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idrjoe_sandiego

Photographing Your Dodge

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My buddy Scott loves photography and mostly does nature shots. Apparently so does everyone else and therefore not much money in it. He has decided to try inanimate objects, perhaps making custom calendars and ad work. He asked if he could take a few of my car. I suggested we go down to the local airport where I fly with another friend so we could shoot the Dodge and the Mooney.

The following pictures came from that session. It was fun experimenting with wide angle lenses and the (bizarre) effects they produce. I suggested we bring a bunch of water with us since many professional photos of cars seem to have the ground wet. You can see the effects here with and without water. Let me tell you, the next time we will bring a water truck or not shoot so far away from a hose!! It helps to bring a ladder to get some different views not always captured. As with most outdoor projects, usually it's a good idea to get out there early. Not so with Car photography. As you can see from the long shadows on the ladder, 9:00 AM is not the best time to capture your car at its best. Even though it was a very bright sunshine drenched day, the angle of the sun severely limited what we were able to do. The long shadows are not particularly flattering for car photography. Lesson learned: set up about 1 hour before the sun will be at its zenith, and start shooting when the shadows are minimal. Wide angle lenses and water definitely produce the best results.

Edited by idrjoe_sandiego (see edit history)

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In the next few shots, the wide angle lens makes for some interesting effects. I believe this was a 14mm WA Canon digital EOS lens. That looks like one long wing on the Mooney! The Dodge looks like it is straight out of the cartoon movie Cars.

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This last group shows the beneficial effects to wetting the ground down before the photo session. It was pretty warm this particular day, so our water wasn't lasting too long. Only one of these photos have been cropped. None have been photo-shopped. Obviously for your final product you would /should remove the surrounding dry pavement! Have fun with it and take lots and lots and hopefully you'll get a few prizewinners. Joe

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Good topic and advice. I am planning to take some "good photo's" of my cars this weekend so I will take 'em early arvo, and see how I go. cheers,

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Most top-quality professional shots are taken indoors in huge studios with huge special lighting setups especially tailored for cars. You can assume $$$$$$$$.

Short of that, you'll often get your best shots outside on either hazy/sunny days, or a sky filled with patchy clouds. Wait for the sun to partially hide behind a cloud. The clouds act like a giant studio softbox which cuts down on the detail-obscuring high-contrast of a cloudless sky by filling in the deep shadows. A blue sky with nice clouds can enhance the scene but will add some distracting reflections in smooth, shiny parts like fender, headlights, etc. A polarizing filter can help control the look of reflections.

A slightly wide-angle lens (35mm on a full frame sensor) will add a little drama without producing the distorted perspective that ultra-wides produce. Most cars look best from normal eye-level because that's the viewpoint for which the designers perfected their designs. Slightly below eye-level often produces some nice drama for sporty models.

Carefully aligning the car's important features with what's going on in the background can enhance those details. Like the Dodge ram in this photo of my '32 which was taken with a zoom lens set at 40mm on my full framed Canon 5D.

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Background is a primary feature in my opinion. If you see anything in the background that either was not around when the vehicle being featured was made or distracts the eye from the car, those are no-nos. I have also learned that high noon (or just before, depending on how much time you are going to spend shooting) is the best time and to use a flash or reflector whenever possible to illuminate the car's features better. Even high noon sun casts a shadow where you may not want it to be.

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John, I, too prefer backgrounds that are either timeless or contemporary to the car. Dirt or gravel roads out in the country are perfect! So are restored gas stations, diners, covered bridges, parks, etc.

And, often it's advantageous to just move the car into a position that works best with the light and shadow conditions rather than wait for the sun to move.

Edited by Phil 32DL6 (see edit history)

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:DI thought this was a auto forum, not a photo forum.:D

I'll be bring my new Nikon to Moline to give it work out.

Joe C.

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Joe....it's hard to take a bad photo of your car...

Well thanks John!! I don't recognize that stretch of road that we were on when you took that. Don't recognize those buildings?? Cool pic though!

And I agree that having "out of period" stuff in the picture is less than desirable. However, of the few friends I know who have a plane in their toy box, none have a 1929 Stearman. (See attached US Navy plane pic) We considered this, but the logistics worked out easier to call Donn to break out the Mooney.

Phil, that is an awesome picture of your car in an absolutely beautiful "timeless" setting. The changing autumn leaves really enhances the scene as a backdrop for your car. That certainly is worthy of a calender shot. Good advice about the bit of cloud cover acting as a soft box. The long shadows were problematic to say the least.

Just as aside, did you happen to notice the N-tail # on the Mooney?? N671DB !! Not Dodge Brothers though--it's a vanity tail number with the owner's first initials-Donn and Barb.

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Well thanks John!! I don't recognize that stretch of road that we were on when you took that. Don't recognize those buildings?? Cool pic though!

And I agree that having "out of period" stuff in the picture is less than desirable. However, of the few friends I know who have a plane in their toy box, none have a 1929 Stearman. (See attached US Navy plane pic) We considered this, but the logistics worked out easier to call Donn to break out the Mooney.

Phil, that is an awesome picture of your car in an absolutely beautiful "timeless" setting. The changing autumn leaves really enhances the scene as a backdrop for your car. That certainly is worthy of a calender shot. Good advice about the bit of cloud cover acting as a soft box. The long shadows were problematic to say the least.

Just as aside, did you happen to notice the N-tail # on the Mooney?? N671DB !! Not Dodge Brothers though--it's a vanity tail number with the owner's first initials-Donn and Barb.

Joe, I think that we were going north on Collwood Blvd. towards Montezuma. Those may be the parking levels under those new apartments.

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As with most outdoor projects, usually it's a good idea to get out there early. Not so with Car photography. As you can see from the long shadows on the ladder, 9:00 AM is not the best time to capture your car at its best. Even though it was a very bright sunshine drenched day, the angle of the sun severely limited what we were able to do. The long shadows are not particularly flattering for car photography. Lesson learned: set up about 1 hour before the sun will be at its zenith, and start shooting when the shadows are minimal. Wide angle lenses and water definitely produce the best results.

I just stumbled on an article written by John Bittence (April/May 2001 Dodge Brothers Club News) on this very subject -car photography and shadows. In John's experience, shooting your car at high noon, or what John calls a "nooner", is a "no-no". (A "nooner" in my book is an entirely different animal :D:cool:).

The article depicts some examples of "bad" car photos taken at noon; his point is well-taken. He suggests photos be taken early in the day with the sun at your back. Far from an expert in photography, I may stand corrected here. I still like Phil's idea of the cloud cover "soft-box" effect .

In any case, the car photographer should be aware of the negative effects shadows can cause and make the necessary adjustments. Indeed, Phil's point that pros use $$$$$ studios makes a lot of sense!

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It should be emphasized that, while direct sunlight (with its contrasty shadows) will bring out details better than an overcast sky...that also means it will enhance any FLAWS, too!

Of course, Joe, your car is perfect so...not to worry! ;)

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Great topic. Nice pics guys! I agree, background is important. IMO, you could really do a lot more with the old manual SLR cameras than these new digital ones. For an example: The f stops could be set in a way to make the background in focus or blurry. I really should take a digital class. I really enjoy photographing old cars. Here's some of a couple Dodges that I took at the Sugar Valley Rally. I like the close ups of the chrome and also some people shots. Here the cars are being inspected by rally staff and the Nebraska State Patrol.

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Some more of my pics of the rally can be seen by clicking on this link:

http://forums.aaca.org/f169/sugar-valley-rally-scottsbluff-nebraska-301387.html

Thanks for looking.

Rod van Pelt

Edited by danceswithpumps (see edit history)

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There are several reasonable (admitedly a relative term) DSLRs on today's market that will do everything you want...and probably MUCH more than most amateur photohounds will want or need.

For example, the Canon EOS Rebel T2i captures up to 17MP to produce images from low-res JPGs to high-res RAW files. It also can take HD video! It can operate in a variety of auto (not cars) modes, plus shutter-priority, aperature-priority, manual mode, and more for full creative control. It has a full frame sensor. As DSLRs go, it's VERY light and compact.

Slap on the Canon 18-135mm zoom lens which boasts auto focus, manual focus and image stabilization...and the price tag will run you only about $1,000.

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Phil said Quote,............. WAWA....WAWA.......Where the over my head emoticon

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There are several reasonable (admitedly a relative term) DSLRs on today's market that will do everything you want...and probably MUCH more than most amateur photohounds will want or need.

For example, the Canon EOS Rebel T2i captures up to 17MP to produce images from low-res JPGs to high-res RAW files. It also can take HD video! It can operate in a variety of auto (not cars) modes, plus shutter-priority, aperature-priority, manual mode, and more for full creative control. It has a full frame sensor. As DSLRs go, it's VERY light and compact.

Slap on the Canon 18-135mm zoom lens which boasts auto focus, manual focus and image stabilization...and the price tag will run you only about $1,000.

But...I might have to sell one of my cars.:confused:

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Ill trade you that coupe for a camera of your choice that way you dont have to sell anything

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It should be emphasized that, while direct sunlight (with its contrasty shadows) will bring out details better than an overcast sky...that also means it will enhance any FLAWS, too!

Of course, Joe, your car is perfect so...not to worry! ;)

Hey thanks Phil! And Rod- I like all the pictures you posted. That looks like a cool event you attended. I think I am in love with that gray/maroon 1933 Dodge DP. That is one of the nicest 33's I have ever seen. The yellow convertible Studebaker is very cool also. Joe

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Hey thanks Phil! And Rod- I like all the pictures you posted. That looks like a cool event you attended. I think I am in love with that gray/maroon 1933 Dodge DP. That is one of the nicest 33's I have ever seen. The yellow convertible Studebaker is very cool also. Joe

Thanks for the kind words, Joe.

Anybody else got any pics of their Dodge? I'd sure like to see more. Bull, how'd yours turn out?

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This was my friend Roger Williams' 1930 DD6. Great car...great backgrounds.

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