1. Look through a few R/C magazines to get ideas on the types of pictures to take. The photographers for professional R/C magazines have been doing their job for years, so it's not a bad idea to borrow ideas from them on the types of pictures to take. Watch how they set their backgrounds, lighting, framing and positioning in their pictures. Take note of the types of shots they have, whether it's action or still photography. Don't worry if you don't have an expensive camera, not many people do - you may be able to borrow one and in many cases it doesn't matter anyway - you can't fake good photo sense, a nice paintjob and amazing effort.
2. Good angles on the cars in the picture (lower is usually better, but a higher angle is sometimes good). Look at these examples below:
You can't go wrong with the three "classic" car angles: Front Three-Quarter
and a High Side View
If you have a cool hood or roof detail, go for a Top View also
Side View is good if you have a nice graphic on the doors
Zoomed-in shots can be nice too - just make sure your camera can handle it!
Another example of a zoomed-in angle
If you send in only one picture, this is a good angle - just make sure the entire car is in the frame
This...is just about the perfect "static" (not moving) R/C car picture
We don't get too many action shots, but this is a good one. Just be prepared to take many pictures to get a good one!
3. Good backgrounds, settings and lighting
Natural sunlight is the best light you can use. Indoor pictures can be tough because incandescent and flourescent lighting isn't that bright, plus a flash at night or indoors is usually TOO bright. Also, you have to deal with things like carpet, chairs, tables, electric cords and other visual distractions when taking a picture inside.
Notice the very clean backgrounds on the pictures above, as well as the bright lighting. Where the light isn't full sunlight, diffused bright light works almost as well.
Real cars are a great background - but only if they match
Cool natural backgrounds are nice
Use the appropriate setting for each kit when possible
Make sure you have good contrast between the car and the background - this is why asphalt is good in most situations
Include yourself if you want! Make sure your eyes are open, though
Groups of R/C cars or trucks usually turn out good - plus they show off how many you have!
A nearly perfect picture - great background!
Use natural, full sunlight whenever possible! And make sure the sun is behind YOU, not the CAR
4. Trim those body posts!
Too many R/C enthusiasts don't trim their body posts when taking pictures of their car, or racing. The logic is usually "what if I want to fit another body on the car?" Body posts are about $4 a set, it won't kill you to have a couple of extra sets - one long, one short and one in between so you can swap bodies or whatever. Besides, it's the one sure badge of a novice, and no one wants to look like a novice, right?
This car turned out fine, but the body posts break up the "lines" of the body, slowing your eyes as you gaze over the car. It's basic design principles.
5. A minimum of work needed on the picture to "clean it up" - we use Adobe Photoshop to modify the pictures...sometimes. What we prefer to do is resize, save the big picture, make the thumbnail (the small picture), save the thumbnail and that's it. Anything taking much longer reduces the chances of your car making to the HPI Racer's Gallery!
Digital cameras are NOT a necessity, but it does make it very easy to edit and email the pictures
Larger pictures are easier to work with, because you have more "slack" to edit
"Cropping", or trimming the picture is helpful - this one had a date stamp
Don't be afraid to use photo editing programs, this picture was done by the car owner's wife
Grainy or very dark pictures are hard - this is the result after editing
Webcam pictures are usually dark, very small and grainy, making them very hard to work with - this is an exceptionally good webcam picture
This picture just needs more light or a different color body to make it "pop"
If you put your R/C car on your real car, make sure they are both clean
As we say above, you don't need to have an expensive digital camera, fast computer, expensive software and graphic artist skills to make a nice picture. Even with a disposable camera and good natural lighting you can take excellent picture, it just comes down to being patient and getting the right background, subject and lighting. The digital camera, computer and software just make it easier - without these you just need a little more time and skill. Then when you do get access to that stuff it's just that much easier to get a good shot! (Another plus of digital cameras - no film or developing costs!)
One thing we know doesn't work too well are the small webcams that sit on your desk or monitor - the pictures they output are usually too small and too dark to be able to do much with. Just about anything else is fine!
6. Try to send us original, fresh paint jobs on HPI bodies mounted on an HPI chassis. Don't send us a picture of a body that has seen too much race action, and unless your paint job is really unique, don't send us something we've seen too much of!
There are two basic paint jobs: race cars or street cars. Race cars can be replicas of real teams or a team you've made up on your own. Many R/C racers have adopted the "R/C style" paint job with swoops of bright (sometimes neon) color, drips, flames, etc. Street cars are usually one-color paint jobs, possibly with decals to make it look a little sporty. Either way, here are some examples of good paint jobs:
Here is a typical R/C style paint job
A nice, simple and clean street car paint job
We call this a replica paint job
This could be based on a real race car color scheme
7. Also, if you have some unique thing about your car or truck, include a picture of that and a short description!
Nitro 2 with a supercharger (don't ask us if it works!)
Nitro Rush converted to dirt oval racer
Concours winner! Nice trophy, too
Steve Dinan's personal car for the background
8. Be sure to include your name and location! We get too many submissions with no name or location info! People like to know where other racers are located, especially if they are near them.
9. Picture files can be too big or too small. Pictures should be between 50 KB and 1 MB (1024 KB) in file size, each. Our thumbnails are 113 pixels across (1.5" at 72 dpi), so make sure your pictures are at least 400-700 pixels wide. And remember, if we have to edit the picture too much, we won't be able to use it. Include your pictures as attachments, not in the body of your email. JPG files work best for us and can be opened and saved in any image editor. Try not to have any spaces in the file name, and if you can keep the extensions (.jpg, etc.) in lowercase letters it makes it easier for us to use your pictures.
So that's it. With practice and a little bit of dedication you can be taking great pictures of your pride and joy in no time!
- Look through our R/C Photography Tips to help you take the best pictures possible! Remember that submissions are judged on best overall picture quality, paintjob and other factors.
- Make sure your pictures are between 200kb to 1mb each in file size.
- Please send no more than your BEST 4-7 pictures.
- Please make your file names have NO special characters (#, /, ?, !, etc.).