How to photograph a moving car

How to photograph a moving car.

I love racing, there is so much action going on, the sound of a car going 200+ miles per hour 30 feet from you its just indescribable, your heart drops to the asphalt and you can feel the car vibrate inside you making your hear beat double. I often go to the Sonoma Raceway in California (formerly Sears Point Raceway and Infineon Raceway) to watch the races, indi cars, nascar, or drag cars, I love them all.

So how do you take a photo of a car blazing by and give it that feel of movement? Its not as hard as you might think but it does take a bit of practice.


Here are a few simple tips to get you started out at the race track (or on the streets).

Camera settings: When you are looking for an action shot such as this you need to have a slow shutter speed, you can achieve this in Manual (M) Mode or in Shutter Priority Mode (the S dial on your Nikon or Tv on your Canon Camera)

The shutter speed should be anywhere from 1/40 of a second to 1/80 of a second. This will create the blur effect in the back ground making the car feel like its going really fast in the photo.

1. Find a secure spot to take the photos.
First thing you need to do is find a secure spot where you can stand and where you are able to move around. By that I mean you need to make sure there is no one (or nothing) next to you (you need about 2-3 feet of space to be comfortable when learning) who you are going to bump with your camera every time you rotate. When you take this kind of photograph you have to follow the car with your lens and take it at a slow shutter speed, not run after the car but rotate with it as it passes you.

2. Observe the cars going by, try to get used to the speed and follow the subject with your eyes. Do this a few times before doing it with your camera. If you are on the streets, get used to the traffic and how its circulating.

3. Do it with your camera. Gain focus, rotate with the car and take the shot.
When the car is approaching you have to gain focus on it, so follow it from the far and the closer it gets thats when you want to gain focus. You can achieve this by pressing the shutter button (the button you use to take a picture) in your camera half way down, this will get the car in focus, then you start rotating with the car and when you feel right you snap the shot. Now remember this all happens very fast and it takes practice, so give it a few tries and don’t get frustrated its going to take a few fails before you get the killer shot. Be persistent and you will get it.

4. Repeat 1 and 2.

5. Remember to have fun, if you can’t get it walk away for a few and come back and try again, its really not that hard. Practice makes perfect.

Sonoma Raceway 1

Thats it, thats how you take a photo of a moving car giving it that motion feel, but what if you want to do the complete opposite and freeze the entire frame?? Well let me tell you thats even easier.

Here is a photo of a 4×4 race I shot in Costa Rica. I wanted to get the feel of the race and the mud and the environment so I wanted to freeze everything in my frame specially the mud flying all over the place.

How did I achieve this?

Thats easy, all you have to do is shoot this at a fast shutter speed, so instead of 1/40 of a second you have to be at about 1/200 of a second or more, this will ensure that everything on the photo gets captured perfectly still.

Camera settings for this particular shot:
Shutter speed 1/1250 of a second f/5.6 ISO 160


Thank you so much for dropping in guys, if you have any questions or suggestions please leave them in the comments below. Don’t forget to pick up your free Video below.