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Mr. Carbon Fiber
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2,183 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I found this article over at the Motive Mag site and found it rather interesting. Maybe some of the gurus can chime in also to see how accurate this info is (3.5 yearsold article).

Credit: http://www.motivemag.com/pub/feature/drivers_ed/Just_Shoot_Me_-_Motive_s_Car_Photography_Tips.shtml
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Car photography is one of those things that span every skill level, from enthusiasts at a local cruise night to professionals in million-dollar studios. Thanks to the digital-photography revolution and a younger generation developing its Photoshop skills, decent photos are popping up more and more these days. Photographers are set free from the expense and shot limits of traditional film, instead filling up compact flash cards with hundreds of takes, in hopes of netting that one great shot. At the end of the day, though, garbage in often results in garbage out. There is only so much you can correct and fix through software. With that in mind, what follows are a few tips for taking better car photos. Obviously, there are complete books written on photography and we aren't trying to cover a lot of ground here; it can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. In the end, it pays to remember a few basic things: Take lots of photos, get creative with the angles and locations, and above all have fun.

Know your equipment: I know this sounds self-explanatory, but today there are a lot of features crammed into cameras. Whether you're using a simple point-and-shoot or an advanced digital SLR camera with interchangeable lenses, there are a lot of bells, whistles. and settings you can manipulate to create a variety of desired (and sometimes undesired) effects.

Full auto, aperture priority, shutter priority: While setting your camera to Full Auto or fully automatic works well for most generic shooting situations, there will be other times (as you'll see below) where you want a little more control over what the camera is doing. Check to see if your camera has settings for "shutter priority" and "aperture priority".


Shutter priority lets you set the shutter speed yourself and the camera decides how to adjust the aperture — the diaphragm that regulates the amount of light coming in — accordingly. Shutter priority gives you control over the shutter speed and allows you the ability to shoot both longer exposures — such as night scenes — and faster exposures if you want to freeze fast action.

Aperture priority allows you to set the aperture F-stop (F2.8 or F22 for example) settings yourself while the camera automatically figures out the correct shutter speed. Each F-stop is a standard value that allows half as much light through as the previous stop and twice as much light as the next stop. Aperture priority also gives you control over depth of field (the area or plane that is sharply in focus). So if you want the subject in focus, but want the foreground and background elements to be blurred, set your aperture F-stop to the lowest setting possible (F1.3-F4). Conversely, if you are shooting a wide-angle landscape shot and want a large depth of field so everything is as sharp as possible and you'll need to set your aperture F-stop as high as it will go (F12-F22). Keep in mind when working in Aperture priority setting, that the higher the F-stop you select the more the camera will adjust the shutter speed down to a slower setting to compensate. If the shutter speed gets too low, you may not be able to hand-hold the camera and prevent camera shake. In this case you can use a tripod instead.

Time of day: This is probably the single biggest mistake people make is when they take photos. The middle of the day, with the sun directly overhead, is the worst time to take photographs — it results in high-contrast bright and dark areas that show the car poorly. While there are times at a car show or get-together that you can't control this, ideally you want to take photos in the early morning or late afternoon/evening hours. The early and late times of the day produce warm, vibrant colors and bathe the car in soft, even light — many photographers refer to dawn and dusk as "magic hours." If you mount your camera on a tripod, you'll be amazed at the photos you get just after the sun has gone down, during twilight.

Rule of thirds: This is a simple, basic rule of aesthetics that has been around forever, but it is a good one. The subject you are trying to shoot does not always have to be dead-centered in the photo. Placing the subject to the left or right of center can produce a little drama and variation. Some cameras actually have a grid visible through the viewfinder that divides what you are seeing into thirds. This is a general guide and not a hard-and-fast rule, as centering the car perfectly may be desirable. However you'll find your photos to have a little more interest and capture more of the overall scene if you experiment a bit with subject placement. That's the glory of shooting digital — just snap more photos and you can always delete them later!


Wide-angle vs. telephoto: In the most basic terms, wide-angle lenses allow a wider view of a scene, while a telephoto lens permits you to zoom in close on a subject. Telephoto and wide-angle also have side effects that are useful to create a certain look. A telephoto lens will compress a scene and reduce the depth of field. So if you want to highlight the upright Cadillac crest on a 1971 Eldorado but want the background and foreground elements to be blurred, you can use a telephoto setting or lens to get that effect. With a wide-angle lens you are capturing a much wider view, enabling you to get a full interior shot or a dramatic view of the whole car. Most pro shooters use a combination of both to get a well-rounded collection of both close-up detail and overall car shots.

Flash: The flash is both one of the most underused and most easily abused of all the tools you have. Built-in flashes are great for those candid drunk party shots that you wish your friends never took, but often fall well short of having enough power to illuminate a full car — or even an interior — properly. Built-in flash units are generally only rated to illuminate properly from 3 to 10 feet (some a little further) and, because of their small size, don't offer a lot of light coverage. Camera manufacturers make a variety of add-on flash units that are able to illuminate a scene more evenly and thoroughly, plus give you flexibility to adjust the amount of flash, timing of the flash, and even move the flash off-camera.

Probably the most under-utilized flash application is as a "fill" to supplement existing light. Even in bright daylight, there are often areas of the car that aren't lit properly and disappear in the shadows. Check your camera manual to see if your camera has specific settings for flash fill as it can be useful in a variety of situations to bring out details that would otherwise be lost.

Use your flash judiciously indoors, however, particularly at an indoor auto show where there a lot of other bright lights. Many times, light-colored cars under intense show lights will make your camera think the scene is brighter than it really is and adjust its exposure down. What you end up with is a dark photo with the truly light areas "blown out" by the flash reflecting off the car. Try to avoid using a flash at auto shows, or only use the flash as a fill for shadows.


Panning: Capturing motion with a camera is not a difficult thing, but it is something that requires practice if you want the subject to be reasonably in focus. Panning is a technique whereby you stand on the side of the road (back at least 30 feet), and guide your camera in a horizontal sweep, snapping away as you move in time with a passing car. You'll need to hold the camera as vertically stable as possible to avoid shake and try and limit the panning motion to a single straight line. This technique works better with a telephoto lens (or telephoto setting on zoom-lens cameras) but can be done with a wide-angle as well. The trick to getting a nice crisp car with a motion-blurred background is experimenting with the shutter speed plus your ability to lock on and follow the car smoothly in the viewfinder. Set your camera to shutter priority and adjust the shutter speed down to around 1/100th of second and start there. As you get better at tracking the car smoothly as it goes buy, you can try increasing the shutter speed to 1/80th or 1/60th of a second to create more blur in the background behind the car.


Car-to-car: Car-to-car photography is another form of motion photography where you shoot one car from inside another, both of them traveling at roughly the same speed. For instance: On a highway or four-lane road, you ride shotgun in what we'll call the photography car, with your camera out of the window (secure the camera strap around your neck or wrist so you don't drop your equipment) as the subject car that you want to shoot is driving alongside. Again you'll want to use a shutter priority setting (if you have it) to try slowing down the shutter speed and capturing more motion blur in the background. Start shooting at about 1/80th of a second and you can work your way to slower shutter speeds. Generally speaking, 1/40th of a second would be the slowest you can go before you get too much camera shake from bouncing around in the car. Also keep in mind that you do not need to be traveling fast. You can get good motion blur at 30 to 45 mph. Getting up to 60 mph will make it easier to get a lot of motion blur in the background, but will also make shooting conditions tougher with more wind, noise, and speed variation. Again, shoot lots of photos and experiment with your shutter speeds. Don't be afraid to try this with a point-and-shoot camera as well — some impressive car-to-car shots in our forums have been taken with simple cameras.

The above tips and suggestions just barely scrape the surface of what is possible in photography. It is easy to assume that you can't take great photos with anything less than the most expensive digital SLR cameras but that simply isn't true any longer. Today's point and shoot cameras have a lot of manual control that few people take advantage of while the higher end cameras continue to get cheaper and pack a lot of pro features into a small package. No matter which camera you shoot with, remember that you are overall trying to capture a snapshot of something that looks great right in front of you. If it doesn't look great to your eye, then it won't look great in photos either. Keep our tips above in mind next time you shoot. Be creative, take lots of photos and don't be afraid to try something different.
 

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B A N K A I
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1,303 Posts
Roger that, I will ask him about the equipment, but as for posting he barly has time with his studies and job hehe, but I will do my best, he has a FB page.
 

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B A N K A I
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He mostly uses Nikon D90 with a Sigma 10-20 and 50mm 1.8, whatever that means ;D. And he tells me he soon is going to upgrade but he wouldnt tell me more haha.
 

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B A N K A I
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1,303 Posts
the Sigma I did know, just didnt know what he meant with 50mm 1.8, I myself have a Canon D40 with a Tamron 17-55 lens, but moslty my gf takes the pictures =D
 

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Registered
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2,578 Posts
The info is pretty accurate to my knowledge. I'm not pro by any standards. I shoot mainly portrait stuff but with all the automotive stuff I've shot with other people, this is the info they've pretty much portrayed.

Knowing your camera is definitely a big thing so you can manipulate it in whichever way and form you want.

Your friend has some awesome work Dnar.

A big thing is definitely post processing too though. Camera gear is as good as the person using it. You can have a pro shoot better shots with "worse" gear versus an amateur shoot with expensive gear. I've seen it done a lot of times.

Pretty great write up though especially for people starting up. Rule of thirds is KEY to learn first if you don't know much about composition.

Great find and post!
 

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Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku
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28,865 Posts
I would love to get a Nikkor 55-200mm lens. Might get it, along with a GoPro HD Hero 2, after my upcoming deployment.
I'd hold off on the 55-200. I had one for 1 day till I couldn't stand it anymore. Slow to focus, so a no-no for sports, had lens creep, so a no-no for shooting pics of the moon (the reason I bought it), and the color/contrast wasn't that great, either. Save up for the 70-300mm VR, or Tamron's 70-300mm VC (sharper than Nikon's).

But a GoPro HD 2 is 100% :thumbup:
 
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