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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Had a great day recently at the Longcross test track in Surrey, just outside London, photographing a friends new BMW i8.It’s an awesome piece of kit with a hybrid power-train of electric motors driving the front wheels and 1.5litre turbocharged petrol engine the rear wheels delivering 0-60 in just over 4 seconds.
One of the advantages of photographing at a test track is that you don’t have to worry about other traffic making it great place to shoot car to car or tracking images where the camera car and feature car have to run along together.The idea of tracking is to show the car moving through its environment with the background and wheels blurring to give the sense of motion whilst keeping the car crisp in the foreground. Success is all about variables, a slower shutter speed will give more blur but it’s harder to hold the camera still on a moving platform. A faster shutter speed will freeze the car but offer less blur, so a balance is needed.
Hatchbacks make the best tracking cars and ideally a powerful estate where you can put the seats flat to allow you to lie down if needed. If you don’t have a harness wrap the rear seat belts around your waste and position yourself near to the open tailgate. It’s good idea to use walkie-talkies or mobile phones to communicate with the feature car but some simple hand signals will suffice. You’ll need good drivers in both cars who are capable of driving in close formation without panicking.Best speed to track a car for stills is about 40 mph.Faster and you may find the tailgate will close, although you can prop it open, slower and you won’t get the sense of speed necessary.
Start out with a wide angle lens or zoom and direct the car into the frame changing your angle to move the car within the viewfinder to include more or less moving roadway.Start with a faster shutter speed of about 1/125th second slowing down through 1/60th to 1/30th as you become more proficient and confident.
As with all action photography safety is paramount and your responsibility so don’t forget to hold on and don’t drop your camera.!
I had an interesting problem via email from a photographer about an issue he has with his new studio he built at the back of his home. It’s an small white infinity cove studio where the floor meets the walls and the walls meet the ceiling in a smooth curve and he finished putting it in last year ,but solving photographic problems is what How to Photograph Cars is all about.
I’ve discussed studio lighting with him before and had advised to bounce his lighting, in this case flash, off the walls and ceiling. He’s having contrast issues with a very flat images coming out of the camera as well as losing the top line along the roof of the car.
This is a common problem in a studio with a low ceiling and can be solved by pointing the lights lower down the back wall or adding a line of double width black tape to the wall so that this reflects back into the roofline giving an edge .
The flatness of the image can easily be dealt with in post production by boosting the contrast in levels or curves and then whitening the background using the dodge tool set to highlights. Clone or use the healing tool to further clean up the turntable lines on the floor and, in a white cove, add about 10-15% increase in saturation to bring the colour back as it tends to get washed out.Hopefully it will help with solving photographic problems in the future.