On the face of it photographing classic cars and classic motorcycles at classic vehicle shows should be easy. I mean, the cars and bikes are neatly parked and stationery, and there are no time constraints so you can take it slow compose the shot and get everything the way you want it. It should be easy, but in reality this is not the case and there are many things you have to overcome……
Classic car and classic motorcycle shows are busy places and they attract large crowds comprising people of all ages. Classic car and bike shows are family friendly events, which is all well and good unless you want to take photos that is. Classic car shows are full of young kids running around all over the place, angry and irate parents trying to control their unruly kids, ditherers spending ages right up close to the vehicles, enthusiasts “crawling” all over the vehicles and other classic car owners inspecting the competition. Trying to get a shot of a car without a person close by is very tough and in order to do this you have to hang around and wait for the ideal moment.
Even if there are no people near the car you also have to deal with the reflection of members of the public in the vehicle’s body work. This is not such a problem with classic motorcycles, because the surface area is so small, but it is a big problem when taking photos of the classic cars. Trying to get people far enough away so there are no reflections is not possible, and the problem is made more difficult because the classic car owners clean and polish their vehicles so well.
Another problem is the weather, and there is nothing you can do about this. The sun casts shadows, creates glare and also creates hot-spots. A circular polarizing filter helps to reduce the glare, but it won’t eliminate it entirely. The ideal weather conditions is a dull day, which also helps with the intensity of the people reflections, but you can’t book the weather can you.
The cars and motorcycles at these classic vehicle shows are given a “parking space” and they are always tightly packed in. Trying to get a classic car or bike in the frame without some of the vehicles parked next door is impossible and there is no way you can ask the owners to move the vehicles in to a clear area for a photo. Trying to compose and create a photo that doesn’t look cluttered isn’t easy and you’ll often have to think outside the box and get creative to do this.
Below is a sample of the photos I captured during a local classic car and classic motorcycle show. It was a hot and sunny day and it was rammed with people - there were probably more than usual because it was such a glorious day.
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 24mm - 70mm/ 38.4mm - 112mm / Aperture:- 2.8 - 22/ Min focus:- 15"/ Dimensions:- 3.48" x 4.45"/ Weight:- 28.4 oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $1,750.00/£1,000.00
The 24mm – 70mm zoom lens is ideal for taking classic car photos and with a wide field of view you can get the entire car in the frame whilst being up close and personal to the vehicles. When taking photos at classic car and classic motorcycle shows space is tight and you won’t be able to stand far enough back from the vehicles so a wide angle lens is essential. You can use a wide angle prime lens however I would never use a wide angle lens at a classic car show. With prime lenses you have to “zoom with your feet” and this is not possible with a prime lens. With a zoom lens I can change the framing and composition in situ using the lens’ zoom capability.
The Canon 24mm-70mm f2.8L is available from Adorama, Amazon (US), eBay, Amazon (UK)
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.