An Inside Look At Car Photography Post Production

Have you ever seen a car ad in a magazine and wondered "how did they do that?" The car itself seems to be glowing and the location is always perfect. I've always known that tons of photoshop is involved by I didn't know if the car was actually shot in that location or if it was shot in the studio and dropped into the scene in post. In the case below, the car was shot on location and lit with a very simple rig (umbrella on a stick). The magic happens in Photoshop afterwards.

Log in or register to post comments


Сергей Филькин's picture

Cool! Tanks.

Chris Hitchcock's picture

I learnt absolutely nothing from this. Except how to be annoyed by a pretentious video.

Chris is right on. Thanks for wasting my time.

RICHARD's picture

Waste of space

BillyS's picture

Just like they do indoor real estate....thanks

I enjoyed this video. You can get to see the lighting setup, how it was shot, and the combination of both ambient and flash into one final product. 

You can see how you don't need a studio to get a good final product. You can see what it takes to do this and why you need multiple exposures to combine each area. Granted it wasn't meant to be educational, but it does provide much to be taken away from it by just watching it, showing each phase. With a little knowledge about Photoshop, you can pull something from this. Sure, it was more of a 'behind the scene's' look at post processing, but was it a waste of space and a waste of time? No. 

For professionals who know what they are doing, there is a lot to be taken away from this video.

Shuaib Nasir's picture

I agree.. I was planning a car photography shoot and this video has made me understand a lot of things about lighting and post.

Kellen Freeman's picture

Lee - I can't imagine how any other comment fewer than 20 words long could come off more pretentious than this one.

Oh just use your imagination. I could have said; if you don't like this video, your are terrible at photography :)

You really should be lighting the car from the top like this, even if you are shooting it outside.

Philip Ball's picture

Thanks for posting that, now im wondering what it would take to make a scrim like that from a big sheet of muslin and some brass eyelets.  Hmmmm

M's picture

Kinda lame that they disabled comments for the video.

Ask them to post a tutorial lol.


If you guys think this is a pretentious video then you're a tool.

While I'm not at the level of Lee being able to pick out everything that was done to the image, I can understand about half of it. And that's more than enough to get started in car photography.

Philip Ball's picture

I was disappointed that there wasn't any discussion in the video of the techniques.  It felt like a let down after reading the introduction, and hearing about the "magic happening".  I have questions:
Was the lens flare dropped in from a totally different photo, or was it from one of the photos taken that day?  (it shows a 6 bladed aperture which isn't common with pro lenses).
What techniques were used on the concrete to make its texture pop?  High pass?  

Hey Philip, I will take a shot and say the lens flare was not added from that day due to the aperture structure (as you mentioned), so it was probably in post. 

For the Concrete at 0:58, It may be a slight high pass combined with a slight vignetting on top of a contrast and color shift.The good thing is that there are many ways to get to the same point with the pop, but this is how I believe it was probably done (just a guess). 

M's picture

"I was disappointed that there wasn't any discussion in the video of the techniques."


This advice is important to anyone shooting cars. The "HERO" shot is important and expressed in this link. I am a big car guy so this is cool to me.

I'm with the naysayers...this is hardly photography...I'm not dissing on their photoshop skills (or their photography skills)...but I say get shoot this right from the beginning...I mean, we're all taught to get the shot right in the camera to save time in the Shop.  Pull those damn banners down before you start shooting!  I guess they are really demonstrating their mad photoshop be it.

M's picture

Did you ever think that maybe the photographer doesn't own every object in every city where they might shoot?

Why don't you "pull down" things you dont own, and then see where your photography gets you.

P.S. Show us what he did in photoshop (which really wasn't that drastic- some lighting changes and cloning... okay...) that he could have done without a ridiculous amount of additional lights.

I hear your point...hence why I said it was to show their photoshop skills.  Now on a personal note, I have taken some risk and done things I could have gotten in trouble a matter of fact, I've had my stuff's all good...

It's not just the banners though, there are all kinds of little screwups that make no sense (like not shutting the rear hatch... I mean, they actually photoshopped out the rear hatch door because it wasn't shut!) It seems like this was taken by someone who wasn't skilled at photography, who needed  to make up for that shortcoming in post. I'm not sure what this video teaches?

I was thinking the same about the rear hatch...and then wondering if they just ran up to someone's car and started shooting.....???

james's picture

shame they made the car look fake / composite.

Danny Cooke's picture

I agree, it doesn't look like the car was actually there in the first place.  Maybe they took it a little too far?

All this work to shoot this car, then the effort put in pp and video editing, yet they shoot this car with the front tires turned towards the camera. That's a huge no-no in automotive photography. *shakes head*

The shot is actually good. The focal length and perspective of architecture and lines with the subject moved to one side and good balance of the foreground. The roof top flows with a very interesting and strong vanishing point off to the right.  So the overall composition is VERY good. The photoshop is what is not so great. There needs to be way more contrast in this shot and more post work to bring out the lines of the car. Also the wheels would look better pointed forward but I doubt this person is an auto photographer. None the less the composition is VERY good and I don't think anyone addressed that. To be honest most photographers are not very good in photoshop. Most would be better off giving their work to a retoucher who typically has a background in illustration and painting. A photographer that learns to retouch to me is not as strong as a retoucher that learns to shoot. Its very hard to teach someone about contouring and shading and long with vanishing points and proper color theory. By contrast it IS easy to teach someone how to BEGIN to shoot a decent photo.

The photographer did fine.

RUSS's picture

wow so many haters! LOL
I think, we have been spoiled by all the amazing wonderful videos we have viewed. So when it comes to a video that isn't of the same caliber as those, we get all the haters spouting off in the comments.
I wasn't impressed with this video. BUT it was because of the reason I just mentioned. I am becommin more picky now, because of the videos like Fstoppers produce etc. I sat for a bit and viewed the video trying to not compare it to others, and this one actually isn't that bad.

RUSS's picture

no no,, no to your no HEH!:-P

Henning Nilsen's picture

Wow! From terrible to less terrible, but still bad.

More comments