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The basics of car photography

The basics of car photography


If you want to take really good photos of cars, there are some tips, tricks and techniques that can really elevate your shots to the next level.

Top Tips for Car Photography

Want to take your car photography to the next level? Follow this advice.

Taking photos of cars is easy – just point and shoot. However, if you want to take really good photos of cars, there are some tips, tricks and techniques that can really elevate your shots to the next level.

This is particularly true when shooting cars, with so many different types of shot and considerations to take. Here, we’ve outlined the basics every aspiring car photographer needs to know.

Know your angles

There are a few basic angles that work for every car. You might need to walk around the car to find each model’s most flattering angle, but generally speaking you can use the front three-quarter and rear three-quarter as a starting point.

This involves shooting the front or rear corner of a car so you can see the front or rear as well as one side, showing as much of the car as possible in one shot. Turn the front wheels slightly too, so the face of the wheel is angled towards the camera.

nissan skyline gt-r

Buy a polariser

If your camera has a removable lens you can buy a polariser, which sits on the end and redirects the angle of the light entering the camera. This is important with cars because they act like giant mirrors. By turning the polariser you can remove the glare and get a much crisper image.

If you’re using your phone and you have polarised sunglasses, you can achieve the same effect by holding them in front of the lens.

porsche taycan

Work around the sun

Even if you have a polariser, working around the sun is often the best way to get a good shot. You want to avoid direct sunlight, so shooting when it’s overcast or in the shadows is your best bet.

However, if you can’t avoid the sun, plan to shoot in the hours just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun is lowest in the sky. It’s at this time you get the softest light, and your photos will have a great atmosphere too.

porsche 911 turbo

Learn tracking and panning

These techniques involve keeping the car sharp in the image while the background blurs. It’s a cool effect, but it’s a bit more advanced.

To do tracking, you will need to be in a car that’s travelling the same speed as the car you’re shooting, usually about 30mph. You want to use a longer shutter speed – usually match the number to the car speed, in this case 1/30 – and hold the camera steady to make it work. Also use continuous autofocus and burst mode because it’s so hard to get this right.

Panning involves having a car pass you on the road while you’re standing beside it. Again, match your shutter speed to that of the car – between 30 and 40mph – and follow the car with your camera. Try to keep the car in the same spot in the frame as you shoot to make it work.

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