Often we have a particular goal in mind when we visit an area as I did when visiting Point Pelee National Park. Sometimes nature does not cooperate and we end up finding an unexpected treasure. That was certainly the case for me when I stumbled on the Canadian Transportation Museum in Kingsville, Ontario.
This article shares a few images that I took during my visit as well as discussing some approaches to consider when photographing cars on display.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Often the cars on display in museums and at events are packed quite tightly together and it can be a challenge to find a pleasing angle with which to capture multiple cars.
I’ll often look for an interesting car to serve as a corner anchor and crop it to force a viewer’s eye further into the grouping as in the two examples above.
Sometimes all you can do is focus attention on the car at the end of a row and use some other element, in this case the powder blue information posts, to lead viewers further into the image. After taking a few group images my eye is always drawn to details on individual cars. If you look at the spare tire on the car above you’ll notice a tire strap that is supporting a mirror. While I didn’t find this particular detail worth capturing, the straps on others cars really intrigued me…
It can be helpful to change your body position to check out various image angles and to see how the available light is interacting with specific details you are photographing on a car. In the case above I loved the high contrast tread design as a backdrop to the fine details I was able to capture on the centre strap. Depending on the nature of the detail it may provide multiple image opportunities.
Vertical framing as seen above, or a horizontal view to get in tight on a design element as in the image below.
Some displays may feature some kind of set decoration to add a period feeling to the display units inside as seen in the image below.
I often use a tighter crop on these types of images to try to remove ceiling lights and other distractions as best I can.
Once inside these types of display structures I often find that the lighting is quite poor which can necessitate shooting at fairly slow shutter speeds as with the image above. Using lighter weight gear like the Nikon 1 system can be very useful to cope with this type of shooting situation.
I love finding vintage details and I’ll spend a bit of extra time in post with these types of images, often reducing highlight sliders close to their minimum and adding in black and contrast to get out as much detail as I can.
Sometimes shooting with a longer length zoom can help with the perspective of an image, or it can provide an angle of view not possible with a shorter focal length lens because of the positioning of various cars on display.
To add drama to an image I’ll look for geometric shapes, parallel lines, or if I’m really lucky a strong ‘7’ as found in the image above that I can also use as a corner exit. On rare occasions I find detail on a car that provides a tremendous sense of movement and elegance at the same time…
Images like the one above are some of my favourite ones to turn into ‘photo art’…and my print-buying clients seem to love them as well…
Photographing cars on display can present some unique challenges as well as interesting image opportunities!
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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.