If you’re a beginner car photographer, wondering why your pictures don’t look as good as everyone else’s, here are ten tips to get you on the right track.
These ten points should get you started. If you’re looking for something more, check out these excellent guides on Speedhunters. Those guys are the best.
1.) Do some research
There are thousands of pro car shooters out there. Just go to Flickr and have a look around. If you have a question about a particular photo, send them a message or hit the forums. The community will give you an idea where to start.
2.) Use a proper camera
Forget your bloody iPhone. I know the latest ones are remarkably capable, but they are phones nevertheless. What you want is a camera. A DSLR, or a mirrorless, or a very good compact, something that was designed to do one thing: shoot under the widest possible range of conditions.
3.) Rule of thirds
Some say RoT is only useful for beginners. I disagree. It’s a general composition rule that can make or brake a picture, no matter what level you’re on. Use it wisely.
4.) Think about the composition
RoT is one thing. It can’t save you all the time.
You’re there, the car is there. That’s great. Now think about what focal length to use, and check out what’s in that frame. Do you want the car to fill it? How is the background? Any distractions? Play around, there’s plenty of space on that memory card.
5.) Don’t take pictures in a parking lot
Planning your location is important. If you can choose where to take the pictures, plan ahead and take your time to get the best place (preferably not your local parking lot) during the most ideal light conditions. It well worth the effort.
6.) Get a tripod
Useable tripods/monopods are super cheap, and they’re a must under low light conditions, in case you want to use the self timer, during long shoots or when you want to be as accurate angle-wise as possible.
7.) Experiment with long exposure
After you got your tripod but no light, this is the way to go.
8.) Study light
Available light is almost always better than a built in flash, but if you spend more and learn how to use it, artificial lighting like strobes can do miracles, revealing details and shapes like you’ve never seen before.
9.) Panning to capture speed
Use the lowest possible ISO settings with f/ value set to around 11-16 and a shutter speed that’s roughly twice the speed of the car in km/h. That’s the basic idea, and the result is the most dynamic shot you’ve ever managed to capture.
10.) Go the extra mile and try things
Good photographers run, jump, climb and crawl to get the material they want. Don’t be afraid to get dirty.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day – our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off.