Professional Car Photography – Top View

This class forms the final part in our series of Mercedes AMG GT automotive photography tutorials, where Karl photographs the same car from four different angles.

For this particular shoot, Karl photographs the top view — a highly complex angle not only to shoot from, but also light.

Throughout this class, you’ll see how Karl methodically builds up his image, one light at a time. You’ll see how he uses various techniques, including using his ceiling scrim and additional panels, to minimise any unwanted reflections on this complex-shaped subject and how he controls the specularity of the gradient lighting on the different areas of the car.

This particular angle is a far more difficult view to shoot cars from, but as you’ll see in this class — if you understand the lighting and the science of lighting, these types of shoots are perfectly achievable.

Class objectives:

  • How to photograph cars in the studio
  • Photographing the top view of cars
  • Techniques for minimising reflections in gloss surfaces
  • How to control the specularity of light
  • Balancing multiple studio lights

Also part of this series is our Professional Car Photography – 3/4 Front View, Professional Car Photography – Front View, and Professional Car Photography – Side view classes. For further car photography classes, please take a look at our automotive photography section.

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.

Overcoming limitations using what’s available

What was an already complex shoot, due to the angle, was complicated even further by the layout of the studio.

As you’ll see Karl mention in this class, this shoot would have been made a lot easier had we had a U-shaped cove. The key takeaway from this is that even with limitations, it’s still possible to achieve great results.

Studio lighting for car photography

Initial stages of lighting the car.

Throughout the shoot Karl works methodically to solve each problem as it arises: using additional white boards to extend the ceiling panel and create a makeshift U-cove. These simple DIY adjustments allowed Karl to minimise reflections while at the same time create gradient light across the majority of the car.

Studio lighting for car photography

DIY solutions were required to achieve the perfect lighting.

A similar technique was also demonstrated, but on a much greater level, in our Classic car photography on location class, where Karl photographed a classic car in a rented warehouse, using white polyboards to minimise reflections and achieve the perfect lighting.

Mercedes AMG GT top view

The final image.


  1. hrachess

    Hi Karl, another great tutorial! Big thanks! I watched all till the end very carefully, and compared the final result. But still can’t figure out how did you solve that left door weird shadows/reflections? did you eventually photoshopped it out? or you solved it in place? In 50:55 live view you can still see that weird shadow on the door not too far from the door handle. And it’s still remaining there till 55:59, then on 56:56 when you reshoot it and get rid off the window reflections, that shadow/reflection moved towards forward of the car and got worse. But in the final picture, it’s perfect soft light line along the whole left side including that door and it’s not interrupting anywhere with that dark shadows.. but during the whole process I could not see any shot where it does not exist. I got really curious if those type of things is fixed in post? or in place?

    P.S. by the way it would be great if you could add an “attachment” option here in comments section, so instead of a long text we could just attach a screenshot with circled mention on it, showing what I’m talking about 🙂 that would be very helpful!

  2. Hi Karl. The overhead scrim/ceiling…. Is that made out of metal frame that is used in walls? Plus, what materials are you using to make that ceiling? I know it’s not Lee diffusion paper….is it foam board? Awesome tutorial……thank you….

  3. Great workshop…if you need lights on the rims will you hit the light direct towards the rim or reflect it on the wall..

    1. Hi Lal, thanks. I’d probably make a smaller spot on the wall but if you wanted a higher contrast (no gradient) look then you could light directly with a suitable modifier at the correct angle.

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