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Discussion Starter #1
Just got back into photography and I know there are a bunch of really talented photographers on here and I would love to hear what gear you use, any tips and tricks you've picked up, links to helpful articles or videos you've found, etc. So please share!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I'll start with some of my background stuff

Camera Body: Canon 5D Mark IV (first time using a full frame camera, still have a lot to learn)
Lenses: Canon 50mm 1.8 w/Circular Polarizer, Canon 16mm-35mm 2.8 w/Circular Polarizer, and Sigma 50mm-500mm 4.5-6.3
Link to my pictures --> https://www.instagram.com/tonydim7/
Great Article -->https://petapixel.com/2017/05/09/giant-guide-car-photography/
Future Gear: Would like to upgrade to the Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens and would like to hear if anyone has tried it out.
 

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Here's a really good article about taking car pics. Although it focuses on Cobra's, I've used it for other cars as well: https://www.cobracountry.com//wp-content/uploads/Media/CobraPhotoTipsDipStix.pdf

One thing I learned last fall from watching a couple of professionals take pictures of a car I was selling was getting a long way away from the car and using a telephoto lens. The guy who took these pics took them all from about 50ft away from the car: https://www.mecum.com/lots/SC0518-326562/2015-superlite-slc/
 

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Jeff
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I don't post many photos here but I'm a reasonably serious amateur photographer - in other words, I spend way too much money on camera equipment!

Much as I have shunned "normal" cars, I shoot with a less-common (nowadays) brand: Pentax. They make tremendous and very rugged equipment for cheap, but are often forgotten or unknown. I used a K1000 years ago and since going digital, have had most of their top cameras. I currently shoot with a Pentax K-1 and a wide assortment of lens. I love vintage stuff and often use 50+ year old lenses, especially when shooting old cameras.

I have a bunch of stuff at Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/grouchodis/
...but, for car stuff, I have most at my own site. Here's my automotive photos: https://www.groucho.org/index.php/category/12
There's a lot of LOG photos in the LOONY section, and lots from Watkins Glen.

I don't do much of the "glamour" photos but will shooting from a distance and using a telephoto, like Pete says, will certainly get you a more natural-looking car. Sometimes it's fun to distort things, though; I use a fisheye lens quite often. Over the years, I have gotten slightly bored with the standard 3/4 view of cars and do more "detail" shots nowadays. I do still do a lot of panning shots at the racetrack; that's a bit of practice to figure out the best shutter speed to give you blurred background and tires but a sharp car. I did recently pick up a Sigma 120-400mm lens; I am looking forward to trying that at Watkins Glen. I wanted the Pentax 150-450mm but it would cost 2-3x the price... but I'm sure I'll upgrade one of these days!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Here's a really good article about taking car pics. Although it focuses on Cobra's, I've used it for other cars as well: https://www.cobracountry.com//wp-content/uploads/Media/CobraPhotoTipsDipStix.pdf

One thing I learned last fall from watching a couple of professionals take pictures of a car I was selling was getting a long way away from the car and using a telephoto lens. The guy who took these pics took them all from about 50ft away from the car: https://www.mecum.com/lots/SC0518-326562/2015-superlite-slc/
Thanks for the article. Super detailed information.

Those pictures look great. I'm actually thinking about getting a lens for shots like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I don't post many photos here but I'm a reasonably serious amateur photographer - in other words, I spend way too much money on camera equipment!

Much as I have shunned "normal" cars, I shoot with a less-common (nowadays) brand: Pentax. They make tremendous and very rugged equipment for cheap, but are often forgotten or unknown. I used a K1000 years ago and since going digital, have had most of their top cameras. I currently shoot with a Pentax K-1 and a wide assortment of lens. I love vintage stuff and often use 50+ year old lenses, especially when shooting old cameras.

I have a bunch of stuff at Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/grouchodis/
...but, for car stuff, I have most at my own site. Here's my automotive photos: https://www.groucho.org/index.php/category/12
There's a lot of LOG photos in the LOONY section, and lots from Watkins Glen.

I don't do much of the "glamour" photos but will shooting from a distance and using a telephoto, like Pete says, will certainly get you a more natural-looking car. Sometimes it's fun to distort things, though; I use a fisheye lens quite often. Over the years, I have gotten slightly bored with the standard 3/4 view of cars and do more "detail" shots nowadays. I do still do a lot of panning shots at the racetrack; that's a bit of practice to figure out the best shutter speed to give you blurred background and tires but a sharp car. I did recently pick up a Sigma 120-400mm lens; I am looking forward to trying that at Watkins Glen. I wanted the Pentax 150-450mm but it would cost 2-3x the price... but I'm sure I'll upgrade one of these days!
Thanks for sharing your work and your equipment info. I don't know much about Pentax, so I'll have to check it out. There is a great used photography equipment store here in Columbus that has a lot of older stuff. It's a blast to go and check it out.

I'll have to work a little more with some telephoto lenses. I do have a Sigma 50-500mm lens, but it's more for wildlife photography. I've been looking at the Canon 70-200mm lens for car stuff. But it's a super expensive lens. I'll be curious to see how you like your 120-400mm lens. If you get some time, please post once you get a chance to try it out.

I'd also like to try shooting at the track some (Mid-Ohio is the closest track here) and try some panning shots. They always look really cool.
 

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I'd say the first step is to go through all of the top automotive photographer's work and find what you're looking to achieve. This will give you a good idea what camera, lenses, accessories, and post processing software you'll need to not only take great shots, but get the exact look you're after. For lack of a better term, it'll give you a good goal.

If you go through average automotive photographer's work you're just chasing your tail. You'll end up liking sub-par work, like the link that Pete posted.

It appears Jeff from above does some great work, but automotive is a whole different world with its own rules.

What I see in your current work is that you're missing the presentation factor. There is no such thing as a good photograph taken at a car show, so skip them. Instead, find a car there you like and offer to shoot it for free in a more controlled environment.


I Get Lucky.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


After Dark. (Explore)
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


Sentinel II
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr
 

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Another thing I might mention is that, to be a great automotive photographer is to go the extra mile. When it's too hot to shoot, shoot. When it's too cold to shoot, shoot. Tornado warning? Shoot. Once you get your chops down you'll be just like everyone else, so you must separate yourself from them with your work ethic and creativity.

Sand pit in the rain wearing full slicks.


Wet...and dirty.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

Pending tornado.


Sex on Fire.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

In the middle of the road, 10° outside, impossibly slick outside. No traffic except me and my Exige.


When the Levee Breaks.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

VERY bad part of town. Had to bring my gun for this one.


My Sinful Muse.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

Literally trapped on both sides by flood water.


Under the Ivy.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

Fog so thick I could barely see the road.


Screams and Whispers.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

Super steam and heat from a massive rainstorm, tornado warning sirens going off.


The Illusionist.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

Semi-slick tires in the snow.


The Last Hurrah
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

You get the idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'd say the first step is to go through all of the top automotive photographer's work and find what you're looking to achieve. This will give you a good idea what camera, lenses, accessories, and post processing software you'll need to not only take great shots, but get the exact look you're after. For lack of a better term, it'll give you a good goal.

If you go through average automotive photographer's work you're just chasing your tail. You'll end up liking sub-par work, like the link that Pete posted.

It appears Jeff from above does some great work, but automotive is a whole different world with its own rules.

What I see in your current work is that you're missing the presentation factor. There is no such thing as a good photograph taken at a car show, so skip them. Instead, find a car there you like and offer to shoot it for free in a more controlled environment.
Thanks for sharing your work / advice. I appreciate you taking the time to look though what I've posted. I think I've come to a similar realization this year. Car shows are a blast and it's fun to see all of the different cars, but as far as pictures go, they all end up looking... the same For actual photography, seems like you have to get out of the parking lots and move to somewhere interesting. I took the a little bit of time to scout some interesting locations (both ended up being under some random bridges) and the pictures were much more interesting. But I need to get out more and try some other spots.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk2zD3cg0jo/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bh2baVhg5p7/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

While I do realize that like all art, it is somewhat subjective, but any car photographers you personally enjoy? I think the only other pro car photographer I've checked out is George F Williams (https://gfwilliams.net). I really like his stuff plus he also in an Exige owner.

Thanks for sharing some of the stories for your shots too. Really interesting to see what you had to go through to get some of those shots. Looks like I need to take a closer look at flickr too. I like that you can see all of the photo info (camera, lens, camera settings, etc)
 

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The two shots you just posted are already a vast improvement on car-show pix, but need something to draw interest. As it is, they are just dead center representational shots.

I'm sure you've heard of the rule of thirds, yes? Use it...always.

And always be aware of how your background intersects your subject. In your first shot the nose of the car intersects the bridge pillar, and in the second one the pillars are literally coming through the top of the car. A shallower dof can help with this, and selective lighting, but you need to try to make sure very little intersects the vehicle, but you have foreground and background artifacts.

Notice the specific placement of the car (rule of thirds), and the fact that the intersecting trees behind the car are very out of focus.


The Organic Experience.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

George is very talented, has a great eye, and puts in the time to learn the techniques he needs to in order to do very good work.

Markus Wendler is my favorite.

 

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Discussion Starter #16
The two shots you just posted are already a vast improvement on car-show pix, but need something to draw interest. As it is, they are just dead center representational shots.

I'm sure you've heard of the rule of thirds, yes? Use it...always.

And always be aware of how your background intersects your subject. In your first shot the nose of the car intersects the bridge pillar, and in the second one the pillars are literally coming through the top of the car. A shallower dof can help with this, and selective lighting, but you need to try to make sure very little intersects the vehicle, but you have foreground and background artifacts.

Notice the specific placement of the car (rule of thirds), and the fact that the intersecting trees behind the car are very out of focus.

George is very talented, has a great eye, and puts in the time to learn the techniques he needs to in order to do very good work.

Markus Wendler is my favorite.
Those are some really good points. I honestly hadn't considered looking that closely on how the background interacts with the pictures, but especially with cars I can see how that makes a big difference (basically pulls the eyes away from the car and detracts from the details of the car).

Totally agree that following the rule of thirds produces a much better shot almost all of the time. I think that car shows cause the added bad habit of putting everything in the middle. You get stuck with the classic "car for sale" shots (front, 3/4, side, etc.) and everything ends up in the middle of the frame since all of the cars are lined up next to each other. Especially with all of the lines in the parking lot, it makes good photo composition a bit of a challenge (and I suppose a little bit of laziness on my part doesn't help...). Much better to move things out of the parking lot.

I'll have to check Markus Wendler out. Thanks for sharing.

Please feel free to continue to share any additional info you have. Hopefully there are other people on the forum that can benefit from the info too.

Any lenses you personally have loved/hated? Seems like you have one wide angle lens you use a lot and one telephoto (guessing from some of the flickr focal length info)?
 

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Any lenses you personally have loved/hated? Seems like you have one wide angle lens you use a lot and one telephoto (guessing from some of the flickr focal length info)?
Lenses are a personal choice, really, and very much depend on the final result you're after. I personally like the background to be very soft, so I use a 200/2 for most of my work.

For standard shots I use a 35 because it gives me enough field of view without too much distortion. I find I can use those two lenses 99% of the time.

200/2

Vapor Trail.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr

35

Colourbox.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr
 

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Notice too how the top shot, with the 200/2, makes the front very small, and the rear much larger. That's the type of distortion. Whereas the bottom shot does just the opposite, making the front huge, and the rear small.
 

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Jeff
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Oh, don't get me started on the "rule of thirds", I don't like it. :D Gimme the golden ratio any day! Anyway, I'm not a big believe in rules - hence, using things like fisheyes and LensBabys. Honestly, I just like Bryan Peterson's way of thinking of it - the farther to the edge the focal point is, the more interesting, but the more it needs to justify being there. Different subjects should be composed differently.

I think you can get a good photo at a car show - but it's not all that easy. You won't get the glamour shots that VisualEchos does - they're beautiful but frankly I don't have the patience! :D But you can certainly get nice detail photos, and if it's not too crowded, you can get farther away and use a telephoto to isolate a car from anything around it. It's good IMHO to get low, too, which the telephoto helps with. For example:



You can also capture just part of a car. A short depth of field is definitely your friend. This was at the last LOG, shot with a lens that was built sometime around 1960:



If you want really short DoF, you need a fast prime. Here's a shot at F1.2, 50mm from a LOONY breakfast gathering.



Or, just look for some interesting part of the car and focus on that:



Everyone has their own style and ultimately, if you're not trying to sell your photos, the only person you have to please is yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Notice too how the top shot, with the 200/2, makes the front very small, and the rear much larger. That's the type of distortion. Whereas the bottom shot does just the opposite, making the front huge, and the rear small.
Thanks for sharing your lens info. 200/2 sounds like a pretty awesome lens.

That is really interesting how the proportion of the car changes depending on the focal length. I don't think I ever tangibly looked at that. More focused on how the car was filling the frame, but not so much in what manner the car is distorted.
 
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