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Improving Your "eye", Composition And Cars!

Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 11:51 AM

I was gabbing over here:

And I started, as usual, rambling on and this time, about shooting cars and thought I would share my thoughts of the day! Hope you enjoy:

Shooting cars and shooting cars well, is ALL about "composition", except for mostly the whole car shot. Any of these little "vignettes" is just pure composition. Some of mine work and a few may not, but I still like them.

If anyone wants to improve their "eye" left or right(LOL!), try shooting cars and it will improve how you see. And not the lazy stuff, like I do sometimes, the hood ornament or the logo, but other parts of the car, the ones that hardly ever get any attention

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Study the car and find something that interests you and then look through the viewfinder and see what get's included and if needed or not, change you angle, zoom in,zoom out, "work it Baby"! And generally, on a good day, you'll get 80-90% of what you need and then a careful crop in Photoshop and you've got your new car image!

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What you really don't want and I still do it ALL the time, is to crop OUT something and then realize it later,sitting in front of the monitor, part of the chrome bumper, hubcap,tail fin,etc. is missing! So ALWAYS crop loosely on any image that's totally dependent on the "composition"!

So almost everybody has a car, knows a car or walks down the street with cars. Find a car, nothing special and then try and create a "special" shot of that car, ready, begin!!!



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Posted by: Bellesouth Studio on 10/07/2013 - 12:34 PM

well, Rich, I think I will have to go out to the driveway and see what I can see! Nice challenge!


Posted by: Ricky Barnard on 10/07/2013 - 12:40 PM

A few of mine...

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Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 12:41 PM


A lot easier if you have a LAmbo out in the drive way, but since you're an artist like me, probably not! But just try to find what's unique about your car or the neighbors car, something that identifies it as what it is. Today, ALL cars have something unique designed into the car:

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Even this nice little Fiat, has a nice smile!



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 10/07/2013 - 1:23 PM


Posted by: John Crothers on 10/07/2013 - 1:50 PM


"Just a little wax" is excellent!

I'll have to try to remember next time I get in front of some old trucks

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Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 1:59 PM



Bradley, really like the jeep!


Still a good shot, my friend. Cars are everywhere, old and new and I have another large show coming up this Saturday!!! And I'm about 3 weeks behind on my older shots!!!! OUCH!



Posted by: David S Reynolds on 10/07/2013 - 2:47 PM

Hmmm... Could probably say the same about motorcycles

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Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 5:07 PM


I think motorcycles maybe harder, less there and background always shows up, if not a tight shot,



Posted by: Gunter Nezhoda on 10/07/2013 - 5:21 PM


Posted by: Paul Ward on 10/07/2013 - 5:45 PM


Posted by: Nikolyn McDonald on 10/07/2013 - 6:08 PM

Here are a few of mine. Wouldn't mind some help with the year on these - as well as the make and model on the green one :)

blue Chevrolet pick-up truck detail vent photo by Nikolyn McDonaldgreen automotive detail taillight photo by Nikolyn McDonaldyellow checkered taxi cab close-up photo by Nikolyn McDonald


Posted by: David Morefield on 10/07/2013 - 6:21 PM

I have shot at car shows in parking lots and my issue is usually I can see myself somewhere in the chrome.

Not sure how to remove myself from the equation aside from some work in photoshop.

Here is an engine that I shot last year.

Black and White Engine by David Morefield


Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 6:33 PM


Good, buy tighter!


Good ones too!


Very very nice,especially the middle image. all3 are good examples of what I was saying. In order to help indentify the cars, just send me some small unedited images from these cars here:

And i'll try and see if I know what they are.


Nice shot too! and chrome is just another mirror at these shows. I will always put up with me in the chrome, verus not getting the right shot. Sometimes, you can diminish how much you show up, by slightly moving right or left,up or down, but getting the right angle trumps worrying about me showing up. I usually remove the worst of me, in chrome, but sometimes, I miss one, or two!



Posted by: Peter Chilelli on 10/07/2013 - 6:41 PM

Seeing as I'm a "nobody special" photographer and I don't get asked to shoot a Ferrari or a Lamborghini in a fancy,I create my own. Below, the Ferrari was shot outside with all kinds of sun,clouds,stones,pavement,people other vehicles ect...reflected in the paint. I spent hrs cloning and spot healing to remove all that stuff. The Lambo was shot indoors but again had terrible harsh lights reflected along with people and a busy background I had to remove/replace. I know they don't really compare to the perfect "studio shot" but I have sold quite a few images using this technique.


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Posted by: Gunter Nezhoda on 10/07/2013 - 7:04 PM

Tighter, as you wish:

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Gunter Nezhoda - Member of Q - the collection The Elite Online Gallery where published and award winning photographers show their work


Posted by: Peter Chilelli on 10/07/2013 - 7:19 PM

Sorry Rich...I didn't see you were focusing on tight shots until I had already posted bad! Here is more what you're looking for...I think lol


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Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 7:43 PM

Peter, or as his friends call him, "nobody special",

Excellent work and work is the right word. Of course, since you brought this up, none of "MY" shots have been shot in a studio, like yours, they are all named after that guy, Al, Al Fresco! So if you were refering to me, thank you for the compliment from a Master! And as I shared with Gunter, nice, but tighter!

Gunter, very nice shots, but tighter! See above, Nikolyn!



Posted by: Gunter Nezhoda on 10/07/2013 - 8:14 PM

Still tighter? lol

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Posted by: Arthur Dodd on 10/07/2013 - 9:03 PM

Recently I went to my first car show, which had perhaps 50 or more cars. I noticed that getting a decent shot of the whole car was impossible, so I concentrated on getting details and parts. Just started to process and upload them.

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Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 9:48 PM


Now we're talking! I KNEW you had this stuff!


Really nice shot and I think that shifter was called the "Knuckle Buster".

Shooting cars at these car shows is really tough,especially if you are trying to get the whole car,which I don't very often and a reason that I don't worry too much is that artists like Pete C. do get great shots and then improve them more. Here are a few lucky shots:

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So what I try to do and the gist of this post, is to try and isolate small, but meaningful items on the car that are inherently unique to the car that I'm shooting, like this maybe:

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So there may be ton of Shelby Cobras here, but I bet very few "gas caps"! Sorta what I'm talking about,



Posted by: Barbara St Jean on 10/07/2013 - 9:56 PM

Well it's not exactly high tech or fancy but it's a detail on a pinking farm truck... but not being a car guy I have no idea what kind of truck it is except it was hot pink and really cool for a cowboy to drive...LOL

Cheers, Barbara
Pinking Farm Truck by Barbara St. Jean


Posted by: Gunter Nezhoda on 10/07/2013 - 10:00 PM


That Dodge is awesome, love the painterly background on all

No gas caps on FAA but here:


Posted by: Gunter Nezhoda on 10/07/2013 - 10:07 PM

How about with cookies as a closeup?

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Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 10:10 PM


Very nice example of this thread! Can't really tell, uh what kind of truck it is, but it looks like a 1949 Ford F250 Crewcab. Just kidding, it looks pink-ish!

Thanks! So are you saying I've got the FAA Gas Cap market sewed up!!??



Posted by: Louise Reeves on 10/07/2013 - 10:11 PM

When I find a bike that is extraordinary, I do some work on it to eliminate the background and focus on the details. It isn't all that hard to do but to get it right takes a little time.
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The cars I decide to shoot "speak" to me about what kind of treatment to give them. Generally I try to get them as smooth and shiny as I can while minimizing their surroundings.
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Posted by: Tom Gari Gallery-Three-Photography on 10/07/2013 - 10:12 PM

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Sell Art Online The added shadow gives it a different slant to the hood ornament
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Posted by: Gunter Nezhoda on 10/07/2013 - 10:15 PM


lol, "gas caps R us"

here's a full body

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Posted by: Barbara St Jean on 10/07/2013 - 10:21 PM

@Gunter, now that's my kind of truck!!! Love it :-))


Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/07/2013 - 10:37 PM


So, like do you, deliver? There's goes the yatch!

But I'm there!


One of the best bike shot's I've seen! And cars "talk" to me too, but usually it sounds like "HONK,HONK"!!!

Gallery Three,

Yup, you're there!


We had something like that truck here in Orlando a few years ago, but was closed down at one of the "rest stops" by the boys from Vice!!! And I really only read about it!!!



Posted by: Barbara St Jean on 10/07/2013 - 10:48 PM

@ Rich, that's funny, I didn't even think about it that way... the love drug...
It reminded me more of the shagging wagons of the 60/70's - Van Runs and Show and Shines were a fad back then, you know the kind with a sign on the door that read, "if this van's a rockin, don't come a knockin..... LOL

btw met my ex-husband at one of those Van runs.... maybe that explains why he's my ex..... na, I think it had more to do with him being a drummer. LOL

Cheers, Barbara


Posted by: Phyllis Wolf on 10/07/2013 - 10:48 PM

Here is my car...

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LOL! Sorry if I've disrupted your thread, Rich. I couldn't resist. Please forgive me.


Posted by: Michael Simoneit on 10/07/2013 - 11:01 PM

Good thread, Rich.

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Posted by: Phyllis Wolf on 10/07/2013 - 11:02 PM

Just showing a bit of my sense of humor is all. ; )

Here is one of my favorite shots I've taken.

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I know its not exactly what you are looking for but I get the idea. I might try taking a few shots of my Jeep tomorrow if I get the chance in the way you are looking for and see how I do. Bug guts on the grill and all. Haha! Good challenge idea!


Posted by: Andrew Pacheco on 10/08/2013 - 7:11 AM

How 'bout pieces of cars that have been abandoned in the woods?

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From a '57 Ford Fairlane that's seen better days.

I love the tight car shots, I need to employ this technique. Every time I go to a local car show or cruise night, I get frustrated trying to take photos of whole cars without getting the other cars in the background.


Posted by: Ricky Barnard on 10/08/2013 - 7:25 AM

A few of my "wilder" ones...

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Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/08/2013 - 11:14 AM


Yeah the "ladies" had quite the business and from truckers mostly. The had a big RV and would use the CB radio to announce where they were setting up "business" for a few hours, up and down the Interstate. I think they got caught because late at night at some of these "Rest Stops", there would be this giant RV and a WHOLE bunch of trucks parked around it!

Gotta give that lady credit for the concept!

Phyllis, can't see any motor!!! But you do get credit for the "wheel"!!!

Michael, nice stuff, but 2 out of 3! So, C+ on this "report"!!!

Phyllis, Getting close now. Love that old truck and if close by,worth a second visit,

Andrew, good shot! But of leaves! You say there's a car in there somewhere? LOL!

Ricky, Really nice! I usually don't like the use of Fractals, but this is nice!



Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/08/2013 - 11:21 AM

Here's an example of basically the same shot, on 2 different cars:

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On the red car, 1957 Chevy Bel Air, I left the key hole thingie underneath, which places it in your mind as this is part of the car's trunk and helps I think. In the next one. a Black 1957 Chevy Bel Air, I removed the key hole, since I thought this was so strong by itself, with the impression of clouds above the emblem, that I really didn't car if this was associated with this car, or cars in general, just looks good as what it is:

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Food for thought!



Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/08/2013 - 11:38 AM

And here's a shrt,very short lesson on including "elements", no Peter, not Photoshop Elements, elements of the car's design, to be included in the image, to add to the image and support the main character. Here's the first example:

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I included the tire,wheel,side light,rear lights,and exhaust pipes. I think if any or say two of these were cropped out, the image wouldn't be as strong.

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Same with the above image, I included a few elements,which helps identify the car, Ford GT40 and I think adds interest to the shot. I could have just shot the Ford logo, tight shot, but, only if this was to be a supporting image,say for a magazine article and you'd see the first shot, wider shot and then the Ford logo, which would tie this altogether.

Here's a good example of only 2 elements, well 3 including the red paint, but mostly the Shelby Logo and the stripe/body line/door line to the left. I could have just shot the Logo and I probably did, but adding the line to the left, to me,places this on a car and not some plaque or board in a Man Cave somewhere! Hold your hand up to the monitor and block out the black line and see if you agree, it needs to be there.

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Now that I'm looking again, there's even a hint of a body line to the bottom, which I don't know if I like!!!



Posted by: Ricky Barnard on 10/08/2013 - 11:49 AM

Thanks for the comments!
A few more...

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oh I have more... =)


Posted by: Phyllis Wolf on 10/08/2013 - 3:19 PM

Thanks, Rich!! : ) I haven't been back over that way in quite awhile but I'm sure the old truck is still there and its not far so I think I will revisit it. Its out in a field so what time of day would you suggest that would be best given that burnished orange color to enhance it?


Posted by: Fran Riley on 10/08/2013 - 3:29 PM

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I Love Cars! Mostly old =)


Posted by: Andee Photography on 10/08/2013 - 3:35 PM

Rich you needed your cloaking device on in the red chevy logo

one...Or a red shirt and pants. Shiny autos are so reflective.


Posted by: Bellesouth Studio on 10/08/2013 - 4:36 PM

OK, did this just for fun, as I told you, Rich. The sand dollar is out of focus, I know, on the first one. We have ordinary cars which are dirty at the moment, and live on a hill in the country, so I'm not too close to other cars. Just for fun, and not to sell, 'cause I don't do cars! :)

bellesouth studiobellesouth studio


Posted by: Rich Franco on 10/08/2013 - 4:37 PM


Holy Roller Coaster Batman!

Phyllis, I'd say late afternoon, or if unfortunately, you're a "mourning" person(LOL) early morning, or even mostest ideally, overcast skies,which will help with any harsh shadows. And while I'm thinking about shots like this, I usually have a pair of old pruners with me, if I know I'll be shooting stuff with grass and weeds growing around them. I have no problem cutting and a little weedwacking to make a better photo and saves some time, later in Photoshop.

Fran, Right on! Good stuff!

Andee, mmmaaaybeee, it's my assistant, yeah that's the ticket! Ain't the first and won't be the last! But I might just go and fix it, and start my diet, looks like I need to lose about 200lbs!



This discussion is closed.