Photography in Car Museums

If you like to photograph cars but live in part of the county that has chilly, snowy Winters, I’ve a solution for you: Car museums. But there are challenges photographing cars indoors you’ll never encounter in outdoor shows so here are a few tips to overcome typical problems. They are in no particular order of importance because they’re all important:

Marmon automobile

  • Color balance: Your camera’s AWB (Auto White Balance) setting should work fine but may not take care of every situation, so it’s not a panacea. Explore other settings, especially tungsten but sometime you’ll have to create a custom color balance. Don’t have a white card? Chances are there’s a white CAR you can substitute.
  • ISO settings: Before you walk in a museum’s doors, you should make test shots to see how much noise you can tolerate at a given ISO setting. With this maximum ISO setting in mind you are prepared for any lighting challenges. (See #4)
  • Wide Angle Zoom lens: Inevitably there are going to be chains or ropes protecting the cars from overeager hands. Using a wide-angle zoom lens you can sit on the floor (not in your Sunday best) so you’re under these barriers. Use the zoom control to get the composition you want.
  • Fast lens: Museums light some cars better than others so bring the fastest lens you have because chances are you’re going to make more than a few shots wide open.
  • Follow house rules: If the rules so “no tripods,” don’t try to sneak one in. Check with the museum first; they may allow monopods but if you follow the rules you’ll have a better time and make better photos.
  • Go during the week. It’s less crowded and sometimes there are surprises, such as the time I got to talk to Al Unser Sr. at the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque.

Unser Racing Museum

This post original appeared on Macphun Software’s blog; please stop by sometime and see what else they have to offer.