CobraCountry's Policy Statement
re Prosumer and Professional Photographers
 As you browse down this page you'll witness just why we require (not negotiable) 
that you
as a professional or advanced amateur (prosumer) photographer
PHONE US FIRST before you start clicking your shutter.

Above: two shots by a pro photographer of an Indigo Blue Cobra... before & after following our Cobra Photography Tips.


Above: two shots by another pro photographer of a red Cobra... before & after following our Cobra Photography Tips.

ou'll witness on this page ample evidence that an advanced photographer—if he unwisely elects to ignore our advice and relies instead upon his own instinct and experience—is destined to capture mostly buzzard-bait snapshots of a Cobra even with the very finest of camera gear. And, conversely, by following our advice and our countless (photo) illustrations, a Cobra owner who can barely distinguish a camera from a camshaft will capture very good (i.e., buyer-motivating) photos with only a midrange consumer camera.

The difference is not in the camera equipment. The difference is the photographer's being fully acquainted with every aspect of the (Shelby Cobra–specific) subject matter and how to best go about capturing it.

Or not.

If you call yourself an advanced or professional photographer, then you should lunge for any opportunity to be introduced to distinctive subject matter that you're unacquainted with... before you begin snapping your shutter. That said, it's been my experience over nearly three decades that most... nearly all... advanced photographers scoff at that caveat. Because they don't need any advice. A pity.

I call 'em 'pixel-harvesting prima donnas.' And I'm being kind.

Photographing a Shelby Cobra (roadster or Coupe) requires serpent-specific expertise that (at this moment) you know nothing about. Nothing. In fact, even if indeed you're an experienced motorcar photographer, you must jettison much of what you've learned about general moto-photography in order to become a competent Cobra photographer.

As only one example (of dozens): the odds are you've no idea at all that you cannot capture good shots of a roadster cockpit [or a dashboard or an engine compartment] under direct sunlight. Cannot be done; ipso facto you cannot do it.

And yet at least 75% of the (outdoor) cockpit, dashboard and engine shots sent to us by professional and advanced amateur photographers were captured with the car positioned under direct sunlight. Sigh.

But don't take our word for it.... just for starters... take a gaze at the quartet of cockpit & dashboard images directly below. All four shot by a photographer ("Jacques") who lays claim to professional status.

Since I'm targeting the downside of capturing these shots under direct sunlight, I'll touch only briefly upon the self-evident fact that 'Jacques' is too close to the cockpit, thus morphing it into the dreaded trapezoid zone. The steering wheel is turned 88° to portside. The crimson keychain tag looks like a carnival pennant. And the BB cap and the blue wotzit in the map pocket should've been expunged before the clicking commenced.

When you position yourself as a professional photographer of any sort, The Devil is in the Details. Period.


(we'll call him 'Jacques') USING AN AWESOME DIGITAL CAMERA (a Nikon D800)
—'Jacques' is in the state of Minnesota— 

Above (cockpit & dashboard shots): These images were sent to us by a Cobra owner in Minnesota, shot by a photographer ('Jacques') who represents himself as a professional photographer. And he's packing a top-notch professional camera... indeed, a fine full-frame Nikon D800. 'Jacques' scoffed "I've no reason to look at those photography tips... I think I can show Mr. Scott a thing or two about car photography."

Yep. He sure did. He (in company with about a bazillion of his shutterbug brethren before him) showed me how to take moto photos that would make a buzzard gag. Or, if you prefer... how to take photos of a nice Cobra roadster that make it look like a boneyard parts car. But shucks... you be the judge.

   And just for comparison (below): cockpit & dashboard shots captured by the owners...

Below you see (top row) three photos of a Cobra cockpit; on the lower row, three photos of a Cobra dashboard. Each one shot by its owner using a consumer-grade digital camera and following our Tips. And just so you know... each one of these six Cobras sold on CobraCountry.

These six photos above were shot by their owner with a good midrange (or better) consumer-grade digital camera. Fine photography by these Cobra owners.

But you see, these Cobra owners followed our Cobra photography guidelines to the letter.

'Jacques' [who represents himself to be a professional] who captured those buzzard-bait snapshots—as is invariably
the case with every photographer who thinks he knows better than we do
—was supremely confident that he
didn't need to seek (much less heed) anyone's advice.


Perplexed by perspective?
It's really quite elementary, my dear Watson.

Getting the (lens-to-car) distance right for each specific angle of shot
is how you get your perspective right. Here's
Exhibit 1:

Above: frontal shot of an ERA 427 Cobra by an advanced photographer with a fine Canon XSi prosumer camera...
but who didn't follow our Cobra Photography Tips.
His photographer's gut instinct (or perhaps his long telephoto lens) prompted him to shoot from about 25 ft. (8 meters) in front of this fatbutted toad.

Above: frontal shot of another ERA 427 Cobra taken by the owner with a modest 'pocket' digicam (a Canon Powershot A1000)but who carefully followed our Cobra Photography Tips. That said, he positioned himself 6 ft. (2 meters) in front of this rapidly-approaching shark.
 Veteran photographersare you listening? 

For advanced photographers—a brief "perspective" on the issue of perspective: It may be routine practice for you to use "prime" (i.e., not "zoom") lenses, because of the typically better/sharper image quality compared to a similar-quality "zoom" lens. I occasionally still do it myself, although I typically use a camera with a splendid Carl Zeiss–engineered 5X (24–120mm) zoom lens that performs quite well. But the snag in using a prime lens is that it's human nature to routinely move (yourself and your camera) back & forth closer/further to/from the car to accommodate your lens. Sigh. Just as you must not move your camera—invariably to a lower elevation and further away from the car—to accommodate your pesky shadow when shooting in direct sunlight, you also must not alter your optimal lens-to-car distances to accommodate your prime lens. And, sigh, of course, you must not move your camera to accommodate your current zoom setting. If you unwisely do so, then you're completely ignoring the axiom that you must get your distance correct first to establish your aesthetically-desired "body shape/ perspective" [just take another look at those two frontal shots above]. Then use whatever lens—or zoom setting—you need to properly frame & crop that shot.

TBK (truth be known), the only purpose of a "zoom" lens is to efficiently crop each shot. For that reason I much prefer to refer to a 'zoom' lens as a 'cropping lens.' Because that's precisely what it is.

And you of course must be aware that changing lenses or zoom setting does not affect perspective, but merely magnifies and "demagnifies" your subject... just as any 'zoom' optical device [zoom binoculars, zoom telescope, zoom rifle scope, zoom microscope] does. If you wish to challenge me on that point—as photographers are wont to do—just know you're gonna lose that argument promptly, and big time.

Reiterated: you should never alter the (lens-to-car) distance of your camera to accommodate your prime lens, and you should never alter the position of your camera to accommodate your pesky shadow.

This page is dedicated, on the one hand, to protecting your client (and you, as a professional or advanced amateur photographer) from your own folly. Moreover, it's dedicated to introducing you to very-specific knowledge that you must have—and that you do not currently possess—in order to assist owners of these cars [Shelby Cobras, Daytona Coupes, GT40s and other similar sportscars of that era] to effectively attract the favorable attention of prospective buyers. These are buyers who—unlike the prospective buyers of your daily driver—are not local, but are dispersed all over the planet. That fact alone means that it is your photos that will play a commanding role in landing a serious buyer for the car... or that will send all of those prospective buyers fleeing for OPC [other peoples' Cobras].

This page is actually Part IV of four CobraCountry features dedicated to Cobra photography:

  • Part I is CobraCountry's Mission Statement for selling a Cobra (or GT40). Your starting point, whether you're the owner of the car or the designated shutter puncher.
  • Part II is a quick-scroll photo-comparison cavalcade: Cobra Photography Done Wrong, Done Right
  • Part III is our 21-page booklet: Cobra Photography Tips for Dipsticks, which includes 9 'Checklist' pages (pp.7-15), each page dedicated to each subject series
  • Part IV is this page—"CobraCountry's Policy Statement re Advanced Photographers"

You'll ignore Parts II and III of these resources [esp. those shooting Checklists]
only at your (and your clients') serious disadvantage.

   Next we'll move on to yet another crackerjack camera clicker who doesn't need anyone's advice—and who can
    whip out and cite a shrewd and carefully-calculated strategy behind every pixel matrix he's ever captured....

Tony Toby 
—'Toto' is in Phoenix, Arizona— Tony Toby
Regarding Toto's Fotos of the yellow Cobra above:

When 'Toto' emailed me his humongous (sigh: 20 megapixels each) JPEG images, I felt certain we were off to a thorny start. From the preposterous file sizes of his images alone, it was clear that he hadn't read my Tips. He asked me to critique his photos.

  • I gently opined [and as he could've read on p.5 of my Tips... 'preparing your digital camera'] that his 20mp [twenty megapixel... 5,000 x 4,000] image size is about 6 or 7 times as many pixels as anyone could ever need... unless his photos are perhaps destined to become panoramic wall murals for The Arizona Museum of Natural History. When I said that, in knee-jerk fashion he responded with some shrewdly-calculated motive for having chosen to shoot his JPEG images at that mammoth pixel count.
    You see, it couldn't be something he hadn't given thought to; rather, it had to be a key element of his shrewdly-calculated global strategy. Okay. I'm good.
  • I advised him that he needed to use his flash... or at least some form of auxiliary illumination [he could've found this as well... also on p.5 of my Tips], so to better even out the very uneven illumination of this car. 'Toto' responded with a shrewdly-calculated motive for not employing his flash. Okay. Um... I'm good.
  • When I advised him [regarding the 3/4-frontal shot at top left] that he was too far from the car [and he could've seen illustrated in vivid detail on p.11 (3/4-frontal shots) of my Tips], and thus the serpent's 'spirited persona' was forfeited and the car looks 'squatty and fat-butted,' he responded with a shrewdly-calculated motive for doing it like that as well. Okay.
  • When I advised him [regarding the broadside shot... and as he could've seen on p.12 (broadside shots) of my Tips] that he was, again for desirable perspective reasons, too distant from the car, and should be lined up with the front of the car, not with the doors [both of which missteps collaborate to give the car a rather awkward profile]... again he responded with some curious (and shrewdly-calculated) motive for doing it that way. Okay.
    While Toto's shrewdly premeditated 'strategic motives' were becoming awkwardly transparent, the warp and woof of the exchange was also a bit amusing. So I continued the critique that Toto had solicited...
  • I gently advised him that my Tips counsel you [Sigh: a total of no fewer than seven times] to not shoot your car in tree shade because the illumination is typically too chaotic [note especially the hodgepodge of light and splotchy shadows all over that cockpit shot]. He responded with some shrewdly-calculated motive for shooting in tree shade. Okay.
  • I advised him [regarding the cockpit shot] that he was too close to the car... you can easily see that his camera is directly above the passenger seatback. So the cockpit—indeed, the entire car—predictably came out shaped like a wedge of Gouda... or if you prefer, like a '32 Ford roadster... in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. That advisory is also right there in my Tips... (p.8, cockpit shots). You guessed it; he did that deliberately for yet another shrewdly-calculated reason... again, a constituent component of his global strategy. Okay.
  • I didn't tell 'Toto' that his head-on frontal shot looks like a daffodil-coloured squatting Budweiser bullfrog [the underlying reason is illustrated in graphic detail on p.10 (frontal shots) of my Tips]. But I wish I had. Because it does. And he would've retorted "I did it that way on purpose because I'm quite fond of Budweiser bullfrogs."
  • I also didn't tell him that he should turn on the parking lights [also on p.6... "Cobra Photography 101"]; on this yellow car especially, those amber lamps would impart a nice, eye-catching highlight effect. Why bother?
  • When I suggested that he was capturing too much real estate and not enough car in his photos [also on p.6 of my Tips], he said he did that intentionally to capture the allure of Arizona scenery as a backdrop. When I said "That's fine, but you're seeking to sell this Cobra, not a parcel of Arizona real estate," he promptly countered that he had some shrewdly-calculated motive for doing it this way. At that moment I could've given him a tip on how he could've simultaneously captured both the Cobra [with its proper 'striking'... pardon the pun... persona] and the real estate [in all its alfresco glory]... a win-win manoeuvre. Again, why bother?
  • Then 'Toto' asked me "Just why do you think you know so much about Cobra photography?" Even tho' his question clearly smacked of the opening move of an adolescent ambush, I gave him benefit of the doubt and answered his question just the same: "Well, it's in part because over nearly four decades I'm quite certain I've photographed more Cobras and Cobra replicas than anyone else on the planet... and I've tutored thousands of Cobra owners on how to photograph their cars. That'd be a couple of the reasons." Right on cue he sneered "Well whoopie doo, I guess I'm supposed to be impressed."
    Sigh. Just so you're dialed in, 'Toto'... staging that silly schoolyard 'Gotcha!' gained you no advantage.

Again, 'Toto' is [at least according to his own protestations] a seasoned photographer, and he's using a superb, full-frame Canon 6D professional-calibre camera. He wound up getting snarly with me and telling me he also has years of experience of photographing cars and (thus) he also knows what he's doing.

Okay. Fine with me. I wished him luck selling the car. With his shrewdly-staged snapshots. I bid 'Toto' a courteous adieu... while I was thinking "I'm outa here."

   And just in case you might think I'm being hard on 'Toto'...

... below are three photos of another yellow serpent shot by its owner in Kansas. He didn't know much about cameras or photography in general; he didn't nurse any agenda, and he certainly didn't have any (impromptu) shrewdly-calculated motives. For a camera all he had at his disposal was an old Sony Mavica. But he shrewdly followed our Tips. And he sold his Cobra and for a good price.

You can compare for yourself the photos below that its owner took with his modest Mavica—that would bring perhaps $25 on eBay—with Toto's Fotos up above that he shot with his $2,500 Canon 6D kit. I'm jus' sayin'...

But wait! Here's another yellow Cobra photographed by its owner (Bill Munholland) in Missouri. Like the owner above, in Kansas, he didn't know all that much about cameras or photography in general; he also didn't nurse any agenda and he didn't lay claim to any shrewdly-calculated motives.

For a camera he has a nice Nikon D60. And he followed our Tips. And he sold his Cobra and for a good price—along with several other Cobras he's sold on CobraCountry.

By this point you can p'raps see why my favorite Cobra photographers are Cobra owners themselves... who don't nurse any egocentric agenda and who make no claim to be a photographer... but who are instead motivated to listen and learn and get it right.

(we'll call him 'McQuaig') USING A PROFESSIONAL-GRADE

—'McQuaig' is in the state of Nevada—

Once again, ample evidence that a photographer [who represents himself as a professional]
can employ a splendid professional-grade camera to capture buzzard-bait snapshots.

(we'll call him 'Tex') USING A PROFESSIONAL-GRADE
DIGITAL CAMERA (again, a Canon 5D MkIII)
—'Tex' is in southern California— 

Top row: the two head-on frontal shots: the (caught-by-surprise) gasping guppy portraits of two Cobras. And with the visors straight up 'Tex' has invested these puppies (oops: guppies) with Groucho Marx's eyebrows. The grille area is dark and gloomy and ugly. The paint is splotchy and unevenly illuminated. As a predictable result, the lower surfaces are dirty looking.

Shucks, doesn't the image of either one of these serpents-for-sale make you
wanna sprint down to Western Union to wire your deposit?

Bottom row: the two 3/4-frontal shots: Sigh. Midday harsh sun, harsh shadows... paint finish is glary and splotchy and downright ugly... you see, 'Tex' recognizes no reason to use his flash [or any other auxiliary lighting] to smooth out the harsh overhead illumination. Nor does he seem to be aware that one shouldn't even attempt to conduct a moto-photo-shoot in the midday (high overhead) sun. Moreover, the camera is (sigh, predictably) too far away, so that the car is fat-butted and squatty looking; wheels are turned.... and in atypical (broadside) rotation, rendering an ungainly look. From this sharp angle of shot the wheelbase is abbreviated... thus the angle of attack collaborates with the (excess) lens-to-car distance to make it look even more squatty. The visors (on both cars) are unevenly tilted so that you get the impression the car is 'winking' at you [once again: The Devil is in the Details]; messy/striped asphalt pavement.

'Tex' could've deftly avoided every one of these missteps and his snapshots could've been much better... if only he read and heeded my shooting Checklists. But you see, like so many shutter punchers who represent themselves as a professional, he doesn't need to listen to anyone's advice.

'Tex' is yet another shutter puncher who persistently employs high-ticket, professional-grade camera equipment to capture buzzard-bait snapshots of these fine drivin' machines.

And below, for your comparison: photos shot by ABT (Anybody But 'Tex')
 Below you can see photos by owners who employed whatever digital camera they had at their disposal...
and could follow instructions on how to use it to their best advantage.

And they all sold their Cobra on CobraCountry.

Good photographs stimulate and motivate prospective buyers and thus play
a commanding role in helping owners to sell their Cobra.

Buzzard-bait snapshots make 'em run for the hills.

(we'll call him 'Jethro') USING A PREMIUM-GRADE
DIGITAL CAMERA (a fine Sony A6000)
—'Jethro' is in Atlanta— 

Sigh: Awkward/clumsy shape of the car (this silver serpent looks more like a certain amphibian... specifically, a fat-butted silver-coloured Budweiser bullfrog); poor contrast (the images appear as overcast on overcast on overcast); soft image [I'll wager that he used no camera-steadying device]; dim lighting on the wheels, dash, cockpit [and he's in a studio, for cryin' out loud]; the parking/brake lamps and dashboard lights are not turned on [sigh: right there in the Checklists]—thus missing an opportunity to spruce up the colourless complexion of his photos.

THE SILVER 'TRIKE.' Take one more close look at the "shape" of this silver serpent: because the camera is so close to the rear fender [no doubt less than 1 meter], the resulting body shape looks like a 3-wheeler—a pointy-nosed trike—even more than it resembles a bullfrog.

Understand, page 13 ["3/4-rear/entire car shots"] of my Cobra Photography Tips... if Jethro had bothered to merely look at the pictures... advises you "... you must back off to 25 ft. (8 meters) to slim-down "fat butt syndrome." Not to worry... page 14 ["3/4-rear/partial car shots"] advises you precisely how you can indeed move up closer to the back fender and get a good result. But Jethro didn't bother to look at that page either. The owner had implored him to at least phone me first for some expert pointers. But, of course, 'Jethro' declined.

'Jethro The Photographer,' you see, doesn't need anyone's advice.

Once again, ample evidence that a shutter puncher [who represents himself as a professional] can employ a splendid, premium-grade camera to capture fat-butted/ pointy-nose snapshots.

Even (sigh) in a studio.

6. BELOW—Cobra Photography SHOOTOUT#1:

Cool Prosumer Photographer ('Delbert') using his D80 Nikon, vs. the Cobra owner (Bob)
using his little Samsung for the first time—but who carefully followed our Cool Tips
—'Delbert' and Bob are in Albuquerque— 

The two owners in the examples below [the blue & white Cobra and the brown & gold Cobra] had to resort to 'Plan B' and take their own photos when their photographer presented them with the buzzard-bait snapshots you see on the LHS.


Below, on the LHS of each comparison pair, images captured by 'Delbert' and his Nikon D80. 'Delbert The Photographer' scoffed at the very suggestion of submitting to anyone's tips.

The medley of glare, gloom and plug-ugly you see below typifies Delbert's (and most other pro photographers') proclivity to scoff at any overture and any opportunity to get Cobra photography right.

Below, on the RHS of each pair are images captured by the owner (Bob) with his li'l Samsung TL320 digicam. Just so you're aware... this photo-shoot marked the very first time in his life that Bob had snapped the shutter of a camera.

Bob's Cobra sold to a buyer in Massachusetts (2,200 miles away), sight-unseen except for Bob's great photos.


7. BELOW—Cobra Photography SHOOTOUT#2:
Cool Prosumer Photographer ('Ricky') using his Canon EOS Rebel T3i...
vs. the owner's friend ('Karl') who had only a midrange digicam
to use—but who carefully followed our Cool Tips
—'Ricky' transfigures the ambience of Stevenson Ranch, California— 

I reserved this 'just desserts' dish for last. Best served cold, you see.

Ricky didn't ignore the owner's request that he phone me before he photographed his car. Au contraire, he phoned me promptly... to lay into me and impugn my photography tips and advise me that I know nothing about photography. He sneered that he'd show me a thing or two about how to photograph a Cobra. A quite disagreeable fellow.

For some curious reason he took a detour into boasting that he has a Press Pass. Whoa! Holy Mackerel! Ya' don't say!


Y'see, I've had a Press Pass (a dozen or so, in fact) since about the time Charlton Heston parted The Red Sea. And I began pressing shutters on SLR cameras with a Nikon F and a Miranda Sensorex in I Corps (South Vietnam) way back in the era of Iron Butterfly/ Creedence Clearwater/ 5th Dimension—1969 and '70. From Phu Bai to Hue to Camp Eagle to Camp Evans to Wonder Beach to Quang Tri to Dong Ha to Cam Lo and the A Shau Valley. And all the fire bases and landing zones and inhospitable/ malaria-ridden/ Agent Orange–marinated 'injun' country' in-between. And westward towards Laos along every klick of my 14-1/2 month combat zone odyssey. But I didn't want to interrupt Ricky's spellbinding account of his association credentials and moto-foto prowess just to tell him that.

Ricky wrapped up his ill-advised little ambush with a churlish admonition that I need to take a photography course.

Okay. I'm good with that. But I'll let you be the judge. In the LHS column below are the dazzling images captured by this self-accredited Maestro of Motorcar Photography. In the RHS column... well, see for yourself.

Did I mention that Ricky has a Press Pass?

Below, on the LHS of each juxtaposed pair, are the
images captured by 'Press Pass Ricky' and his spiffy
Canon EOS Rebel T3i.

Below, on the RHS of each pair, a similar shot captured by Karl, using a midrange Sony digicam... but who followed our Tips to the very letter. I rest my case.

Coda: This brown & gold Arntz Cobra sold to a buyer in Switzerland... sight-unseen except for those
good photos you see on the RHS. Buyer & seller both happy campers.

Meanwhile, there are persistent murmurings that 'Ricky' can be observed boogalooing about
 Valencia Town Center whilst dangling his Press Pass in front of bemused passersby.

s you may have deduced by now, I don't cut much slack to fellow photographers who scoff at investing a few minutes of their precious time to learn how to shoot these (Shelby-genus) cars. They typically swagger around with cool camera gear slung over their shoulder, all-seeing and all-knowing, and conclude the song & dance by handing their clients a flash card chock full of birdcage-liner snapshots. Like the GawdAwful 'professional' photo specimens you see on this page.

Saddest part is, not one of those pixel-harvesting prima donnas is even vaguely aware that his Cobra (and Daytona Coupe and GT40) photos qualify as bona fide buzzard bait.

Case in point—Rick Schrager's seven images in the LH column above encompass nearly everything one can do wrong in photographing any open roadster. But whoa... I keep forgettin'... Ricky has a Press Pass.

Pro photographers and their hapless clients have been submitting these 'rank amateur–variety' snapshots to us for over 20 years... a colossal waste of our time, every time. And an equally colossal waste of their clients' time and/or money. If that characterization describes you... not to worry. Just advise your client that if he plans to use your birdcage liners, he'll hafta try to sell his drivin' machine on CraigsList or AutoTrader or perhaps Because CobraCountry's minimum standards are way beyond your competence level.

On the other hand, if you do not count yourself among that genre of clueless camera-clickers...

your first step after you've wended your way down this page is to pick up the phone and call me to describe your client's Cobra (or Daytona Coupe or GT40 or GT350) so we can collaborate as a well-oiled team to do the best job of marketing his (or her) car.

661-251-2223 Pacific Time

And a gentle reminder to advanced photographers from page 4 of our Cobra Photography Tips for Dipsticks:

"There are so many folks who just don't have the time to do things right. But they always have 
plenty of time to do 'em wrong... and to do 'em over."
William Maxey Hannon

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