Tips for Photographing Your Own Car

Automobiles make great photographic subjects. Whether listening to the raspy roar of a Formula One car blasting off the banking or enjoying the quiet elegance of a vintage Packard Sport Phaeton parked on manicured grass, cars and photography are a natural combination. The best way to learn how to photograph cars is the same as the classic punchline: “Practice, man, practice.” Get out your camera and make some pictures of your car! Here’s a few tips to get you started:

Find an interesting location: The thing to look for is not what surrounds the car but what’s in the background. This picture of my now-departed Jaguar XJ-S V12 was made on a dead end street that backed up to a park, with the park as the background. As I was shooting, a guy on the bike starts across the bridge and click! I had the shot. In fact I got two; this is the first. I didn’t have the control to hose down the street to create a slick street reflection so I used a Photoshop plug-in called Flood from Flaming Pear Software.

Jaguar XJ-S

Use a longer or shorter lens than you normally do. With long lenses get as far away form the camera as possible and shoot it using the longest focal length lens you have. The above image was made while I was writing a book about the Pentax K100 and was shoot using a smc PENTAX-DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED at 180mm (270mm equivalent.) Exposure was 1/35 sec at f/8 and ISO 200. For your wide angle lenses, do the opposite. Get wide and close to the car. The idea is to create drama. The next image of my also departed Jaguar XJ-6 was shot at a really low angle with a Leica digilux 2 at a low angle using the 28-90 mm (equiv) f/2.0-2.4 lens at its widest setting.

Joe Farace Shoots Cars

Joe Farace Shoots CarsUse a higher angle: Get a higher viewpoint by either the geography of the location or bring a ladder. it can be as simple as step stool or a 22-foot ladder that I used to photograph a car collection.

These are far from the only suggestion about photographing your own car but as out Monday “Favorite Car” series continues on my car photography blog, I’ll be sure to include others, here and there.


Author: Joe Farace

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