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As a working professional photographer, I know that shooting cars is very fun...but also very challenging! Especially when you have over 100 that you need to shoot in one day! There are reflections and lens flare and and and....does it ever end?

Here is a good site where you can join the flickr family and learn more about photography.
Not car centered, just photography centered. This is a website based from a group on flickr called "The Portfolio:Pro Invitation". On the flickr site, you post images and critique others...while other people critique your imagery. I find that having my work critiqued...while critiquing others really helps enhance the quality of my work.

So...what are some tips and techniques you use to capture exceptional images for your clients?

Tags: better, phtography, professional, tips

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It is ok to have an artsie image mixed in with other pics, but it is also possible to get TOO artsy with the photos of your cars. Some outside vendors in my market will tilt the camera 45 degrees for the picture. To, Tiny's point, what would the customer want? I, as the customer, want to see the details of the vehicle, and spot damage, if any. When the picture is tilted, it is difficult for me to tell the condition of the car. Keep the camera level and for exterior shots keep the camera at the same height as the side view mirror. I also agree with Chris Hanson about being straight on with the wheel shot. Do we need a shot of every wheel? For ebay, yes. Thank you, Ted. As for getting intimate, I couldn't agree more. I train my people to look for unique characteristics of each vehicle. We have a standard 9 shot spread that is consistant from one vehicle to the next, unless there are headrest monitors or special paint. Then one less significant shot gets replaced with a shot of the monitors or paint. You get the idea.

Andy, you had mentioned your $3000 camera. In my opinion, you can't go over the top with your equipment. It just depends how much you want to spend if you should drop your camera on the lot. Point and shoots can be just as effective as SLRs if you know how to use them properly. The typical issue is "fish eye" with a point and shoot, which is less predominant when using an SLR. The size of the lens is to blame for this. The solution is to step back 10 extra feet and zoom in. The fish eye is greatly reduced. Your $150 camera just took a $3000 picture.

Thank you Andy for turning the key in our "ignition." Sitting too long can make our valves stick sometimes, so it is good to blow out the gunk from time to time.
About Cameras, I want to emphasize what Doug just said.

I agree that it is a bad idea to skimp on equipment. That being said, yes I prolly have over $100K in photography equipment between bodies, glass, and lighting.

BUT! That being said, when I take a look at my retail photography portfolio, some of my VERY Best sellers are images that I captured with an EVF (albeit high end) camera...which is just a glorified point & shoot with a tilt screen and a better lens. The REAL key is following the basics of sound photography, and knowing how light works. The truth of the matter is, if you give someone something like a $40,000 Hassleblad H3D, and they don't know what they are doing...they are just going to take a REALLY BIG bad picture.

The main reason I like a DSLR is the ability to change lenses, shoot in RAW and more latitude with exposure. However, if I had to shoot 100 cars a day, I would probably just go back to using my old Canon Powershot Pro-1 EVF camera.

p.s. EVF = Electronic View Finder
Tell ya what...when I get home over the weekend, i will upload the difference between a $400 camera and a $42,000 camera. Would that suffice?

The key difference is just light latitude and image size. And when it comes to presenting image online, if I do my job with exposure, you will not be able to tell the difference. The Hassleblad H3D gives me a bit of exposure latitude, but the only REAL advanatage is the ability to print very large (a 3 gig image vs a 10meg image). And the H3D is not nearly as easy to shoot with.
I do it all the time! And yes...that is the major difference.
Yes Matt, it is not only possible. I've seen it done many times. Not by me, but by a friend of mine that makes more money taking photos than I see in two years. Hes a natural. The number one thing he preaches is "it's all about the light". I have four cameras. A Sony Mavica with a 3 1/4" floppy. A Sony 3.1Meg SLR, a Nikon D50 5meg and a Nikon D300 12meg. He literaly has taken all four cameras, reduced the camera settings size to the smallest possible and sure as life, they were all very close. I could'nt tell the difference. He pulled them out in seconds and then explained how he knew. All of a sudden I see the difference. In the end it's knowledge and experience. How ever we are not here to take artist level photos and the bottom line is..... you use what you have and make it work to the best of it's abilities. If you don't like what you're getting, you either buy new or you study what ever you need to to make the change or changes that make you happy. The other thing to remember is that most if not all services only accept a 640X480 max image. In that size clarity will be very similar any where inn the 3 to 10meg range. The larger the file the more reduction that you need to do thereby losing clarity and if you load the photos as a file to service with out reducing it first, the service automatically doe's the reduction and again you lose clarity.

Also remember this, everybody see's things differently than everyone else. What looks good to you will look great to one and awful to another. Thats life and it makes no difference what so ever whether Tiny can prove it or not. Hes a pro. We are not and you nor I will ever see let alone use a 42K camera. I would be to scared to even touch it.

And before I go.....all four tires? Not ever! We are one of the top selling Ebay dealers with hundreds of cars sold. Two tires max, turned out with a penny in the tread. Try it. Four is not necessary and over kill.
You hit the nail on the head Andy....the truth of the matter is...if I am going to post anything online, be it automotive imagry or some of my retail landscape stuff, I always reduce size. Why? Well, if I were to load a full resolution image from the H3D, it would have an outside diameter of 5412 X 7212. So, to give you some perspective, you would be looking at the center cap of a wheel even if you have the biggest monitor around. And when I am done with an image like that, it can run anywhere from 800megs to 12 GIGs! In other words, it would never load!

I know this is going to open a can of worms, and I want to be VERY specific that I am speaking about inventory imagery on dealership websites, but when you get above 640X480 (which Andy rightly points out is and default large image size on most automotive websites) it take too long for the image to load. So you get into a situation where someone might think "Great! Large Images!!" Then they click and say "Dang....this website is slow!" When in fact it is just a large image file that takes more time than most people have patience.

So, when I am shooting cars for the web (which I rarely do anymore), I at the most use my D300. I used a Sigma 10-20EX for interior work, a 24-70 for exterior and a Tokina 100 Macro for detail shots. I finish all of my editing if any, and then I resize for 640X480. The reason? If they are not seen, they are worthless! And most of the time large image files download too slow. I would MUCH reather get a call asking "Do you have any bigger pictures?" Sure...let me send you a link to Flickr/PhotoBucket/et al.

One more quick point that Andy makes is that when you resize and image, you can introduce pixilization and/or overall softness. Then you you might have to re-sharpen the image which can do bad things to good images!
I've seen that Silverlight technology and it looks VERY good! One of our other members pointed that out in another thread, and the resolution, even zoomed in, looked great!!
If memory serves me right from when I lived south of Nome in St. Michael Alaska, they only have about 4 or 5 hours of daylight this time of year.


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