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Recommendations for shooting indoor car/bike show

edited January 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
This weekend I am going to a large motorcycle show in Kansas City. The paint jobs on some of these bikes are out of this world. I would like to get some decent shots, but unsure of the settings. This will be an indoor event in a large auditorium with florescent lighting. There may be some outside light, but not much. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.


  • The color temperature of the light may end up being almost anything, and may vary. I would suggest for that, that you keep the camera set to Auto white balance, but shoot all your images in Raw form, so that you can adjust the white balance as needed afterwards. Programs such as View NX2 and Capture NXD make this very easy. You can do some of it in the camera too, but it's less convenient.

    White balance will affect the overall color temperature, and can make a big difference in how some colors render. The picture control will also affect this, but I would suggest you not go overboard in the initial taking. Stick to standard picture control rather than vivid until you see how the light behaves. If you shoot Raw you can change the picture control later at no cost.

    If the lights themselves are impossible to keep out of the picture, you may find you have either to compensate or to spot meter, to keep the bikes from being too dark. Basically, if a very bright light is part of what the camera meters, it will underexpose that darker stuff to save the light from blowing out. But for your purposes, the light is of no importance. Blow it to save the bikes from being too dark. Again, Raw mode will allow some post-processing adjustment here too. But try to avoid underexposure at the start, because although you can recover it, you will also raise digital noise when you do.

    It will take some practice and trial and error to decide which reflections are good and which distract. You may have to try some odd angles of the same subject to get the light right.

    Try for interesting details and closeups of things that you might not think to do initially. Your eye loves to see a whole bike in the wild, but your eye does not find a whole bike on a page quite so interesting. Our brains are very good at filtering out extraneous elements in real life, but not so good in a picture.

    And if you can, take a tripod and a remote control (or use the self timer, though that's more tedious) so that you can get out of the picture when you shoot reflective surfaces. It will always be hard to keep the camera out, but if the angle is right, it won't show so much, but your face can jump out at a viewer.
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