Tuesday, February 26, 2019


The outdoor car shows—especially the more casual community events—are my favorites for custom and classic cars. These shows allow me more freedom and better access without onerous security that you will find at the big indoor events where everything is roped off. In addition I really prefer natural light (with some direction) to the hard overhead floods that flatten out the light (like grocery store lighting!) at the huge indoor arenas.

That being said each type of show still shares similar problems. Those are the people constantly filtering around the cars and the spacing of the cars. Both of these problems severely limit whole car images of most cars on display. So, I tend to go in close and create images of the best features of each car. What I like about this type of photography is that I actually have better control in creating artistic compositions when working with the details of a subject…

f18.0 @ 1/60 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 58mm

Many photographers don’t like it when the cars are opened-up for display, but use that to make interesting compositions and when opened-up those parts of the car can block out clutter (like people) in my background! For example in this image by moving in close on the open door I created wide angle distortion that created nice “leading lines” that guide the viewer’s eye into the image. In addition with the hood propped-up the steady stream of people on the other side of the car were eliminated.

Technical Note:  Going in close with any lens you will lose depth-of-field, so I really stopped-down here to f18.0 for good depth-of-field through out the image.

When I see a car I like I always circle around the whole car looking for details to compose….
f18.0 @ 1/100 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 28mm
Dropping to my knees and moving in close with my lens at 28mm made that grill even more impressive in this image of the same car. And, I still like the opened-up appendages of the car creating this wacky composition! 

This next car’s stunning paint attracted me….
f5.6 @ 1/1600 sec., ISO 400 Lens @ 105mm
With a lot of photographers hovering around this car I zoomed in more for tight in-camera crops of its details.

Technical Note:  With that red car so close in the background I opened up my aperture to f5.6 to soften the red car’s details. I really wanted to isolate the purple car’s grill and hood ornament.

Next I backed up and focused down the length of the car…
f8.0 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 135mm
I Wanted to highlight this car’s sensuous curves for this image so I cropped in tight and added a little more telephoto for some lens compression. I really like compression distortion used this way!

When I really want subject isolation….
f11.0 @ 1/640 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm
Amidst all these pristine cars with perfect colorful paint this unrestored Dodge stood out! I really like the Dodge Brothers badge on its rusted radiator. So, zooming into 200mm is my go-to focal length when I want to isolate a subject. The only problem using 200mm at a car show is that because, at that focal length, you must back-up for it to focus, then you get lots of people walking in front of you—some will even stop to take their own photos directly in front of you! You just have to be patient and wait for your moment.

That’s it for this week…I’m available for questions…just ask…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

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