slowly moves away from the front bumper. Given the clip’s short duration, it’s unclear if it’s real Pan or a zoombut I suspect the latter – it seems like there is the slightest distortion in the spotlights across the clip due to a change in focal length. While this distortion isn’t really enough to cause a problem, the changing scaling of the car within the frame can confuse imaging software.
So, If Photoshop didn’t produce an image as cleanly as I wanted, what other software could possibly combine a single subject with multiple lighting conditions into one cohesive image? As it turns out, the answer lies in a whole different photographic world: astrophotography.
A friend of mine, fresh from a stargazing trip to Vermont, introduced me to a piece of software called star trails. It’s a free Windows program designed for one thing only: create star trails images. Instead of working with a single long exposure, Startrails can combine multiple images, but keep the points of light away from everyone.
It certainly doesn’t have the most modern interface, and it doesn’t play well with the PNG files I’d pulled from the video using Photoshop, but the quick conversion to JPG (admittedly at the cost of slightly higher compression) let Startrails make that easier for you Combine the frames. The result?
The front end of the Civic Type R, clean as it gets. While the fine details are a bit blurrier than the Photoshop method (you’ll notice that the headlights have turned into a trail of their own thanks to the moving camera), the front-end lighting is far more even. We can clearly see the massive hood vent, the creases on the sides and the flared front fenders.
The red Honda badge and seats make a return, and it appears the Civic’s upper grille is slightly higher than the Si’s. Also, this appears to be a right-hand drive Type R, meaning it’s not the same car We’ve seen tests. While we don’t get much of a sense of the front bumper, Honda conveniently released a press shot that can help us.
We can see here the same trapezoidal lower grille as on the camouflaged prototype, as well as what could be a brake cooling duct on the right side, just inside the wide front fender. While we won’t know how the Civic looks as a whole until next week, these images tell us everything we need to know about the front end: It looks Well.