More tips and trics for carphotography
The range of textures and finishes on a car body has always been tricky for photographers to tackle. Automobile photography has become a practiced art form and if you can crack the skill, it’ll often yield spectacular results. Every car is different, but there are some general tips which you can employ on your own shoots to try and get the perfect photo.
Not another car show.
Your best chance to get up close and personal with a vintage or high-performance model will probably be at car shows. Often hosted outdoors, you’ll be at the mercy of the arc of the sun. There’s rarely room to be constructing lighting rigs because of the crowds and the other cars packed in there. One option you have is get up-close and use fill-in flash. You will need fill-in flash because of the natural angles of a car, there will be shadowed areas that need lighting up (in wheel rims, under bonnets.)
Switch it up.
When shooting close-ups, it’s worth mentioning that a big hit in car photography are shots from uncommon angles. If you’re doing an interior shot, you do not want to be sitting in any of the seats. Crack those seats back and get a little further from the dash and the dials. Familiar views won’t be capturing anybody’s attention for long.
The early bird.
Another option to combat the problems found at open-air events is to arrive early, you’ll often be let in simply by wearing a high-visibility jacket and brandishing your camera. We all know that mid-morning light is one of the best, but you should always be using your flash. Every shot. Every time. Getting there early allows you to ensure that your lighting is the only one which illuminates the shot, and you can avoid the normally inescapable reflections of spectators.
The best tip I ever received was to use an ultra-wide angle lens. I had previously thought that they were only used for the high-degree landscape shots, but when you use them in close proximity to an object, the effect is incredible. Looking at two shots from the same distance and angle, one with a standard lens and one with an ultra-wide, you would see the latter looking exaggerated and involved, giving the subject a three dimensional effect. It pulls the subject area closest to the lens up and out, while the background area is pushed far back. This makes great viewing for under the bonnet and interior shoots.
The sky’s the limit.
You’ll undoubtedly be running into the troubles of lighting on an overcast day. A lot of angles will incorporate the sky into the shot and you want to be able to get the most from this, even on a cloudy day. Using a top-to-bottom graduated filter will give you a clear shot of the car whilst darkening or lightening the skies above it. A light blue filter on an overcast day will allow you to really capture the intensity of storm/rain clouds. This effect will be particularly striking with grey and silver high gloss cars.
Meant to move.
Cars are built for speed and performance and photographing them as stationary objects is against the nature of the beast. You want to emulate the purpose of the car as much as you can in your shoot, try to capture its personality. If it’s a low-slung and streamlined Lotus Exige, you want to be down at the grill with a tyre turned sharply. If you’re shooting the lines of a Mustang, you want to be at the corner of the tail-lights shooting towards the bonnet, capturing the sweep of the body as it rushes forward in straight-line speed.
Gymnastics aren’t for girls.
You’ll find yourself rolling in the mud to get those perfect shots and you’ll just as likely be climbing in the eaves. You need to grab your object from anywhere but eye-level, take a ladder and capture the shape of the roof, get down and dirty with the underbelly of the car at asphalt level. A tip for photographing individual parts of a car, take a cloth and polish! If you’ve finally found the perfect position at an obscure angle beneath the car, you don’t want to have to lose it to wipe the smudges away. Clean any area that you’re going to be shooting, this can’t be stressed enough when you’re working with machines of grease and oil.
Think outside the box.
Put yourself into positions and experiment with the aperture. Chances are, you’ll probably stumble across perfection accidentally unless you’re a seasoned veteran. Try out angles that you don’t necessarily think would work, it’s surprising how often you chance across greatness or at least find inspiration.
Break the mould, but don’t break the car.
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