How to Photograph Moving Cars

How many of us dream of being a car photographer? Well count me in for sure; there is something inherently photogenic about a car that stirs the creative juices of many a photographer. Lee Howell turned the dream into reality by becoming a commercial photographer with clients including Porsche and Top Gear magazine. In this video he explains how he shot the sublimely beautiful Audi A8GT in Auckland’s Victoria Park Tunnel. This behind the scenes video shows in details what it takes to capture the images for high end car photography:

The secret to Lee’s stylish images of the Audi is the move and shoot rig, an amazing piece of equipment, especially designed for photographing moving cars and can be used to photograph the car from any angle from up to 15 meters away. The rig features a glass truss running from the car that allows for easy removal in the postproduction. The tunnel provides a fantastic background to the sleek and modern car and by using a combination of the rig and slow shutter speeds Lee can create images that give the impression of great speed, whilst in fact the car is only moving relatively slowly. The slow shutter speeds are achieved using stackable ND filters in a Lee Filter System and a circular polarizer as well.

moving car photography

Car Motion Photography

By shooting tethered to a laptop Lee is able to check focus, framing and color balance on a good-sized screen, reducing the margin for errors and optimizing his shot time. All of this leads to in-camera images that do not require motion blur to be added in the postproduction.

car photo post production

Post Production Notes for Editing and Combining the Final Images

In post production the best images are combined to eliminate highlights and shadows and a different number plate is added.

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3 responses to “How to Photograph Moving Cars”

  1. Wow! how times have changed. In my day (film) I used a Kenyan stabilizer ($2500 in the 70’s) attached to the camera. Probably a Nikon F3 with a motor drive and we would shoot car to car. The trick was to find a road that was wide enough so you didn’t distort the car (at least 4 lanes) or a big open space like an unused air field. I often used Floyd Bennet field in Brooklyn, NY. The best chase cars were convertibles or a station wagon with a roof rack I could be strapped to. Station Wagons were good for shooting out the back. Shutter speed allowed me to use slower speeds for more blurred wheels and background. The Kenyan stabilizer was like a tripod in the sky and delivered sharp images at 1/15 @ 10 or 15 MPH. The result looked like 60 MPH. That rig you uses looked like big money and being an old school guy I loved the wind in my hair at 15 MPH.

  2. John O'Neill says:

    This is an amazing behind the camera look at commercial photography. Really enjoyed the video.

  3. Andrew cheal says:

    Absolutely fantastic, a great insight into something I would love to try my hand at – just don’t have a spare tunnel, a spare Audi or a rig like the one in the video!

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