I tend to shy away from this sort of thing, and avoid drawing attention to flaws. But posting some of my biggest mistakes and why I are could be interesting and may even help someone (hopefully me!). These aren't the worst photos I took in 2011, because I snap off hundreds of junk images that never get a second glance. These are the worst that were actually published. Yikes. Let's jump right in.
1. Lotus Evora (above)
So much potential. Beautiful car, distraction-free location, high contrast color, and yes, that's actually the sunrise in the upper right third. So why does it suck? Good question.
It just isn't interesting. The angle is so flat and boring, like a guy taking the picture is just standing there with a camera pointed at the car. Because that's basically what happened. I was going to include an observation in a Best Photos post, but it's a better fit here. When I look at some of the stuff I shot back in 2009, the angle and drama was sometime better. If I found a car parked on the street I wanted to shoot, it might have ugly crap around it and I had to work around that. The limitations forced more exploration, and when you're given the right car in a clear setting you sometimes forget to push.
Compared to a few years ago, the work I do now is more commercial. I really like to strive for an advertising look, probably due to my background. And when you shoot a car for a review, the need to 'document' an entire car and present it sometimes prevents me from just focusing on some details like I often do if I'm shooting cars at a track or on the street. In most ways, I see myself improving. Compared to even the photos I took at the beginning of the year, I havea much better idea of what I am trying to achieve, with both shooting and processing. But at the same time, I look at something I shot in 2009 and I realize that I'm not exploring perspectives quite as much as I was.
The problem with this Evora photo is that I set up a strobe to fill the part of the car that would be in shadow, but once I set up the light and exposure correctly I didn't keep shooting to make sure I had an exciting shot. I got a lot of good shots during this shoot, but not a lot in this particular set up, which is a shame.
2. Cadillac CTS-V
Interior shots are difficult. It's usually dark and there's a lot to focus on. I haven't nailed them, but I've gotten a better grasp at making a good one. This one fails, mostly for dumb technical things. Why are the doors open? Why is there a random Honda Accord parked next to the car? What's with the strip of light straight down the steering wheel? Why is the color balance all over the place? With this shot I thought I didn't have to worry about the surroundings, but you you really do. Find somewhere that doesn't have ugly things outside the windows. Close the doors, straighten the steering wheel. One thing that I haven't figured out entirely: a higher perspective gives the viewer a clearer view of the interior, but a lower perspective makes for a better photo. Which do you do?
3. Volkswagen Jetta, Houston Auto Show
For this one I picked the Jetta, but it could have been any car at this auto show. Auto Shows are not great places to take pictures. Some people can do it really well, but I have very little interest in it. You're dictated by the lighting in the displays, and the ceiling is too high to bounce an upward-pointing flash off it. I was in a rush to show a lot of cars in a short amount of time, so I chose higher ISO instead of tripod and longer exposures. Maybe next time it will work better, I have some ideas.
4. Ford Focus
This is similar to the Evora photo, only with a worse location and awful reflections thrown into the mix. It's sloppy, uninspiring, and the angle is boring. What happened: it took me so long to get my strobes set up and the power and exposure right, and when I finally got it I stopped taking pictures. I should have moved the car a bit, changed its orientation, changed my perspective, or knocking out the background more. Or trying with no strobe and seeing what came out with a long exposure. Anything would have been better.
5. Mercedes-Benz SLK350
This photo was taken about three weeks ago, so there's that. I had the brilliant idea of shooting this dark-valued, highly-reflective SLK in downtown Houston where there's a million bright things to show up in its panels. With a silver or white car I can sometimes dodge out the minor reflections (shhh) but this is clearly beyond correction. I knew it was bad as soon as I set it up, but I didn't have any "motorized roof in action" shots so I went ahead anyway. In the end, this was the only location I shot the retractable roof in action so I went with it. There are a few lessons to be learned here, hopefully a few will stick.