Yes, automotive photography. The art of photographing anything that has wheels, an engine and drives on land. Think wedding photography, but replace unwanted relationship advice from the in-laws with worrying gas mileage.
Bangladesh has automotive photographers?
The existence of such photographers is one of the reasons behind the successful establishment and fruition of automotive publications (such as the one that you are holding) in Bangladesh. The concept of automotive photography has been around for almost a decade now, but the publicisation of the same and ultimately the social reach of this concept and have taken off only recently, giving rise to more and more automotive photographers.
The term 'automotive photography' is not widely known or used here and people usually label photographers here simply as 'photographer', regardless of what they photograph. The idea of photographing automobiles also sounds strange, almost absurd, to a large number of people – "Why would anyone want to photograph a car?".
To be fair, the number of times that I have asked myself the same question is ridiculous, however, I always reach the same conclusion in the end – the idea of photographing cars and vehicles in general is the amalgamation of my passion for photography and my unwavering love for and interest in cars; something that my colleagues in this field of photography will agree with as well.
I love cars, I love photography – where do I begin?
A common misconception in this line of photography, at least from what I have heard, is that you need a DSLR camera to enter this field of photography and excel in it.
While the latter is partly correct, in the sense that ultimately if you wish to grow, acquiring a DSLR at some point in time will definitely be advantageous, the former is incorrect and there is no need to begin automotive photography with a DSLR (at least as far as still images are concerned), although, if you do have access to one, I would personally suggest refraining from using it.
See, you must first know the mere basics of photography, not automotive photography, but photography, in order for you to learn automotive photography and come to grips with it. The best way to do that, personally-speaking, is to start of with taking pictures on your phone.
I started taking pictures of cars that would show up at Gulshan 2 on Fridays with my HTC Desire 820. It is much easier to start off with a phone rather than a DSLR camera. If you have not handled a DSLR camera before, or a camera in general, the sheer complexity of the device might keep you away from learning the ropes of automotive photography (speaking from a beginner's point of view).
Moreover, it is much easier to learn the Rule of Thirds on a phone as opposed to a DSLR camera.
The Rule of what? Sounds like a Math principle
The Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is your best friend (move over, Ahsan) and will help you understand how and where to place your subject. Simply turn on the Grid Lines on your camera and use the lines as a guide to place your subject, either inside the boxes, or on the lines themselves. Developing a thorough understanding of the Rule of Thirds, the grid lines and Negative Space (the empty space around your subject) is what will set you apart from other automotive photographers - a subject that has been properly-placed in the frame is extremely pleasing to the eye and will ultimately tell you whether your shot is good or bad… or your friends will.
Okay but how do I take those super cool shots of cars in motion?
Rolling shots are singlehandedly the trickiest part of automotive photography that you will have to face; far trickier than finding decent, let alone preferred, locations here to shoot cars at. Shooting a car in motion from another car that is also in motion is less daunting than it sounds, but is still quite nerve-wracking. This is definitely where a DSLR camera will shine through, although taking rolling shots with a phone camera is still arguably doable albeit you will face a few issues when doing so.
Firstly, if you own a DSLR camera, leave it behind and borrow your friend's instead just to be on the safe side. Then find a nice, preferably empty stretch of road wide enough for both the camera car that you will be shooting from and the car you will shoot. Drop your Shutter Speed to anything below 1/50, bump your Aperture up by a considerable amount, enough for the entire car to be in focus, and begin your roller session. The lower the shutter speed is, the more desirable the motion in the picture will be, although you have to keep in mind that dropping your shutter speed also means the chances of your pictures being out of focus increases significantly. As a result, turn on Burst Mode as this increases the chances of you getting a few shots in focus and then do what we always do during roller sessions – Spray and Pray. Do not fret if most of your pictures are not in focus. Out of the, say 10 shots that I take during one roller session, around 6-7 shots are out of focus. Regardless, once you get a hang of it, experiment with angles and shutter speeds.
Is that all?
That is pretty much all there is to automotive photography in a nutshell, for beginners. Understand the Rule of Thirds, try starting off with your trusted phone camera before making the decision to move to DSLR's and look for inspiration on Instagram. Instagram has a plethora of leading automotive photographers including but not limited to @markscenemedia, @denniswierenga, @tomwheatley.eu and @apa.photo (an account that highlights multiple automotive photographers and their mind-blowing captures). Last but not the least, the correct way of editing pictures, be it in Adobe Lightroom or any other editing software, is extremely subjective and is something you end up learning by yourself over time. It depends on what you would classify as a 'nice edit' and is partly influenced by the pictures and edits you have seen on the Internet, taken by photographers you like due to their style, approach and so on.
And remember, being good at product, portrait or street photography does not necessarily translate to you being good at automotive photography as well, and vice versa. Each field of photography has its own distinctive characteristics - the framing, the angles, the colour-grading and so on are all unique to each field of photography for the most part. Always respect your own field of photography while respecting photographers (and their work) in your own field as well as in fields other than yours. United we stand (with our lenses), divided we fall.
This review was originally published in the March issue of Wheels magazine. Click here to order yours.