BMW M3 Photo Shoot

| June 30, 2010

M3 Photo Shoot – Canon 5D, 80mm at f7.1

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I am not just trying to show off my fast, spicy red car that some of my friends have called a mid-life crisis.  I am just a huge fan of beautifully designed products and this one is high on my list. After an intensive five hour annual polishing in preparation for some summer fun, I decided I had to shoot it with my camera. My goal was to capture one of the those drool-worthy photos that you often see in the car mags like Car and Driver. Using a combination of shooting angle, zoom and aperture, I got the results I was going for. Don’t worry, the license plate is not real — I used Photoshop to create a new one!

M3 Photo Shoot - Canon 5D, 32mm, f18

M3 Photo Shoot – Canon 5D, 32mm, f18

As you can see, the zoom level makes a huge difference in the photo’s appearance. The top photo was shot at 80mm and farther away from the car. This does not distort the proportions of the car like the second shot, which was taken much closer and at a relatively wide zoom of 32mm. Also, the higher zoom level in the top photo compresses the depth of the scene by pulling the background forward and making the car appear shorter. Compare the background and the car in the top image with the the same elements in the second shot. The zoom level creates this effect. The background in the second shot looks much farther away (and the car looks longer) even though the background is exactly the same distance away as in the top photo.

Also notice the impact of aperture in the two photos. The top photo was shot at f7.1, which serves to blur the image progressively as you move from the focal point at the front of the car toward the back of the car and ultimately to the background of the photo. This helps isolate the car and remove the detail in the background. Now look at the second shot. It was shot at f18, which allows much more of the photo to be in focus. If you click on the photo to see more resolution, you will notice that everything from the entire car to the clouds are nice and crisp. Looking back again at the top image, you will notice that even the rear tire is slightly out of focus. These are powerful concepts to understand when taking photos.

Now about the shooting angle. My camera was on my tripod about 18 inches off of the driveway. If I had shot these standing at eye level, they would not be nearly as interesting. I have read it is not always good to paint looking down onto a subject and the concept works equally as well in photography.

M3 Photo Shoot - Canon 5D, 24mm, f7.1

M3 Photo Shoot – Canon 5D, 24mm, f7.1

Category: Photography

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sylviane says:

    Very beautiful car, and I very carefully followed your explanations about the snapshots, very interesting, Lee!

  2. I don’t know anything about cameras, but these pictures are incredible. BMW always makes such impressive cars, and with the red, green and blue in the scene, it’s very colorful. And yes, very drool-worthy!

  3. Nicole says:

    Whoa, I had to stop after I read about the “five hour polishing” — I almost couldn’t see the pictures after that, lol! Lovely car (brought to mind the very, very *orange* BMW I had once upon a time), and wonderful photos that you can be proud of, I think. Hope you still had time for that “summer fun” you were originally getting ready for!

  4. Nancie says:

    Love the car, the photos & the photography information. I can picture this flying down the street, music on, windows open – summertime, and the livin’ is easy (except for the 5 hours of polishing, LOL). These would make a heck of a painting challenge …… hmmmmmm….. food for thought?

  5. Lee says:

    Thanks a bunch for the comments!

    Martyn, I find photography and painting highly related. I have found that painting has helped my photography tremendously. I have actually started studying writing a bit too and see solid connections to painting as well. Words are the paint and the reader’s mind is the canvas.

    Thanks Nicole. I am really enjoying going on your adventure through your blog. What a great experience and thanks for sharing it with us!

    Thanks for the comment Nancie. I agree the car has fun written all over it and it seems to go with summer quite well! Reflections seem to be good for challenges and that is where I am heading for the next one.

  6. Barb Benik says:

    Excellent shots! I whole-heartedly agree with you about the beautiful design of this car! Wonderful job.

  7. Lee says:

    Thanks Barb! I hope you are enjoying your summer!