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Car Photography

Just as with portraits car photography is all about flattering the subject.

|  Transport
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Photo by David Burleson

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Your standard lens is fine as you can alter the shot by moving your position but you may find a wide angle lens handy for your low shots. A polariser will help you reduce reflections and you'll also be able to show the interior of the car through the windows. if you pop one in front of your lens. Just remember your shutter speed will slow so you may need a tripod to give your DSLR, such as the K-5II featured in the Pentax cashback offer, that bit of extra support. Make sure you're checking your images when using a polariser too as they can over flatten the shape of the car. If you're photographing dark parts such as in the engine or the grill use a reflector to bounce light into the shadows but make sure you don't create reflections in the car's paintwork with it.


Tidy Your Car

Before you put a lens anywhere near your car make sure you've gone over it with a bucket of water as unless it's made for going off road, a dirty car will ruin your shot. Remove any stickers, signs or cuddly toys out of sight too.


Bad light makes a car look ugly so make sure there's no objects that could distort your light where you want to take your photograph. Avoid a clear blue sky on a very bright day as you'll just get harsh shadows and images with a lot of contrast but if it's slightly overcast get out there with your kit as quick as you can as a cloudy sky will act like a really good softbox, helping you create shots that aren't obviously lit.


Think about your location carefully – a 4X4 will look great at the top of a mountain but stick a little Fiat up there and it will look lost. A road, it if it's not too busy, or a large paved area will work just fine but this doesn't mean it has to be in a town or city. A road out in the middle of nowhere can work just as well particularly if it has a great vista that can add to the image. Don't pick one where traffic flies by constantly as we don't want you getting run over and a busy street will just leave you with a messy background - they should complement or contrast but never distract.
Take a good look around your viewfinder before taking your shot to make sure any rubbish is out of the scene and to ensure your car's not got telephone poles or trees growing out of the top of it. Make sure these unwanted items and yourself aren't reflected in the paintwork of the car either.

Photo by David Burleson

Framing And Angles 

Fill the frame with the car but this doesn't mean it has to be in the centre of the shot. Move your angle slightly and you'll see how moving it to the left or right of the shot can make a big difference to the overall image just make sure you don't clip off a wing mirror or a wheel in the process.

The style of car you're shooting can change how you shoot it. As with a person you're looking for angles and detail which will show them at their best so take a walk round it and find the little details and shapes which make the car unique. Get up high to show the cars overall shape or crouch at headlight level to make it look intimidating. Just make sure you can't see the background underneath the car and make sure the sky's not overexposed.


We said earlier that you can use a polariser to reduce reflections but if you have the right reflection it can add an all new dimension to your photo. They can help emphasis shape and add depth to an image but again what car you're photographing will help you decide if this will work or not. Stepping further back so you can see the reflection of the horizon down the side of the car can also work brilliantly, particularly at sunset or if you're in a picturesque location.

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NDODS 9 5.2k 127 United Kingdom
25 Jul 2013 9:43AM
A very well written article with some great tips and superb photographic example..

Nathan GrinGrinGrin

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