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     In previous years, I have done a photo entry contest for inclusion in the Trans Am Calendars for 2008 through 2012. There were alot of good photos submitted, but there were also alot of good cars submitted, but the photos had one thing wrong or another. Now the photos that were submitted and not used was not to a lack of using a good digital camera. In fact, most digital cameras out there today from entry level to more advanced can take a pretty good photo of your car... if you follow a few simple rules. So don’t worry about if you only have a $49 2 megapixel camera at your disposal, it can still work fineThe bigger the megapixels of the camera is, the larger it can be magnified and the clearer the photo will be when enlarged.  Most digital cameras out there today are typically a 5-10 megapixel camera.  If you take a look at both photos below, you can see the full size images look pretty much identical.  But below, when you zoom in on the image, you can see how grainy the photo is when looking at it.

6 megapixel camera
3 megapixel camera

    So, the better or larger the mexapixels are, the clearer the image will be.  If you are planning on taking photos of your car and printing them up to about an 11x14, then the 3 megapixel camera will work just fine.  If you are looking maybe to print a 20x30 poster of your car, then you might want to consider a larger megapixel camera.  A few years ago, the top of the line was a 4 megapixel camera.  Now that same camera is considered "bottom end".  I am sure we will look back at this 5 years from now see how the top of the line 14 megapixel cameras of today will be the middle of the road.  There are differences out there in the cameras from a simple "point and shoot" all the way up to the professional Digital SLR cameras which allow you to adjust the camera manually for F-stop, shutter speed, white balance and more.  I am not here to give you a lesson on all of the different cameras out there, but there are alot of sites out there to be able to help you make a decision on what is right for you. 

    One of the very first things that you should do when taking photos of your car is to turn off the date. Now, unless you are taking photo for documentation purposes, this should always be turned off. This only gets in the way of a good photo shoot. Some cameras have that turned on by default and comes on every time you turn on the Camera, so make sure it is off every time you use it.  Every camera and maker has it's own steps to take to do this so please refer to your owners manual on how to turn off the date.

  

     There is nothing worse than having a great shot then to have it show a date at the bottom of it.  Now sometimes, all is not lost.  As you can see in the photo on the left below, the date is showing up at the bottom of the photo.  Now, you can always "crop" the image using a photo program like the photo in the center.  Or you can also use a photo image program to erase of cover up the date using a "cloning" feature like the photo on the right. Now luckily in the photo below, there was enough room in the image to be able to crop or even erase the date from the photo.  But, if that date shows up over your car or a portion of it, then cropping or cloning the date out would not be an option and the photo would be no good.



      The next item you want to take a look at is the car itself. Make sure that anything extra is removed from the car both on the interior and the exterior. So make sure you remove any item that is not part of the car such as items hanging from your rear view mirror or music CD or camera bags on the seat. Again, there can be a great photo, but if you have big fuzzy light up dice hanging in the window, it really detracts from the overall appearance.


      The next thing you want to do is make sure the car is clean. If you go dashing around through mud puddles or have burnt rubber on your quarters from doing burn-outs on the way typically does not do well in photos. And take that one step further and make sure the car is clean. Wipe down the car, Amorall the tires, wipe the rims clean, and get any bug or road debris front the front nose of the car. Also, on the inside, take some time to Armorall the interior and vacuum the car out. Now, these are all common
sense item you may be telling yourself, but sometimes you overlook the small stuff.


      The next item to consider when taking photos is probably the most important, sometimes the most overlooked, and more than likely the hardest to find...... the proper background setting. This is one of the hardest things to get right, but when you do get it right it makes it so worth it in the end result. The things you want to steer clear from is the taking of photos at car shows or in your driveway at home or a friend's house. When you take photos at a car show, there are other cars in the photo, maybe people standing around, and generally alot of clutter detracting from your car.... which is of course what you are trying to take a photo of the most. The photo of your car sitting in the driveway is another thing to stay away from. Sure, maybe you have a beautiful home with nice landscaping.... but when you see the photo you sometimes ask yourself “What is he really showing us?... his car or his house?”

  

  The one exception to this rule is if you are taking photos of your car in front of a recognizable landmark. I mean taking a photo of your car on the steps of the Capital building in Washington or on the Golden Gate Bridge may turn out to be an interesting shot. Generally you want an open “park-like” setting or an open country road. I know if you live in the city it might be tough to find such a place... but hey, these cars are meant to be driven, so take your car for a nice long ride into the country.
      The next thing to take a look at once you find your location is what is sitting around your car in the photo. I had a few good possible shots, but then there were big black tire marks on the concrete from the photographer parking the car. Other had some nice open roads, but some mail boxes or power lines in the background. So make sure you check what is in the frame of the shot.

  

   So what you are looking for in your end result is a clean car, in a clean setting, with a clean background.  Make sure all of the little incidentals are out of the way... make sure everything that can be removed from the shot is removed form the shot.  Sometimes it sounds like alot to do but most of it is pretty simple and common sense as well.  Like I mentioned, the hardest part is finding the proper setting and background for taking your photos.  But again, that is half the fun... driving around the country side looking for that special spot and hitting the open road.  But the end result will be well worth the effort put forth and you will have a shot worth of any magazine shoot or any calendar.

 

  

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