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Travel Photography Masterclass: Cars

Pro motoring photographer DESMOND LOUW shoots cool cars all over the world.

Here are his essential tips for awesome car photography

1 KNOW WHEN TO SHOOT
This one is obvious: shoot at the right time of the day. This is by far the most common mistake people make when shooting cars. The best time is a few minutes after sunset or a few minutes before sunrise. Use a tripod, and get that perfect soft light on the paint. The secret here is that your light source is not just the sun – it’s the entire horizon. It’s like having a huge softbox. Shooting at dusk or dawn is not always possible, but the good news is that, with the right car colour, it is also not always necessary: bright paint tends to work nicely in broad daylight.

2 STUDY THE CAR
A car is a piece of art, so start looking at cars differently and test yourself. When you want to shoot a car, ask yourself why you like it. Look at the lines, the lights, the wheel arches and other design elements. Learn and feel the personality of the car. Is it a fun car? A serious car? A sports car? A combination thereof? Once you start to understand the language of car design, photo angles and ideas will come more easily.

3 FIND THE RIGHT LOCATION
Once you know what to concentrate on when shooting a specific car, start thinking of a fitting location. This can be tricky because a car is one big reflecting beast, and reflections may be distracting. Remember: you want to see the lines of the car, not a building or a street-lamp reflection.

4 PAN PROPERLY
Panning is a nice way of getting motion into your picture. Stand next to the road and let the car drive past you. Follow the car with your lens in a single smooth action, and set the shutter speed to 125th of a second (or even lower). You will be amazed how easy this is. To keep the camera even steadier, move your hips instead of your arms. Shooting with a long lens is preferred – 200mm works well.

5 UP YOUR POST GAME
In the world of professional car photography, post-production is always being pushed to the next level. Keep on improving your editing skills; this is where your picture comes to life.

WORDS & IMAGES Desmond Louw

Desmond and partner Antonia Heil are DNA Photographers, a multidisciplinary creative photographer/producer duo based in Cape Town and Berlin that has established a niche in car, commercial and people photography.
dnaphotographers.com | @desmondlouw on Instagram

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