Before you brush us off because your new smartphone “takes pretty good pictures” let us stop you right there.
1. Use a real camera
Smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras are fine for documenting repairs, but taking high-quality photos? Not so much. You need a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, either old-school analog shooting on rolls of film, or digital (DSLR) like most people are doing.
These cameras look like what newspaper photographers and professionals use. Their ability to change lenses, focus points and shutter speed puts them in a class above your phone.
2. Get it clean
No-brainer, right? Dust rarely improves how a classic photographs. However, if you’re in the process of restoration, don’t be afraid to highlight any rust spots or worn leather; it will make a good contrast when restoration is complete. Plus, it shows character, like when people take artistic photos of abandoned buildings and whatnot.
Use our guides to restoring and detailing your classic to get you on your way.
3. Set your own hours
Every photography tip sheet will tell you to do your photography during the “golden hours” of right after sunrise and before sunset. There’s something about newly emerging light washing over surfaces that looks fantastic.
Try to avoid shooting under direct sunlight such as high noon. The harsh sunbeams cause lots of reflections and are not flattering. Either move your vehicle to a shaded area, create shade with a series of canopies, or just shoot during a cloudy day.
4. Polarize thyself
If your camera uses rolls of film, a polarizer fits on the front of a camera’s lens. If you have a digital camera, it has a digital option for this. Polarizing lets you strain harsh reflections in your shot. When photographing a classic car, this is essential. All that chrome, glass, and polished paint create shiny surfaces which gets in the way of a good shot.
5. Focus on details
Especially if you’re shooting at a car show, focusing on details is a good way to make sure all the people milling about your subject don’t detract from your photo. Get in close on a hood ornament, emblem, stitching, dial, word, or anything else.
Many people want to get the whole car in the photo, so they stand about 50 feet away (we’re exaggerating) and snap away. Embrace nearness and find minutia that anyone else wouldn’t see.
6. Simple backgrounds
When your car is the focus, the background must be carefully, intentionally neutral. Just sitting in your garage won’t do. Head out to an open field, abandoned tarmac, industrial loading dock, airplane hangar, pier at the waterfront, sheer cliff, or anything else that creates a uniform, patterned background.
7. Shoot at night
This one is fun, and proves why you need an SLR camera. Find a spot at night that is completely dark—no streetlights, business lights, house lights, moon light or any other light. Set your shutter speed to 30 seconds or some large amount of time. This means that instead of opening and closing quickly like normal, the shutter will stay open for a long time.
Press the button, then go around with a flashlight and paint your car with the light, being careful not to get in the shot yourself. You can be creative as you like and use all sorts of weird angles. The camera will catch all of that light play and when the time is up, it will create a single image.
Now get out there
These seven tips should be plenty for you to get some awesome shots that will be the envy of your friends and wonder to your online followers. Don’t settle for lame point-and-shoot camera shots. Put the effort into showing off everything that’s special about your vehicle. Since you went through all the trouble to get it looking good, why not let people see it as it really is?
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We mostly see classic cars when they’re out in the open, polished enough to see yourself in the hood. That’s the day of the auction, though. What about the rest of the year?
Well we have to store cars, too, especially leading up to the main event. Luckily our facilities are quite well equipped. We keep the cars in climate controlled warehouses, safe from moisture, rodents, and any other undesirable influences. The reality is that you probably will not have such a facility to house your car or collection of cars.
Back to the original question, covers are most useful when storing your car, for example during the winter. A cover that is fitted to your car and made from a breathable material will keep the vehicle free of moisture and dust, thus reducing the harmful effects of oxidation. In order to make sure your cover meets these conditions, you’ll want to find one that is quality. This isn’t something that you’ll want to skimp on. A blanket won’t cut it.
We recommend looking somewhere like Car Covers Direct or the California Car Cover Company. Both offer a wide selection of custom fit covers that will meet your needs. Then, next time you put your car away, you’ll be able to tick all the boxes on your car care checklist.
Of course it’s not a bad idea to cover your car otherwise. Even if you’re driving around town, you can cover up your car to keep it out of direct sunlight or to keep people from driving through mud puddles and splashing it, and so on. Using a cover is the smart thing to do with your classic car.
We hope you all had a happy new year. We couldn’t be more excited for the next edition of the Raleigh Classic Car Auction, so keep your eyes on our blog and social media for news leading up to the event.
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Looking to Consign your car?
While “cool” cars are often a matter of debate among car enthusiasts, there are some classic cars that make nearly anyone’s cool car list. Known for their distinctive designs and powerful engines, these cool cars continue to inspire today’s newest sports cars.
1963-1967 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
Known as America’s sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette hit its peak popularity from 1963 through 1967 with the now classic Sting Ray. During this time, the Corvette Sting Ray was available as both a roadster and a coupe. Both models are now the most collectible Corvettes of all time.
With its sleek lines and distinctive styling, the Jaguar XK120 has turned heads since it was first introduced in 1948. At the time it was first released, the Jaguar XK120 was the world’s fastest standard production car with a top speed of 120 mph. It was manufactured until 1954, including roadster, coupe and drop-head coupe models.
Aston Martin DB5
James Bond fans recognize the Aston Martin DB5 from the films Goldfinger, Thunderball and GoldenEye. This beautiful car was produced from July 1963 to September 1965, including both the standard model and a DB5 convertible. Collectors today often call the DB5 the most beautiful Aston Martin produced, and its James Bond connection only increases its fame.
Designed by Carroll Shelby in cooperation with Ford, the Shelby Cobra was originally in production from 1961 to 1967. This two-door roadster was designed for racing and was extremely successful in that arena. From the 1980s, Shelby Cobra “continuation cars” have been available. These were built with both vintage and newly manufactured parts.
In the mid-1960s, the original Porsche 911 hit the streets. This distinctive two-person sports coupe is Porsche’s most enduring design. In the decades since its debut, the Porsche 911 has captured the hearts of discerning luxury car drivers. Today there are several different 911 models available including Turbo, Cabriolet, Carrera and Targa varieties.
Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
While often remembered for its unusual gull-wing doors, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL was originally designed for racing and later adapted for street use. The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing was manufactured from 1955 to 1957. A 300SL roadster was produced until 1963, but the Gullwing continues to enchant car enthusiasts around the world.
To many American collectors, the Duesenberg J is the ultimate in classic cool cars. The Duesenberg J was produced from 1928 to 1937 by two German brothers (August and Frederick Duesenberg) who had emigrated to the United States. The Duesenberg SJ was a supercharged version of the Model J, and the SSJ was an SJ with a shortened wheelbase. Two SSJ models were famously owned by actors Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.