Posts Tagged BMW

Fall Drive 2015

It was that time of year again when the foliage fills my eyes with beautiful fiery reds, oranges, and yellows, the cold crisp air wakes me up early in the morning, and all I want to do is grab the steering wheel and whip my car around mountain roads, climb some hills, and kick up some fallen leaves behind me. Of course it wouldn’t be as fun to do a cruise by myself, which is why I always organize a small drive with my buddies, old and new faces, so we can chase each other around, get some good rolling shots of their rides, and enjoy good food.

This year I took out my 2016 Mazda6 as the chase/camera car, and our group line up included a 2016 BMW 328i XDrive, Subaru BRZ, BMW Z3M, BMW E46 M3, BMW E36 M3, Infinity Q50, and BMW Z4M Coupe. Our first stop was at Croton Point Park in New York, with plenty of parking space, and we found a gorgeous RV park with a rows of trees that were glowing orange and red. It was a perfect photo op for everyone’s car. Can you say Facebook cover photo? Our food stops were Billy Joe’s Ribworks, and Pie Lady & Son for the best pie I’ve ever had.

All photos were captured with my new favorite gadget, the Olympus OMD E-M5 Mark II and OMD E-M1.

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Summer Days

One of the best days this summer was going on a top-down spirited drive on windy mountain roads in perfect weather with your buddies, enjoying multiple scenic and food stops along the way. Imagine your own Top Gear challenge not without the close calls with police that usually comes with a car chase as you can see in the video screenshot below. The photos taken are one of my favorites with just the right lighting, ND filters on an Olympus OMD E-M1 camera at low shutter speeds and a steady hand.

Our destination was Perkins Memorial Observatory in Bear Mountain, followed by a hearty brunch at Billy Joe’s Ribworks. Our mid-day dessert for some extra driving boost was amazing pie from my favorite place, Pie Lady & Son. That was only our first half of the day, as we later carpooled to Brooklyn for the evening to enjoy the amazing weather.

Nothing puts a smile on my face like the freedom of being on the road with good music, good company, and speed! Like I always said, who else can buy bliss at $2.22 per gallon?

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Focus Stacking Tutorial

Most of us love the 3D pop effect of a shallow depth of field photo. It’s practically impossible to get these effects with a phone camera, so it’s crucial to use a DSLR or a higher end compact camera to achieve these effects. Even with a prime lens at the widest for the best bokeh, it means you may not get the entire subject from front to back in focus either. Focus stacking technique lets you keep the beautiful bokeh background while having full control of what objects to keep in focus.

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Breaking Expectations

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.

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Classic Meets Modern

I bet you can guess which part is the classic, and which part is the modern part of this series. I took a weekend road trip with a beautiful classy dame, in my modern sexy red roadster, both dolled up in a lustful red. Yes, we really did use the map during our trip when reception was unavailable, so don’t take map reading skills for granted. What better way to end the night than with a kiss?

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El Bob Races in Germany

El Bob had the privilege to take the journey of every car enthusiast’s dream and step hooves on the motherland of German cars sacred ground of the Nordschleife. His first stop was Munich to enjoy a few days of Oktoberfest which was overhwhelmed by an insane number of drunken Germans. After a tour around the city including BMW World, El Bob took a 5 hour drive on the infamous Autobahn to Nurburg to get a taste of the Nurburgring. It was heaven. El Bob thinks this is one of the best trips he’s ever taken, and would surely like to visit the Ring again.

El Bob thinks Germany looks just like Switzerland.


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Mila Star Gazing

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.

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Mila in Baltimore

I recently attended a large BMW East Coast meet called MPACT in Baltimore, MD. I took the opportunity to have a photo shoot in front of the hotel and at the stadium. All of the shots are taken with multiple exposures or bracketing for a slight HDR editing effect that isn’t too obvious or noticeable, therefor a tripod is a must-have. One thing I dislike is over abuse of HDR. Photographs need contrast and a focal point.

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.

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Mila’s first evening photo session

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.

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Driving Videos

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.


Best Bracket, Bracketron Review

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.

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Photography Lesson #12: Wide vs Telephoto

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.



Lady in Imola Red

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

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Autumn Cruise

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 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.

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El Bob at Paul Miller BMW Fest

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.

The Lotus is almost as cute as El Bob, but not quite.

Angry M3.

Does El Bob look as fierce?

El Bob and the number 8.

El Bob is so fast not even Brembos are enough to stop him.

El Bob likes black and white, since he can only see in black and white.

El Bob’s best friend, Boba.