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SRTforums Member, Photography Police, 2011 Calenda
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
Alright, so if you are reading this then I assume you are wanting to take better pictures. What I plan to do is talk about the basics of photography with cars in mind. What I plan to touch on the most is going to be composition, and then camera settings and such.


Lets start of with Composition, the way you frame it up. You need to watch for details, if you take time in planning out the way a picture should look, it will show. You need to have a concept of what you want the outcome of the pictures to look like. Just look some pictures up online to get an idea of what you want.

Next, pick out your background. You want to pick out something with character. Something that just isn't plain and boring, Yet you also don't want it to be to to busy and end up being distracting. Old buildings, warehouses, cityscapes, downtown, mountians... amazing landscapes.. You know what you're area has to offer so pick something accordingly. Just don't decide you want to do a photoshoot when you are walking to your car in Target's parking lot... So you pull out your camera and just start taking pictures there.

The time of day is also important when taking pictures. You want to take them later in the day. Preferably an hour before sunset. During this time the light is less harsh and is just better for taking pictures. Or, if it is a nice overcast day... They make amazing days to take pictures on.. Because the overcast just serves as a giant diffuser for the sun, making your shadows less harsh.

Once you have your background picked...things you need to watch out for are power lines, stuff sticking out of your car like tree's and poles. You just have to make sure nothing distracting is protruding out the top/front/side/back of your car. If you can't avoid it, it can always be photoshopped out later, but don't rely on that. Also make sure that stuff isn't in front of your car blocking it. I see sometimes people try to shoot through a bush or some grass... Things of that nature... It just doesn't look good. It distracts and pulls attention away from the car. You're car is the subject.. everything else around it is there just to compliment it. Be sure to watch what is in your background, You don't want other cars.. or other people in your pictures. Once again...its all about the attention to detail, if you pay attention to the small things it will make a huge difference.

Lets cover framing now. One big thing, learn the rule of thirds.



Picture those lines in your head when you are taking a picture.. and use them as guidelines. Have your car on each of the crosses... or running along the lines. The horizontal lines can be where you place your horizon at.. much like they did in the picture above. Not every picture has to have the car in the crosses, You can have it on any of the lines.. or dead center. Just be sure to mix it up so you have a variety.

Here is an example with a car.


Which this also leads me to something else involved with framing. Your eye wants to follow the direction the subject is pointed. If I took that picture with the car turned to the left side rather than the right side, you would feel like that picture is cut off. Always have the car facing the dead space in the picture. You want a smooth and easy flow to the picture. Your eye will fall on the subject, and then from the subject it will follow the direction its facing through the rest of the picture.

So, now that you have picked out your background.. You have your car in place with nothing distracting coming out of it.. or on top of it.. Because you kept an attention to detail.. That means you're read to start taking pictures. Look around your car to get an idea of the shots you will be taking.

When taking the pictures... here are some things not to do.

- Don't tilt your camera, whoever told you that it looks good... quit listening to them.. Its annoying and takes away from the picture because the viewer is tilting their head to see it straight. Don't make it look like your car is climbing Mount Everest... or any hill for that matter.

- Don't set your camera on the ground to take a picture... if you want a picture that low, YOU lay on the ground and keep your camera 5-8 inches off the ground. When you set the camera directly on the ground it creates a lot of useless dead space. You can also always tell that it was taken that way... because it looks like all those exhaust clips on youtube where they couldn't get a buddy to help you out so they just set the camera on the ground. You don't want to see any background from underneath the car.

- Don't take all pictures from eye level either. People see that everyday. Go either higher or lower... Take pictures from above the car.. or drop down to around headlight level.. Though if you have to take it from eye level to avoid distracting bits, do so... as this isn't as big of a deal as the others.

And to finish it off [for now]... here are some do's.

- Do plan it out
- Do take your time
- Do pay attention to detail.

Doing these you should get good pictures... If you work hard at it.. it should show.

Also... DO ask me questions if you need some advice. I will be adding a good bit to this thread.. I plan to take a Point and Shoot out sometime to show that even though you don't have a $5000 camera... You can still get some good pictures.
 

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SRTforums Member, Photography Police, 2011 Calenda
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Basic Camera Settings

Shutter Speed
Aperture
ISO

Those are the 3 things that will affect the amount of light in your pictures. I will explain all 3.

Shutter Speed controls how fast the shutter of your camera moves. Speeds range from around a 30sec shutter up to about 1/8000ths of a second [some camera's are different] The slower it moves the more light is let in, the faster it moves... the less light. When you want to show something moving you will use a slower shutter speed. If you want to stop action and freeze something… you will go with a higher shutter. If you notice alot of your pictures seem to be a little blurry then you're shutter is probably to slow. A good rule of thumb for hand held pictures is to not let your shutter speed be slower than the focal length you are at. Example... If you're at 200m, you're shutter should be no slower than 1/200s unless you have a IS or VR lens... If you are at 18mm then your shutter can be as low as 1/20s.

Aperture is what seems to confuse people the most at first... The main reason is is because 1.2/f is a large aperture where as f22 is a small aperture. The larger the aperture the more light is allowed into a camera... Because the hole in the lens is wide open. Aperture also controls the depth of field you have... aka the blurry background [bokeh] at 2.8/f your DoF is going to be shallow... everything in the background will pretty much be out of focus... And its the exact opposite at a smaller Fstop like F22. Focal length also plays a role in this... If you are at 200mm at 2.8/f... your DoF will be shallower than if you were at 24mm 2.8/f.

ISO doesn't actually stand for anything... But what it does is controls the sensitivity of your image sensor, the higher the number the more sensitive it is to light. What that means is that you can set your ISO to something high if you're shutter speeds are dropping to slow and you're pictures are getting blurry. However the downfall of it is... is image noise. Image noise is the colored pixels that make your picture look grainy. It is caused by a high ISO.
Going to briefly cover night photography and rolling shots. I say briefly because I haven't had time to take many pictures lately and they aren't that hard to describe.



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Night Photography

In order to take a picture where you have less light.. You are going to need to leave the shutter open longer which then means you can no longer hand hold the camera or else you will get camera shake and you're pictures will be blurry.

The most important thing you need is a tripod. .. What a tripod does is keeps you from holding the camera and producing camera shake by having it mounted onto the tripod. It creates a stable base for the camera to sit on and not allow it to move.

They range in price anywhere from $14 to $1000+. For your basic user, a cheap one will work. Just be aware if it's not keeping your camera still. It needs to be able to lock down tight and not move at all. When you're camera starts to weigh more with different lenses and bodies... then you will want to look at getting a new/better tripod.

Things to do...

  • Find yourself a place that is pretty well lit up...
    - This goes back into planning out your shoot and not just deciding you are gonna go out and take pictures... Because you will end up at a parking garage just like every other person.
  • Check and see what kind of light the lights are producing.. I typically try to avoid harsh orange lights but just set your white balance according to your situation [or if you know how to shoot in raw and edit them.. do that too]... or else your white car will become an orange, blue, or yellow car.
  • Make sure you have the right equipment and that you know how to use it.
    - Know how to set your camera into Manual or Shutter Priority... and how to control your white balance.
  • You will set your equipment up and do some test shots to see what you are getting. You can use the in camera light meter to get into the range of shutter speed you will need to go with... and then change it from there to get what YOU want.
  • Once you have taken a picture that you like, zoom in all the way on it to make sure that the camera was steady while you were taking the picture. Look to see if the lines are sharp and there is no blurring at all.
    - If it looks good, then hey... You're done. Just go back home and edit them to your liking.
Some Tips..
  • If it is windy and your tripod just seems to light, there is a hook generally at the bottom of them... You can take some weights or something and put them into a bag and put on that hook.
    - This will add more weight to the base which will help keep the tripod planted onto the ground.
  • Find the timer on your camera and set it to a 2 second timer.
    - Even the slightest bump can cause the image to have a bit of blur and not be perfectly sharp... and when you press the shutter down with your finger you can cause the camera to move. [Or you could buy a remote for the camera]
  • Make sure everything is perfectly still
    - You have to have a long shutter so the whole purpose of everything with night pictures is to keep the camera perfectly still.. Or else you will get blur [notice a pattern here?]
    - The reason you have to use a longer shutter speed is because you need to let in more light because you aren't using a flash.. and well... its night time.
  • Turn your ISO down to 200.
    - No point in having the ISO high if you're camera is stable on a tripod.

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Rolling shots

I have seen a lot of questions with rolling shots and it's pretty easy to cover so I'm just going to go ahead and knock it out.

The purpose of a rolling shot is to show the car in motion.

The way to achieve that is through a slower shutter speed. If you use to fast of a shutter speed you are just going to freeze the action and you won't be able to see the motion in the picture.

There are 2 types of rolling shots
  1. You are hanging out your buddies window taking a picture of Jimbobs car in the other lane on the highway.
  2. You have a rig made that suction cups to your roof or hood and allows your camera to be put on a boom away from your car.
With the first... generally the faster you can go the better. The reason is because you are going to be holding the camera... and the faster you go the faster of a shutter speed you can use and still achieve motion.

For instance...
If you and the car you are taking pictures of is traveling down the highway at 65mph... your shutter speed is going to need to be at least 1/60th of a second... With the wind hitting you and your camera you will be more prone to motion shake rather than if you were able to speed up. If the cars are going 80mph then you will need a 1/80th shutter speed. That will make you less prone to motion shake since the shutter is a little faster.

That is just a good way to get your base settings... If you wanted to show more motion you could have a slower shutter speed and drive faster.
- -Advantages
  • Its cheaper
- -Disadvantages
  • You could drop your camera.
  • More prone to camera shake.
With the second... You will build yourself a rig which hangs out from the car. This is how majority of the awesome rolling shots you see are taken... But building a quality rig is around $500. But its easier to show motion with.. and this is why...

The rig is stuck to the car so you don't have to worry about keeping up with it. How they achieve to show so much motion.. and make it seem like the car is going so fast is because they can leave the shutter speed open for longer.

The thing is though... in general the car is barely moving... You have someone behind the car pushing it at a few mph with it in neutral. What that does is keeps it safer for your camera, and you also won't cover but a few feet so you don't have to worry about there being any bumps or movement of the camera going up and down.

- -Advantages
  • You get better pictures hands down
- -Disadvantages
  • Its more expensive
  • Rig could come loose if its not built well
  • You have to spend more time cloning out the rig
Some Tips
  • With these shots you will set your aperture to something smaller like F8 or F11.. or even smaller if you want.
    - The bigger the number... the smaller the Fstop is. What this does is allows in less light... because you will be using a slow shutter speed for being out in the day... You will need to kill as much light as you can.
  • Get some natural density filters... some ND's
    - in general.. you won't be able to kill enough light with just your aperture, this is where you use ND's. ND's are dark filters that allow in less light.
  • Secure your camera
    - No one likes a broken camera... make sure you have the strap wrapped around your arm. Or with using a rig... don't go to fast with it.. and make sure that it is built with quality materials.
I'm sure there are some things I missed.. but if you have any questions.. just ask.
 

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SRTForums Member, 2011 Calendar Car, SRT of the Mo
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very good right up!
feels like im back in high school in photo class! lol
 

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SRTForums Member, 2011 Calendar Car
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good info here.. basically all the info you would read if you picked up a basic photography book.. but people dont want to read books, they prefer the internet..

i think the best advice would be the planning.. plan plan plan.. the wife and i were driving around yesterday (we do it often jsut to get lost) and i drove past a really old gas station.. like 76 old.. and i do plan on taking my car out there and snap a few shots..

another peice of advice that is worth taking in.. is never leave the house with out your camera.. you never know what you are gonna run into..
 

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SRTforums Member, Photography Police, 2011 Calenda
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Discussion Starter #10
^ only thing I don't like about that spot [other than it being on grass] is that the grass is to long. Something I read a long time ago and I generally stick by it... though I didn't include it in the post is... don't take pictures on grass.. Because you're car doesn't really belong on grass. You may every once in awhile park on grass... But that's just about it.

But like I said, that's just something I do. Some people it doesn't bother at all.. or they don't even think about.. which is fine.
 

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SRTForums Member, 2011 Calendar Car
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good info here.. basically all the info you would read if you picked up a basic photography book.. but people dont want to read books, they prefer the internet..

i think the best advice would be the planning.. plan plan plan.. the wife and i were driving around yesterday (we do it often jsut to get lost) and i drove past a really old gas station.. like 76 old.. and i do plan on taking my car out there and snap a few shots..

another peice of advice that is worth taking in.. is never leave the house with out your camera.. you never know what you are gonna run into..

this is one where i was scouting for a shoot for a buddy's car, saw it and had to park my car next to it..

Bad example of setting. Rarely does taking pictures of cars "off road" work unless its a lifted truck or something thats meant to be in that kind of terrain. There are sometimes where it does work, mostly with an amazing BG, but its not often.

Good thread Parker. Its about time somebody made something like this, and hopefully into a sticky. I would make a section specifically about low light/night photography since most people barely have a clue as to what that entails but its tried fairly often. Also on angles, they are more of an import tuner magazine thing but if you have to take pictures like that, never more than a 45 degree angle and even that is stretching it for most people's taste. Tight cropping is something else that you should add which is ofter overlooked.
 

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SRTforums Member, Photography Police, 2011 Calenda
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Discussion Starter #13
Good thread Parker. Its about time somebody made something like this, and hopefully into a sticky. I would make a section specifically about low light/night photography since most people barely have a clue as to what that entails but its tried fairly often. Also on angles, they are more of an import tuner magazine thing but if you have to take pictures like that, never more than a 45 degree angle and even that is stretching it for most people's taste. Tight cropping is something else that you should add which is ofter overlooked.


Yep, one of the reserved post will be on night photography... Or at least a section of one of them. It will probably also go along with explaining some camera settings.
 

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Awesome. Thanks for all the help last week as well. I am going to practice the next cloudy day!
 

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SRTForums Member, 2011 Calendar Car
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true the grass is not a normal place for an srt4 to be in.. how about a parking garage..







and i am def looking forward to the night shooting... no matter how much i try, i just cant seem to get it right.. i still need a tripod though..
 

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oh, and is this a critique thread??

i love photography.. but i am still a noob with it though.. picked up a T1i with a 18-55 lense.. still learnin..
 
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