Not trying to sound smug here, but I get a lot of compliments for my photography on this website...so I figured I would help everyone out who is trying to improve the quality of image they have of their cars. Everyone probably assumes I have some expensive camera that does all the work for me. They probably also assume their pictures lack quality because they don't have an expensive camera.
That's not true at all.
I own a shitty HP Photosmart M22. It's smaller than my cellphone. It cost $100
I do, however also have a copy of Photoshop. If you don't have a copy, don't worry, you're not SOL for this tutorial. Download the trial version. I'm not sure if this trick still works, but it did back in the day for me.
***SKIP THIS IF YOU HAVE A WORKING VERSION OF PHOTOSHOP***
After you are done with your photo in the trial version of Photoshop, you'll find you can't save it...or so you think...
-->SAVE FOR WEB
look towards the bottom, right side of the window that pops up
there will be an icon of a globe or the symbol for your internet browser
click it once
a webpage will pop up with your image on it
right click the image and select "SAVE TARGET AS"
and now your trial version of photoshop is usable =)
***BACK TO THE TUTORIAL***
I'll use a picture of my car no one has seen before. This is before it got painted. I already erased my license plate, but other than that, the photo is untouched....
It's not a terrible picture, but it could be better. Rather than just giving you steps without explaining them, I'll give you a better understanding of how my (and your) shitty camera works. A traditional camera has two adjustments: aperture and shutter speed. To keep it simple, I'll just say that aperture is how much light the camera lets in when you take a picture. The shutter speed is how long the shutter is open to allow light in. On a traditional camera and a DSLR, you can adjust both of these to get the right exposure for your picture.
On a point and shoot digital camera, you can't adjust either of these. In fact, the aperture is fixed, it can never be changed. The camera has a light meter built into it, which gauges how long the shutter speed should be. The light meter is usually that red light you see right when you hit the button to take the picture. Now...since the aperture is fixed and you can't determine the shutter speed....the camera is set up to automatically pick a "safe" shutter speed. "Safe" meaning, it's going to over-expose the image. It's going to let the shutter stay open longer than it should, just to make sure enough light gets in the lense to take a picture.
What does all this mean? All of your pictures are over-exposed. They got more light then they should have. That's why there always seems to be a "white haze" covering pictures off of point and shoot cameras. The picture I used for an example isn't that bad, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Just head to the model gallery, I'm sure you'll find a bunch of pictures in there that look a little too bright.
Right before we dive into the most important part, we'll do something really quick that doesn't dramatically change the picture, but it does help.
Some older versions of photoshop may not have this, don't worry about it, it's no big deal. Basically, sometimes when you take photos, there will be a tint to the picture. Usually light blue, because of the sky. You can tell if your photo has a tint to it if there is something in the picture that is supposed to be white. It LOOKS white, but if you look closely, it isn't pure white, it has a slight tint to it. Auto Colors fixes that, and makes the colors in the photo more natural. If you didn't notice a difference, don't worry, it just means there was no tint. If you didn't like the difference, hit Ctrl+Z to revert back to the original photo.
So the next step in this tutorial is to adjust the brightness levels. This step fixes the over-exposure most point and shoot cameras cause. You could buy an expensive camera so your pictures look right the first time, or you could spend 2 minutes in photoshop adjusting them. $500 difference, same result. It's up to you.
and this is what you're looking at..
I know it doesn't look like it makes sense, but it actually does. I circled the 3 sliders you're going to pay attention to....
the slider on the left is "Dark"
the slider on the right is "Light"
the slider in the middle is "Middletone"
Move the box over to the side of the picture so you can see your image and play with the sliders, dragging them back and fourth. It will only take a matter of seconds to realize how they work. I usually don't fuck with the Dark and Light sliders because they reduce the number of colors in the picture, but experiment and figure out what's best for you. Most likely, you'll end up using the Middletone slider the most to alter your images.
Hit "Ok" and you're done! Slap on a border if you'd like. And there you have it, a significantly better looking photo in less than five minutes!
Enjoy your results!
Post up your own before and afters if you'd like!