Jason Pischke


Car Photography 101

I have received a couple emails as of late asking me to explain some of my techniques used in my car photography, so I decided instead of answering individual emails I will do a short tutorial and if people like it I may do more :) Now lets get started! 

First we start out with the original photograph.  To get this shot I used a little trick to make the car appear lower than it is, you may find quite a few of these in PA... hills.  Backing the car up a hill then shooting up at it will make the car appear lower even if it isn't slammed on coils.


As you can see the photo is slightly tilted and well just down right boring, also the trees in the background are slightly distracting.  Shooting with a 12-24mm wide angle there is no way to get a shallow DOF so time to straighten this photo in Lightroom and send it off to Photoshop for a little magic.


Now that the photo is straight and lightened up just a hair it's time to do something about that background.  In Photoshop CS6 I used the quick selection tool to just pick out the trees and logs in the very back of the photo.  I then made this a new layer with a mask and added a Gaussian Blur.


It's starting to look a little better but now it looks very "photoshopped".  To solve this make a copy of the background and use the build in Tilt Shift Generator feature of Photoshop to blend the background into the middle ground and to defocus the foreground.  In doing this you will blur out the top of the car, but because you already have your background blur on a separate layer you can just erase the top of the car on the background copy allowing the original background image to show through.


Now this puppy is starting to look half believable!  That's all for Photoshop, so back to Lightroom.  In Lightroom we will add some key lights, shadow and color using the Graduated Filter tool.  The light source in the original photo is coming from the right hand side, so that is where we are going to place our strongest light, then boost the shadows on the bottom and left hand side.  Here is my placement of the filters (turned to red to help show placement). 


With the trees starting to turn I decided to go with warm colors.  I used yellow's and oranges for the 3 main filters, then added some contrast, and finished up with a very subtle vignette to help draw the eye to the center. 


And there my friends you have it.  A very simple and easy way to add depth and a little flair to an otherwise boring photo.  Feel free to give it a try guys and if you liked this tutorial let me know and I might dive into more advanced techniques!

Here is a quick comparison between the original and the final image.

That's all for now!

Cheers :D