How to take better car photos: 5 essential
tips & tricks Grab your camera and prepare to learn, motoring
journalist and amateur photographer Ben Griffin is providing five tips for taking better photos
of cars. // In this video I’m going to show you how
to take better car photos with the following 5 essential tips and tricks. You’re welcome.
// Cars are an odd thing to photograph. Unlike
people, they can’t smile, change into a different outfit or complain that you are
taking too long to capture the moment. Unless you’re David Hasselhoff and the car is KITT
from Knight Rider. Nor can they climb over a fence for the perfect
background. They are, in fact, rather large, which makes using depth of field for a blurry
background more difficult, and rather hard to manoeuvre, which makes it harder to find
the right location. Still, with the following five tips and practice
you should find life a bit easier. In fact, all of these can be applied to any type of
landscape or portrait photography, not just cars.
I’d like to make this a regular feature so if you take any photos you are proud of,
not just cars, but would like to learn how to improve them, feel free to drop me an email
at [email protected] and I will then potentially do a video where I show how I
edited your videos. 1) Make your photo say something
People often say you need a photo to tell a story. I think it’s easier imagine your
photo saying one sentence or word. That could be anything from ‘look how cool this car
is’ to ‘my car in the sunset’. Just a short description in your head that gives
you a theme. Then use that theme for the composition. If
the photo shows a frantic race, maybe deliberately choose an angle that enhances a sense of chaos.
If the theme is speed, consider reducing the shutter speed to add blur.
Whatever you do, just try to make sure it fits with the feeling you want the photo to
create when someone looks at it. 2) Straighten the horizon
This is a more practical tip. Given that a car spends most of its life outside and that
you probably don’t have one of those elevators that brings it into the living room, there
is a strong chance the background will feature a landscape.
[Link to Saudi car elevator] One easy-to-avoid mistake that can ruin a
photo is a wonky horizon. Unless you‘re deliberately making a statement, it usually
looks wrong. Hop into image editing software such as photoshop
or a smartphone photo editing app. Use the transform or crop function to rotate the image
as necessary. You may see grid lines that will help you make sure the horizon is completely
flat. If not, draw a straight line and use that.
If there isn’t a horizon but there’s at least one straight edge, whether horizontal
or vertical, fix that instead unless it comes at the detriment of your photo. If there are
multiple straight edges but only one can be correct, make it the most prominent one.
You may need a little trial and error to perfect the technique, but honestly it’s a simple
trick that can make a world of difference. 3) Think about the light
Some think of a good photographer as a master of their camera. In reality, they are a master
of lighting. Learning how to make it work for you is probably the most important thing
if you want to take better car photos. As nice as it is to be out and about at midday
in the summer, soaking up the rays, this is a bad time for photos because of harsh shadows.
In fact, direct sunlight and generally very bright conditions makes life more challenging.
Over-exposure being one of a few potential issues you need to watch out for.
There are also times of the year when you get long shadows, which can creep into a photo
if you aren’t careful. Or you have to deal with shorter days because it gets darker more
quickly in winter. Ideally, you want clouds to help diffuse the
light and reduce direct sunlight. Or hide in shade. If this is impossible, embrace either
a shadow or bright light as opposed to a bit of both. Alternatively, use a diffuser or
buy some cardboard and stick foil to it and bounce the light onto your subject. Just don’t
give them sunburn. For the best lighting, the golden hour, which
is just after sunrise and before sunset, is hard to beat. It adds a golden hue, which
can provide warmth and beauty. You can cheat a bit and add this on a cold day by adjusting
the colour temperature. Also consider a lens filter for two reasons.
One, it allows you to keep the aperture wide open and enjoy background blur. Two, a polarising
filter reduces car reflections and can help you see through glass. I’ll put links to
all my kit in the description. Those really serious about photo editing should
definitely switch on RAW image capture. JPEGs are great in some situations such as when
speed matters, but the ability to fine-tune an image or rescue areas of under-exposure
are greatly reduced. Just remember they take up more space on your memory card. On my Sony
A7RII, for instance, a photo is 43-odd-megabytes. 4) Consider black and white
Some cars and objects just look great in black and white. It’s just such a timeless style
that works particularly well with classic and vintage machinery. It also really brings
out contrast and can be used to create a more atmospheric photo.
To do this, you can cheat a little and use software called Nik which works within Photoshop.
It has various presets and useful functionality to make a photo look good in black and white.
Not cheap, but the results are worth it. Alternatively, you can use Photoshop’s black
and white function or any smartphone app if using your phone. There’s Lightroom Mobile,
Pixlr, Afterlight, Snapseed and VSCO to name a few of the good ones.
Alternatively, you can switch your camera or smartphone to black and white mode if it
has that feature. Usually it’s a creative style or picture profile.
Or, if you have loads of money and are really serious, you could buy a Leica Monochrome
because it only takes black and white photos. Overkill, yes, but Leicas do take nice photos.
Just remember that capturing a photo in colour usually gives you more data to convert to
black and white later. And, of course, if you shoot without colour there’s never an
option to revert if you change your mind. 5) Improve the final image
So, you’ve been out, done the photo shoot and are happy with what you got. Now it’s
time to first go through all the photos and rate them from 1 to 5. For me, if it’s below
a 3 it’s out. 4s can be made a 5 with editing and 5s obviously are great.
This system will help you whittle down even the snappiest shooter’s memory card to something
more manageable. Be ruthless. Think to yourself, would you be proud to show this to someone
you care about? If not, then it’s maybe not good enough.
Once the sorting stage is complete, now you get to edit them. I’ll be doing a video
on my editing techniques in the near future so be
sure to subscribe and hit the bell notification. But what I will say is that I have a ten-minute
rule. What this means is that I have ten minutes
to edit a photo. If I need longer to save a photo, then it wasn’t great. Or perhaps
you’re making it too artificial. Yes, it’s painful to be ruthless but it does lead to
a higher quality portfolio. I will say that, in a lot of cases, the auto
correction button in Photoshop is decent. Consider the light temperature, make sure
the exposure is correct and play with the various sliders until you are happy with the
finished look. Stay tuned for a photo on how I edit my photos and videos soon!
And that, as they say in showbusiness, is a wrap. More photography guides are on the
way, thanks for watching, keep washing those hands and stay indoors. Byeeeee.
This 10 second trick can make
a big difference to your photos! Show the duplicate image trick, make
this part of a quick photography question. “I get asked a lot about how to make my
photos look better with minimal effort.” Ask if people have photography questions to
get in touch in the comments, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter
for next week’s episode.