Race for a Good Photo! - Automotive Photography with Godox
By Albert Woźniak
Product photography, right next to portrait/fashion, is one of the most popular genres of photography for those using artificial lighting. Both continuous LED lights and flashes. However, most often photographed are small items that can be freely stylized or set up in a studio. Today we want to show you that slightly larger objects, such as vehicles - despite their size - are also very attractive models!
fot. Jeremy Cliff
The photography possibilities of the car body are endless, and the car itself is a graceful subject. Different colors, materials, glass, reflections on the paintwork - it won't be easy, but certainly there will be a lot of room for creativity! Among the advantages it is worth mentioning that the cars do not whimper, regardless of the length of the session or the weather, they are equally patient. What's more - they don't ask for a higher fee and they don't argue about which photo looks better (the subject of their owners is a separate issue :)).
It is also worth mentioning that for many people cars are not just an ordinary means of transport but a lifestyle and a great passion. There are models that we can call pearls of design, and designers such as Pininfarina or Giorgetto Giugiaro are described as artists.
For what purpose are cars photographed?
It is a known fact that the consumer "buys with his eyes", and a convincing scene and an inviting composition help in reaching the audience. In marketing there is a notion that we are not selling a product, but a certain lifestyle. For example, photos of off-road cars on adventurous trips and sports cars on race tracks. Where are photos of cars used? Photographs from automotive sessions are used as promotional materials and distributed in catalogs, sales campaigns or advertisements. More and more owners of extraordinary vehicles also want photos of their vehicles "for personal use". The development of social media has definitely contributed to the popularity of automotive photography.
Striking car photos benefit everyone:
- customers, because they can share them with friends and on social media,
- automotive fans, because they can admire cars at their best,
- detailers, because they build an audience base, increase the range of profiles and attract the interest of potential customers.
fot. Tom Kahler
Idea, composition and framing
In one word - pre-production. It is often underestimated stage, consisting of planning and preparation for the session, but it is equally important as shooting and post-processing. It's worth taking care of a consistent mood of the whole project, interesting background and location. Furthermore, it is also worth to prepare the object properly. Thoroughly washing the body, wheels, cleaning the interior and most importantly - our and other participants' safety. Where to draw inspiration from? From the best in the industry! We recommend a few names that are worth following:
See the results of photo shoots by professional automotive photographers
Lighting is also a very important element of the photoshoot. Despite the fact that most of the pictures are taken with the use of tripod (we don't have to worry about the fact that our pictures will be shaken) the possibilities of creating the mood with the use of artificial lighting are unlimited (or limited only by our imagination). With just one product (e.g. using long shutter speed) such as Godox LC500 light stick we can create amazing effects. The technique itself consists of a long exposure, during which we illuminate over the object. See below an example of such a technique:
Obviously, the more light sources, the greater the possibilities. A set consisting of a main light, fill light, counter light, effect lights - will allow us to create a professional photo set. The RGB effect lamps will be perfect as interior lighting, creating the mood in the background (R1 have a magnetic attachment, they are very easy and quick to attach to the natural urban landscape) or adding color to our photos.
Outdoor Car Photography
For outdoor use, powerful battery-powered units are ideal (especially if you want to illuminate a large scene or create a flash stronger than sunlight). The AD300Pro (lightweight and portable), the AD400Pro (a compromise between power and convenience), its bigger brother the AD600Pro or the flagship AD1200Pro. In this video, we show photographer Pablo Vaz shooting a Lamborghini Huracán Evo using two Godox AD300Pro units.
Studio car photography
When it comes to photographing cars in a studio, you should adopt a policy - the fewer elements around you, the better. The walls in the studio should be a neutral or light color - white reflects light, so it will work perfectly. Professionals usually use large diffusion films or as large softboxes as possible. The right amount of light can be provided by powerful Godox QT series studio units or continuous LED lights (NP. SL, VL or very powerful M600D).
fot. Jeremy Cliff
Unlike the two previous types of automotive photography - here we have much less time to act. We are also not able to modify conditions or create scenery - so we have to use the moment, the place - the best we can. A common sight among photographers at rallies were Godox AD180/AD360 flashes. Nowadays, lightweight flashes like Godox AD200Pro/AD300Pro are perfect for this kind of use. They are lightweight, have capacious batteries, and are capable of freezing motion, even when photographing WRC cars. Especially since for this type of photography we don't use large modifiers or light softeners. The light and an appropriate canopy should work perfectly. On gravel sections cars are raising dust clouds - well built Godox lamps should serve us for many rally seasons! With longer exposure times it is worth to use a technique called panoraming. The idea is that before you take the picture you start to follow the car with the lens and during the tracking you take a picture, preferably a series, to make sure that one of the pictures comes out as you want it to.
fot. Jaanus Ree
Some practice tips:
- Whether you're shooting outdoors or in a studio, it's a good idea to make sure that nothing in the picture is a distraction. If there's anything in there but the subject - make it intentional!
- Take pictures of the whole car - don't accidentally cut off parts of it. If you're only focusing on the details, whether it's the hood, the bumper, or a specific part of the car, it's not a mistake. Designers spent months fine-tuning small parts of the vehicle - take advantage of that!
- Don't distort reality. 90% of photographic success lies in the lighting of the car and the composition of the photo. It is on these aspects that you should focus most. The filters' role is to "boost" what is good in the photo, not to create a completely different reality.
What ready-made kits can we suggest?
- AD200 TTL - Lightweight and advanced device, two heads included
We hope we have encouraged you to try your hand with automotive photography. If you are still hesitating, we have a bonus! Use code AUTOMOTIVE to get a -10% discount on discounted Godox products! The offer is valid until the end of April 2022 in the official Godox store.