How a Car Camera Rig Works in Automotive Photography

Car camera rigs are created for the purpose of photographing moving cars. Oftentimes, these exposure will last several seconds so that the background is blurred while the car is nice and sharp. The trick is creating a rig that’s stable enough to hold that camera still for those few precious seconds while the car is moving. In this video, photographer Andrew Whyte pushes the limit of his rig by attempting a one-minute long exposure:

Tricks to Nailing a Good Long Exposure Car Shot:

  • Low ISO – This helps you accomplish two things. One, it allows you to increase amount of time the shutter stays open at any given aperture and, two, it keeps the noise levels to a minimum.
  • Sturdy Rig – A flimsy rig will bounce up and down as the car moves, resulting in a blurry image. Creating a rig that’s long enough to hold your camera out in front of the car and not bounce is the tricky part.
  • Correct Exposure – Getting a correct exposure with the right amount of background blur can be a bit of a trial and error game. For a technical setup like this, it’s probably best to leave the auto functions off and manually set your exposure.
  • Too Much Light – If you’re attempting to capture a long exposure during the day, you’ll probably find that, even with your aperture closed down all the way and your ISO set to its lowest setting, you still won’t be able to get a long shutter speed. The easiest solution to this is to use an ND filter. This will cut down on the amount of light entering your camera without affecting anything else.
car camer rig one minute exposure long

Unedited image: very sharp for a one-minute exposure

“Most people who’re going to be shooting in a daytime rig shot are going to be pushed for five, eight, maybe ten seconds maximum, and at that sort of level they’re going to be really scrutinizing their images. We’ve pushed it to a minute, and the result is certainly acceptable given the amount of input that we’ve done”

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