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How to Photograph a Car Outside, but Make It Look Like a Studio

Car photography is a lot of fun and can be highly dynamic, but it represents one of the hardest products to photograph in a studio environment. Not only do you need a large studio that a car can be driven into, but you need huge lights to evenly light the car too. Or do you?

Many readers will be away that I love cars and automotive photography is something I enjoy, albeit do not pursue often in a professional capacity. Whatever type of shoot you want to do with a vehicle — panning, rig, stationary — there is a lot to consider. While natural light is the go-to for most car photography, if you want to shoot it in a stationary position and show it off in the best possible way, artificial lighting is useful. But, the problem of shooting in a studio, on an infinite white backdrop is still difficult and expensive.

Well, in this video, Geoff Dennis teams up with Moe Zainal to show how he creates the studio look in Adobe Photoshop. By pairing a night-time shoot, light-painting, and some clever Photoshoppery, Dennis is able to turn a dark image of a car into a clean but dramatic studio shot. While I knew that it would be feasible to mask and spend a lot of time tweaking the car to fit a studio setting in post, I hadn't thought of using light-painting to mimic the effects of studio lighting.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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1 Comment

Great work. I just wish he gave a little more explanation on how he lighted the car. Looks like a long exposure but not sure how he got the light up there and in such a straight line.