Photographing Abandoned Cars

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Most photography that you see in any search whether it be on the Internet, on books, and on magazines is focused on images that are both pleasing and beautiful at the same time.

Although there are several photographic projects that focus on other subjects like decay and so forth, there is something to be said for photographing a project that focuses on abandoned buildings, abandoned tools, abandoned houses, farms and abandoned cars.

Granted, you are probably going to have to do a thorough search of your region of the world to find suitable and photogenic subjects to make the theme work. We are not referring about photographing cars in a junk yard as this is not necessarily the idea, at least not in the sense to what is considered a legitimate junk yard.

The theme involves finding abandoned cars that have been left to the elements in remote locations where slowly but surely the weather takes its toll and they begin to fall apart

However, the effects of weather that cause a car to fall apart are the same that also give these vehicles a nice antique, weathered almost romantic look and if you apply some creativity, the resulting photographs can turn out to be rather exceptional.

This is mostly an art noveau theme focusing more on art than it does on the actual photography.
But you should focus your efforts on capturing details of the rust, any remain paint and symbols left on the vehicle as well as making sure to include details of the location, vegetation and any elements that can complement the scene.

If the subjects are found in deep shadows such as the one that trees and underbrush can create then take some shots using a flash unit with a diffusing element in front of the light element, a white handkerchief works quite well. This is a technique for adding fill in light.

There are several photographic filters that can add some effects to the scene such a colored filters, and textured ones. You can also add textures, colors and so forth by using a digital editing software program.


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If the location offers some interesting details that can add a story to the shot, then it would be wise to include it too.

For example if you find a good suitable car that is photogenic but it is in the middle of a pile of other cars or is found in a lot with several hundreds other cars then look for interesting elements within your main subjects that will showcase it and separate it from the others.

If the vehicle is on a raised mound and there are mountains or other nice details in the background, then including them too also enhances the story aspect of the shot.

Concentrating on a strong color helps separate or set apart one car from many others and should be used if at all possible.

Also using a large aperture setting on the lens helps keep the main subject in focus while trowing most everything else out of focus and this also keeps the attention focused on one main subject apart from the rest.

If the vehicle presents a good photogenic scene but everything around it is too much of a distraction then doing close ups is the way to approach the shot.

Look for interesting angles as well as perspectives to enhance the viewer's experience.

It is wise to study the subject prior to commencing the shoot. Look for interesting details,both inside and outside of the vehicle. Look for how light plays on the surface and if reflections can ad to the scene or detract from it.

Above all make sure to have your technique down pat and use as much creativity as you can. It is still an abandoned car therefore not a subject that people talk about. It is how you approach the photos and how you take them that makes the viewer pay attention.

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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 2 comments

tamron profile image

tamron 3 years ago

I can't understand so many abandon cars there is a lot of money to made from parts. Great Photos


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

tamron: thanks, I think each situation is different.

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