My latest car photography workshop was hosted by the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest for the Royal Photographic Society although, it was open to all. Ford supplied the perfect pair of contrasting cars, a brilliant orange 2018 Mustang and a lovely 1963 Consul Convertible as subjects and although cloudy the threatened rain held off.
The day was in two parts:Photographing the Mustang and Consul in the grounds of the palace of Beaulieu, choosing sympathetic locations for each, working on composition, shooting details and finally action. Here’s the Consul by the abbey ruins and the Mustang driving for cornering photos in the arena .
In the afternoon we headed inside to shoot cars in the museum. Photographing cars inside is always tricky with mixed low lighting set for atmosphere so we worked with tripods and fill in flash to capture the historic displays.
Final part of the afternoon covered editing images and retouching.The car photography workshop was fully booked a long way ahead so if you would like to come to the next one do please get in touch via the contents page or drop me an email to: email@example.com
Go to the How to Photograph Cars Twitter feed for more images: https://twitter.com/howtophotocars
There was a great response to the inaugural ‘Best car photos of 2017’ competition.
Dave Mundy’s superb slow panning image of the Austin special at the VSCC meeting at Prestcott hill climb won the ‘Action’ category. Dave say’s”I loved the ‘lived in look’ of the car and how basic it was.”
Zack Stiling took the book prize for the ‘Static’ category with his reportage shot taken at the Detonator’s rockabilly BBQ in Shooter’s Hill, south-east London “The show had a great atmosphere, with people dressing in the spirit of their hot rods and ’50s cars, and I wanted to capture some of that. I thought the Buick in the foreground presented the ideal opportunity to photograph the ladies chatting, as the car’s streamlined, Art Deco styling cues direct the eye towards them” said Zack.
Nikon Coolpix L810, f/3.9 at 1/500th second, 9.3mm
The overall competition winner was a fabulously images taken by Paul Cook entitled “Stallion in the shower’.
Says Paul”My future brother in law bought a Mustang and when we went out to visit him in Canada over the summer, I decided it was the perfect time for this technique. For this image I first used a Yongnuo YN300II to light paint the car. Then I got my fiance to stand in specific places with my speedlight while her brother threw buckets of water at the car. The result was something I am quite pleased with for a second attempt, and a nice image for him to print”.
How to Photograph Cars is launching a brand new car photography competition to find the best images of 2017.
Open to all amateurs of any ages there are two categories that you can enter. ‘Static’ and ‘Action’, one image per category per person.
The overall winner will receive a copy of my Lamborghini: 50 years of the Supercars’ book worth £50 with the runners up in each category receiving a copy of the latest edition of ‘How to Photograph Cars’.
So start editing all your images you took at the race track, car club summer events,classic rallies or motoring festivals . You might get some ideas on how to pick your best photos from this website or the maybe check out the How to Photograph cars YouTube channel .
Your photos don’t have to have been taken on an expensive DSLR , they might have been snatched on your phone or compact camera…just send them them in to win some great prizes.
Image Guidance : Entries should show good use of technique and creativity and be photographed in the calendar year of 2017. Please write a caption for each image including a short sentence about how you took it. Add your full name and address and please list your age if under 18 years old.
The How to Photograph Cars photo competition is only open to UK residents.
Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org in jpeg format at no more than 5MB at 72 dpi or 30cms / 850pixels wide by Weds 20th December 2017. Please title your image with your name and which category you wish to enter.i.e: Smith: Action
Winners will be notified by Weds 10th January 2018.
By entering the competition you agree to allow How to Photograph Cars to publicise your images on social media. You will be credited and retain your copyright.
I’ve recently been working for Renault at the the largest motor show in on the planet in Frankfurt,Germany. One of the Renault press team asked me to shoot some time lapse photography of their stand. I’ve never been asked for this before so hadn’t a clue how to do it but another photographer had supplied some clips to them before so I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know how to do it.
However Mr Google came up trumps with enough information and an online tutorial which I watched in my hotel room and experimented shooting traffic out of the window. Every camera is different when it comes to built in processes but my Canon EOS 5DSR features time lapse in one of it’s menus.Here’s a clip from my first attempt.
It allows you to set the interval and total time and even displays how long the finished animation will be. Mine was set to 1 frame every 3 seconds over 15 minutes which delivered 12 seconds of .mov file. It’s best to keep time laspe clips short as ,like any .mov file, they can get too big to be useful. The camera must be mounted on a tripod on other secure platform and on initiation automatically shoots 300 frames building the clip without the use any editing soft ware.
It seems to work best with a mix of fixed and moving subjects in the frame although you can get a motor that will pan your camera during the time lapse.
Note that during the shooting sequence there is no shutter noise but the LED menu screen will show progress and count down to completion.
It is definitely something I will add to my repertoire now that I know how to do it…all you need is plenty of time, some patience and the results speak for themselves.
Quite a common request from art editors for a magazine shoot is to photograph a portrait of owners with their cars. Usually it’s a variety of makes and models so there’s no problem making them look different but occasionally it’s only one type as in a recent 60th anniversary shoot of the Lotus Elite . How you pose your subject will depend on the individual, some will be happier to lie on the ground and some may prefer or suit a more formal approach as with this portrait of ex F1 supremo Max Mosley. Don’t shy away from the standard set up of standing behind the car but make sure you connect your subject to the car so as not to create two subjects.For a magazine shoot it’s important to always keep in mind how the image will look on the page.Mix up a variety of angles with the car and subject positioned both to the left and right. This portrait of Lotus guru Malcolm Ricketts is back lit with flashBehind the wheel is another great option but it’s a good idea to ask your subject to turn their body towards camera if not belted in too tightly and drop their arm to open up the portrait.This is the same position as the Malcolm Ricketts portrait but from a higher angle on a wider lens making it look completely different. Make sure you ask your subject to keep eye contact with the lens and shoot at least 4 or 5 frames to be certain you have the best shot.One of the keys to relax your subject is to keep talking to them as you work, a good start is to ask them about their car,you may learn something.Don’t be concerned about allowing your subject to be small in the frame for a car portrait as long as your composition is good the eye will be drawn to the face.
Last week I led a car photography workshop for the Guild of Motoring Writers at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.
It was designed to cater for journalists who are asked to shoot their own photos on car launches and for magazine shoots. As much as photographers might not like this it’s a fact of life that budgets are being squeezed and we are all being asked to do more for less.
We had a great mix of young and old, classic and modern car writers who learnt everything from the rule of thirds, choosing sympathetic locations, featuring our two vehicles, a Peugeot 3008 and MGB as well as brushing up on their panning and cornering image skills.
The afternoon was spent in the museum dealing with mixed and low light situations and planning a portfolio of images suitable for a magazine to include establishing shots , informative photos and details as well as the star cars on display.
I was recently on a magazine shoot with this stunning restored 1973 Porsche 911 Targa in the home counties around London.It’s often difficult to find decent driving roads to shoot the necessary action shots required for a full feature shoot in the South East so it was a great to find this open corner on a common just a few miles from the owner’s home.
This sequence shows how the car progresses through the corner.I use my Canon EOS 5DSR set to high speed motor-drive mode for cornering but only shoot in short bursts of 4-6 frames as the files are large and buffering occurs. The shot above shows the approach to the corner which was a full 90 degree bend.
The idea of a cornering shot if to show the handling capabilities of the car and the critical point where this is best demonstrated is when the car changes direction from coming towards you in the frame to crossing the viewfinder. The frame above with this head on view is not quite there.
Without panning you’ll need a shutter speed of 1/500th second or more to freeze the car.The faster the speed of the car the faster you’ll need to set your shutter speed, up to about 1/1250th second when the car will be frozen and look like it’s parked on the corner if you are not careful.This was a fairly slow corner so I shot it at 1/640th second which at 200ASA on a cloudy day gave me an aperture of F5.6 on my 70-300mm lens. The frame above here is nearly there.
You will need a good driver to get the best out of a cornering shot. We didn’t want tail hanging out …loss of grip doesn’t show handling and the road wasn’t suitable here. Ideally you’ll want to get a low perspective and be able to see all four wheels. The shot above is usable but improving…..
…to this frame which shows the front inner wheel almost lifting and a 3/4 view of the car pin sharp with with the tyres blurred.
I’ve just come back from shooting for a couple of days at the fantastic Donington Grand Prix collection. I have a regular double page studio spread in F1 Racing magazine and have built up a large archive of F1 cars photographed in the studio style but need to keep adding to it all the time.
I had 4 cars on my shooting list in my museum studio and fortunately 3 of them were together in one hall so I set up my black background cloths and trusty Bowens monolites and got to work. I use a wireless Elinchrom Ranger flash system to trigger the other flash heads and a strong back light usually made up of a pair of soft boxes to give depth and add highlights to show shape.
Cars on the list were: 1950 Thinwall Ferrari Special, 1954 Vanwall VW2, 1955 BRM V16 Mk2 P30,1983 Williams FW08C
The first 3 cars were green or dark green which, without careful lighting can lose their colour and end up looking black. The way around this is to use the flash heads with only spill kills on them and point the lights straight at the car. Be aware of where the reflection of the light, or pings, as I call them , appear on the body work.You can’t avoid these but make sure they reflect into a panel that can be easily retouched and don’t spread onto any detail that might be lost. The BRM was darker than the others so I set up a white sheet and banged a flash head through it to give a broader highlight along the bonnet.
Comping two images together
One of the images I try to shoot if there is time is a locked off shot of the whole car with the bonnet on and off comping these together to give a shadowing effect of the engine through the bonnet. It’s critical that you don’t move either car or camera between images to maintain the size and angle for the post production final image to be a success.
I had a contact from an old friend now retired,who worked as a top level car photographer for the magazines in the 1980’s and 1990’s and has 1000’s of un-archived images,mostly transparencies in his attic office.
I’ve been banging on about him sorting his archive for years so it was good to hear he was making a start. He asked for some advice on how to go about it .
Here is what I said to him .
Most important thing to add value to you archive is to catalogue it….ie do a searchable low res’ spreadsheet that you can email to potential clients…i.e. mags,publishers,picture libraries etc with make,model,year, colour,specific history ,search for software that may be worth investing in to do this where you can embed thumbnails of a few images for each car.I need to find good software for this too so if you find it let me know…!
Try to think what might sell as well as what you like……don’t scan everything ,prioritise a couple of examples of each shoot ,with themes…I do F1 Cars,Le Mans Car,Super Cars etc….those you do scan need to cleaned up and scanned to at least 60MB.jpeg is best to be sent via wetransfer or Tiff for long term storage.
If you have Photoshop or similar photo managing software , add the metadata into the image info’ files under the images drop down top menu.As well as copyrighting your images you can add a few details here.There is a pre-formatted schedule that you can fill in with your contact info’ so you don’t have to write it out each time.
Buy a couple of external hard drives…these Western Digital drives are good value and don’t need their own power.
You can now buy up to 3TB but I go for the 2TB and double up with 1 kept away from home. Also these are cheap enough to replace every 5-8 years before they fail which you will have to do. You could consider getting a more expensive but stable solid state hard drive 1TB =£300.
As well as thinking about finding an agent….look at lodging images with Alamy or other online image library…..I have images with them and they can do well. Most important thing with any online archive are the tags you add so that folk can find your work….follow their guidelines and look at other peoples work.Otherwise try the large picture agencies,Rex,Getty,LAT etc.Any agency will take at least 50% of any earnings so be prepared for this.
Finally…..If you get any good tips on where to sell work I’d like to hear about them.I could spend 23hrs a day archiving my work and probably will do when I retire …it’s addictive !
I was out on a winter’s day shoot up on Dartmoor the other day with a fantastic 1934 MG K3, one of only 33 cars made.Built for racing it features a straight six 1087cc supercharged engine and as I followed it to the location I realised why it was so successful at first in the Mille Miglia with Capt George Eyston ,in the Ulster TT with no less than Tazio Nuvolari at the wheel with an incredible average of 78mph and at Le Mans where a K3 finished in 4th place in 1934.
It was an overcast freezing cold day and very windy but I needed the open country to offer clean reflections and as much light as was available to fill the British racing green body panels. We shot the statics in the top car park near Hay Tor which, unsurprisingly, was fairly empty at this time of year. On long lens I found I needed to up my shutter speed to 1//125th second and raise the ASA to 400 due to the buffeting by the wind, even using a tripod only 1 in 3 or my images was sharp .Upping the ASA isn’t a big problem on the Canon 5DSR as the 50 megapixel chip is so big that it remains sharp right up to over 1000ASA.
On my return home I set about editing the images. In winter or in low light your hit rate, or successful outcomes reduces and I found that only 1 in 8 of my action images were sharp .In this situation I always shoot more frames knowing that I’ll need the extras to assure a good selection for the client. The statics too had suffered from the tricky weather on the long lens (Canon f4:5.6L EF 70-300mm) but again I’d made sure I took enough to have sharp options.
On occasion I’d had to shoot angles that meant I couldn’t exclude posts and people in the background but knew I could take them out later in post production.
So here are my top 5 quick Photoshop tools tips for improving your images taken on a dull day.
Boost the saturation by up to 15% to give a more natural look to the colour
Tweak the levels using the histogram or curves to adjust the contrast
If needed lighten dark areas of the car using the dodge tool set to mid tone
If the sky is flat and featureless darken it using the burn tool set to highlight creating a gradient bottom to top…don’t overdo it
Remove unwanted distractions, in the above image, the people and post, using the clone or healing tools magnifying for the detail