Car Shows: Eye-Candy but…

Car Shows: Eye-Candy but…

Eye-candy for the car aficionado, car shows are a whole lot of frustration for the photographer.

Cars are made to be shot in studio, under controlled lighting. With panels to prevent reflecting the surroundings in mirror surfaces. Or in very cool areas like Miami South Beach and Sunset Blvd in LA.

Car shows usually take place outside, in urban jungles or public parks. Chromes reflect dirty asphalt, power poles and cables, surrounding buildings, grass (usually scraggy)… And no space to shoot the sides: cars are tucked in parking spots tighter than sardines in a box. Car shows are uncool for car shots.

And worst of all, gawkers. Oh well, they have a right to look at a car. But if only they would notice the poor photographer and get out of the way quickly… (deep sigh).

Truth is, despite all the inconvenience, car shows offer photographers a great opportunity to shoot awesome cars. We just have to work to find the coolest angles possible, shoot in tight frames, wait for the people to get out of the frame… and do a whole lot of post-processing afterwards.

Workflow: This beauty (1940 Ford De Luxe Couple Liftback) was exhibited at the Iron Man Car Show in Tucson, a car show organized by several local car clubs and by Covenant Generations Church.  The main post-processing tasks were to bring the background down to black and white to make the paint and chromes pop, and to use tricks to remove the problems detected in the paint by the camera lens.

The car was far from concourse condition, it wasn’t even finished. But the metal work was worth shooting, and the paint job was eye-popping.

To make it pop even more on the photo I used the Clarity filter. This filter has to be used extremely carefully on human skin but it works wonders on metal. I pushed the Contrast, decreased Highlights, and brought the Blacks to a level giving the paint a bit more depth. Then it was a whole lot of work to remove the spots and small scratches. Finally, minimum noise reduction (luminance) helped the paint to come out really richly.

Gear:  Canon 5D Mk II, Canon wide angle 17-40 mm, ON1 software, Lightroom