Read excerpts from the book

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In this second edition of How to Photograph Cars top automotive photographer James Mann demonstrates the skills and pro’ techniques you’ll need to improve your hit-rate and shoot outstanding car photos.

Inside this book you’ll learn how to:
• Chose the best equipment for your needs
• Work with a variety of cameras, lenses and exposure
techniques
• Use James’ pro tips for shooting action with panning,
tracking and cornering shots
• Photograph cars in museums and shows both indoor
and outdoor
• Plan your photography at a motorsport event
• Compose your automobile images working with depth
of field and perspective
• Capture stylish action images at a motor race including
tips on how to gain the right passes
• Light cars in a professional studio infinity cove
• Choose ideal locations and backgrounds
• Shoot a magazine feature
• Understand copyright and how to sell your images

With clear and instructive text and hundreds of informative and stunning imagery all taken by James, How to Photograph Cars illustrates the kind of professional results that you can achieve by using the methods and tools in the book that will, with a bit of practice, have you shooting like a pro’.

For the full text with more detail, hints and tips on how to shoot like a professional car photographer go to the ‘Buy the Book‘ page for links on how to buy the book

Read edited chapters from the book ‘How to Photograph Cars here

Introduction

This book and website came about as I remembered the struggles I had as a new staff photographer on a car magazine learning all the techniques necessary to do the job and having no one to ask.

All the photographic manuals I looked at, and what I learnt at Art College, told me very little about shooting cars and went into so much detail about how the camera works and the physics of light so as to make it very difficult to extract anything useful in practice.

Vauxhall VX220 Turbo: f8 at 1/30th second Canon 70-200mm
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo: f8 at 1/30th second Canon 70-200mm

 

Photography, like any art, is a way of seeing things differently. It requires training your eye to see selectively as the viewfinder does and, like the other arts of painting or drawing, it can be taught. You don’t have to have the latest Nikon Digital SLR to turn out great photos, some of the world’s best photographers use completely manual cameras and the most basic materials to give them much more control over the final image.

In this blog and in more detail in the printed book I intend to let you into many techniques that will, with a bit of practice, have you shooting like a pro’ and increase your ‘hit’ rate immediately.

Ferrari 250GTO vs Lightweight Jaguar E type :f5.6 at 1/640th second Canon 70-200mm
Ferrari 250GTO vs Lightweight Jaguar E type :f5.6 at 1/640th second Canon 70-200mm

 

Whether you are shooting for your club magazine, at the races for competitors or just for fun I hope that the techniques in this book, alongside your own ideas, will help you to get as much out of photographing cars as I do.

Aston Martin in an infinity cove studio
Sneak preview into an infinity cove studio during an Aston Martin shoot.

 

EQUIPMENT and techy stuff

 

Some of the my favourite action images were taken by a French photographer called Jacques-Henri Lartigue who turned out his best photographs whilst under the age of eighteen using a very basic focal plane camera at the beginning of the 20th century. He photographed his friends in their soapboxes and passing cars and came up with remarkable results.

Camera Phone

Most cell phones now have excellent cameras built into them and they can be great for catching atmosphere and people at the race track or car show.

Due to their compact size though they are compromised for much else but if you really want to use your phone for taking car pictures the best option is to shoot close up and not rely on the zoom. Make sure you take the phone out of it’s case so as not to vignette your images and hold it as steadily as you can .For best results upload your images to a computer at full size and run them through Photoshop or similar photo management software.

Many interesting images can be taken on the simplest cameras.Lamborghini Countach at auction
Many interesting images can be taken on the simplest cameras.Lamborghini Countach at auction

 

Compact Cameras

After your camera phone by far the most common camera around today is the compact camera. They are great for people pictures and you can shoot cars on them too.

Digital SLR

Bulkier than the compact system camera , DSLRs are less fiddly to use with clearer controls, larger screen and a wider range of lens available as well as bigger digital chip technology for the highest quality images.

SLR means single lens reflex and it’s great advantage is that due to a system of prisms and mirrors when you look through an SLR’s viewfinder, you are actually looking through the camera’s lens so what you see exactly is what you get.

Auto Exposure

Automatic exposure operates from an average light meter reading taken through the lens. Having the option to overrule the auto exposure meter is essential if you want to shoot like a pro’.

Being able to shoot with manual exposure allows you more control than just an auto setting, Canon 70-200, f 2.8 1/15th second pull zoom
Being able to shoot with manual exposure allows you more control than just an auto setting, Canon 70-200, f 2.8 1/15th second pull zoom

 

Tripods

Tripods come in all sizes from the miniatures designed for compacts that will fit in you pocket or clip onto a fence, to monsters you can barely lift.

A good tripod is as essential piece of equipment. It needs to be light and easy to adjust so you can set it up quickly and won’t worry about carrying it around all day. Good models come in two parts, the legs and the head. Go for a metal or carbon fiber black model that comes to about knee high when collapsed and to eye level when extended.

Camera Bags

There are hundreds of shapes and sizes of camera bag on the market today but as the amount of gear you have to carry around gets heavier and heavier the back pack set up is hard to beat. Look for a bag with two or three major compartments and a similar number of side pockets.

A camera backpack is easier to carry if you have to wear it all day on a shoot
A camera backpack is easier to carry if you have to wear it all day on a shoot

ASA

This is the effective sensitivity of the camera chip to light and you need to become just as familiar with adjusting it to suit conditions to get great results as you do with shutter speeds and aperture. You can leave it set to Auto but if you want to have more control use the manual adjustments.

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