Tips for Better Exposures When Shooting Car Shows

by | Mar 19, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

While many car shows, including the 25’th Anniversary edition of the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance have been canceled due to coronavirus health concerns, I think that the information in today’s post is still useful and will be helpful when society comes back to whatever passes for “normal.”

One of the most common questions photographers that 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 to achieving proper exposure. 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 that 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 the book Better Available Light Digital Photography with new copies available from Amazon for $21.88 prices and used copies starting at $6.73, as I write this.