Photographing features for magazines uses a wide variety of photography styles but the hardest type is definitely action so I thought it a good idea to outline a few of the most commonly used shots and explained how they were taken. The subject I’ve chosen is one of greatest Japanese sports coupes, the Datsun 240Z.
In the shot above the car is cornering hard and the idea is to capture an image to demonstrate the handling characteristics .This is best done by watching the car come around a tight open corner and looking for the point when it no longer is coming towards you but starts to travel across the frame, a front 3/4 view . Shoot from a low position using a telephoto lens of about 200-300mm should keep you at a safe distance but be sure to check that your Autofocus is on ,set to Servo, so that it will follow the car around the corner keeping it sharp throughout. Shutter speeds from 1/350th – 1/640th second depending on the speed of the subject.If you too fast on the shutter you’ll freeze the tyres and the car can look parked on the corner.
Panning is one of the oldest and most diverse action shots you can use when shooting a car. You’ll find panning images from 100 years ago which is remarkable considering the ungainly and clunky equipment of the day.
You can shoot a profile, front 3/4 ,rear 3/4, wide angle, telephoto, zoom pan…the list is always being updated as snappers discovers new ways to photograph cars. The original and the best though has too be a profile pan, side on, this flattens the perspective giving the truest interpretation of the shape and is the most straightforward to master. Look for a road that is open on one side with bushes, trees or a fields close on the other side that will offer up a good amount of blur. Start shooting using a telephoto lens of about 200mm at 1/125th second, Autofocus set to Servo, keeping the car in the frame as it passes in front of you from about 20-30metres away swinging your hips in a smooth even arc. Check for sharpness on the screen blowing up the image to be certain and then slow your shutter speeds down to 1/60th and then try 1/30th second to really get some serious blur on your image. Practice makes perfect so don’t be disillusioned if you don’t get sharp images straight away…keep at it.
In Car Action
Another great action image to include in your portfolio is a cockpit shot.You can hand hold the camera and pop a bit of flash into the frame to fill in the shadows, shooting from the back seat with the road snaking away looks good….Or you could get a window clip mount as in the shot above.This fits onto the lowered window with a wide angle lens and uses a super slow shutter speed of about 1/2-1/15th second.Engine off, the car is pushed or rolled down a gentle hill at walking pace to give a highly effective action image.
There are lots of other action images you can shoot if you have the time and you’ll find more in the ‘How to Photograph Cars’ book but the other type you often see on the covers of the top car magazine is a tracking or Car to Car shot. This is taken using a standard or wide angle lens from the back of a hatchback from an overtaking position to depict the car traveling along the road. You’ll need a two good drivers to drive the camera car and the subject car , a quiet or private road and a shutter speed of between 1/125th-1/30th second…the slower shutter speed you use the more blur you will get in the background but the lower your hit rate will be as it’s hard to hand hold on a bumpy road.Safety is a priority here so make sure you obey the rules of the road and don’t break the law.
Next post will be about how to choose the right camera bag and backpack and I’ll be testing a Tamrac Anvil 23. intro2020 #tamracphoto #camerabackpack