Maybe its because of my industrial marketing background, but I love photographing automobile engines.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I find the intricate details of braided hoses draw my eye like a magnet…
As do chromed engine parts.
I love both the complexity and simplicity of mechanical components.
Rather than photograph entire engines I much prefer finding specific areas or details on which to focus.
The gentle sweep of the pair of braided hoses in the above image added flow as well as a sense of order.
I do my best to avoid having my reflection in images. I could have taken the two in the above image out in post, but left them in to demonstrate how easy it can be to inadvertently put yourself in a photograph.
When possible I like to include corner exits to help create a feeling of balance and flow with an image.
I change my physical position constantly when photographing engines. Varying my vantage point can help to add drama or make a component look more imposing.
It is often next to impossible to get everything in focus, so choosing a precise focusing point is critical. Using other elements that are slightly out-of-focus can help to frame the main subject.
I love to find small details like springs and make them the main subject of an image. To me it accentuates how all of the component parts must function seamlessly together if the engine is to properly perform.
Engines don’t have to be pristine to intrigue me. Showing some real-life oil and grime can add some realism.
Bright colours always draw my attention. When coupled with a braided host, it is simply irresistible to me.
Newer engines sometimes lack visual appeal to me, but add some custom details and its a different story.
I love making a key gauge the ‘hero’ in an image, especially when there are lots of other metallic components in the frame.
When shooting outdoors I prefer to shoot from the shaded side of an engine compartment so I can avoid harsh lighting. I don’t hesitate to crop part of a component if that will add some drama to an image.
I specifically look for opportunities to capture images of fittings and small components.
When working with automobile engine RAW files in post I often use the black and white sliders more aggressively to help add some punch.
This is especially true when working with chrome or metallic main subjects.
Sometimes a splash of colour in the midst of grey metal and chrome will catch my eye.
I always look for opportunities to use the coloured reflection from the underside of the front hood of an automobile. The distinctly yellow cast on many of the components in this image were caused by a hood reflection.
Some images take some contortionist skills to capture. I had to reach as far as I could under the hood with one hand to capture the above image. I tilted the rear screen on my camera to get approximate framing, then used a horizon adjustment in post to square it up better.
On rare occasions it feels like an image finds me. As I walked up to the engine compartment of one car the above photograph leaped out at me. I loved the curve of the hose, the colour of the engine compartment paint, and the simplicity of the image.
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to make a modest $10 donation through PayPal to support my work it would be most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to email@example.com through PayPal.
You can also support my efforts when you purchase anything from B&H by using the Thomas Stirr affiliate link. Even the smallest purchases will help support this web site.
As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store by using promotion code AMPLIS52018TS.
Article and all images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. While we do allow some pre-authorized links to our site from folks like Nikon Canada and Mirrorlessons.com, if you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.