Automotive photography p.1

what? & when?
Automotive photography is an interesting thing on its own. It appears to be rather male domain. However, the female sometimes also get infected. Comparing  my own experience in the field with bloggers’ I came to the obvious conclusion that general tips for mastering automotive photography come up easy and are universal. Some list eight while the others list fourteen of them, but at the end of the day the most important is common sense. The overarching take-home, however, is essentially the same as it would be in other forms of photography. However, I believe the automotive photography is more difficult than wedding, portrait or landscape one for one simple reason - the subject reflects the surroundings. And it is to be by all the means controlled. I would like to share some basic guidelines to help you understand this interesting niche in the photography world.

What? - cars & motorcycles

There is no golden rule, good or bad object in automotive photography - every make or size is worth of attention. Nevertheless, there are certain types which come out better than the others. I believe that everything depends on how emotional is our relationship with the subject. If you have a car you’re proud of, eventually you’re going to take some memorable and sharable photos of the wonderful machine you are there. Evergreens or vintage machines in good shape draw attention by themselves. Luxury and rare, expensive or fashionable specimens of cars and motorcycles have always been targets too. The sky is the limit, however, sometimes it takes long journey to get to the right spot at a certain time.
Cockpits are as important part of the driving experience as the body, but capturing them can be a challenge. Getting great shots of the cockpit is an essential part of car photography. These shots can really sell the car to a prospective buyer and make for really cool imagery. With cockpit shots it is important to combine wide angle photographs with close ups of particular details. This will give the viewer a real sense of the car and they should be able to imagine themselves behind the steering wheel. Grab close ups of leather stitching and any emblems incorporated in to the seat design.
One of the best angles to photograph a car is from the front but at a slight angle. This method can show a lot of the cars fine details in one single shot, such as the wheels, grille, bonnet and side panels. Additionally this technique will minimize the chances of you being reflected in the paintwork. When you are maneuvering the car be sure to turn the wheels in a way that they can be seen in the final image. This simple trick will look like your photograph really means business whilst also displaying another detail of the alloy wheels.
You should photograph all the interesting little details such as the alloy wheel branding, the badge on the bonnet etc. as they are the parts that make that car unique. The emblems of high performance vehicles are as iconic as the cars themselves. They encapsulate everything that the brand is about so getting details shots of these is very important.
It doesn’t really matter how good you can edit photos, if the car is dirty it will be hard to clean it in Photoshop. Ensure that you clean and dry the car thoroughly. Having a chamois leather handy will be a great way to keep the car in gleaming condition. A clean and shiny car will add real professionalism to your car photography. Obviously small specks of dust can be removed in Photoshop or Lightroom, but fingerprints and larger marks are easier to remove at the shooting stage.

When? – best lightning conditions

The rule of golden-hour shooting is hugely important. The hour after sunrise and the one before sunset offer the best light for photos; low-angle sunlight adds warmth and texture to the image, and the generally-dimmer lighting allowing you to balance the image elements more easily. Pay attention to clouds, and work hard to get the shot dialed-in, relative to the exposure. All types of paint react differently at different times of the day, with different light. Most colors hate direct sunlight, but some color works really well in direct sunlight. Shooting with the sun in the background is a challenge, and requires some editing work after the shot. Expose the frame so that the sun looks as you want it, and then go and brighten up the foreground by raising the shadows and lowering the highlights, both of which are easy settings to adjust in most photo editing software.
Shooting in the mid-day sun can be great for sharp shots but it will present challenges. You will have to deal with lots of reflections and harsh shadows especially for close up shots.
This might sound daunting but you will be amazed how awesome is shooting at night. The biggest secret here is to find a spot where it’s completely dark, any streetlights or even a full moon could make life tricky. When you have found this spot, set the camera up on a tripod. Set your ISO to 100, the shutter speed on 30 seconds and the aperture to f/9.
When the shutter opens take a strong constant light source and walk around the car ‘painting’ the car with your light. A normal household torch (flashlight) works for this. There are no rules here, paint the car in different ways to get different effects; you will be blown away with the results!

Stick around - soon about the location and best practices.
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