How to Set Up Lighting for Car Photography

Car photography is one of the most skilled professions. Cars are expensive and one-time buying stuff for customers. That’s why attracting an audience to buy a car needs a super viewing experience initially.

The way the car is photographed plays a crucial role in how the car would be viewed am image. Today, we’re gonna learn how to set up Umbrella lighting for car photography so that a car photographer or car retailer can capture wonderful photos from scratch.

Starting from the type of light to set up the lighting system, we won’t leave a single less important thing. You can expect to be able to do the best appropriate lighting setup for car photography.

How to Set Up Lighting for Car Photography

Additive lighting method

The additive lighting method, also known as combination lighting makes a soft reflection on the subject. It helps create an effect to provide the subject with additional beauty.

In photography, by mixing lights of different wavelengths we create additive lighting.

The most interesting part is when we add these different lights, we see white light rather than a bunch of individual colors. It’s because the used sunlight gets converted into specific white color because of the color mixture.

There are two ways to make additive colors. Either use lights with inbuilt additive colors or manually use red, green, and blue light mixture.

The second method allows you to simulate the full range of colors in nature. Interestingly, the light will look pure white if the reflected light contains blue, red, and green light.

Quality of Light for Car Photography

The quality of light highly depends on the source you are using. In the case of car photography, the best moment is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset.

That type of light offers a low-angle and soft texture of the car cut-out photo. The result of the photoshoot car background depends on the light.

Keep in mind that, a glossy reflection of light can make the car look worse as well as soft light will provide a blurry look to the image.

Dimmer light (before sunset) keeps the balance of the elements in the image well. And the low-angle sunlight (after sunrise) gives the car a fairly reflective heroic look which if used properly makes you unique.

Best cameras and lens for car photography

Professional brands nowadays use Dedicated cameras and lens for car photography. Although using other cameras won’t make things look bad, but if you can afford it, why you shouldn’t go for specific cameras which will benefit you from multiple aspects. Let’s see some of the lenses I use and prefer as the best lens for car photography.

1.Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G (Lens)

Nikon Nikkor 50mm

Its specialty is it can take colors sharply and vibrantly. With a wide aperture and beautiful book, you can take super clear Headshots and focused pictures.

The best part is you will be able to make versatile use of this lens. As a result, this is the best lens at an affordable price that won’t be idle ever.

2.Sony A7R IV (Camera)

I like this camera a lot because of its durability and high-resolution sensor. It won’t be for everybody — from beginners to advance everyone can use this gold to capture medium format type resolution pictures from a full-frame sensor. With this camera, you can shoot cars from different angles and concepts. It

Ceiling rigs for car photograph

When I was a beginner in car photography, I used to rent larger spaces and combine larger pricey modifiers to take photos of cars. But now, I use a proper floating panel for car photography.

The lighting becomes more comfortable with the subject of the image. Remember that Ceiling photography lighting needs a more powerful light source.

Instead of using expensive lighting tools to light up the upper side of the car I use the large whiteboard and cast the light upon the board which as a result gets reflected in the car image editing and my team can capture an awesome Polaroid photo booth.

As an automotive imagery photographer, you must be smart and tactical to handle projects of a large number of cars. You can follow this procedure too.

Professional car photoshoot behind the scene

Professional car photoshoot behind the scene

Professionalism is all about creativity and intellect. The more you know the exact way of representing the more you can make things look better.

In the case of car photography, have you ever looked at car photo frames and wondered “how the light is so perfect on just not only the subject but the whole image?”

Besides taking photos of different Car photography poses, expert photographers change the way they see the car.

In easy words, you have to execute your imagination into a piece of paper and set light, cameras, and position accordingly. Unfortunately, this is not a “quick learn” scheme at all.

For perfection, you need practice, dedication, and true guidance. Taking photos with just a click is an easy task for most. But also, there are brands spending thousands of dollars on this click.

Tips for lighting up cars more efficiently

Well, getting just awesome car photos has probably raised the concern of lighting in your mind. But you are also aware that only one of expensive lighting or high skill won’t extract the best result. Great shots are instead a combination of skill and materials.

I would say that lighting impacts by 20%, camera, and position by 40% on an awesome car photo. And the rest 40% is all about your skill. If you have created, you can minimize the cost a lot.

So, we talked theoretically all this time. But there’s a proper way of doing everything. So, let’s take a picture look at the 5 crucial settings for light so that we can act in the field as a pro.

1. Use studio lighting for car photography

Use studio lighting for car photography

To see the best golden results, using car studio lighting is the best idea. Car photography is notorious for its difficult equipment. When it comes to studio light, the ceiling rig lighting makes an already challenging fact easier.

I’ve photographed plenty of motorcycles in my past years, but in the case of cars, it’s harder and needs more skill. Space wasn’t a problem for me. I have always been wanting to create a super sailing rig to cast the best light on the car. And I finally did it this year.

Ceiling rig lighting helps me form the 98% perfect light on the car which ends up making a beautiful concept to take shots.

2. Make use of indirect lighting

As the car is a larger product than usual and cars contain glossy and reflective material, direct lighting creates unnecessary reflections. You don’t want it. You want to form won’t light on the car.

That’s why using indirect light results in the form of light you wish. I suggest following the umbrella lighting method to light up.

Umbrella lighting is a method where a direct light source is used to cast the light to the umbrella and the umbrella works by reflecting the light in the car.

In my studio, I keep two umbrella lights on the two sides of the car and the ceiling rig light lights up the whole scenario. But it depends on the circumstances and concepts. So, work accordingly.

3. Fast shutter speeds are best

Fast shutter speed helps you capture the perfect moment in bright light. In-studio light, the whole studio becomes bright and it’s really necessary to keep your car awesome.

According to that, when trying to capture car photos regardless of whether it’s in-studio or outside, just make sure that the shutter speed is fast enough. By fast I mean not more than 1/2000th of a second.

Most automotive photographers recommend the same. Whereas slow shutter speed works well in soft or less light. Faster shutter speed also helps you take super steel pictures.

4. Ditch the softbox

Yes, we all want soft and even lighting. And accordingly, the idea of using a softbox may arise.

But the softbox isn’t the only one. Rather, we use poly boards and reflectors to extract the best result. In this whole post, you won’t see a single use of the softbox.

Softbox for car studio lighting can be messier than being useful. What matters here is how you see the concept. Just a won’t box isn’t enough for a huge object like a car.

Nether multiple boxes will benefit. Because it will create too much reflection.

We act creatively and build the new concept of lighting for car photography. Such as the ceiling rig lighting and umbrella lights.

4. Use and position of a tripod

The use of a tripod is very dependent. It highly depends on the concept of the image.

If you’re looking to take a classic shot, then probably capturing images from the corner side or one of the two sides would be better.

The position depends on you and your intention. It doesn’t matter whether you invest a lot of money in car Photobooth picture lights or not. But besides good lighting, a good tripod and position are crucial.

Choose a type of tripod that is flexible to use. You don’t need a tripod for all types of shots.

A tripod that is powerful and flexible will benefit you in every aspect.


If you did read this article with focus and dedication, I think you have learned a lot of facts and real-time experience. If you have any comments and queries, you can throw that in the below section and we’ll reach you out promptly.

Expensive Accessories are always not the crucial assistant that helps. There was a time when I don’t have much money, but I didn’t stop working hard. I was created and now I’m happy with my journey.

A don’t stop creating new concepts for car photography, studio, and lighting. The more you think the more you get new way outs. Thanks and stay tuned!

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