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Apr 17, 2008

How to Photograph Your Mustang-Part 2: Compostion

From the desk of Troy Kruger, the photographer of the 2008 catalog car.

This is the second installment of a series of articles, which will help you create that spectacular photograph that you yearn for. Last time we learned how to use both natural and artificial lighting to help achieve great shots. Click here to see Part 1 in the series of articles. This week, we’ll learn how to position your camera for that money shot.

When taking pictures of your car, please remember that the car is the star, so pick a good location/background that doesn't detract from your car and that contrasts with the car's color/paint nicely. Be aware of your surroundings. Look for reflections in your car showing parking lot stripes, telephone poles and wires, busy tree branch/leaf reflections, clouds, building windows, people, and the camera/photographer! If you can find an open clear area with a nice clear horizon behind you, you have a great spot. If choosing a location such as a store or gas station, always choose a location that appears OLDER than your car.

If you remember nothing else, remember this easy tip: Turn your wheels so that the wheel face of the front exposed wheel is aimed at the camera. Nobody wants to see your tire treads. This is a common mistake, and the easiest error to avoid.

For a great aggressive looking muscular shot, get down to the ground at bumper level and take some ¾ view shots of both front and rear. You will have to move your car around to get both front and rear, as you must keep the light behind you. Park the car on a LEVEL surface. Mount your camera down real low so that you can see all 4 tires touch the ground through the camera view finder. The more you can do to create an imaginary line touching the bottom of all 4 tires, the better. This is a good starting point for many spectacular shots. Move around and experiment from that point on. Try to avoid “hiding” one of the rear tires from the shot. Use a telephoto lens of about 120-180 mm and stand back far for this shot so as not to distort or “bulge” out the front of the car. Try tilting the camera 20-30 degrees to create another dramatic effect.

Use a ladder or climb on a roof and take some perspective shots from up high. This works great with convertibles and cars with stripes. The ladder is also very helpful for shooting the underhood shots, especially if you are a bit vertically challenged. You should always be using your tripod when you can.

When attempting a side view “profile” shot, you must use a tripod and get the camera set up so that you are looking through the side windows as cleanly as possible without seeing the other interior door through the window opening. Speaking of windows, roll up the windows during a photo shoot, except for convertible shots when the top is down.
Don't be afraid to take 100 pictures of your car - you may only get a dozen that you can actually use! Digital media is cheap - your time for a re-shoot isn't. Speaking of digital, we’ll discuss equipment in our next installment. Good luck, and happy shooting.

More tips are available on my website:

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