Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Cars

I’ve owned several cars in my life so far. My first car was a 1965 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport. Despite having only two doors, it was big and ponderous. It was a gas guzzler and polluted the air like a soot-filled chimney. My favorite car was a 1991 Mazda Miata. Fun, nimble and economical, it was just the opposite of the Impala. Although the two cars were very different, they both still hold fond memories for me.

America is a car culture, especially so in California. Cars are far more than mere conveyances to get us from point A to point B. Sometimes we drive them fast; other times we drive them slowly.We go to car shows and racing events. There are songs about them and magazines devoted to news about them. We watch movies that not only have cars prominently in them but some even have cars as main characters in their stories.

We wash and polish our cars to a fine sheen. We customize them to look sleeker and go faster. Sometimes we even give them names. Cars are the subjects of the newest Readers Photo Challenge assignment.

There are a few things to consider when photographing a car. First, like any photo, time of day and the quality of light is important. Avoid shooting during midday. Early mornings or late afternoons tend to have the best light.

Be careful of reflections. Most cars have highly polished and shiny reflective surfaces. If you’re trying to capture the sleek lines of a car, an unwanted reflection can ruin your shot. Always look carefully and be prepared to either move the car or yourself to eliminate the reflections.

Watch your backgrounds and settings. Some photos of cars can be like a formal portrait and a proper background can add to or detract from such a picture. Also consider the color of the car. You can find a setting with colors that can either complement or contrast with your vehicle. A light-colored car will pop out against a dark background and vice versa.

Don’t forget about photographing details of a car. From chromed wheels to shiny headlights to fancy hood ornaments, details abound on automobiles both modern and antique.

There are a couple of techniques to photographing in motion. Using a high shutter speed (1/500th of a second or higher) can result in a very sharp picture of a moving car but can make it look like it’s standing still. Using a slower shutter (about 1/125th of a second) and panning along with the action can give a sense of movement to your photo.

We spend a lot of money on our cars and spend a lot of time in them, so it’s only fitting that they’re the subject of the latest challenge assignment.


How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to Type in “Cars” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between Sept. 3 and Sept. 17. The subject must include a car (SUVs and pickup trucks are also acceptable). Please include the make, model and year of the car.

3. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (eg: “John Doe, Stockton. Weber Avenue in downtown Stockton. Canon EOS Rebel Ti with 18-55mm lens”)

4. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and where they are and what they are doing. (Eg: Jane Smith, 25, Tracy stands with her Toyota Corrolla on Main Street in downtown Stockton).

5. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

6. The deadline for submission is Thursday, Sept. 24. The top examples will be published on Thursday, Oct. 1 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.

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