From the Vault: Photographing Parts of Cars

Be sure to make images of parts of cars. Don’t be frustrated by the lack of space and crowded working conditions found at shows. Use that to your advantage by finding small details, such as the delicate nature of a Bugatti’s grille or the sensuous lines of a street rod’s fender and capture them in sharp focus.

Wide-angle lenses or wide angle zooms let you fill up the frame with part or even the entire car while eliminating background distractions but make sure your zoom lens allows close focusing. Wide-angle zooms let you get close during crowded car shows but during racing events you’ll need longer zoom lenses to bring the cars closer without getting too near to a Porsche traveling at more than 100mph. The 1936 Hudson was photographed at the Unser Racing Museum with a Canon EOS Rebel T3 and 11-11 lens with an exposure of 1/50 sec at /6.3 and ISO 6400. ©2011 Joe Farace

The large crowds at most car shows often make it impossible to use a tripod so I seldom use one but be sure to ask one of the show’s officials before schlepping any kind of support to a show. Image Stabilization or Vibration Reduction lenses or other kinds of in-body anti-shake technology are an alternative and let you hand hold slower-than-normal shutter speeds while maintaining small enough apertures. This HDR image of a classic DeSoto at right was shot with a Canon EF8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens (at 13mm.) ©2011 Joe Farace

Tip: When shooting in a museum or private collection, always get permission to use a tripod and although I occasionally bring a tripod most of the time it stays in my car’s trunk, Some museums don’t permit their use without a permit but monopods provide a steady platform for your camera in low light conditions, including museums or end-of-day outdoors shots and you may be able to get by using a tabletop tripod for on-the-ground low angle shots.

Author: Joe Farace

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