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entrefoto
9th of November 2008 (Sun), 03:51
I work for a large car dealership and we are working on setting up a photo studio for our used cars inside of an older service/detail bay and I am looking for suggestions on how to set up lighting to avoid harsh lines or spots on the car from the lights. We are looking to use continuous light, not flash. Ceilings are about 20-25 feet. Please advice on the best possible set up to use. Thanks!

tim
9th of November 2008 (Sun), 05:21
I've only read a little about it, but from what i've read real pro car studios are huge, with massive amounts of very diffuse lighting. Since cars are reflective you need huge light source, like a wall. Hot lights might be ok, since cars don't move, but be prepared for some very long exposures.

Google "automotive photography lighting tutorial", and take a look at this thread (http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=70290).

entrefoto
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 19:29
I looked up some photos of what actual car studios look like and certainly in these economic conditions a car dealer, no matter how big we are, can afford anything like that. We are going to put a curtain or other backdrop against a wall to hide the piping and everything on the wall. Also, I was thinking that we could hang 4 large continuous lights from the ceiling and use large softboxes pointed at the car? How would this work? We are looking to do this as cheap as possible but to get something pretty effective. any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated.

tim
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 19:36
I think you missed a word there :p

Given cars stay still you'll get away with continuous lighting and the camera on a tripod. Instead of pointing soft boxes at the car you could point them at a large white wall/the ceiling/whatever around it. That's even more diffuse. Less light will hit the car, but because of the tripod/long exposure that doesn't matter.

entrefoto
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 19:57
The process behind what we are doing does not allow for long exposures and taking our time with the vehicles. We are simply setting a stage to photograph our used inventory for our website. The area we have to work with for photos is in the same area as our detail bay so there will be people working in part of the area. When they are finished with the vehicles they will stack them in another area of the building where we grab them and stage them for photos. We have to be quick as we handle 300-400 cars a month. We do not have white walls or ceiling either. The other idea I had is to make a rectangular frame larger than the vehicle and fill with a white fabric and put a good amount of lighting above the white fabric creating a huge soft box that will spread the light evenly over the cars.

tim
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 20:18
The frame will work. When I say long exposure I mean more like a few second than 1/100th of a second. No difference in practice.

entrefoto
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 20:21
I understand, we have to hand hold the camera though, we will not have time to work with a tripod and move it all around. We would also be using a flash on the camera as well for fill and for the inside of the vehicle. I will propose the frame idea and see how that goes. Any other suggestions? and do you have any suggestions on how to make the frame idea work as cheap as possible?

Thanks!

tim
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 20:31
If you have to be hand held you'll need strobe lighting, not constant lights.

Really though given how your budget and time constraints are looking i'd probably suggest you just park them outside on a cloudy day and take some snapshots.

entrefoto
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 20:37
That is what we do for our stores on our Indiana platform since we do not have a central location for taking photos so we have to travel to each store to photograph the cars so we do them outside and that is the way I prefer to do it. Our stores on our Iowa platform have everything centralized for their recon and detail so they would like to do them inside so they do not have to worry about the elements (especially in winter). Can the frame work hand held given we use enough light above the cloth and use a high ISO in combination with an on camera speedlite?

tim
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 20:42
I think if you use constant lights you'll need a tripod. A tripod isn't a problem to use, and they'll give you a better result.

The problems come from cars being so shiny. That's why you need huge light source.

entrefoto
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 20:48
Here are some examples of what we do. The first link is one of our Indiana stores where we do the photos outside. The second link is to one of our Iowa stores who prefers inside and this is their old set up which is pretty worthless and we are working to correct.

http://www.gurleyleepaudi.com/Preowned-Inventory.aspx?InventoryId=26279388

http://www.lujack.com/site/used_inventory_search?state=detail&vehicle-guids=8A205C2F-3052-38D0-7665-A5555D218A76&include-options=true&include-media=true

tim
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 22:35
Fairly dire. I think if you want to do it better you should do it properly, not do a half arsed job like you seem to be heading for.

asysin2leads
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 22:51
There was an article in the new Studio Photography magazine. Interesting read.

http://www.imaginginfo.com/print/Studio-Photography/Everything-IS-Bigger-in-Texas/3$4425

entrefoto
11th of November 2008 (Tue), 23:51
Fairly dire. I think if you want to do it better you should do it properly, not do a half arsed job like you seem to be heading for.

The problem is its a corporate environment where we have to move quickly to achieve certain objectives to sell cars. We cannot have the cars tied up in a studio very long so they can get on the lot and the photos can get online for our customers to see. Our objective is to get the cars in and out of photos asap so we need the best we can get. I would love to do a set up like i read about and have phenominal photos, but the fact of the matter is we are not shooting for the manufacturer. I would also love to be shooting with a 5D but the executives don't see it that way either. We have to try to keep costs low and still get good results.

asysin2leads
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 01:05
You're in a high volume market and I doubt very seriously if you're going to want to pump time and money into a studio just to shoot used cars. The photos that are up now seem to suit your needs.

tim
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 02:11
The problem is its a corporate environment where we have to move quickly to achieve certain objectives to sell cars. We cannot have the cars tied up in a studio very long so they can get on the lot and the photos can get online for our customers to see. Our objective is to get the cars in and out of photos asap so we need the best we can get. I would love to do a set up like i read about and have phenominal photos, but the fact of the matter is we are not shooting for the manufacturer. I would also love to be shooting with a 5D but the executives don't see it that way either. We have to try to keep costs low and still get good results.

A tripod won't slow you down, it'll give you better pictures, using cheaper constant lights with exposures of a few seconds instead of a fraction of a second. The difference of 5 seconds per car isn't really that important i'd have thought.

jcolman
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 14:56
If it were me, I'd buy two or three white sheets, pin them together and hang them horizontally from the ceiling. I'd point my lights up at the sheets or hang them between the ceiling and sheets to create a light soft overhead light source.

For the interior shots I'd use two 4' x8' pieces of white foamcore just outside the car and bounce lights off of them. This will create a nice soft light for the interior.

Total expenditure for the sheets and foamcore should be under $100.

mattograph
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 16:36
Ever heard of Zappos?

They are an online retailer best known for shoes. The largest internet shoe store in the world.

They have an automated "studio" where one shooter can literally shoot over 100 pairs a day without breaking a sweat.

You need something like that.

Tim has given you excellent advice. What you are talking about is basically shooting 15 cars a day, or one every half hour. If the space is appropriately prepared, that's not a problem.

You just need the right system.

I don't think you are going to get these things looking like they came out of a white box, so some creativity is in order.

Can you post some shots of the space that we can look at?

tim
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 18:27
I'd have thought you could do a LOT more than one car every 30 minutes. Park it, a few snaps, gone again in 5-10 mins.

mattograph
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 18:38
I think he needs the interiors and exteriors in that time. Once everything is set, I think you could do the exteriors in your time frame easily.

disboifan
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 20:22
sounds like you're trying to get studio shots while trying to shoot all the cars on the lot in one day. on camera flash to fill in a car?

entrefoto
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 23:05
I cannot supply pictures of the space as I am in Indiana and the space is in Iowa. I will not be back out that way until the 20th. I do certainly appreciate everyone's help! I need 21 photos of each car for our normal website and around 70-100 for cars going on ebay. We will have a speedlite on the camera for fill inside the cars. we are trying to get the best possible photos while moving the cars fast so they can get on the lot and have a chance to be sold.

http://server11.texasdirectauto.com/south_pics/1GCHK23628F158907/DCP_8562.JPG

This is a photo from an ebay dealer in Texas. They have their "studio" set up in an old hockey rink they operate out of. The space we have to work with looks similar to this and right now we are favoring this kind of light set up. Do you all think this is a good set up or how we can take this and improve it?

Thanks!

mattograph
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 09:00
Just to be sure I'm reading this right -- you need 70-100 photos of EACH car for ebay? Where do you host them? Outside of Ebay?

entrefoto
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 20:25
Yes 70-100 photos of each car for ebay. They are hosted on our own servers or through ebay depending on which method our sales associates use for ebay. Ebay will allow up to 100 photos themselves by using their dealer center listing tool.

tim
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 20:28
It's an aside, but how could you possibly need 100 photos for each car?

mattograph
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 20:53
I cannot supply pictures of the space as I am in Indiana and the space is in Iowa. I will not be back out that way until the 20th. I do certainly appreciate everyone's help! I need 21 photos of each car for our normal website and around 70-100 for cars going on ebay. We will have a speedlite on the camera for fill inside the cars. we are trying to get the best possible photos while moving the cars fast so they can get on the lot and have a chance to be sold.

http://server11.texasdirectauto.com/south_pics/1GCHK23628F158907/DCP_8562.JPG

This is a photo from an ebay dealer in Texas. They have their "studio" set up in an old hockey rink they operate out of. The space we have to work with looks similar to this and right now we are favoring this kind of light set up. Do you all think this is a good set up or how we can take this and improve it?

Thanks!

Sure, this works.

Can you show us pics of the space you have to work with?

shooterman
14th of November 2008 (Fri), 12:59
It's an aside, but how could you possibly need 100 photos for each car?
One photo for each scratch and dent? LOL

BTBeilke
14th of November 2008 (Fri), 13:47
Here are some examples of what we do. The first link is one of our Indiana stores where we do the photos outside. The second link is to one of our Iowa stores who prefers inside and this is their old set up which is pretty worthless and we are working to correct.

http://www.lujack.com/site/used_inventory_search?state=detail&vehicle-guids=8A205C2F-3052-38D0-7665-A5555D218A76&include-options=true&include-media=true

Mark,

I live in the Quad Cities and we bought our Lexus at Lujack. Please be careful that whatever you do doesn't cost so much that they have to raise the price of their cars. ;)

entrefoto
14th of November 2008 (Fri), 16:40
Mark,

I live in the Quad Cities and we bought our Lexus at Lujack. Please be careful that whatever you do doesn't cost so much that they have to raise the price of their cars. ;)

Haha, I don't think we have to worry about that at all! I just started working with Lujack's and they are great people and we are going for a very cost effective way for this. Thanks for writing! I hope you are enjoying your Lexus!

entrefoto
14th of November 2008 (Fri), 16:42
It's an aside, but how could you possibly need 100 photos for each car?

For Ebay you literally have to show every flaw the car has so the buyer knows exactly what to expect when they purchase the vehicle since they can't see it in person before purchasing. Photos include every angle of outside, inside, close ups of all lights, mirrors, options, scratches, dents, seat wear, engine, trunk, all that stuff.

tim
15th of November 2008 (Sat), 09:02
For Ebay you literally have to show every flaw the car has so the buyer knows exactly what to expect when they purchase the vehicle since they can't see it in person before purchasing. Photos include every angle of outside, inside, close ups of all lights, mirrors, options, scratches, dents, seat wear, engine, trunk, all that stuff.

You should include an mp3 of the engine revving, and a drivealong video so they can get a feel for the car. Really though buying a car on ebay? Sounds like a great way to get rid of a lemon. But that's off topic, and I don't mean to cast aspersions.