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I invite members to share their photography tips. I have learned a few by watching the magazine pros work when I worked at Metalcrafters. Here is a bullet list of the basics:

  • Pick a clean backdrop. Find a location where there is a big blank wall, or mountain top where there is nothing but sky behind the car. My favorite location is a grocery store back lot on a Sunday morning where the is no other parked cars. Get out of your driveway with the trash cans in the background!

  • Shoot during the "golden hour" of light. That is one hour after sunrise, or one hour before sunset. You get very warm light during this time and fewer harsh reflections than full sun.

  • Shoot unusual angles or use wide angle. Get the "dog's eye" view, or stand on a step ladder. It adds drama to the shot because it is a view that is not normally seen in person. The least dramatic view is one from a standing person at eye level.

  • Turn the front wheels to the camera. We don't want to see tread. Looks like the car is in motion.

  • Shoot 100 shots for every one that you want to keep. Move an inch, shoot. Move an inch, shoot. Digital is cheap. You will find one gem in a bag of rocks.

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Set your camera for the largest possible picture size and best possible picture quality. Use every megapixel you paid for.

If you have one of those SLR type rigs, use a tri-pod to stabilize the camera and get the most of the sharpness and resolution those cameras are capable of.

Good photographers spend lots of time setting up each photo; getting the car(s) parked just perfect, getting the camera positioned just perfect, getting the lighting perfect. Attention to detail pays big dividends. A photo journalist on the other hand just makes the best of each situation. The photographer I like to use, Mark Fechser, has a great blend of both qualities. He can take a fussy, perfectionist photo as well as anyone, but he can roll with the punches at a car show or track event too.

Dave is right that in general cars photograph best from the level of the belt-line and from a ladder or high position. Photos taken standing up, 5 to 6 feet above the ground, are the least flattering.

When shooting outdoors in the daytime, and if I have the time, I like to take two photos of every angle, one with flash and one without. Doesn't matter if its sunny or overcast. The flash may eliminate a shadow, and generally doesn't create any new problems. If I'm snapping pictures rapidly I may miss seeing a shadow problem before I snap the picture. Shadows can ruin an otherwise gorgeous picture. The extreme tuck-under of the Pantera's coachwork is especially bad at disappearing into the shadows. Automatically taking pictures with and without flash fixes problems I didn't see at the time I snapped the picture, it also allows me to compare the results and gives me choice.

Overcast & foggy days suck. That's generally what we have to work with in Monterey about half the time.

If you're using a model, have the model posed looking at the car, as though they are admiring it. This focuses attention on the car and not on the model.

Another benefit of early morning photo shoots, there's fewer interruptions, autos or pedestrians, getting into the frame.

On the downside ... you have to deal with long shadows thrown during those early morning and late afternoon photo shoots. The pro's have the reflectors and shades they can use to control the lighting on their subject ... you and I usually do not. Shadows are the enemy when it comes to auto photography, unless you're being creative and using shadow for dramatic effect.

On the subject of back ground ... verticle lines and objects (like trees or light poles) really detract from a picture. But you can't always find the perfect place or perfect angle with a perfect background. Thats where photoshop comes in. See how the picture below has been edited from the original.



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Last edited by George P
Originally posted by Dave2811:
  • Shoot during the "golden hour" of light. That is one hour after sunrise, or one hour before sunset. You get very warm light during this time and fewer harsh reflections than full sun.

  • Ansel Adam always shot at this time. Ansel Adams had a group they called the F64 club. F64 referred to the F-stop which was open about as much as a pin hole. It only let focused light in and exposures were in the minutes.

    When the sun begins to set, there is a moment which is often about 15 min where the lighting "pops". Before this period, light is too bright and shadows are too harsh. At this point it is like being in a studio where everything is evenly illuminated.

    You also want to keep an eye out for conditions where lighting suddenly becomes good. Dark storms where an object is front lit can be striking. I have also taken images where they are completely in shadows on bright sunny days but the light is far more even which came out very well.

    Images where the light is behind the object never come out well.

    Another important thing is to get close. Fill the frame with the car. Often I like to widen the angle then move in on the car and fill the frame. Shoot many photos and play with every angel. You will find after shooting 50 shots there is one shot that is a "that's it!".

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