Mastering Car Photography: The Art of Lighting

Every car has a story to tell. You might own a brand-new truck, a fancy sports car, or a beaten-up beauty that’s taken you on wild adventures. But one thing that can elevate your car photos from good to great is lighting. When it comes to car photography, it’s all about the light. 

For most of us, car photography isn’t just about shiny paint and powerful engines. You love your car for its personality. Your car is part of your identity. It’s time to do justice to your vehicle. 

Explore car photography now:

It’s all about the light:

If you want to take a timeless photo of your car, start with great lighting. Lighting highlights the lines, textures and details of your car. And indirect light plays an even more important role. 

Daylight, artificial light or dynamic lighting (like street lights) can all show off your car’s designs, transforming it from a vehicle into a work of art.

Here’s how to level up your car photography:

Time of day

  • The hour after sunrise and before sunset offers soft, warm light. It’s known as ‘Golden Hour’ because the light can add a touch of magic to your photos. During this time, the low angle of the sun creates long shadows and beautiful highlights, showing off the contours of the car.
  • Before sunrise and after sunset, the sky takes on a deep blue hue. This is known as blue hour, because it provides a dramatic, dark backdrop for photography. You can use blue hour with long exposures to mix the unusual colours of the sky with the lines of your car.

Camera position

  • Angles matter. Experiment with different angles to find the best perspective for your car. Low angles make your car appear more imposing and dynamic. Higher angles show off the symmetry and style of your vehicle.
  • Pay attention to composition, or where the car is positioned symmetrically within the frame. Composition is important in car photos, creating symmetry and balance. You can use leading lines and the rule of thirds to create visually appealing compositions.

Lighting techniques

  • The best place to take a photo of your car is outdoors. Why? Natural light is the best kind of lighting. If you position the car to show off the natural light, with the sun behind, or to the side, you can create dramatic and interesting shadows. Experiment with different angles, and have fun!
  • While we’re experimenting, try long exposure shots. These can create dynamic backdrops, with your car as a cool central focal point. If you’re taking snaps at night, using a handheld flashlight can show off parts of the car, creating even more unique styles of photo.

Post-shot editing

  • Your phone is already a powerful photo editing device. But if you don’t have a smartphone, you can try a lot of free editing apps online. Or, splash out on an app such as Adobe Lightroom or Snapseed. All of these enhance your car photos to look even more professional.
  • Our go-to tip for post shot editing is to ramp up the contrast and the brightness, to highlight the sharp edges. But you can also play around with exposure and colour temperatures to fine-tune your look.
  • Try out HDR settings (High Dynamic Range) to mix different exposures and capture a wider range of tones in your car photos. This helps you keep detail in the highlights and shadows, resulting in a more realistic image.

We love car photography at ClickASnap, it’s one of the best ways to show off your vehicle. Experiment away, then share your snaps, and capture the stunning details of your car.

We’re ClickASnap. 

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