Photo Secrets
I really admire the excellent photography in Sport Truck, and I'd like to improve the quality of my own photos. I don't have any aspirations of turning pro; I'd just like photos of my '99 Silverado to be nice enough to enlarge and hang on a wall.

I know you can't teach photography in a letters column, but maybe you could give me some insight into how the reflection photos were taken of the '95 GMC 1500 on pages 66-69 of your June '07 issue.

I have a Nikon D40 digital camera. Is it sufficient for I want to do? Do you use computer graphics programs to alter your photos? I'd welcome any tips you can give me.
Ross Vinther
via e-mail

The key to good photography is similar to success in real estate-location, location, location. a good location can make a world of difference. Study photos you like to get a feel for what makes a good location. lack of background clutter, lack of power lines, poles, trees, etc., and lack of parking or road stripes are all important.

Another key element is light. the more dramatic, diffused light near sunrise or sunset is preferable to the harsh, direct midday light. Cloud cover is an asset when shooting midday.

Long exposures are necessary in low light, so a tripod is a must. Shooting from a distance with a long lens will help emphasize the truck while diminishing the background. low angles (even from ground level) are good with a long lens. Shooting from high on a ladder is a good way to isolate the truck when using a short lens or shooting in a crowded location.

Be aware of distracting objects (including your own reflection) in both the background and foreground. Shoot photos with the parking lights on and with them off. the red and orange glow can add drama. Shoot tons of images. The more you shoot, the more likely you are to get a great shot.

The reflection technique requires lots of water and a large chunk of pavement. Wet the area far past the truck and keep it wet. any dry or unevenly wet areas will spoil the effect. don't splash the truck.

Your Nikon d40 is an excellent choice. Many magazine photos have been taken with less sophisticated digital cameras. Set the image size to the maximum. You want the largest .jpeg files possible. Yes, computer programs such as Photoshop are sometimes used to minimize background problems, but the best shots are those that don't require tweaking.

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