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How to Photograph Trucks

written by: Larry M. Lynch•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/27/2009

Not exactly what many would call a “glamorous" subject, trucks can have their own style of charm and be worthy, profitable subjects for digital photography. How to photograph trucks, including how to compose, frame and capture a broad range of creative digital images of trucks is discussed.

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    How to Photograph Trucks

    IMG 6342 More than simply a “utility vehicle", trucks come in an extensive variety of sizes, colors, and designs. Not to mention trucks which are customized for truck and automobile shows. In order to photograph cars and trucks, you should consider composition angles from overhead to low-to-the-ground shots. Full-frame rear shots like this show model Ford pickup truck, require small apertures (f11, f16) at slower shutter speeds (1/125th second) to allow for increased depth-of-field that will include the rear and forward portions of the truck to be in focus. Unless the truck photo is strictly to document the vehicle model, people or other items should be included to help to indicate the size of the vehicle.

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    IMG 6367 The same holds true for front shots of trucks. Fill the frame, and use a smaller aperture (f11) with a medium to slow shutter speed (1/125th second) to keep the entire vehicle in focus. People on the side or in the foreground or background help to give scale to the truck photograph. For sharper focus at the slower shutter speeds consider using a trip or other camera stabilizing device if possible. Otherwise, increase the shutter speed to at least 1/250th second and use the smallest aperture you can at that speed with your camera, especially if the vehicle is moving.

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    Types of Truck Photographs

    You’ll need to consider a good all-around series of images, compositions and angles to capture the full range of the vehicle’s photographic possibilities when you photograph cars and trucks. This includes truck photos such as:

    IMG 6409 

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    · Close ups and macro images of truck details using close-up lenses or macro camera settings to capture fine detail truck features

    · Low angle photos of wheels, grill, headlights, fog lights, tailgate and other truck features

    · Knee-high down to worm’s eye views taken at wide lens apertures (f5.6, f2.8) and faster shutter speeds (1/250th, 1/500th second) of tires, rims and truck suspension

    · Truck controls and interior photographs which use flash, flash slave units or flood lighting to evenly illuminate truck interior features

    · Overhead and high angle views will require a ladder or high vantage point using a wide angle lens, wide aperture of f5.6 or more and a proportionate shutter speed for proper exposure using your camera

    · Overall truck views from both the front and rear of the vehicle shot at smaller apertures of f11, f16 or f22 for increased depth-of-field with a faster shutter speed of 1/250th to 1/500th second to compensate

    · Advertising truck photographs that include people, pets and animals or other items to demonstrate truck features, uses and scale

    · technical truck photographs to illustrate engine configurations, exhaust system enhancements and interior controls and frequently require macro photography to best illustrate these truck features

    · photographs of trucks in actual use under normal or extreme operating conditions like this large “Chiva" (shown above) which had 15 plus people, cargo, baggage and boxes on the roof of the vehicle alone. Up to an additional 40 people can ride inside this modified combination passenger-cargo truck as well. The “Chiva" is designed to ford low rivers, go through axle-deep mud and climb or descend up to a 35% grade slope “fully loaded".

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    IMG 6315 Don’t forget to try for some cute or fun digital images when you photograph trucks too. Some trucks can be customized with fancy decorations, wild colors and specialized covers, roofs and structures like this “mini-chiva" designed to carry both people and cargo under rugged countryside conditions. Extra-heavy-duty suspension with decorated wooden sides and wooden bench-style seats are featured on this model. “Chivas" even carry cargo stacked high on the roof and have a low profile to help lower the center of gravity. They’re often painted in festive colors as shown, even the big ones.

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    How to Photograph Cars and Trucks

    IMG 6337 A digital photographer who knows how to photograph cars and trucks will have an almost endless stream of assignment possibilities for truck photography and using antique and classic car photography tips. From car and truck shows, local new car and truck dealerships, custom paint shops, hobbyist and car club parades, and racing competitions to monster truck competitions all offer photo opportunities for the amateur and professional who can photograph trucks and cars to their best advantage.