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Old 12-31-2013, 05:04 PM   #112
Series #8217
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Use a tripod. Some of the best shots are around sunrise and sunset -- there isn't a lot of light. If you notice your camera shake when you hit the shutter button, set a 2 second delay. Tap the shutter then move your hand away from the camera. The 2 second delay lets it stabilize before the picture is taken.

Don't use a flash.

Since you want to take a picture of a CAR and not a landscape, find an area with nothing but sky in the backdrop, like a field or a massive parking lot with no lamp posts.

If you can't find an area with nothing in the background, then find an area that will give some backgrounds which complements the car. This will require you to have a better eye for composition.

If you have a background, don't keep shooting on the same spot. Change the composition. Move the car around, shoot from the other side, etc. If keep shooting on the same background, all your pictures are going to look very similar since the background is a major part of the composition.

You can also use a zoom lens and take advantage of the telephoto effect and narrow depth of field to turn a busy background into beautiful bokeh.

Here's an example:

This is a similar shot with a wide depth of field. The background can be distracting.

Start early. The best hours are around sunrise and sunset. Start an hour early so you can get warmed up taking photos and figure out where to position the car, and what angles it looks good at. As the lighting improves, you'll be ready for it and your pictures will improve.

Some cars were originally designed as a sketch from one angle. Find that angle and make sure to get a good shot of it. If you're taking advantage of natural lighting, shoot each angle at various times during the shoot, so that you can pick the best lighting for each one.

You don't always have to include the whole car in the shot.

Other people mentioned headlights... You DON'T have to turn the headlights off to get a good picture, but you do need crystal clear lenses and, preferably, projector headlamps. Otherwise you'll get a lot of scatter from the lights, and lens flares all over the place.

Stay out of the range of the lights where they cause lens flare or starbursts (or open your aperture more so they aren't so bursty). Remove any filters to reduce the glare and lens flare if you're shooting the lights.

The headlights are in these pictures, and I didn't use exposure bracketing to make any sort of composite.

Sometimes you can use natural lens flare to get an interesting, cinematic look:

EDIT: A note about polarizing filters... because of the shape of the car, one filter angle is going to eliminate reflections on the side of the car, and another filter angle is going to eliminate reflections on the top of the car (and the windshield). There is no setting that will eliminate both. One way to use a polarizer when shooting a car is to take at least two shots without moving the camera (obviously you need a tripod for this), with different polarizer angles, then make a composite of the images in Photoshop or GIMP, so that you can eliminate the reflections on all the windows and/or the hood and side of the car.

Last edited by Series #8217; 12-31-2013 at 05:13 PM..
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