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02-05-2010, 01:37 AM   #1
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Noobie Advice for Car's Headlight PICS w/K-x

I need to take pics of my car's headlights for a car forum. Specifically the members would like to see head-on shots with the headlights on and another shot from the cockpit showing the pattern of the light beam as it hits against a wall [the headlamps are High Intensity Discharge (HID)] I'd like to take the shots just at dusk and at night time.

Please keep in mind I'm a complete noob with a DSLR. Do I just use the Auto Picture or Night Mode? Should I use manual mode instead -- if so what ISO? Do I turn off the internal flash? Is there a f setting I should use? Etc.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

02-05-2010, 05:35 AM   #2
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i am not sure what would be the best sittings just try a couple of diff. settings and see what looks the best, when posting the pics on the car forum site just put what settings you used IE f, shutter speed and iso, a couple of the car forums i am on they always ask
02-05-2010, 06:33 AM   #3
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It doesn't cost you anything but time to experiment. For the head on shot, I'd try (no flash) in Av in the f5.6 to f8 range and go from there. For the from inside shot, same thing but I would put a circular polarizer on the lens to try and kill any interior reflections. These are just guesses on my part but again, costs nothing but time to experiment.

Good luck..



QuoteOriginally posted by BodegaBay Quote
I need to take pics of my car's headlights for a car forum. Specifically the members would like to see head-on shots with the headlights on and another shot from the cockpit showing the pattern of the light beam as it hits against a wall [the headlamps are High Intensity Discharge (HID)] I'd like to take the shots just at dusk and at night time.

Please keep in mind I'm a complete noob with a DSLR. Do I just use the Auto Picture or Night Mode? Should I use manual mode instead -- if so what ISO? Do I turn off the internal flash? Is there a f setting I should use? Etc.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
02-07-2010, 05:15 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by BodegaBay Quote
I need to take pics of my car's headlights for a car forum. Specifically the members would like to see head-on shots with the headlights on and another shot from the cockpit showing the pattern of the light beam as it hits against a wall [the headlamps are High Intensity Discharge (HID)] I'd like to take the shots just at dusk and at night time.

Please keep in mind I'm a complete noob with a DSLR. Do I just use the Auto Picture or Night Mode? Should I use manual mode instead -- if so what ISO? Do I turn off the internal flash? Is there a f setting I should use? Etc.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
I just tried some test shots myself. It's harder than I thought it would be. First, I don't think any automatic mode will work well without a lot of adjustment, so I didn't even try those. The problem is, the headlights and reflections within the headlight assembly are going to be very bright points in the image. The camera's meter will probably be confused by that, and set exposure too low. The rest of the photo will be just about black.

Second, if the headlight is shining directly into the lens, you are going to have lens flare from the extra light. Every optical flaw in your lens will be obvious. I'm not sure how cool the HID lights will look off-axis, either. That might be pretty dull.

I think you'll need more light, not from the headlights, to balance off the headlights and have a more interesting picture. I would set up for some test shots in the shade in the afternoon. Try to keep some distance from the headlights - 55mm and farther away might be better than 18mm and close. An aperture like f8 or f11 will reduce flare somewhat. Don't use a filter on the lens; flare will be worse. A tripod will help you get some consistently framed shots so you can work out exposure, but you may have trouble getting low enough with a tripod. I would set the ISO to whatever the lowest number is on your camera, like 200. I would use M mode and take a test shot at whatever shutter speed the camera suggests. Then change the shutter speed until the headlights are just barely not causing the highlight blinking warning. See how that photo looks. It should give you some ideas about the next steps to take. You might try a flash to brighten the car, while the background has that silhouette trees/deep blue dusk sky look. Dusk photos can be tricky because the light level changes fast while you're thinking. It helps to sort out the basics in advance.

The photos from inside the car should be easier, and an auto mode might work here. You'll need to decide if your shot will include interior lights, and balance the interior and exterior light levels. But there won't be such extreme differences.

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