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  1. #1
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    Default Improve your Car Photography

    A little tutorial i wrote some time ago, thought i would share......


    Hey guys... i have a number of requests over the last few years for some advice and tips on properly photographing cars for best effect. I would like to share a few ideas and suggestions for those who might like to improve their skills. There are several things that are very easy and low cost that will greatly change the look of photos, and it has nothing to do with what camera you are using. Megapixels matter when you are making huge enlargements to print and frame, or for magazine covers and such. For web and forum, FB, instagram etc, your iPhone or smart phone is just as effective.

    1. Lighting, lighting, lighting.......... oh, yeah, lighting. I can't emphasize this enough. Time of day matters tremendously for showing off or hiding flaws, defects in paint, swirl marks etc. The best time to photograph the car is dawn, or dusk. No full sun in the sky. When the sun slips over the horizon line, you have about 1/2 hour of perfection handed to you from your higher power. Free of charge. This will make your car look like a advertisement most of the time. Straight camera flash is never great unless you diffuse it with some material over the flash or bounce it off something. A soft fill light is nice if aimed right and not causing multiple reflections on the car.

    2. Car Placement. Move the car as far away from the background that you are shooting, unless the background is super clean and free of vertical objects growing from behind. (trees, utility poles, houses)
    By doing that, in combination with the next suggestion on lens choice, will make a very big difference.

    3. Lens choice. Try and place a good amount of distance between you and the car. Then use a longer focal length lens, or zoom to compress your background. You will have less distortion on the car as opposed to a wider lens in close, and your background will "separate' from your foreground as well giving a more 3-D effect.

    4. Exposure. Shoot in manual mode if you can. Use a wider aperture (lets in more light) but gives a softer depth of field, which is simple terms means the background in conjunction with a longer focal length lens becomes shallow and more unfocused, thereby making the car jump out from its background.

    5. ASA/ISO setting will control light sensitivity on your camera, and if you shoot at the times i laid out, if you work at 800-1200 ASA, and manually open your aperture to F2.8 or F4, you can adjust exposure with your shutter speed setting as well.

    6. invest in a tripod and cable release/remote for triggering your camera. Even with a very steady hand and a faster shutter speed, you will always get some shake when you hit the trigger. This will remove any shake or vibrations, and definitely give you sharper images.

    7. A few other small details. Turn the front wheel closest to the lens hard to the side that shows off the rim, not the wheel well and tire. Try changing your perspective when snapping to lower angles to get rid of unwanted things growing from behind.

    I hope this helps some of you, and would love to see a thread devoted to seeing the results of your efforts using these ideas and techniques to see what you have done.

    Best,

    David
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  2. #2
    FEP Power Member mustangmania's Avatar
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    Thanks for this! I photograph other people's cars occasionally and this will help. Now if only everybody on Craigslist and eBay would heed this advice.
    1984 Mustang GT Convertible
    1984 F150 Flareside

  3. #3
    FEP Super Member STANGMAN116's Avatar
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    I also should use this advise! Lol... thanks for the great post

  4. #4
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by STANGMAN116 View Post
    I also should use this advise! Lol... thanks for the great post
    Individually none of these things are very difficult, but when you connect the dots in your brain, its a lot of fine details that make all the difference. I use very little photoshop in my car pics, because i try and get things as perfect as possible when i shoot the pics. With digital photos and the fact you can preview every shot in camera is a huge game changer. Film was more challenging in that regard.
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  5. #5
    FEP Super Member Ken P's Avatar
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    There are a lot of folks who can't even center the car in the frame. Drives me crazy when they cut off the front, or the rear, or even both sometimes. Also if I have to make a choice of having more sky versus more pavement I'll go for more sky every time.
    86 LX Coupe 4E
    86 Capri 4E
    84 SVO Watkins Glen Pace Car 1E
    85 SVO Hertz 4E
    85.5 SVO 2R orig owner
    86 SVO 4E
    86 SVO 7B
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    55 Willys Jeep Overland Wagon

  6. #6
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken P View Post
    There are a lot of folks who can't even center the car in the frame. Drives me crazy when they cut off the front, or the rear, or even both sometimes. Also if I have to make a choice of having more sky versus more pavement I'll go for more sky every time.
    Ken, the beauty of posting online pics, is they don't have to conform to standard sizes like 8x10 or 5x7 crops or proportions. That said, you can make any kind of horizontal proportion to reduce pavement and/or sky based upon your own preference. Does not have to be a either/or situation at all.
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  7. #7
    FEP Super Member Ken P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MY70GT View Post
    Ken, the beauty of posting online pics, is they don't have to conform to standard sizes like 8x10 or 5x7 crops or proportions. That said, you can make any kind of horizontal proportion to reduce pavement and/or sky based upon your own preference. Does not have to be a either/or situation at all.
    This is true. I just like to take a picture right the first time so there will be no need for cropping or manipulation later. I'm just picky like that I guess...
    86 LX Coupe 4E
    86 Capri 4E
    84 SVO Watkins Glen Pace Car 1E
    85 SVO Hertz 4E
    85.5 SVO 2R orig owner
    86 SVO 4E
    86 SVO 7B
    66 Fastback
    55 Willys Jeep Overland Wagon

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken P View Post
    There are a lot of folks who can't even center the car in the frame. Drives me crazy when they cut off the front, or the rear, or even both sometimes. Also if I have to make a choice of having more sky versus more pavement I'll go for more sky every time.
    Sometimes cutting off part of a car is unavoidable. I've lost count of how many times I've been at a car show or museum and even after backing up as far as I physically can from the subject I still cannot fit all of it in the frame.

  9. #9
    FEP Super Member Ken P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNT View Post
    Sometimes cutting off part of a car is unavoidable. I've lost count of how many times I've been at a car show or museum and even after backing up as far as I physically can from the subject I still cannot fit all of it in the frame.
    Yep. Kinda like this? Extra points for who can name the car and the place.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    86 LX Coupe 4E
    86 Capri 4E
    84 SVO Watkins Glen Pace Car 1E
    85 SVO Hertz 4E
    85.5 SVO 2R orig owner
    86 SVO 4E
    86 SVO 7B
    66 Fastback
    55 Willys Jeep Overland Wagon

  10. #10
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    Well the car looks like a Shelby Daytona Coupe. Engine tells me it might be original rather than a Superformance replica. No idea where it is though.

  11. #11
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    You can see some of the actual techniques i use in the thread below. Might be helpful...

    http://vb.foureyedpride.com/showthre...ighlight=texas
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  12. #12
    FEP Super Member Ken P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNT View Post
    Well the car looks like a Shelby Daytona Coupe. Engine tells me it might be original rather than a Superformance replica. No idea where it is though.
    This is at the Shelby factory and museum in Las Vegas. It was first on my list of places to see when I made the trip in March. I was lucky to get these pics without somebody walking in front of me as it was crowded. It is actually a Superformance body but everything else is real Daytona coupe components from the original car. This is the Brock Yates car.
    86 LX Coupe 4E
    86 Capri 4E
    84 SVO Watkins Glen Pace Car 1E
    85 SVO Hertz 4E
    85.5 SVO 2R orig owner
    86 SVO 4E
    86 SVO 7B
    66 Fastback
    55 Willys Jeep Overland Wagon

  13. #13
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    I can't stand the photos people take where they get a great background put their is a lightpole, tree or something sticking up behind it.

  14. #14
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    Oh, I just remembered seeing a demonstration of this thread in a magazine years ago. Can't remember if it was Hot Rod or Car Craft.

    They took a pic that deliberately made all the mistakes and then pointed them all out. Front wheel turned the wrong way, car parked in front of a dumpster, trash from photographer's lunch on the ground next to the car, pretty much everything listed.

    If I can find the issue I'll see about scanning it.

  15. #15
    FEP Super Member Ken P's Avatar
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    Another pic from the Shelby facility that just happens to be the topic here.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    86 LX Coupe 4E
    86 Capri 4E
    84 SVO Watkins Glen Pace Car 1E
    85 SVO Hertz 4E
    85.5 SVO 2R orig owner
    86 SVO 4E
    86 SVO 7B
    66 Fastback
    55 Willys Jeep Overland Wagon

  16. #16
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    Not car related, but these are a few highlights of a corporate job i did yesterday in NYC for a large IT company.










    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  17. #17
    FEP Supporter webestang's Avatar
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    A lot of times when I'm shooting for a client I'll use a close up shot as a back drop for multiple shot poster.....


    Scotty
    1985 Fox Notch 4-banger Ranger tube header Eastwood Royal Blue
    1988 Fox LX 5.0 AOD Vert BBK 170mph speedo Candy Apple Red
    1999 Mustang Coupe V6 Auto Chrome Yellow (My Pop decided to borrow this instead of the Vic "It's too big!"...LOL)
    1996 Crown Vic LX 4.6 Silver "Gort" Daily Driver

    Past Pony's.....
    68 Coupe Inline-6 3-Speed-Man. Primer
    78 II Hatch 302 3-Speed-Auto Sunroof Black
    81 4-Eye Coupe 4-Banger 4-Speed-Man. White

  18. #18
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webestang View Post
    A lot of times when I'm shooting for a client I'll use a close up shot as a back drop for multiple shot poster.....

    Looks great, i use a design program that makes comps like that very simple, i can knock out designs of this type in minutes with it.
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  19. #19
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Excellent info contained here. I still have and use my high school graduation present; a Minolta SRT-201. I haven't used it lately. There aren't many, if any, places left that develop film of any type. I wish I still had my darkroom.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder and Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
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  20. #20
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    There are several mail order labs that process film and burn to cd.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  21. #21
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MY70GT View Post
    There are several mail order labs that process film and burn to cd.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I am unfamiliar with them. Do you have any contact info for these mail order labs?
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder and Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
    2.3L Horsepower Potential Thread
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  22. #22
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    https://thedarkroom.com/film-developing/


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  23. #23
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Thank you. I have that site bookmarked now.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder and Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
    2.3L Horsepower Potential Thread
    Buyer/Seller Experience Link
    Build Thread
    The Four-Eyed Game - 2017 Version

  24. #24
    FEP Power Member MY70GT's Avatar
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    So, has anyone used the suggestions here to create new car pics? I would love to see what everyone has been up to.....
    1983 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 5.0
    1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7 5.0 (Traded)
    1989 Lincoln LSC 5.0 HO (Sold)
    2008 Saab 9-7x Aero 6.0 LS2 (1 of 555)
    2011 Ford Flex SEL (Family Hauler)

  25. #25
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Sadly, I have not. Final exams are this week. I had one on Monday, have one this afternoon and another, my last of the semester, tomorrow afternoon. Then I'm off for three whole days before summer classes begin on Monday.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder and Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
    2.3L Horsepower Potential Thread
    Buyer/Seller Experience Link
    Build Thread
    The Four-Eyed Game - 2017 Version

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