It was exciting to revisit a taste of Germany at a biergarten in NJ that had a true Bavaria vibe. The latest BMW meetup was at Deutscher Club of Clark, NJ hosted by the New Jersey Chapter BMW Car Club of America. A row of M cars from almost every generation combined with delicious bier and bratwursts does a great night make.
It was an absolutely daunting task planning for our annual Fall drive which includes great scenic drives while making sure to capture as much footage as possible. I requested all the drivers to strap on their GoPros and help me film every angle possible so I could make an epic video after. The coolest and best footage from the drive was from the GoPro Fusion Max 360 camera. I loved just how fun and easy it is to reframe the shots in post processing, never missing a moment. While it takes extra time and patience after the fact to produce a final video with a 360 camera, the effort is totally worth the end result. I’d suggest a 360 camera for everyone! Please enjoy the video!
While not the fastest car on paper, the BMW i8 is one of the most futuristic production cars in my opinion. Perhaps it’s more of a proof of concept in production, and is only the first generation from BMW. I didn’t think I would get a chance to actually test drive one anytime soon, but luckily we found one to play with for an hour so we made a run to Starbucks. Olya and I took turns on each leg of the trip, she being the fearless one pushed it harder while I did more inspection on the build of the electric hybrid sports car.
One of my favorite annual traditions is to organize a seasonal drive, either Spring or Fall (Summer is too hot for convertibles, and winter does not cater to summer tires). The drives have always been a short 2 hour drive at most, take some photos, grab a meal, and head home. We took a gamble this past Fall with a 6 hour drive to Mount Washington in New Hampshire, along with our puppies! The Mount Washington Auto Road is famous for its beautiful drive up 4,600 feet in elevation. Our group planned for the best foliage time, booked a beautiful cabin from Airbnb, and planned to bring some of our own food for sandwiches, among planning to eat some lobsters. This was the first time our group made a weekend trip together and it was nice to know that we could hang out all weekend and not want to kill each other. The advantage of going on a road trip in our group is the amount of time we cut from our trip with our spirited, maybe competitive driving. Our initial planned day to drive up the mountain was met with ice cold rain and overcast, so the tour was closed. We had one day left and we got really lucky with clear blue skies. As you ascend up the mountain the climate changes into a winter frost, and eventually snow. I had a fear that my summer tires would slide us off the cliff, but we made it to the top to a breathtaking view. This was my favorite group drive ever, I’m not sure how we’re going to top it this year!
If you travel as often or more like me, and always rent a car abroad, you’ll know how invaluable a GPS and music is. Luckily you have both of those and more in one device, your smartphone. As I’m sure you have a phone holder in your vehicle at home for safety, and more so convenience reasons, why wouldn’t you have the same for a rental car if it’s more than a day? Back in the day when suction cup phone mounts were the only option, it was a cumbersome solution. The suction cup would get dirty or dusty while packed in your travel bag, the universal mount was also large and bulky.
Magnetic mount are here to rescue all of us! The solution is very simple but very effective, a small device that fits in your pocket. The magnetic vent mount clips to almost all car vents, I’ve had pretty good luck from Chevys, to Hyundais, to Mercedes (although Mercedes’ circular vents are really annoying). It doesn’t block your view with extra arms or brackets, it’s just a few strong neodymium magnets under a soft touch surface. With a metal plate hidden inside your phone case, the phone snaps easily and securely to the mount. It easily rotates to any orientation you want and holds in place even while driving aggressively.
I don’t think there are any better solutions to how you place your phone on and off the mount. It’s just a simple grab and go. The only disadvantage to the vent mount is, you do block half of a vent and lose the ability to direct where the air goes. On the plus side, the vent can cool off your phone when you have the AC on. A small price to pay for ultra convenience especially when renting a car.
The prices of these mounts range from $10 at Walmart, to $35+ for the name brands. I’ve owned both and both work well. I would recommend the $10 version for travel, in case you lose it.
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.
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?
It was a beautiful Saturday morning driving in various formations with Greg in a Ferrari 458 with my BMW Z4 M Roadster as the chase camera car. Maintained speed, a steady hand, and low shutter speed makes for some great car photography that helps make the car pop, but a little extra filter and editing makes it polished. I just wish we could close down the entire highway for my own photo projects.
The unusual east coast weather this summer has caused some amazing skies lately. I took the opportunity to snap a few photos with my Olympus OMD E-M1 with ND filters, and did some post processing through Lightroom 5, then Photoshop CS6. Shooting in RAW helped enhance the shadow details from the car, and highlight details from the sky. It’s always safer to shoot a slightly darker exposure since you can always retrieve more shadow detail than you can from blown highlights.
It’s normal to get all kinds of ambient color reflections from the environment onto the car, so I desaturated the car and pavement to a neutral gray (don’t forget to keep the turn signal colors intact), but left the windows slightly tinted from the sky. The final steps included sharpening, more Shadow/Highlights to bring out some more details, and final highlight dodging of the car to make it pop.
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.