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How To Take Better Automotive Photographs

5256 Views 19 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Jerzeyboi85
This thread by no means is meant to instruct or set up a list of rules for taking pictures of your cars. The Purpose of this thread is truly meant as an informative source for those looking to improve the pictures they take of their Legends. Although I may refer to these ideas as "rules", photography is an art form, and as we all know, art can never have a set of rules. Think of them as guidelines though, and put your own spin on the information I give you, to truly create something eye-catching.

First - The Subject
///Wash your car!
This should be a given, but every once and awhile I see people post pictures of cars with water spots and dirt. If you're going to show off your car to everyone on the forums, you want it to look its best! This goes hand in hand with general care of your paint. Waxing your car is a good thing for pictures as well as making sure your paint stays vibrant for years on end.
///Use Tire Shine
It's not expensive and it will work wonders for your picture. Most people won't consciously look for it, but it DOES make a difference in the final photo.
///Polish your headlights
You should only have to do this once, if ever, but given that our cars are over a decade old, chances are your headlights have some fade. Follow the DIY on the forum to give your headlights that OEM shine!

Second - The Setting
///Time of Day
The absolute best times to take pictures are going to either be at sunrise or sunset. If you can, avoid taking pictures between 11am and 3pm. The sun is extremely harsh during those hours and will make your image unbearably bright. Besides, shooting at sunrise or sunset can give you a beautiful sky, which always helps a picture.
Think about where you are going to take the pictures. The background should work hand in hand with the car. Don't take pictures in your driveway. Inside your garage is usually even worse, unless you have some sort of amazing garage that is visually stimulating. Parking lots and parking garages are overused, plain, and generally boring photoshoot locations. Throwing in a parking garage shoot every once in awhile isn't bad, but if it's the only place you take pictures, people aren't going to be interested after the 3rd set. Urban locations usually work great, but rural spots can be interesting as well. The best way to truly find a good location is to always be looking for one when you're driving around town. You'll end up passing an abandoned building or a cool-looking bridge and think "that would be perfect!"

Third - Putting it all Together
///Subject Placement
Probably one of the most important aspects to the final picture is the placement of the car within the background. The first thing to look out for is things "growing" out of the car. By that I mean, placing the car in front of an object; for example, like a telephone pole, or a streetlamp. Although everyone KNOWS the car and the streetlamp are seperate objects, it interferes with the overall feel of the picture and takes away from your photo. The most important thing to remember is to move your car around during the shoot, to create a variety in the pictures. The finishing touch on the placement of the car is the angle of the wheels. If the camera is in front of the car, angle the wheels in, to show as much of the wheel as possible. If the camera is behind the car, angle the wheels out, again, to show as much as possible. If the camera is on the side of the car, leave the wheels straight.
///Camera Placement
A good investment would be a Tripod. A tripod is best used in low-light settings, in order to keep the camera from moving while the shutter is open. However, by using a tripod for every picture you take, you reduce camera shake and thus the final image will be much crisper. When placing your tripod or yourself for the picture, don't be afraid to get close to the subject. A lot of new photographers make the mistake of trying to get everything in one shot, and by doing so, they make uninteresting photos that look like everything is far away. Experiment with different heights. Taking pictures above eye-level and below eye-level give people a different perspective of your car. Try not to hold the camera crooked. Although it appears to make the picture more interesting, it's really an MTV-inspired gimmick that only should be used once or twice for every 10 pictures you take.
///Framing the Shot
Probably the most over-looked concept on this forum is framing. More often than not, the photographer gets too focused on either the subject or the setting, and neglects all other elements of the picture. The most important object in the picture is usually going to be the car, so a good idea is to use the Rule of Thirds when setting up the shot. The Rule of Thirds divides a picture up into thirds, and states that the most eye-catching pictures do not place the subject in the middle, but actually on one of the 4 points where the divisions meet.

The Rule of Thirds can be broken successfully, but you're much more likely to make a visually engaging picture by following the rule.

-Try to shoot with the sun behind you. Although a skilled photographer can use the sun as a visual element, usually it will blow out the sky and create a lot of glare.
-For night photography, unless you have a DSLR, be prepared to use photoshop to fix your pictures. Since the concept of a picture revolves around light, your camera will most likely tint your picture with the color of the light source you use at night. Unless you have your own lighting equipment, you will most likely utilize the lighting at your photoshoot location. Yellow streetlamps create a yellow tint, Blue parking garage lights create a blue tint, etc etc.
-A variety of pictures are always the best. Some frontal shots, rear shots, interior shots, and maybe an engine bay shot for good measure.
-Always remember to accent the best parts of your car in each picture. If the only thing you have modified in your engine bay is your intake, angle the picture to capture that! If you're doing a shoot because you got new wheels, a close up of a wheel taken while laying on the ground is probably a good idea.
-When choosing a setting, usually one that contrasts the color of your car makes the best looking pictures. Although not necessarily always true, it's usually safer to shoot a black car with a white or gray background, rather than with a black background.
-If you're really anal about getting the sharpest picture possible, a good trick to utilize is setting the timer for each shot, then hitting the button and taking your hands off the camera. This way, when the shutter opens there will be absolutely no vibrations on the camera. Even a slight shake of the hand can be enough to lose picture quality. This technique is best used at night, but can be employed in all situations as well.

I might add some more stuff later, but this should get some of you headed in the right direction...
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Interesting settings are always cool, and I'd dare say that over the years I've used most of the techniques that Max has suggested. Here's one photoshoot setting that even I haven't done yet!

My life won't be complete until I drive the Legend on a frozen lake for a picture. I found this one at How cool is that? :2cool:

yeah i was thinking about doing something like that or perhaps a photoshoot at an active volcano! man ty you are crazy!! :giggle:
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