I am proud to show off one of my pride and joys in life, my 2005 BMW 330xi that has just hit 200,000 miles this weekend. This was my first purchased car when I was 23, a proud moment in my life – a new premium luxury car with my own hard earned money only a year after graduating from college. It was a status symbol, but by no means the main reason why I have such passion and pleasure for driving, it’s just in my soul. I admit I wasn’t nearly as knowledgeable about cars back then as I am now, thanks to the fact that German performance cars are high maintenance, I almost feel like a mechanic.
Can you tell a man’s character by how he treats his cars or possessions? I will tell you about my relationship with my car and you can be the judge. I wanted my car to express my taste, be unique, and stand out from the many other 3-series out there. I started modifying the car before the payments were even halfway finished, from exterior and interior aesthetics to intake and suspension work. The style of my car gradually evolved from a sporty-aggressive-blacked-out-slammed back to a stock-comfort setup as I got older (and having a dedicated weekend car). Through out the years of modifying and upgrades, there were also a lot of time and money spent repairing and maintaining the car. I even keep a detailed spreadsheet on all the work done, and I would be embarrassed to reveal exactly how much extra I’ve thrown into the car. I’ve tried to do as much of the mechanical work by myself as possible with the tools available, from changing rear suspension, interior upgrades, electronics hard-wiring, to engine maintenance. While most people would suggest selling the car sooner and upgrading to a new car, I felt I was committed to mine and considered this my expensive project car. I’ve learned a great deal on the mechanics and electronics of cars and it gives me great pleasure to know I can fix something with my own hands, with the help of my friends and the internet. I also spent countless hours detailing the car, memorizing every curve and corner of the body inside and out. Perhaps I did grow a bond with my car affectionately named “Boba” (he’s black, round, and shiny). On another note, giving your car a good name helps your friends (especially females) grow a bond with your car as well.
There were times where I wish I had a new car, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of Boba. Like everything else I own, I stay pretty committed to using the most out of it until its lifespan is beyond the intended amount, i.e. a DSLR with shutter actuations well over its rated quantity, or using a smartphone or tablet for 2-3 generations. Perhaps that’s the Asian side of me showing through. As the years went by witnessing such a large population of E46 (2000-2005 3-series) enthusiasts made me want to keep the car even more. This was going to be a classic someday, regarded as one of the best bodies and engines BMW has ever produced, even though that applies specifically to the M version, the fact that my all-wheel-drive version is in the same family made it just as special. Even through the seemingly constant repairs and maintenance, through many of my own personal doubts, I told everyone I would try to hit 200,000 miles on this German performance car. I’ve had many fun road trips alone or with friends in Boba, and he’s been faithful and reliable on all of them. We’ve been racing together. We’ve smiled, vented, sung, and cried together, and yes, even made love in. We’ve traveled together enough distance to circle the earth eight times.
I have truly enjoyed most of my time spent inside Boba, and while most people only see their cars as a tool to get from point A to B, I argue that if you are going to spend a third of your life commuting in your car, why not make it an enjoyable time? You commute to work to make money to make your life better. I am not suggesting major performance or aesthetic upgrades for everyone, but a little customization to anything you own can instantly transform it to something uniquely yours or even easier to use. I really don’t mind the few times I get stuck in traffic because I have 6 sources of music available: iPod, Sirius-XM, radio, CD, Pandora, Spotify. I have a perfect console that is customized to my liking, such as custom docking stations for both satellite radio and phone. All electronics (iPod, radar, dashcam, satellite, phone charger) are hardwired for a clean wireless look. I never let any trash stay in the car, it is always ready for presentation, and people are always surprised my car is over 9 years old! Your car is one of the most expensive things you own, why treat it as just a tool when it can bring so much pleasure into your life? I can admit that sometimes I can’t help but smile when a good song is on, the weather is perfect, and it’s just me and the road.
This is my tribute to hitting a milestone in one of my greatest pleasures in life, driving. You don’t have to be a gearhead or engineer to appreciate the shear pleasure of driving. It is an internal feeling anyone can have, being on the road, being in control, cruising down engulfed in your own thoughts, or music so loud you can’t even think, enjoying company with friends in a small intimate space, or being your escape or hiding spot. I encourage more of you to treat your cars with love and care, as part of your family, and it will really repay with more joy and happiness in your life.
Below is just a Happy-200k photo shoot for my Boba. He’s far from perfect condition, he’s rough on the edges, but he brings joy to my life!
This past weekend was supposed to be a great night for a meteor shower, so I took a late night drive up Palisades Parkway to 9W through Black Rock Forest in New York and stopped at a lookout. It was nearly pitch black with a hint of city lights in the distance. Unfortunately while I was busy setting up the camera and taking photos, I missed the few shooting stars that my friend witnessed.
The photos are all single exposures, taken with a Canon 16-35mm 2.8L on a full-frame body, 30 second exposures with a remote. The foreground was lit by the iPhone flash and the lens was manually focused. It’s a good idea to take multiple photos with slightly different focusing distances in case you misfocus the first photo.
She was a guest at the wedding, her fierce eyes pierced me like a harpoon and I could not escape her grasp. Every moment was spent trying to get another glimpse of her, maybe she noticed, hopefully not. Like a prey deathly afraid of it’s predator, I dare not approach her but always kept her in my peripheral sight. I escaped unscathed, yet gained nothing, or so I thought.
Days pass and I could not cease thinking about the beauty I’ve witnessed, and by request the bride gave me permission to reach out. Beyond expectations, she accepted my invitation. She risked following me into the unknown, and surfaced in love with the art we had created together. The harpoon remains embedded in me, I don’t want to be free. I wait for the day I am completely pulled aboard and share the same path.
Below you will see a composite from the evening photos. The main shot is the ambient light from the street. Other shots of Mila and the smoke were taken with a Canon Speedlite on a Quantum battery, triggered remotely by an Aputure Trigmaster (more reviews on the device in a future post). The camera is on a tripod while I hand held the flash at different angles pointing at Mila, and my assistant Tiffany would press the camera shutter on my command.
My favorite model, Mila is lit with two Canon 580 exII, triggered remotely, shot with a Canon 16-35mm and a 70-200mm. I metered the camera to expose the sky/clouds, and adjusted the flash power settings to lighten up the foreground. The image was desaturated using Hue/Saturation, while individually desaturating each color channel except for red and a little bit of yellow. A few Curves layers were added to create the mood.
Hover over the flash at the bottom to see the process.
I realized I never posted these two driving videos, both were recorded last year. The first drive was through Bear Mountain in my Z4 M Roadster. Unfortunately only one GoPro was in HD, and the one viewing my car was low-res. The second was a rental car driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I can’t wait till the weather warms up and I can make more polished videos with my new GoPro Hero HD.
Having the right accessories in your car changes your whole driving experience, which is why I am dedicating a whole post just to a phone car mount. I’ve seen many variations of universal phone mounts and brackets, some are universal and some are device specific. There are different mounting methods such as suction cups, vent mounts, dash mounts, and custom fits.
While most people understand the basic difference between wide angle and telephoto angle is how much you can see in an image, they do not realize there’s a change in perspective, distortion, and depth of field when you change from wide to telephoto. The same rules apply to all lens, whether it’s a DSLR or compact, if you learn the basic rules, you can become very effective in taking photos in the way you intended.
Wide angle would be considered 35mm or below, and telephoto would be 85mm and above.
Depth of field
Wide angle produces a larger depth of field while telephoto produces a more shallow depth of field. When you shoot wide at f/2.8, most of your scenery will still be in focus, whereas a telephoto at f/2.8 will be focused only one a certain point with everything else blurred due to more shallow depth of field.
If you have a cheaper lens that does not stay at the same aperture when zooming in or out, you will lose light when zoomed into telephoto. A 70-200mm f/2.8L lens will stay at f/2.8 from 70mm all the way to 200mm. A cheap 55-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens will change from a maximum of f/3.5 at 55mm to f/5.6 at 135mm, you already know that you’re losing light just by zooming in. Even though a compact point and shoot does not list the specs, the same rules apply, the more you zoom in, the less light comes in. Never zoom in without flash or tripod when shooting indoors on a compact!
As you change from wide angle to telephoto, the perspective and distortion changes. A more skewed perspective is not necessarily worse than an accurate one – you can use either to your advantage. In wide angle, the perspective is stretched, lines converge into a far-away vanishing point, objects closest to the lens are large, and become significantly smaller as they move away from the camera. This is why you can squish your loved ones between two fingers when you place it in front of a camera, there is a huge difference in size vs distance. A telephoto lens will keep the distortion at a minimum, the vanishing point is less obvious, and objects stay closer in size even at different distances.
Some real world examples include people photography. Why do people always suggest telephoto lens as a better portrait lens? That’s because a large telephoto lens will not distort a person, and keeps everything in proportion. Accuracy is important in most situations unless you specifically want to distort the subject. Ideally, it would be best to shoot a person with a lens anywhere between 100mm to 300mm, but you would have to stand half a block away! The same results apply to any object, like a car.
The wide angle photo has an extreme perspective, the front of the car is extremely large and scales down dramatically as it moves away from the camera. The dumpster shrinks a lot, and the pickup truck in the background is only about the size of my rear view mirror. You know for a fact this is not an accurate size in real life – you know it’s perspective.
The telephoto view is much less distorted, the car has more proper proportions, the dumpster grew in size. Even though the car fills in the same amount of space in the picture frame, you will notice a lot less of the background is visible. The telephoto lens narrows its field of view. Not only do objects get smaller, there is also a distortion as you look at the front of the car. You will notice the wide angle photo bulges or bends the front of the car into a much rounder shape – imagine doing that to a person’s face!
Which photo is better? That’s your opinion. An accurate representation may be your desire, or you can have a more artistically rendered representation of an object. I like the wide angle because it makes the hood aggressively larger than the mid-section – that is what a roadster is. I am emphasizing the “land shark” nickname of this car. The narrower windshield makes the car look more streamlined as well.
How many of you guys would make it a point to teach your female partners how to drive better or even how to drive a manual transmission car? There’s something very attractive about a woman who has the skills and passion to drive well, and can tame a powerful beast with her delicate yet firm grip. Not only can you share a passion together dominating twists and turns, talk about your favorite on/off ramps, or both get turned on by a sexy exhaust note or high RPM, she can actually drive your car when you’re too drunk or tired. I’m interested in meeting more women with a love of performance driving, and maybe sneak in some portraits of them with their ride, or if any ladies just wants to shoot in mine, I’ll come pick you up.
As if having a blacked out car wasn’t a magnet enough for the five-o, I’ve added a hot red roadster to the line up, Imola Red to be exact. There’s enough trunk space to fit my camera bag and a weekend getaway bag. All photos taken with a Canon S90.
2007 BMW M Roadster
This past Sunday was the most ideal weather and time of year to be taking car photos, so I organized a shoot with some friends and e46fanatics.com forum guys and girls. In fact, it was the best time of the year to take photos of absolutely anything outdoors. Without professional rigging or planning, I just had people show up and I’d wing the shoot just like I do for every other shoot of mine.
My camera rig was a Canon 5D, Canon 24-70mm 2.8L with 8x ND filter on a ball-head mount with a metal pole and clamp and wired remote, handheld outside the car at 45-50mph. We drove on Palisades Parkway which is probably one of the smoothest and cleanest highways so I wasn’t worried about rocks chipping my equipment. Shutter speeds of about 1/60 to 1/90 would be enough to create the blur. This was a first for me, and hopefully I can experiment more with cars in the future.
El Bob went to his very first BMW meet at Paul Miller. He saw a lot of pimped out rides though none of them are close to his P.I.M.P. status.
I’ve had the ümnitza Predator Chromiums for maybe 2 years and have gone through 2 sets of rings and 2 ballasts, and I also hate the cold weather issues. Recently my driver’s side angel eyes quit working. Perhaps I did a bad soldering job, but this time I made sure I would do it cleaner and add additional insulation.
I ordered the 60-LED Orions as soon as I heard about them, and it was a pretty easy upgrade. Instead of using the plugs they provided, I soldered the wires, then shrink wrapped and insulated, then more layers of electrical tape!
Right out of the box, I noticed the LEDs (when off) have a slight yellow tint to them which bothered me. However, after installation, it will no longer be visible.
The one complaint is the wires direct from the rings are too short. The DRL ring leaves enough length, but the HID ring barely makes it out the rear. The multi-level clipping system is awesome! I wanted to re-adjust the depth but felt like I can never remove the clip again, which is a good thing. It was an extremely tight fit while reassembling my headlight casing, which I thought was good too because it meant a more snug fit and less chance for the rings to vibrate. This time around the rings absolutely feels more solid and unlikely to break, unlike the Chromiums.
I’ve been driving with these new lights for 2 days and I love them. Yes, you can definitely see the individual LEDs if you’re up close, but it’s still very bright during the day and ridiculously bright at night. The standard color rings have a higher color temperature than my stock 5k HIDs. Looking at the rings at night is pretty much like looking at bright halogen bulbs, it’s that bright. The rings also fades nicely on and off with the remote, and they don’t flicker like in the videos. I believe the flickering is a camera issue as I tried making a video myself.
So far absolutely no cold weather issues with low 20’s to low 40’s temperature here in NJ. Photos taken with a Sony DSC-W170.
Kiwassa Lake is right below Lake Saranac, which was my original destination, but I wanted a cabin right next to a lake. The location was a 5 hour fun and beautiful scenic drive. The first two days were rained out, but the third and final day cleared up. I woke up at 10am and literally had a 15 minute window to take the lake shots before the waves started. I used my Canon 16-35mm and Canon 70-200mm. The car photos were taken with my Sony W170.