Auto show photography

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by animalani, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. animalani

    animalani TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    I have a Nikon D200 and I often visit various auto shows, but in many cases, my photos don't capture the real essence of the car and the surrounding. Even with the flash on, the image is kind of dark and unbalanced. This is becoming somewhat a regular thing, so I would like to know what the ideal settings should be to take photographs of cars in an auto show, where the light is difficult to estimate accurately and using a flash means a nasty reflection off the shining automobile!! Any help would be appreciated.

    Cheers.

    Ani.
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Lighting at car shows is a little challenging. It is a little beyond the scope of what I would call beginner techniques, but since you have a Nikon D200 (like me), if you have a Nikon SB-600 or better yet, the Nikon SB-800, is to take advantage of their CLS technology. Since one rarely goes to a car show alone (a friend, brother or sister is along too), make them your voice operated light stand. :lol:

    By that, I mean, did you know that there is a way to make a SB-800 fire wirelessly when the flash is off the camera? Get your car show partner to go closer or different angles with the flash and raise it above their head, lighting the area better for you.

    Of course, it is possible to get on camera flash technique to do some nice effects even outside in the daylight, like this:

    [​IMG]

    On the fullsize picture, you can see the grain of the sparkles inside the paint!

    Without flash at a car show... don't raise the ISO beyond 800 (the D200 is not great at high ISO performance), but do use a tripod or monopod. A fast prime lens (F/2.8 to F/1.4) in the 30-50mm range is going to let you get the most out of the current light situation.

    I've not gone to an indoor car show since I got the camera, but I would love to.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The biggest problem is the way a flash reflects in car paint. It's ugly. It creates specular highlights which your camera reads as a source of light and therefore underexposes the rest of the image.

    If you can up the ISO and try shooting without a flash handheld, or take a small tripod. It will do wonders at car shows.
     
  4. Lighting and shooting cars is one of the hardest things to do.
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thats only becuase the models you use have 2 legs and no reflective surfaces... lol.

    I agree its not easy, but when life gives you lemons, make lemonaid. I personally have a car who's black surface is so shiney, unless its under a cloudy sky, the car looks as if it was made from a solid chunk of chromed steel.

    I've always had difficulty getting the kinds of shots I want with it, so basically I would do things that showed off the reflection in it. Things like how clear the clouds and blue sky were reflected in the hood, and I took a kind of pic that became a habit over the years. Once each year for the last 8 years, I would take a picture of myself reflected in the door. It looked more like a mirror than a black door. :mrgreen:

    I've had the car before I started to get a little serious about my photography (I have several very enjoyable hobbys), and today know I could have done a TON better taking the car out of the sun, or working in dark locations using softbox for that effect that I always dreamed of in a picture of my car. Oh well, next year!

    Indoor car shows are VERY hard. Lighting mostly sucks, and most times they will not take kindly to someone setting up an umbrella or off camera flash becuase it keeps the public away. What I would suggest is if that is your goal, go very early in the day, or go very late during a weekday (time least people are around), if you want to try to get the best pics that you can.
     
  6. animalani

    animalani TPF Noob!

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    wow, i wasn't expecting so many answers so soon! :)

    Give me a few minutes... I'll post some stuff I shot at the Tokyo Motor Show last weekend. Then, maybe all you pros could give me some tips and ideas for next time. :)

    Cheers.

    Ani.
     
  7. animalani

    animalani TPF Noob!

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  8. animalani

    animalani TPF Noob!

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    Phew... I think I managed to add a few here:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. el_shorty

    el_shorty TPF Noob!

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    For shooting indoors you will definitely need a tripod, I go to a lot of the import shows here, and many times they are held indoor and at night so the lighting is really bad, I use a tripod and shutter release, set the aperture to f8, which usually gives shutter speeds between one and three seconds.
    These three shots I did using those settings

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. nikonkev

    nikonkev TPF Noob!

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    Not using a flash will also cause massive white-balance problems because auto shows usually have a gazillion lights of various colours, etc. so you'll find that if you jack up the ISO and shoot handheld/with tripod, you'll get quite a few shades of paint on the same car - more than you'd like.
     
  11. Mesoam

    Mesoam TPF Noob!

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    if its indoors you need a tripod...and you need to wait for the opportunity when PEOPLE are not in the shots unless they add something to the picture which 99% of the time they don't...
     
  12. animalani

    animalani TPF Noob!

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    hm... i guess it would need some practice to find the right balance of flash light and ambient light. thanks for the tips! :)
     

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