Car Show Tips, Tools & Techniques, part II

One of the most important things to keep in mind when photographing a car is camera angle. You should simplify the overall composition by eliminating distractions at eye level, which is the way most people shoot cars. Low or high angles not only provide a different perspective but minimize background clutter. Some pros use twenty-foot stepladders, but even a short, two-step kitchen step stool will get you higher than eye level.

In the above shot of a VW Beetle that was parked on a super market parking lot, I was holding a point-and-shoot digital camera over my head in a classic “Hail Mary” shot. The blur was added later in Photoshop.

Ask one of the organizers before schlepping any kind of support to a car show, especially if it’s an indoor show. If you can’t get higher, try low angles. The best shots can be made when you’re lying on the ground pointing your camera at odd angles up at the car. One of the disadvantages of using low camera angles and wide-angle lenses is that sometimes wheels will not be round because of distortion at the edges of the lens, focal length, and camera angle. If that’s the kind of technical problem that bothers you, you’ll need to shoot with a view camera or pricey tilt-shift lens. It doesn’t bother me.

What am I photographing up on that ladder? You can read all about on the post called “On Assignment: Photographing a Car Collection.”

Author: Joe Farace

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