Prosumer and Professional Photographers
As you browse down
this page you'll witness just why we require (not negotiable)
a professional or advanced amateur (prosumer) photographer
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 photographerif he unwisely elects
to ignore our advice and relies instead upon his own instinct
and experienceis 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
Cobraspecific) subject matter and how to best go about
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
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
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.
BELOW: COCKPIT & DASHBOARD SHOTS
by a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
call him 'Jacques') USING AN AWESOME DIGITAL CAMERA (a
in the state of Minnesota
And just for comparison
(below): cockpit & dashboard shots captured by the owners...
& dashboard shots):
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.
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
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
snapshotsas is invariably
the case with every photographer who thinks he knows better than
we dowas supremely confident that he
didn't need to seek (much less heed) anyone's advice.
really quite elementary, my dear Watson.
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
but who didn't follow our Cobra Photography Tips.
photographer's gut instinct (or perhaps his long telephoto lens) prompted him to
about 25 ft. (8
in front of this fatbutted
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.
he positioned himself 6 ft.
in front of this rapidly-approaching shark.
Veteran photographersare you listening?
For advanced photographersa
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 Zeissengineered 5X (24120mm)
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 camerainvariably to a lower elevation and further
away from the carto 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 lensor zoom settingyou 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 pointas photographers are
wont to dojust 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.
page is actually Part IV of four CobraCountry features
dedicated to Cobra photography:
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
haveand that you do not currently possessin 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 whounlike the prospective buyers of your daily
driverare 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].
Parts II and III of these resources [esp. those shooting
- Part I is CobraCountry's Mission
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
only at your (and your clients') serious disadvantage.
we'll move on to yet another crackerjack camera clicker
who doesn't need anyone's adviceand who can
whip out and cite a shrewd and carefully-calculated
strategy behind every pixel matrix he's ever captured....
BELOW: FOUR SHOTS
by a 'PROSUMER' PHOTOGRAPHER
call him 'Toto') USING A PROFESSIONAL-GRADE DIGITAL CAMERA (Canon EOS
Tony Toby 'Toto' is in
Phoenix, Arizona Tony Toby
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 cockpitindeed, the
entire carpredictably 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.
- 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
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
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 Mavicathat
would bring perhaps $25 on eBaywith 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 pricealong 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.
BELOW: THREE SHOTS
a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
call him 'McQuaig') USING A PROFESSIONAL-GRADE
DIGITAL CAMERA (Canon 5D MkIII)
is in the state of Nevada
that a photographer [who represents himself as a professional]
can employ a splendid professional-grade camera to capture buzzard-bait
4. BELOW: FOUR SHOTS by a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
call him 'Tex') USING A PROFESSIONAL-GRADE
DIGITAL CAMERA (again, a Canon 5D MkIII)
'Tex' is in southern
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.
doesn't the image of either one of these serpents-for-sale make
wanna sprint down to Western Union to wire your deposit?
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
'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.
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
And they all
sold their Cobra on CobraCountry.
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
5. BELOW: TWO SHOTS by a PROSUMER PHOTOGRAPHER
(we'll call him 'Jethro') USING A PREMIUM-GRADE
DIGITAL CAMERA (a fine Sony A6000)
'Jethro' is in
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
'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-wheelera pointy-nosed trikeeven more
than it resembles a bullfrog.
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.
(sigh) in a studio.
BELOWCobra Photography SHOOTOUT#1:
PHOTOGRAPHER" vs. "COOL TIPS"
Prosumer Photographer ('Delbert')
using his D80 Nikon, vs. the Cobra owner (Bob)
little Samsung for the first timebut who carefully
followed our Cool Tips
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.
the RHS of each
pair are images captured by the owner (Bob) with his li'l Samsung
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.
BELOWCobra Photography SHOOTOUT#2:
PHOTOGRAPHER" vs. "COOL TIPS"
('Ricky') using his Canon EOS Rebel
vs. the owner's
friend ('Karl') who
had only a midrange digicam
to usebut who carefully followed our Cool Tips
the ambience of Stevenson Ranch, California
Did I mention
that Ricky has a Press Pass?
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 Dimension1969 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 Orangemarinated '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.
the LHS of each
juxtaposed pair, are the
images captured by 'Press Pass Ricky' and his spiffy
Canon EOS Rebel T3i.
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
good photos you see on the RHS. Buyer & seller both happy
are persistent murmurings that 'Ricky' can be observed boogalooing
Valencia Town Center whilst dangling his Press Pass
in front of bemused passersby.
661-251-2223 Pacific Time
a gentle reminder to advanced photographers from page 4 of our
Cobra Photography Tips for Dipsticks:
are so many folks who just don't have the time to do things right.
But they always have
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 pointRick
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 amateurvariety'
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
JibJab.com. 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.
plenty of time to do 'em wrong... and to do 'em over." William Maxey Hannon
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