Better Exposures When Shooting Cars

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

One of the most common questions photographers ask me about car show photography is about exposure: Light has four major qualities: color, quality, quantity, and direction. As photographers seeking to master the art of exposure, seeing that light is the key. Learning to see light is not difficult but does take practice. That practice should take the form of not only constantly making new images but also taking the time to analyze those photographs after you’ve created them.

One of the first tips  I give aspiring car photographers is that they should underexpose black cars to render them as black and overexpose white ones, so they look white. When you think about this concept, it makes perfect sense: The camera’s built in meter forces the exposure to middle gray tones, so you’ll end up with a white car that looks gray or a black car that looks gray.

How I made this shot of the black Dodge Challenger (left)

Exposure for the Challenger was 1/320 sec at f/8 and ISO 400, which is one and one-third stops less that the indicated “correct” exposure.




Along with photographer Barry Staver, I’m co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s available from Amazon for $21.88 prices with used copies selling at giveaway prices—less than four bucks, as I write this.