Crowded Car Show Tip? Get Closer.

by | Jul 30, 2020

Today’s Tip by Joe Farace

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” —Robert Capa.

Don’t get frustrated by the lack of space and crowded working conditions that you may found at many car shows, cars and coffee events or museums. Use that situation to your advantage by finding small details and capture them in sharp focus.

Get close to the car but no so close that you incur the wrath of the car’s owner. In fact, it’s always a good idea to first talk to the owner and tell them why you want to photograph it.

Then begin by working in close and gradually back off (or zoom out) until extraneous non-car details or people start appearing in the frame, then crop them out–in camera, which is what I prefer to do instead of cropping later in Photoshop. For my take on cropping, check out this post here on this blog.

Wide-angle lenses or wide angle zooms let you fill up the frame with part or even the entire car while making sure distractions are eliminated, but make sure your zoom lens allows close focusing. I once purchased a 28-85mm zoom lens specifically for photographing cars only to discover it didn’t focus close enough to do me any good. An expensive mistake.

How I made this shot: The above photograph was made at a indoor car show using a Canon EOS 5D Mark I with Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 ZE lens. Exposure was 1/2000 sec at f/1.4—wide open to minimize depth-of-field— with the camera set at ISO 1600.

To make interesting photographs at a car show, you need to start with the right attitude. A passion for your subject is always a plus and enables you to look beyond the surface of a car to see its essence, its soul


Along with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s available from Amazon for $21.87 and used copies starting at $7.00 as I write this. The Kindle price is expensive for some reason (not Barry or me.)