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Thread: Photo Shoot - Cars

  1. #1

    MacRab's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 14, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    Photo Shoot - Cars
    Hi all

    I'm preparing to photograph the cars of two of my close friends.

    - A black Series 7 Mazda RX7 (this one I'm quite excited about). Looks very much like this pic

    - A Silver Subaru WRX (meh...this was the deal clincher, the car will be on the market soon so I will take some photos for my friend)

    I'd like to make the most of this, I have at my disposal an Olympus E-500, lenses include 14-45mm, 40-150mm and 70-300mm, on camera flash only, no real lighting tools to speak of, but am willing to make small investments for the right tools to get the right shots. Also a Diana+ camera (lomo) and a Canon (film) SLR camera.

    I'm interested in your ideas, creatively, composition, locations anything. And if you have pictures you've taken feel free to share

  2. #2

    christm's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 18, 2005
    Devon, England
    For cars its all about light I think, especially when they are still, for subtle lighting use dawns or dusks which gives a nice colour to everything and a gentle light.

  3. #3

    AConfire's Avatar
    Member Since
    Apr 18, 2008
    A bit late, but here goes...

    If there are any valley roads/highways where you can park on the side, definitely go there. When the valley is behind you, and the sun is setting, the lighting is brilliant and can offer beautiful results.

    Take the DSLR, and shoot RAW. You'll need a RAW conversion software, like Adobe Camera RAW (plug-in for photoshop/bridge)...

    Make sure you show the curves in the car. Try many many many different angles and perspectives. Show the unique and mysterious look through the cars front, side, and back. Turn the wheels to get a nice angle of the rims, while having the car faced diagonal from your camera...

    Just shoot as much as possible. I think you'll be using the 14-45mm most of the time. But take the other lenses as well. You might not even need to use the flash. If you see shadows around the image taken with natural light, pop open the flash and shoot a slow-sync shot, so that your exposure is still based for the natural light, but the flash is only firing to fill the shadows. That can offer some nice results if you need the flash for shadows.

    Choose a nice spot to take the shots. Valley's can work wonders, but any type of curved road is great. If you can, ask your friend(s) to drive the car on a fairly isolated and lone road, while you stand on the side panning with them. These offer great results as well. Another option is to sit in one of your friends car, while driving next to or slightly in front your other friends car, and leaning out the window going to same speed as the other car, taking a shot at around 1/3 or 1/5 of a second shutter. Maybe even slightly faster. This will give a great result too. Keep in mind the location, and stay safe

    My last piece of advice, for now, is to view car photographs from car manufacturers like Lotus, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, BMW, Bentley, and so forth, and remember the compositions of the shots you liked best. Some of the greatest compositions are from previously taken photographs.

    Good luck and have fun!
    Remember to show us your results.


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  4. #4

    MacRab's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 14, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks AC, that is very helpful. I still have a few weeks before the shoot while a dented door is being fixed. I'm told there was a bit of an accident

  5. #5

    Village Idiot's Avatar
    Member Since
    Apr 04, 2007
    Durtburg, WV
    Lighting a car can be and exhausting job. Same with "properly" photographing a car. You're not just shooting the car afterall, you're shooting everything that reflects off the paint. It's like shooting a giant tinted mirror. If you park at some place like an industrial complex, you'll see all the building and equipment in the paint.

    And with lighting, most professional lighting is done by firing strobes off of something like a white board. Firing a flash directly at the car gets you a photo of the car with a reflection of the flash head going off on the car. It should only provide you with slight specular highlights and not a good coverage, like shooting a person or any other non reflective surface. What you would want to do is have a white board (4'x8' is good) held up to what ever side you want to light, then fire how ever many strobes at it that you need to light that part of the car to how you want it.

    If you look at the tiny RX7 Picture, it looks like this trick was used as you can see that the angle lights the ridges on the top, but the light bouncing from the floor is lighting the bottom of the car and making it white.

    A good site about flashes and doing it cheap:

    And look up some sites about car photography.
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  6. #6
    as stated its all about angles, but do what you feel natural. i took a couple of my friends car, and edited them in iPhoto.

    These were taken with a Kodak Z712 IS. I don't use the auto feature unless i absolutely have to, and these are the results of careful planning, lots of time, and many, many photos.

    first of all, setting is vital. make sure the setting of your photo is aesthetically pleasing. here is my setting.

    here is a photo previous to being edited. (i edited the photos per the owners request.)

    here is the rest, of the final result. the effect im going for is something of an aged look, or possibly vintage, but with all that modern feel

    notice the focal point of this photo is the sky, of course after your eyes are drawn to the car.

    just playing with angles, the one below is a similar angle with a flash used to accent the lights. it has also been edited slightly different.

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  7. #7

    Member Since
    Mar 27, 2008
    Alberta, Canada
    There is nothing good about the composition of any of those shots.


  8. #8

    Member Since
    Jun 26, 2005
    Lancashire UK
    Maybe constructive criticism may be more helpful Blizare.

    The shots didn't particularly WOW me either but if I had decided to put any of my pics up on here, I would hope that the good users of this forum would point me in the right direction to try and help me improve my skills.

    I am a new photographer and am very much in the newbie class so I am no expert and do not feel confident enough to be able to tell others how to improve their pics but thought I would just make a point in trying to be considerate to other users.
    Just the road and my MBP.. wohoo.. No wireless networks - DOH! Oh well, wheres my ipod! :headphone

  9. #9

    eric's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 04, 2006
    twin cities, mn, usa
    yeah, not the best advice blizare - i'm not super thrilled with those shots either, but that was simply rude.

    you've got a couple very nice cars there. some good advice here too, especially the bit about shooting at dawn or dusk, those are definitely the magic hours for lighting cars.
    village idiot, as usual offers some great technical advice about reflectivity.

    one hting i noticed that seemed to be missing was persepective. make sure you take a few "standard" shots, for sure, but take some chances too. get down low, lay down, or use a small tripod as low as it will sit, get up high too, bring a step-stool or ladder or use your environment to try different angles. don't be too afraid to crop parts of the car, but keep composition in mind.
    For example, in chris' last three shots of the 'stang:
    in shot 3, cropping the bottom much closer to the bottom of the car, and much off of the left side, would have done wonders.
    in shot 4, cropping feels forced, very tight framing would have worked better than the chopping of the bumper and right rear tire.
    in shot 5, well, this could have gone either way really. opening it up to avoid the akward crop would have been safe, but i would probably have opted to tighten all sides of the shot for a more dramatic effect. tilting the shot so the rear of the car was higher and the shadow under the tires was horizontal would have worked well too... hang on, i'll show you what i mean.

    here's about a minute and a half with the blindingly simple microsoft picture editor and shot 5... hope you don't mind Chris

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  10. #10

    Village Idiot's Avatar
    Member Since
    Apr 04, 2007
    Durtburg, WV
    Bad example:
    There's a hot spot on the rear:

    setup shot, see the bare strobe firing at the rear? That's the bright reflection you get. Notice the car itself isn't very well lit. What bit it's getting it specular reflections from the lights and the reflection of the lit up ground:
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  11. #11

    Member Since
    Aug 12, 2008
    If you've got some spare time, check out and ask there. They are all really friendly guys and I've seen some really nice shots come out of there.

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