Knowledge Tue, 23 Oct 2018 05:32:31 -0700 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Do you really want to go pro? Do you really want to go pro?

One of the biggest complaints I've heard from many amateur photographers that have spoken to pros about the business is that they always seem to get put down and told to stay away from the business and not go pro. I've basically heard people trying to scare others away from professional photography.

To those wanting to go pro, while it may not be as serious as trying to scare people away, do try to find the reasoning behind the warnings you're getting. Lets be honest, anyone that can buy a camera and create a Facebook "fan page" seems to now claim to be a professional photographer. Even the recent redesign of Flickr came with a comment from Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer.

"There's no such thing as Flickr Pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there's no such thing, really, as professional photographers when there's everything that's professional photographers." Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer

This isn't for the weekend warrior or the hobbyist, this is for those who actually understand what they're doing and are at the crossroads of keeping their steady job or taking the leap of faith to go pro with their photography to support themselves. Here's a few things worth considering if you're on the fence.

1 Money - Contrary to popular belief, there still is some money to be made in photography, if you know where to find it. However if you don't know where to find it and you think you're going to rely on the few "clients" you had while you were shooting for fun, then this isn't going to last very long. You're going to need to keep yourself paid and in a decently steady stream of work to make this happen. With the devalued nature of the business, everyone seems to expect photographers to work for free or for exposure. I'm sure you've seen plenty of internet memes and posts shared by photographers all over about this subject. The key to not working for free.... is to not work for free. Value yourself and your work and keep it moving when you're expected to work for free. "Exposure" never put food on anyones table.

2 Full Time Job - Working for yourself means that you're almost always working. There's always an email to be answered, a bid to submit, an image to retouch, a call to be made... you'll always be doing something so get used to it. Invest in Red Bull because you're going to definitely be pulling some all nighters to make deadlines. If that bothers you, self employment in a competitive business might not be for you. If you're going to make it you're going to have to be hungry and go get the work and assignments you want.

3 Networking - Until you've hit the level where you can hire a rep, you are your own rep. If networking and dealing with people bothers you it may be time to reconsider. You're going to have to meet people and conduct yourself professionally at all times. Design a great business card and keep some on you at all times. You never know when you're going to bump into someone that can become a potential client.

]]> (Andrew Link) Knowledge Thu, 23 May 2013 16:45:17 -0700
Post Processing: Lamborghini Superleggera Final Image - Lamborghini Superleggera | © Garrett Wade

About a month ago, I set out to shoot an image for the light-painting contest put on by this site. I was lucky enough to get the perfect subject for the shoot, but that luck would quickly run out.

After lining up a rare Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera I started brainstorming and thinking of locations all over town that might be fitting for this car and ones that would work with the rules of the contest. In usual fashion none of that mattered as conflicts between my schedule and the car's owner, mixed with Florida rain shot all of that out the window real quick. We ended up bringing the car to a small garage and got to work wiping it down as it had begin to rain on the way (of course).

Stage 1: Ambient Light Photo of the Car

I used a 4ft florescent light purchased for about $8 from the local hardware store plugged into my vagabond mini - turned the lights out in the garage and started making some passes on the car.

IMG 9473 As Smart Object 1

I ended up shooting settling on a 8 second exposure at f/6.3 and ISO100. After a few passes and figuring out what height and angle holding the light on the car worked the best I thought I had that about figured out for the shot.  With the ambient light not looking very flattering on the car I setup the strobes to go off and giving me a low base exposure to build off.

IMG 9483 As Smart Object 1

...and now it was time to mix them. I set the 10 second timer on the camera and waited for the strobes to go off then ran past the car with my florescent light-painting in the darkness after the flash. After about a dozen or so times I thought I had it.

IMG 9507 OriginalMain Exposure of the Car | © Garrett Wade

Stage 2: Adding the Wheel Exposure

Next I used a small softbox to strobe the wheels and make them pop.

IMG 9514 As Smart Object 1

IMG 9523 As Smart Object 1

All of these images along with a few bit from other passes where then combined to make my base image.

IMG 9507 No BgMain Exposure of the Car w/ Wheel Exposure | © Garrett Wade

Stage 3: The Background Swap

Finally coming together, but still rather boring I started digging through my old photos to see if I had some sorta background I could swap into this to make it a little bit more interesting. After a little bit of digging I came across a a few long exposures I did on a rooftop in NYC a few years back. With a few quick adjustments it looked like something that would work well for the image.

IMG 4618 As Smart Object 2

After dropping the old shot as the new background the image was finally almost there.

IMG 9507 As Smart Object 1

With a little bit more work in cleaning up and coloring the image I finally had a final product.

IMG 9507 As Smart Object 12345Final Image - Lamborghini Superleggera | © Garrett Wade

]]> (Garrett Wade) Knowledge Mon, 06 May 2013 10:52:57 -0700
Post Processing: Creating Transparent Hoods - Anthony Massie Nikon D90 w/ Nikkor 18-105 @ 25mm | F10 – 1/200 – ISO200 | © Anthony Massie

If you’re shooting a car with a particularly nice looking engine bay, you might want to consider giving this transparent hood effect a try. An image like this shows off the powerful nature of a car and is sure to evoke questions from your viewers. In this article I’ll break down the step by step process that I used to create this photo of IND’s M5.

Equipment Used


1Ladder - The focal point of this image is the engine lying just beneath the hood. For this reason, it is good to have the camera positioned up high and aiming down at car in order to capture more of the engine bay in the photo. Shooting from up high also allows for an increased focal length, which keeps distortion to a minimum. However, it is ultimately your own stylistic preference that will decide the angle of your image.

2Magic Arm or Tripod - When creating a transparent hood photo it is imperative that the camera remains 100% stationary – shooting handheld simply will not work. The reason for this is because you will need to take two identical photos and later overlay one on top of the other in Photoshop. For this reason, a Magic Arm can be easily attached to the top of the ladder enabling the camera to be positioned exactly where it is needed. If you would rather shoot from a lower angle, then a tripod will suffice.

3Remote Shutter Release - This tool assists in keeping the camera 100% stationary. Standing on the ladder and pressing the shutter button can possibly move the camera - even if only slightly. This would cause your two images to be misaligned when you later overlay them on each other in Photoshop. For this reason, you should stand on the ground and used a wireless shutter remote to take the two photos.

4Lighting (Optional) - For this image I used two Alien Bee B800 strobes equipped with 36” soft boxes positioned at about 45° on either side of the car.


With your camera and lighting set up to your desired specifications, take one photo with the hood closed and one with the hood open. As for the camera settings, I would recommend using a high f-stop to ensure all the details of the engine remain in focus.

Hood Up Hood Down The two images above will later be combined to create the transparent hood effect.

Post Processing

Start by opening the closed-hood photo in Photoshop, and then place the open-hood photo directly on top of it. At this point you will have two layers: the bottom layer will be the closed-hood photo and the top-layer will be the open-hood photo. Next, reduce the top layers opacity by 50%. By doing this you will instantly begin to see the effect take place.

Images Aligned 50The open-hood photo is placed directly on top of the closed-hood photo with its opacity set to 50%.

This image is not yet complete – the hood is still floating directly in front of the windshield and will need to be removed. The next step is to add a layer mask to your top layer and fill it with black. This will remove the open-hood layer from view, thus showing only the closed-hood layer below. In the black layer mask, draw a white radial gradient extending from the center of the hood to just beyond the edges of the car to expose the engine. Try experimenting with the size and position of your gradient as well as the open-hood layer’s opacity percentage to achieve the desired effect.

Radial Gradient Layer MaskA white radial gradient drawn on the open-hood layer mask exposes the engine. Even though we started with a layer opacity of 50%, you may need to adjust this percentage depending on the color of the car and the lighting conditions.

This image is almost complete. Next, use a black linear gradient or a large soft brush to paint over parts of the white linear gradient; this will remove the remaining unwanted elements of the top layer and create a smoother transition from opaque hood to transparent hood.

Adjusted Layer MaskNotice how I changed the shape of my white linear gradient to better fit the engine bay. By doing this I was able to completely remove the open hood make the transparent hood effect more transitional.

When satisfied with your transparent hood effect, merge the two layers and continue to edit the photo the way you normally would. You’re finished! Now you have a captivating and technical addition for your portfolio that is sure to impress anyone who sees it.

IND M5 FinalNikon D90 w/ Nikkor 18-105 @ 25mm | F10 – 1/200 – ISO200 | © Anthony Massie

]]> (Anthony Massie) Knowledge Mon, 08 Apr 2013 14:22:33 -0700
Virtual Motion Blur Walkthrough: SLK350 - Shutterlit Photography © Ste Ho

Motion shots have always been a great way to emphasize the speed of a vehicle.  It allows the viewer to use their imagination to picture the vehicle in action; and this is what makes these motion images so critical amongst automotive photographers. There are many ways to create these shots but in the end it boils down to the photographer’s preference.


A year ago, I made a detailed post on my blog here about how I was introduced to automotive photography. Over the past few years, I spent time creating motion shots with a rig system to sharpen my skillset.  Recently, I began to use motion blur software such as Bleex as a replacement for my rig. Bleex allows you to create vector paths within your image in which the motion blur will follow. This even works around curves or bends allowing you full control over the motion in your image.

The List of Items You Will Need

1 A Vehicle (Something nice would be ideal)

2 Digital Camera w/ Lens (35-60mm focal length is what I normally use)

3 Tripod (To keep the camera stationary for each shot)

4 Hydraulic Jack (If needed to blur the wheels)

5 Virtual Motion Blur Software (Bleex was used for this image build)

6 Adobe Photoshop for the Image Merging and Post Processing

The Three Essential Shots

1 A shot of the car on location.


2 A shot of the location without the car for motion rendering in the software (Bleex).


3 A shot of the wheel in motion with matching angle. This can be done on location while the car is in place or anywhere after.




The reason why I prefer using the motion software is because setting up my rig system takes up a lot of time on location. When I want to shoot something for my personal portfolio, I cannot always obtain a location permit. In those instances, motion software makes life much easier.  It is true that shooting car to car can be fast and effective but you need more than one driver and two or more cars to execute it. It can be a little tricky to get the desired shot while shooting car to car on a public road in traffic. With the motion blur software it is easier to shoot inside a small area like a parking garage safely while allowing full control over the end result.

{loadposition sh_motionblur}

Above is the image build with a brief description for each stage.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.



Virtual motion software is a great alternative to creating realistic action shots like the ones you see in most automotive brochures. This has become a common technique by most professional shooters besides using commercial rig systems. This may not be the easiest or the most affordable way to produce an automotive motion shot compared to other methods I mentioned earlier and there is definitely an art to combining the different elements together to form the final image, however as challenging as it is the results can be well worth it.

If you would like to give Bleex a try, feel free to download their trial version on their website.


]]> (Ste Ho) Knowledge Fri, 29 Mar 2013 01:14:51 -0700
How to Pack Your Photo Gear - Andrew Link Photography


So I get this question a lot, "What do you bring to a photoshoot?" While there is no real catch all answer for that since every shoot is different and I'll need different gear depending on what I'm shooting, I have narrowed my gear down to what I bring on EVERY shoot. I have two Pelican cases built for traveling and when I need extra or specialized gear I just add it, but these two cases get me through just about any situation.

The video posted above shows the two cases and all the important toys they contain but I've also included a list below.

Packing Gear List

Pelican 1510 Case

FAA Approved Airline Legal Carry On Case -

1Canon 1DS-MKIII

2Canon 17-40L Lens

3Canon 24-70L Lens

4Canon 70-200L Lens

5Vulture Equipment Works A4 Camera Strap

6Really Right Stuff Tripod Head

7Really Right Stuff L-bracket Quick Release Plate

83 - Pocketwizard Transceivers

9Canon 1DS-MKIII Battery Charger & Extra Battery

10Lens Cloth

11Firewire and Usb 3.0 Cables for Hard Drives)

122 - Card Readers

13CF Card Wallet

142 - Lacie 500GB Rugged Hard Drives

15Grip Clamps


Pelican 1650 Case

The Lighting Case -

12 - Profoto Softboxes

23 - Profoto D1 heads (2x - 500 watts and 1x - 1000 watts)

3Profoto D1 10 degree grid

42 - Profoto Softbox Speed Rings

5Westcott Ice Light

6Various Chargers

7Profoto - Pocketwizard Cables

8Misc. Grip Stuff

9Profoto BatPac

Similar to the Alienbees Vagabond, this is my battery source for my strobes when I'm on location and don't have outlets to use.

]]> (Andrew Link) Knowledge Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:53:29 -0700
Automotive Photography Tips and Tricks: A Beginner's Guide By Armin Ausejo - Part 3 © Armin H. Ausejo

After going over capturing light in Part 2, we now conclude these basic tips and tricks to automotive photography with using your equipment to its fullest potential.

Making the best of your equipment

You don’t need the latest and greatest DSLR to take good photos, but SLR cameras definitely have more of an advantage with their interchangeable lenses. However, that isn’t to say that you still can’t get good results out of a point-and-shoot. For example, the photo above was taken with my camera phone, and I took this photo with a disposable film camera:

Disposable 1000x662

In fact, many people end up spending a lot of money on a DSLR, but since they don't take the time to really learn how to use it properly, their photos end up looking worse than if they used their camera phone. All you really need is the know-how to use what equipment you have properly, and this counts for DSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras, and even your camera phone. It's not as simple as fully comprehending the manual, but it definitely does help.

Tripod, Tripod, Tripod

‘Nuff said. If you don’t have one, get one. I cannot stress this enough. Using a tripod will not only help give you a good, stable platform to take pictures from, but it'll also help you slow things down so that you're not rushing your shots. Setting up the tripod will also give you time to re-examine the scene and your composition. Are there distractions surrounding the car? Is the lighting good? Are you shooting from a different elevation other than standing eye level? There will undoubtedly be times when using a tripod will be impractical or even impossible, but I'll still default to the tripod on just about every automotive feature shoot that I do.

Adjusting your aperture and how it affects shutter speed and ISO

Ever wonder how photos have one thing singled out, and the rest blurry? That’s because the aperture is adjusted to shoot wide open, creating a blurred effect away from the focus point. Shooting “wide open” means that you lower your aperture down to the lowest possible f-stop. Many lenses have a lowest f-stop of ƒ3.5 (more often written as f/3.5), but other lenses can go down to ƒ1.8 or even ƒ1.2. On the other hand, using a higher f-stop will keep more things in focus, but at the expense of letting in less light, which again leads to a tripod being a must. Experiment and see what kind of results you can get, since there is no right or wrong when it comes to your aperture. It all comes down to how you want to present your subject to your viewer. Switching your camera to aperture priority mode will help you play around with things. Also, remember that if you zoom in (in other words, use telephoto) for a photo and use a lower f-stop, you’ll get even more blurriness away from your focus point. I use my telephoto lens with a low f-stop very often to make a car pop out from the surrounding area. Here is an example of how different apertures can affect a photo, using an 85mm ƒ1.4 lens:

Aperturetest 1000x1998

Also, remember that your aperture affects the amount of light going into your camera. A wider aperture lets in more light, which will consequently result in having to use a faster shutter speed to ensure proper exposure. Your ISO will also play a role here, since the ISO adjusts how sensitive your camera's sensor is to the incoming light. It's this tricky balance of these three main factors that affect your photo, and really the best way to understand this triangle relationship is to get out there and experiment.

One filter to rule them all

I stressed the use of the circular polarizer filter in Part 2's "Managing your reflections" section, so I'll stress it here again. It really is a filter that I won't leave home without, especially when it comes to automotive photography. The only other filter that I use often will be a neutral density filter, which basically acts like window tint to let in less light. This is helpful when you want to use a slow shutter speed, but the overall lighting situation is too bright. Otherwise, I prefer not to use UV filters or anything else that acts as another piece of unnecessary glass on the front of my lens.

Turn off your flash

There are certain ways to use a flash effectively on a car, but you usually need more than one, and it definitely won’t be the one attached to your camera. Thus, keep it turned off, and refer to the tripod rule above one more time.

JPEG vs. RAW and post-processing

It's important to understand what happens after you take your photo on your DSLR, point-and-shoot, or camera phone. If you're shooting in JPEG mode, your camera's manufacturer will apply its own formula of color saturation, contrast, sharpening, etc to the photo. With most cameras you can control this to a certain degree, but the options are typically very limited to settings such as "Vivid" or "Monochrome." Thus, you've pretty much turned your photo processing over to your manufacturer to determine, much like how you'd just take your film to a developer and they'd have full control over everything. The way you can truly make your photos your own is to shoot in RAW mode where available. RAW is quite literally the raw photo data that your camera captures, and thus it doesn't apply any adjustments that would normally take place when you shoot in JPEG. There are many technical differences between the formats, but in the end, RAW has all of your photo's data, whereas with JPEG you lose data since the file is compressed.

That doesn't mean you can't post-process JPEGs though. There's no reason that you can't apply more edits to a photo from your point-and-shoot or camera phone. Often times you’ll take a photo that looks absolutely perfect right out of the camera, but even doing little things like a little sharpening or a little boost in saturation or contrast can turn your photo into something more. Just don’t go overboard with it! It’s very easy to go overboard with contrast and saturation especially. Too much contrast will remove definition and details from dark areas, and too much saturation can make a photo look very artificial. Use your best judgment and discretion, as you’ll know very quickly if something’s starting to look too extreme. Here's an example that I took with my camera phone, showing the original and just a little bit of slight adjustments to shadows, highlights, and contrast that took all but 30 seconds:

Basicedits 1000x1500

Garbage In, Garbage Out

This is a mantra that I will always mention when it comes to photography. Post-processing can help make a good photo into an exceptional photo, but it can never help transform an already bad photo into an exceptional photo. If you don't start out with a good photo, no amount of post-processing will make it awesome. At its root, that is main thing I've tried to stress in these tips and tricks. If you start out with good composition, good use of light, and proper use of your equipment, then you will almost always end up with a great photo. However, if your photos starts off with bad composition, overly exposed or drastically underexposed, and your camera isn't steadied with a tripod or doesn't have the right aperture, shutter, or ISO settings, then you really can't expect to be able to completely rescue the photo through post-processing. This is why the basics are important, and once you've gotten a good understanding or even mastery of the basics, then you'll definitely be going down the right path toward great photography.

I hope these tips and tricks have been helpful. Happy shooting!

]]> (Armin H. Ausejo) Knowledge Wed, 20 Mar 2013 00:52:39 -0700
Automotive Photography Tips and Tricks: A Beginner's Guide By Armin Ausejo - Part 2 © Armin H. Ausejo

In Part 1, we went over very basic composition concepts in regards to automotive photography. Here in Part 2, we'll visit what photography is all about: capturing light.

Photography is Light

Remember that when you’re taking a photo, you’re capturing how light is reflecting off of everything in the photo. Light rules everything with an iron fist, and getting the proper exposure is key to a good photo. After all, if you can’t see anything, what’s the point?

Be careful with backlights

Generally speaking, you want to avoid backlights in automotive photography. Remember that typically you want your light source behind you, so that it lights up your subject. If you’re taking a photo of a car with the light source behind it, such as the sun or a streetlight, then you’ll more than likely get lens flare (the ugly green or brown series of circles that emanate from the light source in question) and your subject will not receive enough light. You can still make it work such as in the photo above, but you just have to make sure you understand what problems might arise when you capture the photo. Another option would be to use artificial lighting such as strobes, flashes, or light painting, but those create their own limitations and don't really fall under the realm of basic tips and tricks.

High ISO / high-speed film is no substitute for a tripod

A tripod solves almost all of your focus and noise issues, whether you’re using a digital or film camera. If you don’t have a tripod, get one! It will be one of the best investments you can make. Sure, you can turn the ISO up or use high-speed film to increase your light sensitivity, but only at the expense of more noise and graininess in your photo. Ideally, you want to set your ISO to your camera's lowest base ISO that you need in order to capture your photo. Your camera's base ISO numbers can be found in you camera's manual, but typically it'll either be ISO 100 or ISO 200. Make sure you check on your ISO settings before you start shooting, otherwise you might end up with something like this:

BimmerhighISO 700x474

If you’re really getting serious about your photography, make sure you don’t go cheap on your tripod. Even a slight breeze can cause a cheap, flimsy tripod to move or vibrate enough to throw off the focus of your photos. You’ll want a tripod that will properly hold the weight of your camera and lens, and is adjustable enough for your tastes. Most good and stable tripod head and leg combinations will be in the $300+ range.

Avoid midday sun

If you can help it, try not to shoot in the middle of a bright sunny day. It will mess up your colors and create rather harsh reflections, especially from the windows. The best times to shoot by far are right before sunrise and right at or just after sunset. Cloudy days can be good as well, but you need to be mindful of your contrast and saturation. An overcast day can almost be ideal for even lighting, but just about any shot pointed upward toward the sky is going to have a very overexposed, ugly background. If you're able to get a nice balance of blue skies, clouds, and soft lighting, then you can get capture something truly awesome:

Erichvantagereprocess 2 1000x665

Manage your reflections

Unless the car you're shooting has a matte paint job, just about every car you shoot is going to act like a mirror. Managing reflections is vital to good automotive photography, since the last thing you want is for glare to ruin your photo. One of the easiest ways to help manage your reflections and glare, especially those given off from windshields and other glass, is to use a circular polarizer. The front of the circular polarizer rotates so that you can set it to remove the reflections of your choice. Here's an example of the difference that the circular polarizer makes. The first photo shows how it looks without the polarizer, and the second shows what the polarizer does to the reflections on the windshield, hood, and more:

Polarizationexample 1000x1330

The circular polarizer will also help reduce glare when taking interior shots. I never leave home without my circular polarizer, and it should ALWAYS be in your camera bag. The only excuse not to have one is if you have a point and shoot camera that doesn’t support one.

Don't forget to also be mindful of reflections that can't be controlled by a circular polarizer, such as things in the area surrounding the car. Watch out for distinct colors, lines, and even people that will show up in the paint of the car, and try your best to position the car to minimize these things.

That's it for the basics of capturing light. In the conclusion to the basic tips and tricks to automotive photography, we'll go over using your equipment to its fullest.

]]> (Armin H. Ausejo) Knowledge Wed, 13 Mar 2013 18:04:39 -0700
Post Processing: Lexus LFA Final Image | © John Zhang

This image of a Lexus LFA driving along the coast in Big Sur, CA was shot at the beginning of the year. The kicker here is that I didn't shoot the car at that particular location at all. What I am about to show you goes against the photographer's code and I may be banned from the...... Nah I'm only joking. Image compositing is not a new technique and has been around for years. The trick with image composites is piecing the images together seemlessly so it does not look forced. Perspective, angle, lighting, and composition all play a major role here. 

The original shot below is what I took hanging out of a car window on the highway with the sun setting. As you can see the image is nothing special and the abundance of other cars on the freeway, light poles and electric lines detract the eye from the overall flow. However the intent of this shot was to capture the car in a moving state, while keeping it sharp and in focus, wheels in motion (at ISO 400 from a 1/80 shutter speed at 60 mph) and limit the overall reflections in the paint. From this image, the car itself would be masked out in Adobe Photoshop and composited into a completely different environment.

8533912429 Be6a76d661 BNikon D800E w/ Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 | 1/80 – ISO400 @ 60mph | © John Zhang

I had originally planned for this shot to be composited into an "endless" parking lot with mountains in the background along with some epic clouds. However, after a few hours post processing, I was just about ready to give up on this image as a whole. I set this image aside on my desktop for a week until one day I happened to be talking to Richard Thompson of Richard Thompson Photography and he told me he had the perfect background image for my rolling shot. On his recent trip to Big Sur, CA, he photographed numerous images of road environments to be used for this exact purpose. He was kind enough to let me use one as a base background. With this new-found hope, I ventured back to compositing the original shot of the Lexus LFA.

During the post processing workflow, one problem right off the bat was the overall lighting did not match both photographs so while I was putting the two images together, I had to be conscious of that and do my best to not bring attention to it. The motion of the background was added with Bleex. It is also important to note that when creating a composite image it is best to keep things as simple as possible. As the final image gets more and more complex it may detract from your overall subject. In this case the car. Hopefully this example gives readers some insight into my approach to automotive composite photography. If you have any questions feel free to comment below.

{loadposition jz_lfa}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (John Zhang) Knowledge Thu, 07 Mar 2013 10:31:41 -0800
The Simple Art of an Automotive Rolling Shot: The 10 Rules by Josh Mackey Nikon D200 w/ Tokina 12-24 @ 12mm | F/4.5 – 1/40 – ISO100 | © Josh Mackey

There is something unique and personal in a car to car motion shot that tends to give the viewer a raw look into the subject. Rolling shots, aka car-to-car motion photos, are seemingly a thing of the past now, often the last resort in capturing cars in action when in reality it could be the best option available.

The trend for the past five years has been to do rig shots, but why mess with expensive rigging systems and the post processing work? Some might say the new trend is Virtual Rig Studio, compositing shots of the car not in motion onto back plates and making it move. That also costs a hefty price tag if you want to invest in the software.  If you sit down and think about it, the only accessory you need for a really good rolling shot is a driver and preferably a car that is on stock suspension to ride in.

The 10 Rules

Shooting rolling shots isn’t exactly about dialing in the settings, but more about confidence in your ability to execute the shot you’re going for. There are a multitude of factors that you need combine to make the shot: how fast you’re going, what road you’re on, what lighting conditions you have, etc.  So, I have developed some “rules” to follow; unlike most rules, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to bend and/or break these rules.

Go Fast!

1 A true motion shot should convey…. motion! So, if you’re going 30mph on a back road, chances are you’re not going to get the speed in the shot you would prefer. Obey the laws of the road of course, but anything over 50-60mph is ideal. Between 70-80mph is the sweet spot, best on a highway or road that allows those speeds.

NWMotiv Project3Canon 5D Mark II w/ Canon EF 17-40L @ 17mm | F/5.6 – 1/30 – ISO1600 | © Josh Mackey

Slow Down

2 Slow down your shutter speed, that is. Sometimes getting the PERFECT rolling shot requires some sacrifice in settings. For years I’ve used Shutter Priority Mode and let the camera determine the aperture. If you think you can manage flipping the aperture whilst hanging out of a moving vehicle, more power to you. I prefer to use anything between 1/20-1/40. If you’re brave and think you have a steady hand, I’ve shot as low as 1/10 in focus. For those manual diehard types, just test your settings before actually starting so that way you’re not wasting time while driving. The only other setting might be ISO, but that’s really pending where you’re driving, such as in a tunnel.

Nissan S13Canon 5D Mark II w/ Canon EF 17-40L @ 17mm | Left: F/7.1 – 1/20 – ISO50 – | Right: F/4.0 – 1/30 – ISO50 – | © Josh Mackey

Go Wide

3 Bringing anything over 24mm (especially on a cropped body) is asking for problems. Roads aren’t kind to even the steadiest of hands. The longer the focal length, the more vibration shows in the camera. Yes, you can buy mount devices to help you with this, but seriously, it’s not the point of this article to buy more crap you don’t really need. I prefer my Canon 17-40L F/4 lens for these types of photos. 17mm is super wide which can get me right up on the car or enough distance for a good crop from a lane away. I also find it a good thing to bring a polarizer filter: cutting down as many reflections as you can is a good thing.

Mazda RX7 1Nikon D200 w/ Tokina 12-24mm F/4 @ 14mm | F/4.0 – 1/40 – ISO100 – | © Josh Mackey

Trust your instincts

4 If you’re already hanging out of a car going 80mph on the highway, chances are that if you’re going to drop your camera, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking through the viewfinder or not. I usually get enough photos looking through the viewfinder but then I drop the camera as low as I can outside the shooting car and just aim. Aim with instinct, with knowledge and experience. LOOK at what you’re aiming at and try and nail the spot that gives the best focus, the front wheel. A lot of people over the years have asked me if I did a rig shot on the highway because the angle is so low. No, it’s just a well-placed shot from me hanging half way out of a moving car.

Mazda RX7 2Nikon D200 w/ Tokina 12-24mm F/4 @ 12mm | F/4.0 – 1/40 – ISO100 – | © Josh Mackey
Armin RichardLeft: Richard Thompson | Right: Armin H. Ausejo

Shoot a lot, then shoot some more

5 Make sure you have ample memory for the remainder of the shoot, but make sure you shoot a lot of rolling shots. Shoot a couple, do a quick check, keep shooting. Chances are getting a perfectly sharp rolling shot at 1/20 going 70mph on an average highway is going to take at least 20-30 shots. When you think you’ve got enough, take some more. Loop back again if you think you need to, until you’re confident knowing you have enough shots to get what you want. It’s best to have a lot to choose from versus none.

Rolling VW CelicaLeft: Nikon D200 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mm | F/3.5 – 1/40 – ISO100 | Right: Nikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mmF/6.3 – 1/20 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey

Don’t fake a rolling shot

6 I can tell. We can tell. When someone enhances their photo with additional motion in a rolling shot, it’s pretty obvious, and it’s pretty bad. Take my advice on the subject and do it over again if you didn’t get it right. Don’t be so butthurt when you’re called out and offered some really good criticism. None of the photographers contributing to motivelife are here without taking a good beating; you shouldn’t be an exception to that rule.

Skyline R33Nikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mm | F/5.6 – 1/45 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey

Post Processing

7 You should always present your photos how you want people to see them. A lot of people prefer to see the SOC shot, however in my experience, cleaning up a good rolling shot is always a good thing. Cloning out a random car, fixing some reflections or making the shooting car disappear are things that shouldn’t be ignored outside the standard adjustments. You can view my post processing workflow below.

{loadposition jm_rollingshots}


8 Some photographers have an innate ability to capture a good rolling shot, others aren’t so lucky. The only way to get better is to practice and keep testing your settings to get the exact look you want. 30 minutes and a driver is all you need, get out there and do it.

Toyota CorollaNikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 18mm | F/22 – 1/45 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey


9 If you live in a big metropolitan city, you’re more than likely going to have to plan your shots around heavy traffic. You know your city better than anyone: coordinate times and plan.

Have fun

10 It’s fun hanging out of a car on a 30 degree day getting pelted by hail. You should try it, I promise you’ll love it.

Subaru WRX StiMy very first rolling shot for print. | Nikon D70 w/ Nikon 18-35 @ 35mm | F/4.8 – 1/45 – ISO200 – | © Josh Mackey

Andrew Link of RIDES Magazine hanging out of a car during the Gumball Rally taking some rolling shots of the cars as they pass him.


LinkCanon 1D Mark IIII w/ Canon EF 17-40L @ 29mm | F/6.3 – 1/125 – ISO100 – | © Andrew Link

Some samples from Armin H. Ausejo

Armin STINikon D300 w/ Tokina 12-24 @ 12mm | F/6.3 – 1/40 – ISO100 – | © Armin H. Ausejo

Armin MazdaNikon D200 w/ Nikon 17-55 @ 18mm | F/2.8 – 1/60 – ISO100 – | © Armin H. Ausejo


Warning! Attempt at your own risk. We are not responsible if you fall out of a car, get hit by a random object, get hit by a car, get sh#t on by a bird, or anything else that happens to you in your life.

]]> (Josh Mackey) Knowledge Wed, 06 Mar 2013 13:54:10 -0800
Automotive Photography Tips and Tricks: A Beginner's Guide By Armin Ausejo - Part 1 © Armin H. Ausejo

Like many automotive photographers, I got my start in taking photos by simply being a car enthusiast, and as a car enthusiast, it was natural for me to take part in various Internet-based forums. One of the main forums I was and continue to be involved in is the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club, or "NASIOC." It was from this forum that these tips and tricks to automotive photography originated, and the thread is still going very strong today.

Below is the latest revision of my tips and tricks, which actually represents the main purpose of to provide a solid, no-nonsense guide to learning and improving automotive photography. I started shooting cars professionally as part of Subiesport Magazine since the magazine’s inception back in 2004. I learned a lot along the way, since at the time I was really a complete newbie when it came to photography. Consequently, I must thank my good friend Josh Mackey ( and Subiesport Publisher Ryan Douthit for their help and tutelage. Ferg, a NASIOC Super Moderator, asked me to write something up, so I am honored to pass on some of my basic automotive photography methods to NASIOC and now, and I hope that these can help both beginners and experienced photographers alike. By no means do I regard myself as all knowing in automotive photography, but I love to help people take better pictures and learn new techniques right along side me. Without further ado, we’ll first start out with basic composition.

Part 1 -- Point and do WHAT?

Just because you don’t have the latest and greatest neck-breaking digital SLR doesn’t mean you can’t take good pictures. Even a camera phone can take good pictures, even if they’re not the clearest in the world. First and foremost, composition makes or breaks a picture, and shows the difference between a snapshot and a photo. Some things may seem rather basic, but even I myself forget certain things from time to time.

Centered is rarely best

It’s easy to take a picture and put everything you want in the center, but unfortunately it doesn’t make for good photography. Generally, you want to follow the Rule of Thirds, which basically means that you want to put your subject at the cross section of two lines that cut your photo into thirds. An easy way visualize this is to imagine a tic-tac-toe board on your screen or viewfinder. Some cameras may even have this as an option to overlay on the screen. Here is an example of the Rule of Thirds in action:

Ruleofthirds 1000x666

I've overlaid the "Rule of Thirds" grid from Photoshop's crop function so that you can see the grid lines. You can see how the car is situated right at what I call a "thirds crosspoint" to follow the Rule of Thirds. Keep in mind, while this is called a "rule," it's actually more of a guideline. I definitely recommend that you practice the Rule of Thirds so that you find yourself always doing it, and then you can get more creative with breaking the rule. This is one of the most important things to learn in photo composition, so definitely make sure you master it before feeling like you can break it any time.

Angles can be good...and bad

Going overboard on crazy angles to get a unique picture is very easy to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Remember that you want the viewer of your photo to truly grasp what you’re trying to capture, but if they have to break their neck or do a headstand to see it, then they’ll probably just look elsewhere. Make no mistake, there’s a time and place for crazy angles, but use them sparingly and make sure that everyone can tell what they’re looking at. Here is a very bad example from when I first started taking photos:

Badangle 1000x750

Also, keep in mind that a very slight angle can change the feel of a photo. Here is the same car, just with a slightly different angle to the photo. Which do you prefer? It all depends on what your purpose is:

Jeffhillangles 700x931

Avoid the cut-off

Just a quick and simple tip. If you’re trying to take a picture of the whole car, make sure you actually take a full picture of the car, and don’t cut off the bumpers, wheels, spoilers, etc. It makes sense to cut off sections if you just want to single one or two things out (such as close-ups of individual parts in an engine bay), but if you want to get everything, pay attention not to cut off parts of your subject.

Wheels vs. Tire Tread

In this grudge match, the wheel always wins. If you’re taking a picture of a car, especially from ¾ position, angle the wheels so that the face of the wheel is facing the camera, not the tire tread. While some tire tread is really aggressive-looking, 99% of the time the photo will be better showing off the face of the wheel instead of the tire tread, especially if they’re aftermarket wheels. Even stock wheels can look good in a properly taken photo, but we won’t know that unless we actually see them, right? There will be times when you just want the wheels to be straight, but turning the wheels to face the camera often gives a more posed look that shows that you've taken your time and put effort into the photo, rather than just taking a photo of a car off the street. Here is an example using a 100% stock car:

DSC 7226 700x466

The background is not just noise

While the car is going to be the subject of your photo, that doesn’t mean that the background doesn’t matter. Even with proper composition, a good background can substantially help or wreck a photo. Industrial backgrounds are very overused, but it’s understandable to use if you’re in a pinch. Ideally, you want a background that helps add to the theme of a photo or just plain looks good overall. A driveway photo shoot isn’t all that great either unless the driveway is filled with a bunch more nice cars. Just be careful not to choose a background that blends in too much with your car, because then your subject won’t stand out. Here are a couple of my favorite backgrounds that I've been able to use:

Erichvantagereprocess 1 1000x665

DSC 7438 Edit 700x468

It is also very important to make sure there aren't distractions in the background that interfere with your subject, such as trees or poles growing out of the car, power lines dominating the scene, or random garbage on the surrounding ground. Attention to detail is very important when it comes to your background, and can easily be the difference between a simple snapshot and an actual thought-out photo.

Camera elevation

A key point of any type of photography is to try to capture something that isn’t normally seen by your naked eye. Thus, try your best not to take photos from standard standing height. If you get real low or get real high, you’ll have a much better overall photo. Very rarely will you see me taking a photo from a standing position. I sometimes even bring a stepladder with me to get a higher elevated shot, since being Filipino, I’m not a tall man. And, don’t be afraid to get dirty with a low shot. Here’s a high and a low example:

DSC3169 700x474

DSC 1025 Edit 700x468

That just about wraps it up for basic composition. In Part 2, we will go into properly capturing light. Also be sure to check out my site No f8 But What We Make for even more photo tips and tricks.

]]> (Armin H. Ausejo) Knowledge Mon, 04 Mar 2013 09:12:36 -0800
Post Processing: Matte Black Lamborghini Aventador Final Image | © Johan Lee

Photographing exotic cars is always a unique challenge. They usually maintain very dramatic lines, shapes and surfaces that must be highlighted in the final image. I was recently commisioned to shoot a matte black Lamborghini Aventador for Perillo Collision Center and it was no exception. 

It was shot at their garage with the intention of compositing it into a black background. The car was shot in multiple exposures and lit with a single Alien Bees B800 strobe in a standard reflector and overhead flourescent light. My lighting assistant and also an accomplished automotive photographer, Jeremy Cliff positioned the strobe for each exposure. Afterward I used photoshop to blend all the images together, replaced the background with black, and added in smoke and light flares from seperate images to polish it off.

{loadposition jl_aventador}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (Johan Lee) Knowledge Wed, 27 Feb 2013 23:29:47 -0800
CLS Shooting Brake: Post Processing Final Image | © Thomas Larsen

Wanted to share an image build from a recent CLS Shooting Brake shoot I just finished. One of my valued clients needed images of this car for an upcoming promotional / marketing campaign, and fast. With bad weather forecast for the coming days I decided to try a shot I've been wanting to do for some time – a tunnel rigshot.

Since we lacked a budget for proper location permits, it was impossible to set up and shoot the car in the tunnel, so the car and backplate were shot seperately, then combined in photoshop.

Below are my initial reference shots for the second image in this set.


Only one light (AlienBees B1600) was used to light the car – the first image in the slideshow below shows 11 different exposures masked together for the desired starting point. This process takes some experimenting with brush sizes, hardness and opacity before you get the hang of it. Once you do though, it's a really nice and time efficient way to create images otherwise only possible with more lights – and assistants – than you could possibly fit in your car.

Once the seperate exposures were combined the car was seperated from it's background and aligned with the tunnel backplate. Notes were made of tripod height, angle and distance between car and camera to make sure the two images would fit together. During the post processing workflow, a lot of time was spent drawing a new shadow under the car, adding spinning wheels, cleaning up the body panels and adjusting highlights, removing snow and unwanted reflections using various brushes, clone tool, patch tool, healing brush and curves adjustments. Global and local contrast and color adjustments were then made to complete the image.

{loadposition tl_cls}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (Thomas Larsen) Knowledge Fri, 22 Feb 2013 13:45:08 -0800
Z3 LS1 Swap: Post Processing Final Image | © Dale Martin

Had a chance to photograph a LS1 Swapped BMW Z3 with my buddy Brandon Lajoie at Vorshalg in Plano Texas.  We originally decided to light the car with strobes.  After the first few test shots we decided to scrap the strobes and break out an LED light from my light bag to light "paint" the car. It turned out pretty well. More info on the light being used after the break.

Light painting involves taking a long exposure in relative darkness anywhere from 10 seconds and up(normally) and using one light source to then "paint" light into your photograph. It can take a few tries to get the overall look you are going for. I suggest experimenting with different lengths of exposures and light intensity. Afterward through post processing it's a matter of combining the different exposures in photoshop.

With 126-LED lights for optimum illumination and diffuser.

Neewer CN-126 LED Video Light for Camera or Digital Video Camcorder

The light above was intended for use with video as it comes with a built in shoe mount to sit a top of your camera however it works great for long exposure photography too. There is a built in dimmer switch to allow for brightness adjustment. The color temperature is rated for 5400k which provides a pure white light although there are additional filters that come with the kit to modify this. Most of all it's affordable and provides a good quality light source. A special thanks to Ste Ho of for introducing this light to me. I bought three of them. =)

{loadposition dm_bmw}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.


]]> (Dale Martin) Knowledge Fri, 15 Feb 2013 21:50:45 -0800
Behind the Scenes - Aston Martin Photoshoot


An Aston Martin shoot I did last year.  Shot the car with multiple lights and various modifiers.  I Even did a little light painting.  The rest of the video gives a run down of some of my editing process.  It's a bit chaotic, and I have changed a few things with my editing since this shoot.  If you pay close attention there is a wheel brightening trick that I use in all my editing.  It really makes the wheels pop.  I'll post up more BTS videos later.  Enjoy.

]]> (Dale Martin) Knowledge Fri, 15 Feb 2013 20:03:51 -0800
Post Processing: Fiat 500c / Alfa Romeo Mito - Battle of the Buggies in Dubai Final Image | © Arun M. Nair

Dubai is a beautiful place. There is no doubt about that. From some of the biggest buildings to a rich night life, who could ask for more? But for some reason when it comes to photography, it is not allowed in the entire Middle East without permits and this law is strictly enforced.

So, when it comes to editorial/magazine shoots in Dubai, with little to no money for permits, guerilla photography is the only way to go.  I found this beautiful location at the top floor of Dubai mall's parking garage (near Burj Kalifa). With only a thirty minute window before the security would arrive to kick us out, I managed to shoot just one image.

{loadposition an_fiat}

Above is a step by step explanation of the post processing process. The Alfa Romeo Mito and Fiat 500c were given to us by Chrysler Group for a TopGear long term review segment.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or click the circles below the image to navigate.


]]> (Arun M Nair) Knowledge Wed, 13 Feb 2013 22:11:18 -0800
Controlling Reflections: A Tutorial by Jeff Creech

Sphere Vs Circle

One of the most important characteristics for a commercial photographer to possess is a strong understanding of how to control light. We use light to add shape to the objects we are photographing, whether that be people, cars, or products. The quality of the images we produce largely depends on our ability to light that object to show its shape effectively. Take for example - a sphere.

Without proper lighting, a sphere has no dimension. Let's assume that both objects above are spheres. The sphere on the left is illuminated by a light directly in front (similar to a standard camera flash). The lighting is harsh, direct and reveals absolutely nothing about the shape of the object. For all we know, it could just be the top of a cylinder.

The object on the right, however, is clearly a sphere. We can even identify where the light source is in relation to the object (the top left). We can conclude these facts because of the direction and shape of the gradient that runs across the length of the object. As photographers, it is important that we exert masterful control over these gradients.

Controlling Light vs. Controlling Reflections

But what about a situation, where the object we are photographing mostly reflects the light that we are directing towards it? How would you reveal the object's shape in the example above, if it were chrome?

Everything we have ever learned as photographers about lighting an object does not apply when the object is reflective.

This creates an obvious problem because most objects we photograph have a reflective component to them. Cars (especially those with dark paint) are covered in clear coat and are notorious for being highly reflective. Chrome and metals, such as in jewelry, watches, or cosmetics are obviously reflective. Even transparent objects such as martini glasses or beer bottles have a reflective component to them.

To understand how to light these reflective objects effectively, photographers must apply an entirely different set of rules.

Light the Environment, Not the Object

Reflective objects by definition, reflect what is around them. To properly show the shape of a reflective object, we must therefore light the environment - NOT the object. This is the golden rule of photographing reflective objects.

To help illustrate this point, let's test how various light modifiers and lighting setups affect the shape of an object. For this example, I've decided that the object will be a aluminum reflector from my Alien Bee Lights. I chose a reflector because it's aluminum, which has somewhat of a luster finish to it. It's reflective, but not to the same level that a mirror would be. It's also cylindrical, which means I don't have any corners to deal with when lighting the product.

Each photo contains a final image and a setup shot.

Three-Point Lighting

For non-reflective objects, the Three-Point Lighting system is the foundation of any photographer's bag of tricks. It consists of a key light, a fill light, and an edge light. In my example, I've substituted an edge light for a background light. The lights have standard reflectors on them, but are otherwise completely bare with no additional light modification. The result is hard, direct light that does little to show the shape of the object.

Not optimal in any sense of the word. We can do much better.



Diffusion Panel vs Medium Sized Softbox

In the next example, we have a similar light arrangement, but on the left we've added a diffusion panel and on the right, we've substituted the standard reflector for a medium sized Softbox. The left side of the product (the side lit with the diffusion panel) looks decent. We are beginning to see shades of a gradient, but the gradient is hard to control. There are clearly two different shades, but the edge between the two shades is fairly sudden. Regardless of where I pointed the reflector, the gradient would always come out similar. This is because the reflector on the light is not very directional. It's more like a shotgun, as opposed to a rifle.

The right side of the product (the side lit by the Softbox) is even less desirable. The softbox creates very diffuse light, but the light is uniform across the length of the softbox. This creates hard edges on the highlights of the product.

The diffusion panel clearly wins this battle.



Diffusion Panel + Strip Box vs. Strip Box

In this next example, I wanted to test if adding a strip box to the left side would help me control the gradient better. I decided to move the position of the light on the left closer toward the rear of the product, allowing me to cast a gradient with a highlight starting near the edge of the product. The strip box allowed me to cast a thin strip of light on the diffusion panel (as opposed to a giant spot light that we observed with just the reflector). Depending on where I positioned the light I could easily change the direction and strength of the gradient on the diffusion panel. So far, this was the best method.

The right side of the product is a strip box without the diffusion panel. The strip box is great at creating thin highlights on a product. I actually like the highlight in this case, but the midtones on the right side of the product are kind of bleh!



Twin Edge Lights with Black Cards

Let's change the lighting setup a bit. I kept the strip boxes on each light, but moved each of them to the rear of the product. Since the strip boxes are now pointing towards the camera, I needed to use black flags to block any light spill from hitting the lens. Because the background is white and we didn't want the edge of the product to blend in with the background, I also used black cards to create a low light.



Putting it All Together

Now that we understand the various ways that light modifiers affect the lighting of a reflective object, let's put it all together to create a finished image. My favorite look was the stripbox combined with a diffusion panel. It offers us the most control over the shape and direction of the light on the product. Because the object I'm photographing is a cylinder, i found it best to use a symmetrical lighting setup. I placed diffusion panels on each side and lit the diffusion panels with strip boxes. I then used black cards behind the product to define the edges more clearly.



So just remember the next time your trying to photograph a reflective object. It's not the object that is of concern, it's the environment.

]]> (Jeff Creech) Knowledge Mon, 11 Feb 2013 13:24:18 -0800
Batch Saving Action and Automation in Adobe Photoshop CS


When I first started seriously photographing for demanding clients, I quickly discovered that saving PSD files became a daunting and prolonged task. In my mind I thought, "man, there has to be a way to save every photo set I do more efficiently". So I did some searching online and found out about Photoshop "actions". Actions would help me simplify the process without me having to go through File > Save As, however, I would still have to press play on every photo from the set to get them to save. As a result, with further research, I found out about one of the most helpful tools that Photoshop has to offer.

That was the Automate function under File. What this function does is essentially take an action and automates it throughout the whole set without you having to do most of the work. It's assembly-line-like. Watch the video I recorded to see what I mean. 

This video was made for those who process more than a few photos in Photoshop and have saved PSD files. This workflow, however, can work with all predefined actions you have, so it might be a good screencast for everyone who uses Photoshop in general. 

Sorry that the Screen Flow Demo watermark is blocking the video, but you'll still get the idea. Screen Flow for Mac is a very good and simple screen casting program to use.

Hope this helps!

]]> (John Zhang) Knowledge Wed, 06 Feb 2013 16:00:00 -0800