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My workflow for editorial photos of classic car shows

Just submitted some editorial photos of some classic cars to Shutterstock, thought I’d share my workflow. You can see my classic car show photos here.

Taking the photograph is of course the most important part. For classic car show photos, such as this one from last summer’s Woodward Dream Cruise:

Woodward Cruise 2013

I can easily spend 15 minutes waiting for the crowds to thin out so you can see the car itself, yet have enough people in front of it for personal interest. Funny thing is that people in the midwest are really nice so they are all trying to get out of your way so you can get the car shot, so I have to explain that I want the crowd shot…

Luckily I also like to take non-stock close up of classic car details like this one:

03 2012 Cruise 1960 Corvette side copyright

so I balance my time with those.

You are hoping for a nice day but not too sunny that it gives you harsh shadows, as I had in this photo… In taking the photo you see I have an ISO of 100 because it was a nice sunny day, and a shutter speed of 1/125 to aim for that focus at 100% magnification:

Woodward cruise info of shot

I tend to pick the shutter speed I want then adjust the exposure correction as needed if I go into shadowy areas, to get as much of the histogram covered (don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense right now).

In Photoshop I create a duplicate layer (command-J), then crop it to show the street details but keep the focus on the cars:

Woodward cruise crop

I then look at the histogram. If I have to, which I didn’t here because I had usually play with exposure when I’m taking the photo to make sure I have a good histogram in the first place, I might have to play with the edge levers to but them up to the edge of the histogram so it expands the histogram to give you the full range. Then I play with the lever in the middle to give the photo some “pop”, but you can see that would make the shadow on the right very harsh, so I “masked” the layer on the right side just by drawing on it with black pen (with maybe 10% hardness so it blends easily and shows no sharp edges) on that right side. You can see in the layer description on the bottom right, labeled “Levels 1” how it shows a screen that is all white except for that black in the right area, where I “masked” it:

Woodward cruise histogram

Woodward cruise histogram close-up

OK, now the photo is all set, it’s time to enter the photo information. I access the “file info” from the “file” menu and enter a title, editorial headline description, keywords, and copyright information:

Woodward cruise file info

I save the file as a PSD file, then save a copy as a JPEG file, and that’s the file I submit to Shutterstock.

Hope this helped you get a sense of what to do. Questions? Ask me in the comments section.


About Susan Montgomery

I'm a stock photographer, with focus on editorial, classic cars, travel, and nature.


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