5 Easy Tips to Improve Your Car Show Photography

It’s getting to be my favorite time of year, the weather is starting to cool down, college football is on the television (Go Gators!) and the fall car show schedule is in full force. If you’ve attended a few shows and attempted to take photos, you know there are some obstacles that always seem to come up and sometimes the photos you hoped to get aren’t at the level you wanted. Here are a few things that i’ve learned over the years that have helped me improve my photography and they could possibly help you out too.

1. Angles. Get high, bring it down low, do anything but shoot at eye level, that’s what everybody sees. Climb bleachers, jump on a stage, nearby benches, lay on the ground, be different.

This car show was held at the local county fairgrounds, some of the cars were next to a set of bleachers, I climbed about 10 steps up to grab this vantage point.

2. Be Patient. Most shows will have a lot of people walking around checking out cars and taking pictures. Find the angle you want, get your settings set and when there is a lull in the action, grab your shot.

This was taken at a Concourse de Elegance event. The cars were spaced out on a beautifully manicured golf course. To get this shot, I was laying on the ground for almost 5 minutes in the same spot before I was able to get a clean shot and capture this image. Some people looked at me like I was crazy, but some will make an effort to move quicker when they see you there waiting on them.

3. Details. Make sure to capture images of the Rims, Calipers, Interior, Engine, Hood Ornaments and Badges. They are all a piece of the artwork.  

I love a good caliper/rim/drilled rotor combo! Porsche design doesn’t hurt either. Tip: With chrome rims and highly reflective surfaces, the further away you are from the subject, the less your reflection will show.

4. Arrive Early. Sometimes I like to hang out at the entrance where the show cars will be entering the venue. You can usually get a clean background with little to no distractions and the light is usually better in the mornings when the sun is low.

For this image, I arrived early to the show, found a spot where I liked the backdrop and photographed some of the cars as they came in.

5. Polarizer Filter. This is the only tip that requires you actually buy something, but it’s worth the money. It is probably the one thing that I found made the biggest difference in the look of my images. By using a polarizer filter, it helps to reduce the glare and reflections in the paint. You can find some budget filters fairly cheap, but if you can afford a good one, it will produce better results and a more accurate representation of color. The less expensive filters tend to exaggerate and saturate colors.

Looking at the images you can see the visual differences. The reflections on the car and the road are removed or lessened, the windows are darker and even the trees look a little brighter. Proper use of the polarizer filter is key. Once it is screwed onto the front of your lens, the front of the filter will rotate, watch through your viewfinder as you rotate the filter to get the desired result.

If you follow these tips, your photography should improve tremendously in a short amount of time and the best part is without spending a lot of money.

%d bloggers like this: