I am a real novice at photography, I manager of a small software company and we in the process of landing a contract in the automotive industry. I need advice on how set up the lighting for taking pictures of automobiles, I do not care about beauty I want a presentation that show all scratches dents and dings. I will be using Minolta Dimage. Most pictures will be taken in an indoor controlled assembly line setting with substandard lighting. Pictures will be of all front back right and left side. As well as interior. I hve been reading about the different lighting techniques but have only become more confused. Softbox’s look the most impressive and possibly the least expensive but were would I position them and will they give me the proper illumination without massive reflection? Thank you for any help you can give
To do "beauty shots" of automobiles is a highly specialized, complicated lighting set up. It is also almost impossible to describe. You have to be there to appreciate its nuances and tricks. It is something like photographing homes ala Architectural Digest.
To do bad photographs of cars, although I'm not sure why you'd want to, you could simply use strobes with softboxes. Obviously where you position the lights depends on where on the car you are shooting. If from your description, your are trying to emphasize "scratches and dings' they you position the light where the show up the most. Professional strobes have "modeling lights" on them that show the light pattern of what the light will look like when the strobe is fired.
It sounds like you need to hire a professional at least at first, and watch what he does. Then perhaps you can buy some equipment and try to duplicate it.
If you are a novice it will not be easy, and a description on a website will not be of too much help.
With any reflective object, much work goes into controlling the reflections to emphasize the outline of the object or to give it a smooth appearance. This could be important if you are trying to document damage to the cars accurately. It might entail, in addition to lighting the cars, setting up large white and black cards or perhaps sheets of white paper, using carefully positioned black tape to get the outlines where you want them. If the setting is something like a repair shop where there will be many distracting objects all over the place, you might need to tent off a studio space to do this adequately.
I'm going to have to agree with Michael and recommend that you hire a professional to assess the location and your real needs in terms of image quality to do this right.
I did not mean to offend part of my software has zoom capabilities and the goal is to let the individual make a fair and accurate determination of what if anything needs to be done to restore the vehicle to original quality. I cannot thank you enough for your advice. and I think I will take you up on i.
If you want the scratches to show up use hard light, i.e., no diffused, perpendicular to the scratch.
if the scratches are on the side of the car, for instance, place your light over the car or at the front or back to emphasize the scratch.
an example might be taking the picture of a foot print at a crime scene. place the light to flash along the ground not overhead to bring out the details.