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Top Tips for Classic Car Photography

Now that it’s officially Spring the weather will start providing some great opportunities to take out your classic and get some awesome photos that’ll show off that wax job you painstakingly applied. You’ve spent your hard earned time and money to make the car look it’s best so here’s a few tips and tricks to ensure you’re getting the most out of your shots.

  • Consider the time of day and available lighting

It might seem simple and almost obvious but it’s important to consider your lighting when trying to get that perfect shot.  Shadows and glares can become a real nuisance and hinder your chance to emphasize the essence of your ride.  Because of this you should consider shooting either earlier in the day, or later in the day.  When the sun is on top of your subject during the mid-day it can lead to difficult lighting conditions and you’ll probably need to get creative in order to offset it.  If you must shoot during this time of the day it’s recommended that you utilize landmarks such as buildings to help mask some of that troublesome direct light.

  • Consider a circular polarizer filter

These simple and relatively inexpensive additions to your setup can make a huge difference in your shot, especially when your subject is something like a car which has many reflective surfaces.  Quite simply, these additions to your lens help to filter out unwanted reflections in things like glass or moisture and pollution in the atmosphere.  It helps to maximize the depth and clarity of your image before you event snap the photo, and yes they’re available for your camera phone as well. 

  • Beware of reflections

As we pretty obviously stated above, vehicles are reflective.  You should take this into consideration when trying to get the prefect shot of your classic, especially if your vehicle has a lot of chrome like many restorations do.  Vehicle reflections have a tendency to mirror objects that you wouldn’t even expect so it’s important to be conscious of your surroundings including your position when taking the photo.

  • Angles and positions

When shooting a vehicle there’s several angles that’ll help to make the most of lines and curves that you’re probably looking to feature.  Consider the following shots when trying to get the most from your exterior images:

  • Vehicle Front Head On
  • Vehicle Front 1/3 Angle
  • Vehicle Front 3/4 Angle
  • Vehicle Side Head On
  • Vehicle Rear 1/3 Angle
  • Vehicle Rear 3/4 Angle
  • Vehicle Rear Head On

These shots have become somewhat of a standard in the world of car photography as they generally capture the best attributes of the subject vehicle however there are also a few other tips and tricks that can really allow you to get the most of your car.  First, when shooting at an angle, be sure to turn the wheels (front) so that they are directly facing the photographer.  Second, when shooting at an angle, make sure that you’re capturing all four wheels in the shot, otherwise your vehicle will have a sort of tripod effect and look a little off.  Third, play around with depth, height and perspective to really make the shot your own.  By shooting from a lower position, you can give the car a more aggressive stance; by shooting higher, you can use the environment to accent your classic bodywork.

  • Motion Blur

One of our favorite tips for shooting your classic is to take advantage of motion blur to give an added dimension to your photo.  These are the shots that make a car look fast even in a still image.  To accomplish this effect, its important to set your camera shutter speed between 1/80 – 1/100.  From there, you can either have someone drive your vehicle past your camera as you focus and shoot the body.  This will give an effect of the wheels and background blurred while the body remains in focus, giving a look of movement.

You can also expand upon this by safely using a chase car in a closed off area to get an even more dramatic action shot.  From your chase car, again make sure that you’re focusing on the subject vehicle’s body and shooting with a slower shutter speed to create an effect of the surrounding movement while simultaneously capturing the characteristics of the car.

  • Surrounding environment

Last on our list of tips is something that is often overlooked and underestimated.  Capturing the perfect shot is a combination effort of a number of different tactics and styles however you can really set your vehicle apart by utilizing a great backdrop to add character.  Be conscious of your shot and try to not include too many distracting variables that will draw attention away from the subject of your shot.  At the same time, you can also use the environment to your advantage by including depth in your image or complimenting it with great scenery.

Of course there are several other tips and tricks out there that professionals have been using for years and maybe you have your own unique way of getting the perfect shot.  Let know what you think of our list and feel free to share any other tips and tricks you’ve heard!

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