David S. Wallens Editorial Director
June 13, 2017 1:11 p.m.

Just noticed TurtleshartShooter's Miata. Nice pics! That's how you do it.

Rusnak_322 Dork
June 13, 2017 1:55 p.m.

I would love a how to on iphone photography and cleaning up of pictures of vehicles using cheap or free apps.

I have read a few, but they didn't help. I have a motorcycle that I am proud of, but I cant for the life of me take a pic that makes me proud.

David S. Wallens Editorial Director
June 13, 2017 2:17 p.m.

Do you have Instagram? Lots of easy-to-use filters. Just click things until it looks cool. (I know that's fairly basic, but it will get you playing.)

Also, start with a decent photo. Clouds or soft light are better than harsh light.

Use a background that puts the focus on the machine.

Shoot a lot. Get in the habit and, with practice, you should notice some improvements.

Rule of thirds helps, too.

By the way, the top Miata photo might be a little soft. Still, cool shots.

codrus UltraDork
June 13, 2017 3:01 p.m.

Photography basically comes down to two things -- composition and light. Composition is something you have a lot of control over with a subject like a car (drive to good locations, avoid nasty backgrounds, aim the camera well, etc). Controlling the light is a lot harder, especially outdoors where you're primarily using the sun. The best (certainly cheapest) option is to shoot in the first hour after sunrise or last hour before sunset, that's when the sunlight is slanting through enough of the atmosphere to change its color. Photographers call these the "golden hours", both because of the color it lends and the effect on the results. :)

Devilsolsi Reader
June 13, 2017 4:01 p.m.

I have been trying to get better at automotive photography. I finally feel like I am getting some good shots. Now I just need to find something to do with them. Below were taken at the PWC race at VIR this year.

DSC_0976-E

DSC_0706-E

DSC_0342_4-E

DSC_0005_4-E

02Pilot Dork
June 13, 2017 7:39 p.m.

This could get into a whole subjective vs. objective criteria discussion, which I will avoid, since I see enough of that in photography forums. I'll stick to the objective stuff and try to illustrate with a few photos I've taken over the years.

Think about it this way: What are you trying to show in your photos? What is it about that particular car (or motorcycle, or whatever) that makes it special, and how can you focus the viewer's attention on that thing?

I'll start with a photo of my car:

The color is a fairly prominent feature of the car, so it made sense to call attention to it. In this case I chose to do so by filling the frame with similar colors, but it could also be done by isolating it against a neutral background, as I did here:

People often have trouble looking deeper into their subjects. Brightly colored cars are particularly problematic, as the colors can overwhelm other, more interesting, elements. Look for forms and shapes within the design that capture the essence of the thing. Black-and-white photography is particularly good for learning to see this way, as it removes a major component. I think this photo illustrates how form matters:

Perspective is good for helping to accentuate a particular feature. This shot of the Count Trossi Mercedes emphasizes the imposing size and shape of the car:

Simple visual effects like motion blur and shallow depth-of-field are fine within reason, but by themselves are generally insufficient to make a photo stand out, especially as cameras become capable of more and more trickery to make these easier to achieve. A photo will ideally combine these effects with other strong compositional elements, as here:

Finally, always be looking out for some unusual element you can add to make your photo unique. This usually requires some luck, but also the awareness of the photographer to capitalize on it. For example, I'm certain no one else got this shot:

I've gone on too long, but hopefully this offers up a few ideas.

dean1484 MegaDork
June 13, 2017 9:45 p.m.

Not a fan of the tilted camera photos. Makes the horizon not level and that in my opinion does not work well. Makes my head hurt looking at it as my eyes and my brain are put in conflict. That does not make a good photo. It gets attention because of the conflict not because it is a good photo. Even if it is otherwise a good photo.

Keith Tanner MegaDork
June 13, 2017 10:09 p.m.

Chris Cantle from R&T says "shoot the light". That's his primary rule. Make it a good photo that happens to have a car in it.

I_Love_Curves
I_Love_Curves New Reader
June 14, 2017 5:53 a.m.

FYI his name is TurtleShark shooter, not TurtleShart

Blaise Reader
June 14, 2017 6:39 a.m.
dean1484 wrote: Not a fan of the tilted camera photos. Makes the horizon not level and that in my opinion does not work well. Makes my head hurt looking at it as my eyes and my brain are put in conflict. That does not make a good photo. It gets attention because of the conflict not because it is a good photo. Even if it is otherwise a good photo.

This. I'm a working photographer and of the many "never-do" items, this is one of them.

Of course, photography is subjective. It's the name of the game. And what everybody else about composition and lighting is dead on. I'm a wedding photographer and these two far outweigh Camera/Lens IQ, DOF, or whatever filtering or post processing work you do.

Rusnak_322 wrote: I would love a how to on iphone photography and cleaning up of pictures of vehicles using cheap or free apps. I have read a few, but they didn't help. I have a motorcycle that I am proud of, but I cant for the life of me take a pic that makes me proud.

Go on youtube! There's actually some decent content to watch. You likely don't need any apps, just to start looking at things in 'camera eyes.' Practice enough and shots will show themselves.

Tyler H UltraDork
June 14, 2017 8:24 a.m.

The #1 trick to being a photographer is to take 1000 pictures and only show the 10 best.

Source: My wife is a photographer. Before my wife was a photographer, my ex-photographer buddy gave me that tip and one other: "tell your wife not to become a professional photographer."

pinchvalve MegaDork
June 14, 2017 8:28 a.m.
David S. Wallens wrote:

A tripod would help keep the camera level...

02Pilot Dork
June 14, 2017 8:36 a.m.
Tyler H wrote: The #1 trick to being a photographer is to take 1000 pictures and only show the 10 best. Source: My wife is a photographer. Before my wife was a photographer, my ex-photographer buddy gave me that tip and one other: "tell your wife not to become a professional photographer."

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

pinchvalve MegaDork
June 14, 2017 8:37 a.m.

Here's a typical studio shot for a car. You cannot take pics that good!

Go outside, but not on the sunniest day of the year. That will only give you massive flares off the chrome (if you have any) and lots of contrast off shiny paint. Chose a slightly overcast day, that will filter the light more evenly. Or as suggested, go when the sun is low on the horizon, more atmosphere to pass through gives a diffused effect and you usually get the bonus of "golden" light.

You may still need to fill in the car with a flash to get good colors, just because you are outside doesn't mean no flash. Here's one that I am particularly proud of, it captures all of the proper lighting techniques, proper background and composition, really sexy subject vehicle...

LOL, I crack myself up.

Blaise Reader
June 14, 2017 9:26 a.m.
pinchvalve wrote: Here's a typical studio shot for a car. You cannot take pics that good!

Not to mention all the photoshop work that goes into blending it into the background afterwards.

Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
June 14, 2017 10:34 a.m.

While I'm no professional photographer, I try to keep these things in mind when doing a photo shoot:

1) Lighting (too dark or too light is problematic--- I tend to wait for "golden hour"

2) Framing --- Is the entire car in the shot? If not-- is the shot highlighting the detail element I'm looking to showcase?

3) Background--- is the background attractive without being overwhelming? Does the background help or hurt the subject?

Rodan Reader
June 14, 2017 1:20 p.m.

Not to beat a dead horse, but lighting is really crucial. I have yet to get more than a couple pics in bright sunlight that I really liked. My wife is learning, and still hasn't figured out not to shoot towards the sun... drives me crazy! I'm certainly no more than a dilettante myself, so who's talking!?

The title does say Miata content, so here's a few of mine:

Clouds make for great background... this one still feels a little overexposed to me.

 photo Miata10-12-121_zps752611ca.jpg

I typically like to have the whole car in frame, but sometimes something different is cool...

 photo 4-28-132_zpsce1c770c.jpg

One time a sportbike rolled into frame just as I was snapping a shot that would otherwise have turned out pretty boring. It's a little soft, but I like it...

 photo 4-28-134_zpse820f3f5.jpg

Keep the tips coming! We amateurs appreciate them!

02Pilot Dork
June 14, 2017 3:01 p.m.

Rodan, I'm not seeing any photos in your post.

A number of people have mentioned not shooting in full sun. Understanding the nature of the problem may be helpful. Any photographic medium (digital sensor, film, whatever) has a dynamic range of light levels from which it can capture details; above or below that range, and you get white or black respectively. How wide that range is varies, as does the response to various wavelengths within that range.

Bright sunlight tends to create scenes with a high dynamic range, making it difficult to capture the full range of tones. Sometimes this isn't really a problem and can even be used to good effect, but most of the time you want as much as you can get. Simple things you can do (assuming you're shooting digital) are shoot RAW, which will give you a lot more to work with later on, and expose for highlights. This usually means reducing the exposure setting the camera wants to default to, if you're relying on it to determine exposure. (This is similar to what you do when shooting slide film, whereas negative film should be exposed for shadows, giving more light). This all has to do with how the sensor handles light, but can be summed up simply be saying it's much easier to bring up your shadows than it is to bring down your highlights.

No digital samples to offer, but this is full summer midday sun with lots of dynamic range. The sky is not blown (you can still see color) and you can still make out the triple carbs under the hood:

Rodan Reader
June 14, 2017 3:12 p.m.
02Pilot wrote: Rodan, I'm not seeing any photos in your post.

Showing up fine for me... they're linked from Photobucket, which has been a bit problematic recently. If others are having problems, let me know and I'll see if there's anything I can fix...

NickD SuperDork
June 14, 2017 3:13 p.m.

Adding to the Miata content, pretty proud of this one I took meself. Remember, when doing the classic 3/4 wedge shot, don't forget to turn the front wheels (opposite direction for front, same direction for rear) so that the faces are visible.

Keith Tanner MegaDork
June 14, 2017 3:47 p.m.

About 02Pilot's post - most digital cameras can be set up to show you a histogram after you take a shot. That's a graph showing how many pixels are in a certain light range. If the graph bumps into the left extreme, you've got solid black in there. If it bumps into the right extreme, you've got solid white (blown). That's bad, because you can't do anything with those (there's no hidden information) and they don't print properly. Some cameras will highlight the areas of the picture that's out of range. Makes for a good tool when you're doing difficult shots like his flathead. In fact, this instant feedback is a big part of what's made photography more accessible for a lot of people, you can experiment really quickly and easily and progress much more rapidly than we did in the film era.

Appleseed MegaDork
June 14, 2017 4:18 p.m.

Maybe we can resurrect the Personal Photo Thread?

Toebra HalfDork
June 15, 2017 1:07 a.m.

From the fly and drive when I went and picked up the current daily driver

TurboFocus
TurboFocus Reader
June 15, 2017 3:35 p.m.

how'd i do?

codrus UltraDork
June 15, 2017 8:31 p.m.
TurboFocus wrote: how'd i do?

I like the angle of the car, and you're down low, which is good (a lot of people shoot cars from eye level, which looks terrible). I also like the way the brick lines all point at the car.

The side of the car needs more light on it, IMHO. From the looks of the sky, the sun has just set -- 15 minutes earlier would've been better. Compositionally I'd probably change the angle to take the brown building out of the shot, although that loses the brick lines. Perhaps you could move it closer to the fence on the right of the frame to eliminate the building?

Also, this is very much a style thing, but personally I'm a fan of longer lenses for cars. If you back up and zoom in so the car still fills the frame it alters the perspective, making it so that the back of the car doesn't look small compared to the front. This is hard to do with a cell phone, but on an SLR I like to shoot cars at 200mm or longer (in 35mm equivalent terms). It's the difference between a shot like this:

And like this:

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