Saturday, July 20, 2013

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips

Living in the Black Hills of South Dakota means a car show about every weekend.  Rapid City Police hosted the Cruiser Car Show 2013 in downtown Rapid City, SD on July 14.  It is an exceptional show on the beautiful downtown Main Street with the historic buildings, tree lined avenues, and side streets full of vendors.

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: 1954 Sedan Delivery

The great set-up, but now what?  How do you shoot a car show and what tips can you provide me for making memories that come even close to what I saw!?  Here's five great tips for car shows - Dakota Visions style!


1.  Pray for overcast, cloudy skies.  If your religious, pray - pray - pray!  If you are not a believer, then ask someone who is to pray for you.  The bright shining sun may create sparkle to your own eyes, but that high contrast and glare creates all sorts of hassle with your camera and post-processing.

If you don't luck out (or maybe didn't go to church enough this month) then go early in the day or late in the day to keep the sun as low to the horizon as possible.  We lucked out this year with a hazy, cloudy fore noon with even a few sprinkles.

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Plymouth Pickup

2.  If you enjoy a car, or it pleases you aesthetically - then shoot it from many different angles.  A car show is so much more than just the side view of classic car show stance.  Look for what you can integrate into the shot as well - hey, this Chevy pickup is not only "Paris Chic", but it's on the "edge"!  (OK - you may have to go to the full size view to pick those out...)

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Chevy Pickup

And sometimes, things can just get "riveting"!

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Ford Pickup - Rosie the Riveter

3.  Get creative - and that may mean that you have to get down on your knees. (This may or may not be directed at some of you from tip #1 - pray.  LOL!)  That creative angle is what most people won't do in a car show, but it shows off some of the most beautiful angles of a car.  Think speed - low, lean and long on those muscle cars.  (I know, your knees may feel like they are on "fire", but that shot will fly like a "bird.)

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Firebird

4.  Bring ultra wide lenses and a macro.  See our previous posting on "Going Macro at Kool Deadwood Nites Car Show". Walk all around the car and look for the different interesting shots.  Think of it in pieces (you know, like when a "Barracuda" eats its prey and pieces get strewn all over the river).

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Barracuda 440

Think of the car as a diagram - what to shoot with a wide angle, and what to shoot with a macro.  Think of logos, hood ornaments, mirrors, and door handles.  Make sure to get the engine and interior with your wide angle.  Oh, ride Sally, ride!

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Ford Mustang

5.  Post-processing: It's OK to CROP!  Yes, I said you could CROP it!  Chop it, crop it, and hide all those distractions.  With reflections, people walking all around you, and those distractions in the background (yes, he really was picking his nose...)  Unless you are shooting the event as a photojournalist and regardless of what your local camera club tells you - it's OK to crop!  Sometimes it makes or breaks that shot of the car that you just love...

And talking about going old school - think of it in your processing too.  That sexy Lincoln Continental looks good not only cropped, but retro black and white too.

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Lincoln Continental

And one bonus tip: Hang onto your camera equipment.  Lots of people, lots of distractions, and no one paying any attention to anything but the cars.  Your camera gear can disappear in an instant, and even in downtown, small town America - no one will see a thing.  Sorry for that drool on the Corvette, guys...yeah, it was me.

Top 5 Car Show Photography Tips: Little Red Corvette

Most of all - have fun.  Don't spend so much time setting up the shot that you miss time with your friends, family or significant other.  And gosh and by golly - DON'T MISS THE CARS!

This whole show was shot with our new Nikon COOLPIX S9200 16 MP Digital Camera.  We took our last bonus tip to heart, and wanted to go light this year to the Cruiser Car Show.  All photos were adjusted for exposure, and contrast via Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 and defined with Nik Software Dfine 2.0 .  We highly recommend this camera as the 'carry anywhere' and unobtrusive street photography camera for any discerning photographer.

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by Richard S - Dakota Visions Photography, LLC