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Tips on Shooting Crowded Exotics

I spent a few hours in Carlsbad California this weekend shooting exotic cars that showed up for a weekly Car Show / Meetup. The Show was held in the parking lot of a local outdoor mall. It didn't take long for cars of all makes and models to arrive and gingerly tuck themselves into the parking slots next to each other. I love to shoot unique classic and exotic cars, but a cramped space can be a big challenge to getting a nice clean shot that really shows off the cars. 

One of my biggest tips: get to the shoot location early. It'll give you time to scope out the lay of the land and catch the cars that show up first without the clutter of other cars getting in your way. 

Be prepared to move quickly. As cars start to make their way in, keep your head up and seek your opportunities. Although you don't want to be in a panic, you do want to be able to move quickly and get your shot. Nothing is more disappointing than setting up your shot just to have it ruined by another car pulling into the adjacent space. 

Bring a nice wide lens. I started shooting with a 17mm - 55mm but quickly switched over to a 10mm - 22mm lens. At first I was concerned that a lens that wide would give the cars a funky look, but it's amazing how forgiving a slightly distorted car is compared to a person's face. I found that I was able to get pretty close to the car and even compose out the car in the next space if I was careful. 

Stick your eye up to your viewfinder and compose your shot. It was a crowded lot full of beautiful cars and there were gawkers swarming all around the cars. That made for a tough time to get a clean shot of the vehicle. I found that by looking through the viewfinder I was able to accomplish a couple things. First off, it helped me visualize the final composition with that wide angle lens. A few inches to the right or up or down really made a difference in the shot. Maybe more importantly people realized that I was about to take a picture and moved out of the way. I used to simply stand there, camera down and wait for them to move, but I quickly realized that when they glanced over at me it seemed to them that I was just looking at the car holding my camera, so they weren't concerned and went back to gawking. If I held the viewfinder up to my eye, they knew I was about to take a shot and got out of the way, most likely because they didn't want their picture taken more than anything else. In any case it usually works. 

Find the right angle, compose and shoot. 

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