Category Automotive

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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1. inordinate fascination with one’s car; excessive car-love; vanity.

Does anyone else find themselves turning back looking at their car every time they walk away from it, either in a parking lot or their own garage? I think it’s easier to just tell people I have carcissism.

This photo was taken with a Canon S90 with slow shutter, placed on a newspaper dispenser on the sidewalk, hence the tilt.

Two more stitched photos taken with the Canon S90.

Hover over the numbers below for step by step.

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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Easy mileage tracking with the GiSTEQ GPS TripBook

I admit, the first couple of years in my photography business, I would report an extremely rough estimate of how many miles I’ve accumulated for tax reporting. An estimate basically means zero to the tax man, so I hope he isn’t reading my blog. I absolutely hate logging anything manually on paper, so I searched for many iPhone apps that allowed me to track my mileage, which worked for about a month because I would always forget to run the app after my trip, not to mention I still have to plug in the data.

I finally discovered a simple device that does pretty much all the work for you. I’ve been using the GiSTEQ GPS TripBook for 4 months now, and thought it was good enough to highly recommend it. The TripBook is a dongle that you plug into your car through a USB car charger. I recommend getting any sort of dual USB charger so you can charge another USB device while using the TripBook.
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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.

Predator Orion

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

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.

Biggest parking lot ever

If you’re looking for a massive open space parking lot with very few to no cars, Jacob Riis Park in Queens, NY is the place for you. It’s almost half a mile long by a quarter mile wide. My latest shots were taken by my new Sony Cybershot DSC-W170, with post processing of course. This was the perfect time of day and weather, with forecast of scattered thunderstorms.

Harley Davidson

Driving in excess of 40mph is not the proper way to execute a moving vehicle photo shoot.  This was our only makeshift method to get the motion blur as we were driving on the Pacific Coast Highway by Los Angeles, CA. This also happens to be my first attempt at a moving vehicle shoot, with my  brother on the Harley, his wife driving the chase car, with my 1D strap wrapped tightly around my arm hanging out the window, shutter activated by the wired remote, and communicating over a Bluetooth headset.

Without a neutral density filter, I was forced to shoot at ISO 50, f/9.5 at 1/90s with my Canon 16-35mm. There is obviously some major post processing and composites for the visual effects, but the motion blur is real. The overcast sky made it easier to get a softly lit image.