Would you like to improve your photography? Do this before you buy new gear – Autoblog | Ad On Picture

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“What camera are you using?” is a question photographers ask all the time, as if the piece of tech in my hand is more important than the thought process behind a shot. I’ll be honest, things like focal length and aperture matter…up to a point. I’ve posted photos of cars I took with $15,000 worth of gear and photos I took with my iPhone. So, before you splurge thousands on a new mirrorless setup, which I’ll detail below, check out these options for building your photography knowledge base. You might be shocked at what you can do with that dusty DSLR in your closet.

The Automotive Photography Workshop – Aaron Brimhall

I started following Aaron Brimhall on Instagram a few years ago (I’m a fan of photos of Ford GTs) and when I found out he had a car photography workshop on Wildist.co I had to check it out. This 2.5-hour, 18-episode course is currently $149, a lot less than even the cheapest lens in my kit. In it he talks about, among other things, what equipment he uses, how he built his brand, what he tackles in pre-production before a shoot to ensure success.

Once you’re on a shoot, he walks you through everything from capturing the “hero” ¾ shots that each brand uses, to adding aesthetics to photos through the use of fog machines, and how to get creative with detail shots , so your photos don’t look like everything else out there.

Finally, there are seven episodes dedicated to editing, because no professional ever posts a photo straight from the camera. It’s a place where you can develop your own personal style and, hardest for me, make it consistent throughout your portfolio so that when others see your work on a wall or online, they already know who took the photo without looking.

Brimhall’s workshop is the best there is specifically when it comes to car photography and is a must see. Wildist.co has a ton of other photography workshops from incredibly popular photographers like Chris Burkhard and Alex Stoll ranging from photography to landscape photography to getting started in #vanlife.

Jimmy Chin teaches adventure photography – master class

MasterClass is probably the top of the game when it comes to online courses. They have a slew of incredibly well known instructors like Ron Howard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gordon Ramsey and Natalie Portman just to name a few. For those of you who don’t know Jimmy Chin, he is an Oscar-winning adventure athlete for The North Face, best known for his documentary Free Solo about Alex Honnold’s climb of El Cap without using ropes. If you’re wondering how someone like that could help you with your car photography, consider this: Jimmy was the director who created the introductory videos for the Ford Bronco. So yes, he knows what he’s talking about.

This course is specific to adventure photography and involves a lot of climbing rather than automotive photography, but many of the principles can be passed on. Also, I think it’s better to learn from several people when developing a style, rather than just trying to emulate one particular person and acting as a copycat.

The MasterClass courses feel more polished than Wildist.co’s, and I like what you get for the price. MasterClass is $15/month in annual increments, giving you access to all of their videos for the year for $180. Occasionally there are special offers where you can buy one and get one, which I did. My friend and I split the cost and over the course of a year I was able to learn everything from negotiation to photography to directing and even how to make a really great smoked BBQ brisket not only from Jimmy Chin but also from other instructors. However, after one year you will no longer have access to these courses.

YouTube – Free

You don’t have to go to art school or even pay a few hundred dollars for these courses to get better at photography. Just go to YouTube where there are millions of videos on the subject. Do you want to become a better landscape photographer? Tons of high quality videos on the subject. Suck on portraits? No reason not to get better. Even car photography, which some consider a niche topic, has a ton of tutorials out there.


OK, let’s get into that. Equipment is important, although the above two guys with a point and shoot from 2010 could easily spin circles around you or me even if we had the latest and greatest camera tech to offer. When it comes to gear, like the two artists above, I’m a Canon photographer. Below is my dream setup so if you have the money go for it. Just note that there are also much cheaper options listed under each item, just in case you haven’t won the lottery recently. Finally, if you only have a smartphone, these can also take crazy photos. Learning how best to use it from the above pros and learning how to take more of those photos in post can go a long way.

Camera: Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camera

For now, that’s all you could want from a Canon camera body. Camera bodies are constantly being upgraded so I would say buying this camera body is money well spent, it’s a lot of money and you just have to know that like all technology it will soon become obsolete. If it was up to me I would spend all my money on the jar below. Lentils last much longer provided you treat them properly.

Less expensive: Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera

Cheap buy: Canon EOS M50

Wide-angle zoom: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens

For more than a few years I was obsessed with shooting everything. Huge wide landscapes of Montana? Grab the wide-angle zoom. Interior shots of my apartment? Wide zoom. Driving up a mountain? Wide zoom. This lens lets you capture the whole scene, although it leaves a lot to be desired in the detail department. And for portraits? Leave it at home unless you really know what you are doing.

Less expensive: Canon RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens

Cheap Buy: Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens

Standard Zoom: Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM lens

This is probably the lens that came with your camera. It’s not too wide, not too telephoto. In terms of focal length, this is spot on for most of your photography needs.

Less expensive: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens

Cheap buy: Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens

This might be an unpopular choice as most photographers use the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens for telephoto, and while it’s tight, sometimes I need more length for my telephoto lenses. A few years ago I traveled to Patagonia and Antarctica, one for a shoot with Subaru and the other for a personal wildlife photography trip. On both trips I opted for an ultra telephoto lens and I’m glad I did.

Less expensive: Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM lens

Cheap buy: Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM lens

A few years ago I was in Australia for a story about the Ranger Raptor. For the video we had our full set of lenses, but for the photos I opted for something that could easily have backfired: I only had one prime lens with me, a 35mm f1.4. I shot every photo for the article with this lens and by the end of the trip I was in love with this focal length. Canon doesn’t offer a 35mm f/1.4 for the RF mount yet, although I’m sure it will come with a much higher price tag than the one listed above. 50mm has always been a staple in every camera bag, so this nifty fifty that costs less than $100 is a great option too. If you want to pay more than 10 times the price, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM lens is world class.

Buy cheap: Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens (35mm equivalent) and Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens (51mm equivalent)

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