Today’s Post by Joe Farace
One of the most important things to keep in mind when photographing any car is camera angle. Choosing the best possible position can simplify the overall composition by eliminating distractions that you might see at eye level, which is the way most people shoot cars. Low or high angles not only provide a different perspective but minimize background clutter.
Some pros use twenty-foot stepladders* but even a short, two-step kitchen step stool will get you higher than eye level. Before schlepping any kind of support to a car show, email one of the organizers for permission, especially if it’s an indoor show, to ask about their policy tripods and monopods.
How I made this photo: In the above shot of a VW Beetle that was parked on a supermarket parking lot, I was holding a Sony point-and-shoot digital camera over my head to create a classic “Hail Mary” shot. The Motion Blur effect was added later in Photoshop.
Don’t forget that Hail Mary option that works great with DSLR and mirrorless cameras that have fully articulated screens. Aim the screen at you an hold the camera as high as you can. Bang, zoom you got the shot.
If you can’t get higher, try low angles. The best shots can be made when you’re sitting or lying on the ground pointing your camera at angles up at the car. One of the disadvantages of using low camera angles and wide-angle lenses is that sometimes wheels will not photograph as perfectly round because of distortion at the edges of the lens, focal length and camera angle. If that kind of technical problem bothers you, you’ll need to shoot with a view camera or get tilt-shift lens. This kind of stuff doesn’t bother me.
*What did I photograph climbing up on a ladder? You can read all about on the post about how I photographed a small car collection.
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Along with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photograph that’s available from Amazon for $21.49 with used copies starting at less than nine bucks. For some reason, the Kindle prices can be high.