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Old 05-17-2007, 03:56 PM   #42
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 32334
Join Date: Jan 2003
Chapter/Region: SCIC
Location: Suitcase-my stuff lives in LA
05 Outback
Caterham 7 Superlight R


Centered is rarely best Ė Itís easy to take a picture and put everything you want in the center, but unfortunately it doesnít make for good photography. Generally, you want to follow the Rule of Thirds, which basically means that you want to put your subject at the cross section of two lines that cut your photo into thirds. An easy way visualize this is to imagine a tic-tac-toe board on your screen or viewfinder. Some cameras may even have this as an option to overlay on the screen. Here is an example of the Rule of Thirds in action:
Just want to point out that the rule of two thirds does not mean you can't fill the frame with the car, you just want to put a little thought into leaving a little more room on one side than the other, even if it is subtle. It could also mean centering the car but leaving more room at the top or bottom

The background is not just noise Ė While the car is going to be the subject of your photo, that doesnít mean that the background doesnít matter. Even with proper composition, a good background can substantially help or wreck a photo. Industrial backgrounds are very overused, but itís understandable to use if youíre in a pinch. Ideally, you want a background that helps add to the theme of a photo or just plain looks good overall. A driveway photo shoot isnít all that great either unless the driveway is filled with a bunch more nice cars. Just be careful not to choose a background that blends in too much with your car, because then your subject wonít stand out. Here are a couple of my favorite background photos:
Keep the background somewhat simple so it does not distract from the car. Simple lines, textures, geometric shapes, etc., look for abstractions that will lead your eye to the car
Busy backgrounds distract from the car. Armins chinatown NSX shot is a good example of a background that is way too busy IMO.

PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL! Note what is in the background, is there light poles or tree trunks sticking up out from behind the car? Is there a dumpster or garbage can in the background (always see dumpsters in the backgrounds of photos )? Is there random garbage in the shot? Move garbage cans out of the shot, pick up the crap that is in the shot. If you can't remove it, then think about whether you can remove it in post. If not, move the camera or car to hide the unwanted crap

Avoid backlights Ė Remember that you generally want your light source behind you, so that it lights up your subject. If youíre taking a photo of a car with the light source behind it, such as the sun or a streetlight, then youíll more than likely get lens flare (the ugly green or brown series of circles that emanate from the light source in question) and your subject will not receive enough light. If you have a set of strobes though, youíre all set, and you can produce some awesome photos. A quick glance over at any of the photos on can give you many good examples.
Backlighting can work in some situations

One filter to rule them all Ė Special effect filters can be fun, but thereís only really one filter that you need: the Circular Polarizer. The circular polarizer is key to getting rid of nasty reflections, especially those given off from windshields and other glass. Itíll also help when taking interior trim shots. I never leave home without my circular polarizer, and it should ALWAYS be in your camera bag. The only excuse not to have one is if you have a point and shoot camera that doesnít support one.
Polarizer can be handy, but it is not a substitute for taking pictures in a proper lighting and location situation, in which case you won't need a polarizer. I rarely use polarizers unless I am forced to shoot in the middle of day (when a polarizer is most effective).
I use split neutral density filters as much if not more.

Post-processing for the win, or the lose Ė Of course to get your photos up on the web, theyíll need to be transferred to a computer in some fashion. Most people just upload them and call it a day, but if you take the time to post-process your photos, you can make yours easily stand out more than the next person. Often times youíll take a photo that looks absolutely perfect right out of the camera, but even doing little things like a little sharpening or a little boost in saturation or contrast can turn your photo into something more. Just donít go overboard with it! Itís very easy to go overboard with contrast and saturation especially. Too much contrast will remove definition and details from dark areas, and too much saturation can make a photo look very artificial. Use your best judgment and discretion, as youíll know very quickly if somethingís starting to look too extreme.

Again, pay attention to details when doing post work, retouch out (if you know how) the unwanted crap like cracks in the pavement, weeds, chewing gum spots, parking lines, unwanted reflections, inspection stickers, garbage, etc

For example this picture could have been improved a lot by removing all the marks in the pavement.

This one would have been better with the white line intersecting the car and weeds in the background removed

(not trying to single Armin out but he put these up as examples )

Other details to pay attention to:

remove crap dangling from the rear view mirror

remove the front license plate (all it takes is a screwdriver), especially if it is blocking a particular feature of the car (like an intercooler)

If someone is in the car, make sure they are not looking at the camera. Make sure they look clean and neat (even better is to have them wear dark cloths so they appear shadowy in the car)

ROLL THE WINDOWS UP!!! Having the windows down interrupts the lines of the car and creates an unwanted "black hole" to draw your eye into.

The only reason to leave the windows down is if you are trying to illustrate a particular feature of the windows or body

For example in this shot I left the windows down to show that there is no B-pillar in the car

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