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Car photography tips

Professional car photographers spend years developing their techniques and their own individual styles. This segment is not intended to turn you into a pro car shooter but it will give you the necessary tips so that you can get some really worthwhile photos of your car.

This current version is fairly brief at the moment but we plan to expand it into a much more comprehensive read in the near future.

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Location: Choose a location that offers a background that will not compete with the car. The simpler and cleaner the better. Try to avoid trees and poles sticking out of the car if possible or you will need to remove them in Photoshop later.

Nowadays pro photographers love to experiment with grungy, competing backgrounds. Often these locations can look spectacular but they can be tricky to work with.

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Lighting: Contrary to popular belief, Direct sun is not always the best light. There are times when brightly overcast conditions may be better. It all depends on the car and the prevailing conditions. Experiment to see what best suits your car. If shooting in direct sunlight, avoid shooting the shadow side of the car if possible, although sometimes this can create interesting effects.

Camera angle: There are no real hard and fast rules when it comes to choice of angles. This is where your own creative flair comes into play. Walk around the car and look at it from all angles. If youíve got an eye for photography youíll know when it looks right.

Lens focal length: The focal length of your lens will effect perspective. Experiment with different focal length lenses from wide angle to telephoto. Wide angle used up close to the subject will give a distorted effect while a telephoto lens will produce a more compressed effect.

Reflections: Reflections can be frustrating to deal with in car photography. The darker the paint, the more noticeable any reflections will be. Professionals use all kinds of tricks and trade secrets to deal with these on a regular basis, but for the enthusiast perhaps the best approach is to simply choose a location that has as little as possible in the area that is likely to reflect in the paint.

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Attention to detail: If possible, ensure the following: Windows should be up unless you are shooting a pillarless coupe. These usually photograph better with all the windows down. Antennas should be down. Sunvisers should be up and out of sight. Excess dust and dirt should be removed from tyre treads.

Think outside the box: Donít make the mistake of trying to copy all the angles that you see in magazines. Remember that those pictures were taken with magazine pages in mind, allowing for text, insets etc. An angle that looks great laid out in a magazine may not necessarily suit a framed wall print. Again, experimentation is the key.

Hi res Vs Lo res: While it is the photographer that takes the photo and not the equipment, you are limited by the scope of your gear. Most professionals nowadays are using a minimum of around 11 mega pixels for anything A3 size or bigger but acceptable results can be achieved with 6 mega pixels if you use high quality lenses and the right techniques. If your camera has a facility for shooting RAW files, use it. This will ensure that you are capturing the original image at the highest possible quality available to your equipment. You can then convert these to Tiffs or Jpegs of varying sizes and quality depending on your intended usage of the images.

Examples: If you are submitting your car to us for consideration as a magazine feature, we only require lo-res jpegs at 72 dpi via email. This is because we only need to see what the car looks like at this stage. In fact we regularly get submissions that have been taken with mobile phones.

Further reading: To go into greater detail on this subject is beyond the scope of this article and we recommend searching the internet for more information. There are many websites dedicated to digital photography. A quick search in Google should bring up the most popular ones. Your local library is another great resource for free information on this and other related subjects.

Coming soon: We will be updating this section shortly with tips and info on these topics and more:

Equipment overview:
Photo editing software:


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