Cars are beautiful machines, and deserve to be shown at their best. They pose their own unique photography challenges, so consideration of the following factors should help you get the shot you want.
As with any other photograph, lighting is everything. Cars are often most dramatic-looking in soft light, such as during sunrise or sunset, and this is certainly something Top Gear sticks to. However, the colour of the car will determine the correct light – baby blue pops out beautifully in the midday sun. Shooting at night is an interesting possibility, so play around with various lights and reflectors to create your desired ambiance.
The car is your focus, so remove anything in the frame that will distract from it. Equally, reflections can be a real pain with such a shiny subject, so consider using a polarising lens to reduce these and get a cleaner, more even spread.
A moving vehicle is truly impressive. Decrease shutter speed and take pictures out of the window of another car (safely!) to get some brilliant action shots. As a guideline, a car moving at 40 miles per hour demands a shutter speed of about 1/100th of a second to get a decent shot. Do get more creative than a smooth, open road. If the car in question is meant for off-roading, utilise a tripod and shoot from a distance with an even lower shutter speed. Flying mud and soaring sand adds excitement and interest to your picture.
Bringing out individuality
Different techniques will be suitable for different cars. For example, using a wide angle emphasises a chunky 4×4 and its features, whereas it would be worth using a longer focal length for flattering pictures of plainer vehicles.
The take home message here is simply to experiment. Digital photography means you can have fun trying out a billion different ideas and then just delete the ones that do not work. If all else fails, use the RAW file format so you can fix any errors with post-production software.