Need some n00b advice

CrzRsn

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I'm wanna do my first photoshoot in the Spring when the weather clears up, and I need some advice.

I'm thinking of borrowing my friend's Volvo C30 for this (its a slight bit more exciting than my Avant) and I wanna do something exciting.

Something like scathing's 350Z shoot -

or


or Alok's VW pictures



or subarustan's S2000



or something like this (from another forums)






Basically, I just want advice on how to properly do it. Like with the lighting and stuff.
I'm probably gonna end up doing it in a parking structure here thats never used, so I'll have plenty of room.


Btw. I'm most likely gonna be using my fathers Nikon D80, since my Canon Digital Rebel XTi is away in the shop (again).
 
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BerserkerCatSplat

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None of those shots looked like they used camera-controlled lighting, so go out and find a location that has interesting lighting. Try to use the lighting to bring attention to the vehicle. Use a tripod, the exposures for the nighttime/indoor shots are obviously going to be fairly long. Use a custom white balance to avoid color casts from the lights, although that can be impossible to avoid in a mixed-lighting environment. Look for ways to position the car and camera angles that give the image "flow," for lack of a better term.

And above all, don't expect perfection from your first shoot! These kinds of things need time and practice.
 

Surf Monkey

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Lighting is the key in all those shots. They're using heavily controlled lighting setups. Beyond that, most of those images are heavily altered in Photoshop. Don't expect to get that kind of result right out of the camera.

That said, don't be discouraged. You can get some amazing car pictures by using available light. Try shooting at "golden hour". That's the hour just before the sun goes down. The light is really special during golden hour, and if you find the right setting for your shoot, half your work will be done by nature. Try looking around at more car photos and try to find ones that are altered as little as possible. Use those as a guide.
 

Eunos_Cosmo

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I'd say do your own thing. Yes you can learn from others, but copying their ideas defeats the purpose of being creative. Come up with some unique ideas for locations.
 

Raparperi

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Hmm, I think I'm with BerserkerCatSplat on this one. The shots of the Golf and the S2000 are most definitely shot using ambient light. The 350Z shots _could_ have been done with some remote flashes, but I'm pretty sure all the lights you see in the pictures are fixed lights in the buildings and street lights.

Especially the first two pictures look a lot like there might be a few flashes involved in the lighting, but the nature of the light and the location suggests that they're just lights in the walls/ceiling (and because of them those spots are awesome places to shoot a car, I might add). There could've been a little fill flash from the direction of the camera in the second last picture (see the front wheel), but even that could be a reflection from somewhere else.

Oh, and my advice to CrazyRussian540: Get a tripod, shoot raw and use the lowest iso possible, this way you get more room to play with in post processing. Shooting raw eliminates the problem concerning white balance, since you can fiddle with that afterwards to get the result you want. Using the lowest iso possible (and shooting raw) gives you more room to open shadows, if some areas were under-exposed. Other than that, it's just experiment, experiment and experiment :)
 

Surf Monkey

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Judging from my experience taking similar shots, I'd be very surprised if they were taken with purely ambient light. I could be wrong though, of course. After all, it appears that several of the shots were taken by members of this board. I'm sure they'll chime in and prove me wrong if I'm seeing something that's not there.

Either way, the key to any photograph is light. Get the light right and you're 90% of the way there, ambient or not.
 

scathing

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Only just found this thread. :D

I can tell you now that the only control I have over the lighting setup is the knowledge that people don't turn off the street lights at 3AM.

I'm not even using a digital SLR - for the record the only camera I've ever owned is this, and the images have been cleaned up in Photoshop afterwards. "Heavily altered" comes down to your ideas of purity, but when you're working with a point-and-shoot you take any assistance you can get. All I've done in Photoshop is Auto-Level, manually adjust the Curves (and that's just recent, the 2 pics you posted wouldn't have had Curves done) and sharpened as I've shrunk the image down.

The first shot you've posted was taken in my carpark's 2-car wash bay, so I had 2 flouro tubes right over that area. You can see what it looks like here.

The second location is a tunnel near a train station so I've got a massive length of lighting hanging off the roof. Other shots from that location can be found here.


My advice to you is to find good locations, since that's what I do. Carparks and sealed areas are the natural stomping ground of cars so it suits. If you can find a wall that contrasts well against the color of the car, even better. I struggle with silver, since most carparks in Sydney are concrete grey so the car blends straight in.

And yes, lighting is the most important thing. If I could have gotten better lighting onto the photographed side of my car here:



or even the same level of lighting I had on the front as I do on the rear, I would have been really happy.

My other suggestion, as always, is to take lots of bad shots at different settings. One of them will probably come out well. Especially with a point-and-shoot its really hard to control the camera enough to give you what you want so go nuts. I'd say less than half the shots I take end up on my site.

Otherwise, an interesting backdrop is good but you need to ensure that there's no barrier between your vehicle and that background. I've found these really awesome vistas where I wanted to take a photo, but the fence keeping you out of said vista just ruined the look. That's why, of all the shots I took here my favourite is this one. I don't like the umbrellas over the hood, but compared to the ones where I parked the car right up against the sandstone wall I find the barrier doesn't "separate" the car from the Opera House as much.


And yes, make sure you use a tripod and a remote shutter release if you're taking shots in low light.
 

LeVeL

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My other suggestion, as always, is to take lots of bad shots at different settings. One of them will probably come out well. Especially with a point-and-shoot its really hard to control the camera enough to give you what you want so go nuts. I'd say less than half the shots I take end up on my site.
+1 Whenever I shoot anything I take LOTS of shots and end up with just a couple that I like.
Question - how do you shoot with headlights on at night without blinding the camera?
 

Jay

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Question - how do you shoot with headlights on at night without blinding the camera?
If you have a digital SLR camera, you need manually set the exposure for a short time, and play around with the F stops and ISO.
 

scathing

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Question - how do you shoot with headlights on at night without blinding the camera?
I use a point-and-shoot, so I don't have the adjustment that Jayhawk is talking about.

I just try and not point my camera right into the headlights when I take the shot. :p If you shoot obliquely, which I tend to do, its not so bad. Generally if I'm shooting front-on I'll only use the parking lights, or be doing it somewhere lit well enough for it to not dazzle.
 
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