Avoid Cliches


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cliché or cliche (UK /ˈklʃ/ or US /klɪˈʃ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning, or effect, and even, to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.[1] (source Wikipedia)

Too often we photographers fall into the trap of shooting the same type of images that we have seen for years. With automobiles and car shows we will often shoot the entire car or some detail like a hood ornament, etc. I suggest you try moving beyond those cliched shots and approach the subject with an abstract approach that still speaks to the essence of the subject but isn’t so obvious.

In this image I fell in love with the bright yellow paint and the complimentary red and blue accents. I chose to use them as leading lines that reinforced the diagonal pattern of the clouds above the car. The blue sky is a direct compliment to the yellow color and also picks up on the blue pinstripes on the red louvers as it also provides background interest to the composition . While there is no question that the subject is an automobile the overall effect is to emphasize color and composition instead of being just another photo of a car.

I used my regular HDR brackets +2, 0 and -2 EV and processing with NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 which allowed me to capture and emphasize things such as the texture in the clouds and the reflections in the the door. I finished the image in Aperture 3 using some minor adjustments to the blue and yellow color channels, cropping and sharpening.

12 thoughts on “Avoid Cliches

  1. Nicely done. Though, I admit, I find it very hard to get my own HDR works to come out with nearly the same sharpness.


    J. T. Pedersen

    734 516 0139 | 720 440 2380

    Software Business Management Consulting

    jt@321-ignite.com | In-One-Page

    1. Thanks J.T. I teach a workshop on using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to get the style you are looking for from hyperrealistic to realistic to highly stylized.

      My next one is coming up this fall.

  2. Nick, this is so timely because two weeks ago I took my Canon G15 to a local classic car show. I have no idea about how to take the “standard” shots of these cars, and that may have been to my advantage–I just did what seemed right for me, and that indeed included abstracts. Thank you for this great post! When I get round to processing some of my shots, I think I’ll post them in a gallery on Flickr. I’ll send you the link since I’d like you to have a quick look.
    Is your workshop online or in person?

    1. Thanks Nancy I think not knowing what has been done is sometimes a great asset in that you bring no preconceptions to the project. As for my HDR workshop it is in person. It is very hands on and requires the participants to be in the same room with me so that we can work together. Each attendee brings their laptop and we work through several exercises using source files I provide; after that section we then start working with participant’s personal images, We cover the process from capturing the bracket sets through processing using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and finishing the processing in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.

      I’m open to traveling to other cities as long as I have enough people enroll to make it feasible.My class size limit is 15 people so that I can give each person individual attention when we start the hands on portion I expect each attendee to be comfortable with fundamental post processing in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture since a lot of the finishing touches are applied after using the NIK plug-in.

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