Car Photography: Tips, Tools & Techniques

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Nissan Skyline GTRNext to your camera, the most important thing to bring to a car show is lots of memory cards and by that I means, fast cards with high capacity.

Whether shooting indoors or outside exposure can be tricky, so you should always be sure to follow one of Farace’s most important Laws for photographing cars: Slightly overexpose white and light colored cars and slightly underexpose black or dark colored ones. Otherwise they’re all 18% grey.

When shooting in aperture-controlled mode (to maintain consistent depth-of-field), I typically bracket exposures in one-third stops and usually one or more of the three shots is usable.

While I shoot most cars in color I sometimes use the camera’s black and white mode to produce images that have a vintage look. Can’t make up your mind about whether to shoot color or monochrome? Shoot it in RAW+JPEG and make the decision later. Of course you can always shoot in color and convert to monochrome in the digital darkroom—as I did with the Nissan Skyline at left.



hot rodDon’t be frustrated by the lack of space and crowded conditions found at some shows. Be sure to shoot images of parts of cars or details. My wife loves doing this at shows. Use that lack of space to your advantage by finding small things, such as details in a Bugatti’s grille or the sensuous lines of a street rod’s fender and capture them in sharp focus.

That’s one of the reasons that I like to use wide-angle zooms for car shows, especially ones that let me get close and fill up the frame with part or even the entire car while eliminating distractions.

Tip: Make sure your zoom lens allows close  focusing. Start by working in close and gradually back off the zoom ring until extraneous details appear in the frame, then crop them out—in camera. A low angle also helps to simplify the background.

Ilight.bookf you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat Joe to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here.

Along with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photograph that’s now out-of-print but new copies are available from Amazon for $21.88 with used copies selling for four bucks. For some reason, the Kindle price is really high.