You'd rather have your car than your girlfriend? Or you need nice pictures to sell it? No matter why you want to photograph your car, we'll give you seven tips for car photography that will help you get the right shot of your vehicle.
1. Equipment 2. Location 3. Time 4. Perspective 5. Camera settings 6. Motion 7. Post-processing
If you have ever seen a car advertisement, you might have an idea of how much money the manufacturers spend to put their vehicles in the limelight. But it also works in a smaller way. If you want to photograph your car properly, you do need some equipment. For the rest – from the design ideas to the camera settings – we have the appropriate tips for you ready.
Sure, you can also photograph your car with a smartphone. If you want to have more room for creativity, however, it's better to go for an SLR or a system camera where you can change the lenses. Depending on the desired effect, different focal lengths are suitable. A realistic image of the proportions of the car you achieve about 35 to 55 millimeters. To bring the car into focus and blur the background, you can also experiment with a telephoto lens.
In any case, the use of a tripod is recommended. You can still take pictures in poor lighting conditions, play with the exposure time or pan along with a moving car. A polarizing filter can also be helpful in auto-photography. Correctly aligned, the filter suppresses reflected light waves, the car paint and the window panes are then not overshadowed by reflections.
Next, you should think about a suitable location for your photo shoot. You probably don't have the means to travel to exciting places just for a picture. But that does not matter. You are sure to find a suitable location in your area as well. Interesting are for example old factory sites, underground garages, green avenues. However, graffiti walls or modern buildings are just as suitable as a background. Depending on the age and color of the vehicle, very different locations are suitable.
In many directions of photography the so called blue hour is recommended for taking pictures. Even in car photography, you can benefit from the light just before you take the picture. Benefit after the sunset. The longer you wait, however, the more difficult it will be to capture enough light. If you use a tripod, you can try to take a picture of the car in pitch darkness. With a long exposure time and a constant light source, exciting light paintings can be realized.
During the day it is best to avoid too much direct sunlight. Somewhat cloudy weather and a low morning or evening sun tend to be advantageous in car photography. If you want to play with backlighting, make sure your car doesn't get too dark and use an external light source if necessary to illuminate it evenly.
Creativity is key when choosing a perspective. With different angles of view you can emphasize very different parts of your car. You can take impressive photos from both the frog and the bird's eye perspective. To photograph from the top down, you can use, for example, a ladder, a balcony or, if available, a drone.
If you want to capture your car as realistically as possible, choose a perspective with a straight line of sight. In this case, however, you should not set the tripod at eye level, but lower. A classic in car photography is the three-quarter profile, where you see one side but also both front headlights. You can emphasize striking body lines in the side view.
While walking around the car, you may discover some details that are worth photographing from close up. Spoilers, rims, manufacturer logos and headlights as well as steering wheel, seats and cockpit components are classic candidates for detail shots.
5. Camera settings
How you set the most important photo parameters on your camera depends, of course, on the conditions on location and the desired effect. The less light there is, the longer you have to choose the exposure time or open the aperture further. If you set the light sensitivity high (ISO value), you risk image noise. So it's best to shoot at ISO 100. Longer exposure time – provided you have a tripod.
If you want to put the car in focus and blur the background, you have to open the aperture wide or set a low aperture value. This effect is especially strong with lenses with a long focal length.
Particularly dynamic driving is no longer possible without help. Grab a person who can drive your car and tell them which route to take. To get only the moving car in focus and the background out of focus, it may take several attempts. Position yourself with camera and tripod at a suitable – and safe – place (not on the street)!). Set the autofocus on your camera. Focus on the vehicle. Follow the passing car in its movement. Press the trigger while panning. The best thing to do is to press the shutter button directly for a continuous shot and hope that you get a good shot.
To emphasize particular details, you can also take action after the fact. The scope for post-processing on the PC is particularly large if you shoot in RAW format from the outset. Then many exposure parameters can be adjusted afterwards, white balance can be adjusted, colors can be enhanced and more. Especially if the lighting situation was not ideal when you took the photo, you can get even more out of your shot by adjusting highlights and shadows.