Nov 162012 photo

Old and abandoned farm vehicles are a magnet to photographers, professional and amateur alike. Often found at the edge of a field or by an ancient barn, they tell a story, sometimes a sad one, that begs to be explored and captured. By using these twelve useful tips anyone can ensure themselves the best results when shooting these old trucks and vehicles.

As a viewer you may know our passion for shooting old things and I thought it would be good to share these tips with others who like to do the same.

These techniques can be applied whether your have a small pocket camera or high end DSLR. Of course the latter can offer a wider range of abilities, but ultimately it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the passion of the photographer. Learn the passion. Grow the passion.

While the theme here is old vehicles, these techniques can be applied to other subjects as well. Old farms are often home to other interesting things worthy of photographing, old buildings, rusty farm machinery and so on.

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These trucks were found at various places around Saskatchewan, however in the prairies one need not travel far to find suitable subjects. Nearly every farm has a back lot full of old vehicles – farmers never seem to throw anything away. Be sure to get permission though. Often the farmer can tell you the history of what you are photographing, further adding to the interest.

These tips and photos are complements of In our business we have used John’s services before and highly recommend him. Shooting for some twenty years his professionalism and work are exemplary. Take a look at the pictures he provided for this article and see for yourself.

The tips…

1) Tell a STORY with your photo. How does it make you feel? How does it fit in the environment? This is the most important tip. You want the viewers to feel what you feel. If the subject is melancholy, and old trucks often are, make sure this comes across.

2) Always show 2 or 3 sides. Rarely do they shoot the best head-on. Try 3/4 angles, reverse angles, that sort of thing.

3) Watch the backgrounds closely and compose them as carefully as you do your subject. Empty fields, old buildings, other old machinery can all help round out your image. Or they can kill it, so just make sure that the background is not too cluttered or busy and taking away from what you want to say.

4) Get close, but not too close. Make sure the intended subject is the subject the viewer sees. Too far away and it may not be clear what the focus of your shot is. To close and the overall story might we be weak.

5) Use foreground, mid ground and background to give it “depth”. Often these old vehicles are in open environments and you can use those broad expanses to your advantage.

6) Move around and experiment with composition. Take picture after picture, play, study, feel. The more you shoot the better the odds you’ll get that “special” one.

7) Decide on whether your subject shoots well from an alternate angle. Unusual perspectives can often produce interesting results.

8) Walk around it freely, get a different point of view. Study, study, study, get to know your subject.

9) Always shoot maximum megapixels. This goes without saying, but often one finds others are shooting at less than their maximum setting. Why, it’s not like storage is an issue? A large picture allows for more flexibility when editing and if you need smaller pictures, convert them in post.

10) For best results shoot 1-2 stops below wide open. Most lens are at their sharpest when set accordingly. A crisp image puts you one step closer to greatness.

11) Post production is your friend. But at the same time there is no need to over-process. If you need to retouch or say convert to black and white, here is where a suitable photoshop type program can come in handy.

Be sure to comment on this post (below pictures).

12) A tripod can be another good buddy. Even in daylight it can be useful. It will allow precise alignment of your pictures and will assure the sharpest possible image.

Oh, and one last thing, have fun!

I hope these tips have been of use and we welcome your feedback. These photos are courtesy of and copyright John Sharpe and are not to be duplicated.

We occiasoionaly collaberate with John Shapre and to see some of those reports, follow these links…
Abandoned and old part 2 – with
Abandoned and old part 1 – with
Deanz Garage – with

If you wish more information, by all means contact us!

Date: 2012.
Location: The back roads of Saskatchewan. photo

A large group of old trucks languish in a field.


A couple Fords in retirement. picture

A forlorn looking Chevy pickup.


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9 Comments on "12 tips for shooting old vehicles – by"

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Nice!!! Those shots are amazing and the tips incredibly helpful. Thanks for posting, this is getting a facebook like.

Terekove Boi
Terekove Boi

A great article those shots are top notch!


A fantastic article! These should not be considered tips but rather photography rules. No, commandments. So simple yet I am willing to bet that many, professionals included, overlook and give little thought to the techniques mentioned here. I have seen far too many pictures that are just rotten that could have been great had they just done what has been addressed in this informative report.

Christina H
Christina H

WOW!!! You guys are so amazing! Love them pictures!!

Vicki Zimmer
Vicki Zimmer

Gorgeous, absolutely love these pictures!


My dad had an International like in the first picture, in the background. It was old by the time he got it and it was a rough riding, drafty POS, but it never once broke down the whole time he had it. Even at -30 it would start every time.

Rob Porter
Rob Porter

A great article!