With most motorsport events currently cancelled, why not recreate your own car show at home using some high-octane tips and tricks to create some slick shots that’ll have you prepped and ready for when the show and shine season returns.
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have your own classic with chrome-a-plenty, or perhaps your taste is more modern with some high-tech detailing. Whatever your transportation flavour, getting in close and snapping details is a great way of capturing the character of your car. Consider steering wheels and branding, badges and bumpers, and opt for a shallow depth of field with a wide aperture to add some abstract interest, or switch up to the 60mm F2.8 Macro to get in even closer to textures like leather and metals.
Go wide, and get low
If you’re into cars, it’s well worth considering adding a wide-angle lens to your kit bag – they’re perfect for fitting more in your frame which is particularly handy for crowded car shows when it’s likely that people will keep walking in-between you and your subject, but they’re also great for creating a little fun and gentle distortion which can make your subject appear big, bold and mean. I used the 7-14mm F2.8 PRO lens here for these TR6 shots to show the difference between getting wide, and getting low, so if you’re stuck for ideas, try bringing your view lower to the ground, and moving closer to add more distortion, then shoot up at your car. Using the flip screen and touch control on your OM-D will make this much more comfortable – gone are the days of laying in the dirt to get that shot!
Set the scene
Even with the weather getting worse, and the joys of long summer drives a distant memory, I still love the experience of taking my car out, discovering new scenery and going on an adventure. Don’t miss a photo opportunity, and remember that rain can really add interest to your shots, too. A steamy cup of coffee on the dash while you’re parked up for a break, or water droplets on the bonnet all make wonderful compositions. If you’re working in a small space like this, think about a lens like the 17mm F1.8, or 25mm F1.2 PRO to capture stunning detail without having to contort yourself into crazy angles!
Even though I think some of the best photo-fun is found in the details, you can’t ignore the glory of the full body shot. This can be tricker to achieve, as you’ll want to think about lots of variables in your shot like background, reflections, light and shadow. Cars are (usually) big shiny surfaces, so you’ll often pick up reflections of the sky, trees, and general surroundings. This might add a nice edge to your shots if the colours and patterns are pleasing and actually help highlight all your hard work polishing, or it may work against you, so just be mindful. When parked up, try rotating the steering wheel to put your wheels at an angle, which can look more flattering and show off and detailing, too. A good angle to start from is low down, at about three quarters so you can see most of your car in shot. Go for a wide aperture and pick out a point of interest, or stop down and enjoy even more of your motor in focus.
If you’ve been able to meet up with some pals for a club cruise, don’t forget your camera! This is another benefit of the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV which thanks to being so tiny and lightweight, is guaranteed to always be stashed away with me ready for a fleeting moment, like this impromptu meet up with some fellow Capri fans recently. Location is key to getting multiple cars in shot, and I’m always keeping half an eye on my drives for places that would make interesting backgrounds to my photos, too. A barn, or wide sweeping field can look great, and fuss-free, just make sure you’re not trespassing and that it’s safe to stop. It’s often organising the people that’s harder than taking the actual shot, so get your work voice on, and try a few variations of cars in a row, or squeezed up nice and close together.
Finally, an aspect that’s easy to forget, but so lovely to include are the drivers and owners. Whether that’s a clever selfie in the rearview mirror of your own pride and joy, or some classic portraits of your pals, a lens like the 25mm f1.2 pro is perfect for capturing flattering shots of people while being versatile enough to grab those details too, and will allow you to stay close to your model. If you’ve got a shy subject, try asking them about what’s under their bonnet, or why they first bought their car; they’ll soon relax chatting and forget about the camera!