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Shooting exotic/show cars

edited March 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
Hello, I'm looking for some advice on shooting some cars throughout sunsets or the night. I've seen some crazy nice pictures I would like to shoot myself. Some of the shots will be at sunset and some at night. I don't know too much about flash photography, but I have a slave flash. I'm fairly new to shooting anyway. I have the D3200 with the kit lens and a 55-200mm lens. I'm shooting a darker car and would like to focus on it, but also get a good shot of the background (skyline). If anyone could give me some tips or settings pointers on shooting such things that would be great. Thanks.


  • edited March 2015
    A couple of things come to mind.

    The first is reflection control. These objects are, of course, greatly reflective, and that can work both for you and against you. Try to find angles in which the reflections are not blinding or blown out and contain some interesting things other than yourself.

    Flash will have to be a bit oblique to avoid harsh reflections back.

    As far as backgrounds, if you want close and far both in focus, maximize your depth of field by stopping down and by using as wide a focal length as you can. You'll begin to lose a small amount of overall definition at F stops higher than about 11 to diffraction, but this trade off may be necessary if you want to minimize blur. For most of this, you'll probably be best off with the kit lens, as the 55-200mm has too much background blur. It's nice for portraits, but not for sharp backgrounds.

    The D3200 does not have depth of field preview, so some of this must be guessed at or done with a cheat. Here is the cheat.

    In Live view, the live view you get will depend on the aperture you chose before you went into live view. You can change aperture and it will alter exposure appropriately, but it will not change the view. So to get depth of field preview, choose an aperture, enter live view, and see it there. To change the view, you must exit live view, choose a new aperture, then re-enter live view. There will be some exposure compensation in the display, but may not be enough when things get dark. What you see in the display is not the exposure the camera will choose for the image.

    If you're using flash or a tripod, try to keep ISO as low as you can to limit noise. If no flash and freehand, you'll have to up the ISO to keep your aperture small enough for depth of field, but you'll have to decide on compromises.

    Stick to Raw mode for your images and you can adjust some things in post processing. At night, the camera's meter will ask for too much brightness, but if you fudge it right, this can be an advantage. Bright exposures are less noisy than dark ones. If you can keep the overall exposure less than two stops too high you'll get a too-bright exposure, but when you lower it by the allowed two stops in post you will lower the noise as well.
  • edited March 2015
    Thanks a lot! I didn't even know about that cheat with this camera. I'm excited to go shoot my car along the Detroit river front!
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