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This shot has another common mistake as well, and I'll just give you this one. It's the wheel/tire at the far end. You never want it to intersect the front-most wheel/tire, because if it does then it'll make the front tire look odd shaped. You either want to see all 4 clearly, or make it a perfect tri-pod.
 

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As a rule, when hand-holding, you're going to need a shutter speed of double that of the FL. So with a 35 you can use a slower shutter speed, and less ISO than you can with an 85. It's no more difficult to understand than that.
Realized I missed the handheld part. I rely way too much on my lens IS or tripod so I never really incorporated that into my routine.

Holy hell do I hate the color of this photo (what is that red/orange color cast on everything?). It's like a landscape photograph accidentally focused on a car that happened to be in the way.
 

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Thanks Andrew it just looked odd and now that you've explained it I will keep that tucked in my mind while learning more about my RX10.3 although since getting the Lotus I focus more on learning it.
 

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Holy hell do I hate the color of this photo (what is that red/orange color cast on everything?). It's like a landscape photograph accidentally focused on a car that happened to be in the way.
This is just an auction snap lifted from the Mecum site. A lot of their shooters don't bother with color balance, they don't have time. Hell, some of them don't bother with focus either :facepalm.
 

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One more - this is a different photo from the one above - parked the car against a gritty wall in a very dark lot and light painted it from behind with my flashlight. Took a million tries to get the projected shadow to be symmetric.

 

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Discussion Starter #110
There is a nice restaurant right by me with some interesting exterior lighting and I'd like to try some night-time photography this weekend. I haven't tried shooting at night before. Any advice or best practices? I'm assuming for the longer exposure a tripod is more critical than usual. Seems like some of the shots are more interesting with the headlights/taillights on?

I'd be curious to see what's worked for you guys or anything specific to automotive photography at night you've found that works.
 

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There is a nice restaurant right by me with some interesting exterior lighting and I'd like to try some night-time photography this weekend. I haven't tried shooting at night before. Any advice or best practices? I'm assuming for the longer exposure a tripod is more critical than usual. Seems like some of the shots are more interesting with the headlights/taillights on?

I'd be curious to see what's worked for you guys or anything specific to automotive photography at night you've found that works.
I'm sure VisualEchoes can chime in here with better advice, but for my (matte) car, extreme hard top lighting has worked best, like in that photo above. I do think lights on gives you more of an interest. Telephoto works really well for these cars from front, front 3/4 and side. I haven't found a good rear shot yet...the rears on our cars are great, but somewhat diminutive.

You can shoot hand held if you have a fast lens and/or image stabilization - the front shot above was hand held, the light-painted shadows were tripod. If you're hand holding, go with your widest aperture and shoot on continuous, using the reciprocal rule as an initial guide. When shooting handheld, I go much slower than reciprocal with image stabilization, plus I take ~100 photos and will get a couple that are in-focus enough.

Alternatively go completely dark and light paint, but light painting is much harder.

A couple of other shots from that shoot(all handheld), also a frontal shot with a wide angle just to show much much of a difference telephoto makes(compare with the similar shot above)
 

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Pic #1 is reminiscent of the old LotusSport logo...

I've never gotten good at night time car photography with artificial light. I always end up with lighting hot spots, but then I'm generally shooting a shiny car. Curious to learn what actually works.
 

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That's the S3 exige wing that Eltech Italia makes for our cars: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Eltech.Italia/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1659258640761931

I wondered why Lotus had that center cutout, but then I learned that the center section on most wings is pretty useless from the turbulent air coming off the cabin. Of course, it's likely not as good as a clam wing, but there's no way I'm drilling my clam :)
Cool! Looks like the the Elise cup wing. Looking through the photos, it looks like the Storm Titanium Exige has Denag side skirts.
 

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Discussion Starter #116
I'm sure VisualEchoes can chime in here with better advice, but for my (matte) car, extreme hard top lighting has worked best, like in that photo above. I do think lights on gives you more of an interest. Telephoto works really well for these cars from front, front 3/4 and side. I haven't found a good rear shot yet...the rears on our cars are great, but somewhat diminutive.

You can shoot hand held if you have a fast lens and/or image stabilization - the front shot above was hand held, the light-painted shadows were tripod. If you're hand holding, go with your widest aperture and shoot on continuous, using the reciprocal rule as an initial guide. When shooting handheld, I go much slower than reciprocal with image stabilization, plus I take ~100 photos and will get a couple that are in-focus enough.

Alternatively go completely dark and light paint, but light painting is much harder.

A couple of other shots from that shoot(all handheld), also a frontal shot with a wide angle just to show much much of a difference telephoto makes(compare with the similar shot above)
Thanks for sharing. Did you bring a light source to control the light? Or just try and park with the lighting directly above you? I'll probably try shooting with the 50mm 1.4 since it's my fastest lens. I'll probably try the tripod and handheld both and see how they turn out.

Thanks for sharing the examples too. It's very helpful.
 

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Thanks for sharing. Did you bring a light source to control the light? Or just try and park with the lighting directly above you? I'll probably try shooting with the 50mm 1.4 since it's my fastest lens. I'll probably try the tripod and handheld both and see how they turn out.

Thanks for sharing the examples too. It's very helpful.
I just parked under an overhead light. The light painted shots were done with a flashlight in a pitch-black lot.

The non-reflective sheen lets you get away with a lot, so you may have to experiment a bit with light sources & reflections. Strobe + Diffusers might help if you have them. These were shot on a 70-200 f/2.8 with image stabilization. f/1.4 would definitely work, but I'd favor telephoto if you have it, even if it's a little slower.
 

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There is a nice restaurant right by me with some interesting exterior lighting and I'd like to try some night-time photography this weekend. I haven't tried shooting at night before. Any advice or best practices? I'm assuming for the longer exposure a tripod is more critical than usual. Seems like some of the shots are more interesting with the headlights/taillights on?

I'd be curious to see what's worked for you guys or anything specific to automotive photography at night you've found that works.
I'm not a night-photography specialist by any means, and I don't do addition of false light (light painting, flash, etc), but I can give you some pointers.

The first thing is to make sure your auto-iso isn't on, it'll defeat the purpose.
Second would be to turn on your long-exposure noise reduction if you have it.
A tri-pod is absolutely necessary unless you want that old film grain look because of the high ISO.
Longer exposures tend to make lights too bright in order to get the darks up to exposure, so if you bracket everything it'll really help.
Always try the shot with the lights off, then parking lights on, then headlights on. If you do all 3 you can't go wrong picking the best one later.
Color correction is a big deal with night photography, so just set your white balance to auto and fix it later in RAW.
Oh, and ALWAYS shoot in RAW. If you're shooting in JPEG then why even bother? No control.
Try to use natural light artifacts as much as possible, like a light situated behind your subject, or street-lights, and in the FOG and drizzle.
I tend to use shallow DOF anyway, but at night it really helps remove the distracting objects.
I tend to look for places bathed in light too, and with interesting backgrounds.
And always remember that if you're going to use a small aperture and long exposure you're going to make all the lights appear to be stars.

Some examples. Let me know if you have any questions about any of them.



River Wall.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


Darker. (Explore)
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr



The Sky Is Crying.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


The Emperors New Shoes.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


Walk The Night.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


Blues For the Red Sun.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


Screams and Whispers.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


Vapor Trail.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


Nicole.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr


I Am Legend.
by Andrew Thompson, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #119
Thanks for sharing the tips and examples. It was really helpful.

I got a chance to try it out last weekend and was pretty happy with the results. The restaurant I wanted to try was pretty busy so I called an audible and tried shooting under some street lights around my house. Not an ideal location, but it was still fun to try and see how it worked.

General observations: Tripod and remote shutter trigger were really helpful. I think it would have been impossible to hand shoot. Exposure bracketing would have been really helpful. I forgot to try... I was happy with the exposure of the sky, but the car was a little under exposed. I also forgot to shoot with the headlights on. I think that would have helped. Adjusting the white balance made a huge difference when editing.

Anyhow, see below for a couple of the better ones. As always, constructive criticism welcome.
 

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Jeff
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Looks good. I would lean towards cropping the wide shots closer but that's a personal taste. It'd be nice to see a little more light on the front of the car since it's disappearing into the shadows.

On a purely technical level, it looks like whichever lens you're using doesn't have great flare control - the lens flare in the first shot is distracting, I think, since it goes right through the nose of the car. I might try to go with a larger aperture to give a smaller DoF too, to get the car to "pop" a little more and separate it from the background.

The third shot is my favorite but I'd crop it even closer - from the left and bottom, putting the car a little more off-center, and turned the front tires so the tread was facing the camera.

Overall though, I think you should be pretty pleased with your results!
 
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