almost eight Tips for Stunning Car Photography

8 Tips for Stunning Vehicle Photography

8 tips for stunning car photography

Vehicle photography is tons of enjoyable – but it can also be extremely intimidating unless you know the tips of the trade.

Fortunately, as a professional car photographer, I’ve developed plenty of techniques for creating top-notch pictures of cars. And in this informative article, I’m going to share eight important tips, including:

  • The best lighting regarding car photo shoots
  • Plenty of ideas intended for amazing car pictures
  • Common car pictures mistakes to look out for
  • Much, much more!

So no matter your own skill level, if you’re ready to learn to photograph cars like an expert, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started.

1 . Shoot in the right time of day

The most common mistake people make when shooting cars? Moving out during the middle of the day, when the light is harsh, unflattering, and just all-around bad . It’s the surefire way to end up with poor automobile shots, and it definitely isn’t going to impress your own clients.

Instead, the best time to do vehicle photography is a few minutes after sunset (or a few minutes prior to sunrise). The light is soft, there’s no direct sun, and you can capture a beautiful, almost ethereal, effect. Use a tripod – the light won’t be particularly strong, so a remote release is also a good idea – and get that perfect soft light on the paint.

Note that you can also shoot vehicles during the fantastic hours – an hour or two before sunset plus an hour or two after sunrise – but be careful; the more immediate the lighting, the tougher it is to create a flattering image. For close-up images, consider using a reflector to deal with pesky shadows.

This particular photo was taken a couple of minutes before sunrise:

2 . Be on the lookout for reflections

If you’re after expert car photos, you must carefully control what shows in the car. One of the most important matters you want to show in your car pictures is the design ranges, yet reflections can ruin these lines very rapidly. So before you capture a single photo, have a look around you, in that case look closely at the car and see what reflects away from its surface.

You see, a car (especially a brand new, shiny one) is like an image. So if you shoot with structures or trees in front of the car, they’ll reflect off the surface and appear in your pictures. Instead, aim to have an open up space behind you, like a field or an ocean. If you’re stuck in a location with busy surroundings, you can always try to change your perspective; by getting down low, you might be able to get rid of the distractions and instead come away with a sky reflection in the car (which looks way much better; see the image at the end of this particular section).

Professional tip: Be very careful not to include your own reflection within the photo. If you’re struggling, it’s best to put the camera on the tripod, set the self-timer, and move out of the shot. Just look at this photo We took of a dark, sparkly BMW 428i; behind myself was nothing except the particular horizon. In fact , you can obviously see the horizon reflecting within the car:

Car photography tips BMW428i

3. Take driving photos

Here’s certainly one of my favorite tips for creative vehicle photography:

Shoot the car out of one more moving car. (Please be super careful when achieving this; make sure that both you and your digital camera are well-secured before actually thinking about taking a photograph. )

The moving car shot appears gorgeous, plus it conveys a beautiful sense of motion. This particular Audi S3 was photo before sunset; it was traveling at 70 km/h (43 mph), and I used the shutter speed of 1/125s:

car driving along the road

Unfortunately, you can’t just hop into your car, zoom together, and take some photos out the window. Rather, you’ll need to carefully choose your speed, position, and settings. Here are my recommendations:

  • Get a driver, so that you’re in the passenger seat and liberated to concentrate on the photo capture
  • Secure your camera to the inside of the vehicle or your body using a strap
  • The two vehicles should match speeds, along with your car slightly ahead and in the adjacent lane; 60 km/h (37 mph) is a great starting point, as you’ll get some nice movement on the road and on the wheels, but you will not be going so fast the shoot becomes difficult
  • Set your camera to its continuous shooting mode and set your own shutter speed to 1/100s or so. A little blur is good, as it communicates movement. You can even decrease the shutter acceleration further, though this will decrease your ratio of keepers to duds.
  • Capture on low-traffic roads. You will do not want to frustrate or even distract other drivers along with your photo shoot.

Because this type of chance involves so many (literally) relocating parts, you’re going to are available away with plenty of unsuccessful images. But if you use broke mode, you experiment with different shutter speeds, and you put in the hours, you’ll start to capture some genuinely amazing photos.

4. Pay attention to the color of the car

Different types of paint respond differently to changing light. I know I said that you need to avoid direct sunlight, and it is real, but you’ll occasionally find colors that handle direct sunlight really well.

Just look at this baby azure Beetle shot in the middle of the afternoon:

Beetles on gravel

Therefore don’t be afraid to experiment with different lighting conditions. And generally review your shots carefully afterward, making mental (or physical) notes about the color and how it looks.

Pro tip: If you want to jumpstart your understanding of lighting plus car colors, head to a parking lot at different times of the day, then go around and (discreetly) take pictures of cars. Obviously, you need to use good judgment and be cautious; don’t do a full car photo shoot while the proprietor stands and watches, and look out for cars driving about that might accidentally run a person over.

5. Choose your background thoroughly

A beautiful history adds that perfect finishing contact to a car photo, whilst a bad and/or distracting background can instantly ruin the shot.

What counts as a good history? Anything non-distracting. Ideally, it should emphasize the main subject as well as complement the car (and suit the theme).

Bad backgrounds, on the other hand, are usually distracting, they draw the eye, and they don’t make sense particular the car color, shape, or theme. For instance, dustbins, power lines, and other cars may kill a picture. You can remove these in Photoshop sometimes , but it’s best to avoid them in the first place (plus, it’ll save you amount of time in the long run).

For this Aston Matn shot, I used an easy background. The yellow paint matches the car’s color:

Car photography aston martin

six. Pan for motion blur

I’ve already talked about shooting cars from a moving car. In case you want a beautiful motion blur effect and you don’t such as the idea of photographing out the moving car window, why not try panning instead?

Simply stand close to the road and let the car generate past you. Follow the car with your lens in one smooth action and set the shutter speed to 1/125s. You will be amazed by how easy this is!

Of course , you’ll end up with plenty of unsuccessful shots, but the good types will make it all worthwhile (and you can maximize the number of great images by using your camera’s burst mode and shooting off a series of shots along with every attempt). Also, you can test this technique after dark for some very interesting night car digital photography results.

This particular Ferrari was shot in 1/125s at 200mm. The car was driving roughly thirty seven mph (60 km/h):

red ferrari moving

7. Allow the car interact with nature

Here’s another way to catch a photo that speaks to the viewer:

Don’t just park the vehicle in a parking lot or even along a road plus snap some shots. Instead, make the car interact with the surroundings.

Examples of this could be a car generating dust or a 4×4 generating over an obstacle. Understand this Chevrolet Trailblazer climbing over a rock:

trailblazer wide-angle lens

The car/rock combination emphasizes the ruggedness of the Trailblazer. Plus, by using a wide-angle zoom lens and shooting from straight down low, I made the car loom, like it’s the king of the mountains.

Here’s another example, this one of a G-Class AMG drifting on loose fine sand:

car moving across sand

Do not you just love the movement this conveys? The whole photo is certainly packed with energy.

8. Shoot at night

Night car photography might sound daunting, but you will be amazed by how easy and awesome it is! The biggest secret here is to find a spot exactly where it’s completely dark; any kind of streetlights or even a full celestial body overhead could make life tricky.

Once you’ve found the right spot, set up your own camera on a tripod. Fixed your INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG to 100, the shutter speed in order to 30 seconds, and the aperture to f/9.

When the shutter opens, take a strong constant light source plus walk around the car, “painting” it with the light . A normal household torch works for this.

There are no rules right here. Paint the car in different ways to get different effects, and you will be amazed by the results! Here are some samples of this technique:

Car photography tips Opel Astra light painting
This is an Opel Astra shot next to Table Mountain with Cape City in the background.

Dodge Charger with the skyline of Detroit City
This is a Dodge Charger with the skyline of Of detroit in the background. The photo took me no longer than five minutes to set up and capture.

Tips for taking better photos of cars: conclusion

Car photography may seem hard, but with these handy suggestions, you’re well-equipped to take some stunning car photos of your own.

So pick your favorite technique from your article, get outside, and start shooting!

Do you have any additional car picture taking tips or favorite pictures you’ve taken of vehicles? Please share them within the comments below !





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Desmond Louw

Desmond Louw

is really a location and automotive professional photographer in Cape Town, South Africa and in Berlin, Germany. He collaborates with Antonia Heil as genetics photographers. He started out shooting skateboarding and spent hours and days getting lost in the darkroom. Today Desmond’s focus plus passion is automotive photography. Stay connected with him on his facebook page. You can see more of his work on their website or even Instagram user profile

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