Lensman: The Journey Begins


Regular visitors to this blog may have noticed something different in my most recent articles and especially if you've also been so kind as to follow my Instagram: the quality of the photos I've shot has seen an improvement. Of course, improving on my previous snapshots wouldn't be hard since my photographic skill was limited to a few barely-remembered tips I read and the abilities of the magic pixies that handled the auto mode in my camera.

I've always liked taking pictures ever since I was a kid and every now and then I'd get complimented for taking an above average shot. I never took it very seriously though, mostly because I hated the idea of being bogged down with all the crap I saw more dedicated photographers carrying around. I had a reasonably compact Sony bridge camera with more megapixels than I knew what to do with and NSA-levels of zoom capability – why should I bother carrying around a huge DSLR body and more glass than the Palomar observatory?

Well, thanks to having to do all the research for my current car projects and this blog I've been spending more and more time on Speedhunters - and after hours spent looking at their truly great car photography I thought I should give it a go and see if I can improve my photo skills. It's hard not to feel inspired when you keep seeing the work of artistes like Larry Chen, Paddy McGrath, Dino Dalle Carbonare, and the rest of the Speedhunters crew.

First off I needed to start with the basics that I'd never bothered to learn. I hadn't really sat down to learn about all the different aspects of photography before so if you uttered the word “aperture” all of a sudden I'd probably respond by saying “Gesundheit!” So about a month ago I went to a couple of websites and watched some Youtube videos and finally got schooled on depth of field, ISO, shutter speed, and why snot isn't an acceptable lens cleaning solution.

After learning all of this I tried to apply what I learned using my trusty Sony point-and-shoot...and that's when I finally realized the limitations of my camera and how the dedicated shooters didn't carry around all that gear just to make other people feel inadequate.

This was all the gear I used to carry to take pictures: my trusty, beat-up Sony DSC-HX200V that's been dropped, smacked against rocks, spritzed with water, and suffered various other abuses but has kept on ticking nonetheless.

That ended up in me taking the plunge like the crazy person I am and buying my first truly good camera – a Sony Alpha a6000. It's not the fanciest image-taker out there but it's nonetheless amazed me at how good even the cheaper interchangeable-lens cameras have become and how they've got more bells and whistles now than, uh, a bell and whistle factory.
Don't let the small size fool you - the Sony Alpha a6000 is as capable as pro-sized DSLRs.

Of course, I had to pick up all the basic accessories an aspiring SpeedhunterTM needs such as a tripod, filters, extra lenses, extra batteries and memory cards, and a snazzy bag to put all of my crap in so I can at least vaguely look like I might know what I'm doing. Stand aside people! Real photographer dude coming through! Got the big, honking camera strap and bag full of gear to prove it! Now give me a minute while I try and remember how to get the lens cap off...
Now this is my basic loadout when going to take some serious photos. Still figuring out how to use it all properly though...

All the fanciest gear is pointless however without knowing how to use it so I watched more Youtube videos and wore out my library card borrowing photography guides. And I took lots and lots of photos...enough for some of them to miraculously turn out presentable! I've put some of the nicest ones below. If any of them take your fancy and you want to see more then please keep coming back here but also follow my Instagram and Facebook page since I plan to post pics there that may not warrant an article here on the blog itself. I know I've got a steep hill to climb before I can ever hope to be a fraction as good as the Speedhunters crew and all the other talented car photographers out there but I hope you'll follow along on the journey and maybe you'll pick up some information to help with your own picture-taking endeavors if you're an aspiring photographer yourself!

Naturally I first started practicing with my own cars and ended up with quite a few nice pics of my R35.

This was a static shot that I decided to use to first try out the stuff I learned from a virtual rig tutorial.

I love detail shots!

The picture of my R35 from the top of the post was my second attempt at light painting. This was my first attempt that I learned a lot from.
I've also been getting a lot of practice by going to our local Cars and Coffee. I especially like this shot because I wanted to capture the concept of just a bunch of gearheads getting together no matter what they drive with no biases or hating on each other's rides.

Even the dirtiest engine bay can get some photographic love.

This encapsulates the car nut's project car. This was written on the hood of a Nova that needed quite a bit of attention.

Our Cars and Coffee is just like any other where you see a lot of random stuff show up. From this beat-up Samurai...
...to this custom street rod...
,,,to another R35.

One of the few truly cool Buicks!

Shooting pics has one other cool advantage - it really makes you notice some of the funny details on people's cars lol!


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