New Garage Lighting

Not a huge or overly exciting post, but pretty exciting for me LOL.

Been seeing Spencer post about his LED lights and I’ve been wanting to change mine for the longest time but never bit the bullet. Finally decided to do it and I regret not doing it sooner!

Took about 10 minutes to mount up. When I turned them on, it was like a damn show room. I want 2 more just for that extra lighting – it might be overkill but it would also be awesome as hell to work in – especially at night.

A shot of the lights hanging. I gotta find some nice way to manage the wires but it’ll do for now.

Don’t mind the mess in front of the car – I’ve been doing a bunch of yard things and I’m too lazy to put them away LOL.

You already know how much I hate taking pics of my car because of the black/black combo. With these lights, I can literally see everything now. Imagine two more LOL

And just a few more shots from the back. I think by adding two more near the door of the garage will even the lighting out nicely…

Mini Red Roadster – Stanley’s Mazda Miata

A nice hump day read for you all is Stanley’s Mazda Miata. This one took a little while to post because I actually ended up getting tons of great shots of his car that I didn’t know which one to edit/post. I usually take a lot of photos at the same angle just in case something went wrong – shaky hand, something pops into frame that I didn’t want, bad focus… Whatever the case is, but last Sunday almost every shot of Stanley’s car turned out impeccable. I think it was a combination of a car that was a colour other than black or white, the nice bright/clear day, and the vibrance of the scenery around us – hard to fail and doubley hard to look bad.

I’ve never really seen Miata’s around and if I do, they’re usually beat to rust and you’ve typically got an older gentleman driving it. Stanley’s is one of the first Miata’s that I’ve gotten to spend a good chunk amount of time around and I liked it as soon as he rolled into the parking lot we met at. It’s hard not to love a nicely done car with simple, yet bold modifications.

The first thing that caught my eye is the bright red paint. I’ve always said that I loved shooting coloured cars – and most of our friends have black/white/silver cars so I don’t get that option a lot of the time. The only other red car I might typically get to see is Punit’s Integra.

I always seem to get the typical “cleaning wheels” shot. I mean… Clean wheels are important right? Not just at a photoshoot, but at a car show too………………………

His Miata sits on an aggressive set of 15×9.5 Work Meisters – again – one of my all time favourite classic wheels that just never go out of style and never look bad on any car they go on.

The one thing that I was kind of afraid of that day was the full-on afternoon sun. Very little cloud cover and pavement make for a lot of overexposure. Thankfully, all my favourite colours came out to play and helped out in the shoot. All the reds/greens/blues came out to play and resulted in a super vibrant photoshoot.

It also helped that Stan’s brand new paintjob shined clearly that day. Whewwww

Another shot of Stan’s aggressive fitment. Not too much, not too little… Just perfect.

That 90’s style though.

There isn’t an angle on Stanley’s Miata that I didn’t like and I’m generally quite picky. That’s probably why I got so many shots of it – I just couldn’t capture it all!

Another thing I miss from the 90’s is pop up lights. I do favour the pop-up look on cars like the Miata and NSX. It’s a cool feature that makes me a little jelly.

A cool little thing that Stanley showed me was that these were aftermarket replacements. You see those little lines running all through the front of the headlight? Those are heating elements for winter to prevent ice from building up on the headlight. They’re LED inside too – SO COOL.

The classic Smiley Miata face.

One of the funny things that I silently noted to myself while shooting Stanley’s car was the sound the door makes when you open and close it. Some of you might not understand it – especially if you’ve always driven in a car post 2000’s – but it brings me back to the day when I shot Romel’s AE86 (slightly off-topic, but related).

Here’s the link to the flashback if you’re interested:

That day, we were talking about how Romel just replaced all of the door seals and it felt good as new. I didn’t understand it back then (maybe almost 9 years ago?) because it just sounded like metal hitting metal. Arif had joined me on that shoot and he told me that I wouldn’t understand (similarly to how I just told you up there) because my car was too new and that I’d have to try it to understand. Let’s just say, after opening and closing Romel’s door that day – it was like something I’ve been longing to experience again for a long time and admittedly, Stanley’s car has been the only car that I’ve opened and closed that has reminded me of that day.

It sounds like a silly thing but believe me when I say that it’s truly something different. This is one of those “you wouldn’t understand unless you’re a car-person” things. You feel the weight of the door, it’s solid, it doesn’t have any technological-feel like soft-close or auto-close. OK, I get it – I’m going on about closing a door – I’ll stop. The point is that this is one of those things from the 90’s that we’ve lost and we’re never getting back. Ever. I’ll say it again – you wouldn’t understand if you’ve never opened and closed a door on a well-kept classic car.

Not much more can be said about Stanley’s Miata other than it’s clean as hell. I’ve alluded to my liking towards the 90’s era car period but there’s something about a lot of the JDM sports cars from the 90’s that just doesn’t seem to age. Yes, todays cars have sharper lines and generally bigger bodies, but you take a car made in the 90’s and plop it right smack dab in the middle of cars like my FRS and an EVO X – which btw are also two very different classes of cars – and the Miata would still draw attention and it would still hold it’s own.

I’m not sure the same can be said about the cars made today. The styling has become so radical and extreme that maybe that styling can only last while the people can stand it? When big grills and multiple vents become outdated – will the cars that came with them become outdated to? Will we think the same thing about cars like the FRS, Type R, and the new NSX in 20 years? Maybe not…

One for you phone wallpaper fanatics…

And to end the post – one last profile shot overlooking the Rocky Mountains (which you don’t really see, but trust that they’re there). We’ll be going for another shoot shortly with some new gear I hope so stay tuned if you want to see more of Stanley’s Miata!

A Thank You and a Chance to Address the Elephant in the Room

I just wanted to write a little appreciation post to everyone who has supported me over the years – whether it was through cars, my photography, or even just coming to this blog to visit – I haven’t come to appreciate it much until recently. I regret that because the only reason I still write posts and take pictures today is because of you guys. Thank you if you’ve been with me from the beginning, thank you if you’ve came half-way through, and thank you if you just got here.

I’ve been blogging for what seems like a lifetime – it’s been about 13 years since I started my first one on blogspot. Even before that, there were things like CalgaryPlanet, AsianAvenue (#TBT), and even Nexopia. The true blogging of things, cars, and my life wasn’t truly until I hit blogspot and a big part of blogging for me was being able to show exceptional photos. When I first got interested in photography, I was using a point and shoot and a bucket as a tripod. I won’t get into specifics about where I started but over the years – my friends and their cars – the ones you’ve seen posted here have been subjected to my shoots, my practicing of different techniques – good and bad. You’ve seen some of their faces in my ‘set up’ shots and over time, I was able to develop my own style of photography that many of you are familiar with and I’m grateful for that. It gives me a good feeling when people are anxious and excited to see content posted up from events or photoshoots. I enjoy the feedback and comments from people like “@jayhoang shot my car” or “great shots as usual from @jayhoang”. And I’m really not trying to toot my own horn – this is me thanking you for your support every time you tag me in your posts.

It wasn’t until recently that I really truly misjudged and/or underestimated the support that I’ve gained over the years. In my recent plea for help to upgrade my photography arsenal – the amount of DM’s and messages and emails were overwhelming.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve been doing shoots with no monetary attachment. It was for my own pleasure and experience – I’ve been the type of person that always thinks “it’s not good enough”. Every year, every shoot, it gets progressively better and so I think to myself – when I get really good, then I can do something about it. But having that mindset of never being good enough means that I’ll never get to “really good” – it’s a never-ending road, but I think it pushes you to always try to create exceptional work and the ‘customer’ will always receive the best work that you can provide at that time.

In my post, I asked for 6 volunteers for photoshoots at a cost to help fund new gear with the promise that as soon as I got the new gear, I’d do another photoshoot for them. Needless to say, the spots filled up and before I knew it – my weekends and evenings were full. My ‘thank you’ goes out to everyone that reached out and there were some (that will remain nameless, but they will know who they are) that even just donated to the cause. It was at that moment – regrettably – that I realized how 13 years of doing something can create such strong foundations beneath you that you sometimes don’t even realize are there. I use the word ‘regrettably’ cautiously only because I wish I knew sooner, but it’s as they say – it’s only when you’re down that people who truly care or support you will come and give you a hand. I want to clarify – I’m not “down and out”, I just wanted to provide people who were interested in a photoshoot the opportunity to join in on the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” scenario. So again, thank you to everyone who reached out – it really means a lot to me, you have no idea!

Now for the dreaded elephant in the room. That elephant has always been there – I just chose to ignore it due to reasons stated above, but jumping ship from Canon to Sony (or any brand for that matter) is a huge leap that involves switching practically all of your gear in order to be back to where you started. Unfortunately, it’s not a free switch (what is free these days?). At the end of the day, as much as photography is a hobby for me – it still costs me money to maintain the hobby. If I were going to meets and just taking random photos – I wasn’t expecting people to pay me per picture. I know you’ve all probably heard this before but photography is more than pushing a button and having a nice picture come out. It’s having the gear, it’s driving to the location, it’s the cost of gas, it’s the time spent editing the photo, the subscription to host the photos and display it, and ultimately the final outcome which you receive to do whatever you please with it. The result – although intangible – is something that (I hope) brings you some sort of gratification, like any product, but requires work to deliver it.

Photography is a really blurry area when talking about services. The water is muddy because it’s not something that you pay to get certified in. There’s no ‘paper’ you can show to people to say you’re good at what you do. You just need to be able to have a good camera and the title of “photographer” is instantly yours these days. I take a lot of pride in taking good photos, and I really hesitate to call myself a ‘photographer’ to people because I know how people feel about it. “I just take pictures.” My take on my work has always been to let my pictures speak for itself, that people recognize good quality, and great work will always outshine any title, in my humble opinion. I joke a lot about people calling themselves photographers as soon as they get an “expensive” camera because it truly takes more than that. People need to start somewhere and everyone has their own idea of good work – which is a big reason as to why the water is just so muddy. Someone who has never seen a good photo before will think that a photo from an iPhone X is amazing. Someone who has seen millions of good photos will know that it’s from an iPhone X. It’s the same thing when trying to find a good bodyshop or mechanic – you need to weed through the bad to find the good.

My point is that although my work won’t be free (for the many reasons listed already), my hope is that everyone still understands the difference in quality, attention to detail, and many other little things that come with the work. You’re ultimately funding the passion and work that I’ve been pursuing for all of these years. It helps me (and other truly deserving paid photographers) continue to upgrade and support themselves in whatever way they need. In that same breath, I am absolutely not concerned or offended if you decide that my work is not worth your dime, because I know there will be some out there that will be turned off by this. There are many other photographers out there that I’m sure will do what you need them to do.  So again, thank you to those that continue to help fuel the fire and keep my passion going – for every photo I take, you’re a part of it in one small way or another. Here’s to another 13 years?

#WagonLife: Jimmy’s BMW 328i Wagon

Ah how great it feels to be back behind the camera shooting some sick cars!! If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen my proposal on getting my poop in a group. If you haven’t, well basically since I’ve moved over to #TeamSony, I’ve lost the ability to use my Canon lenses which were an integral part of my arsenal over the last decade. I need an adapter to use them on Sony and thankfully, I have the amazing support of guys like Jimmy to help me reach my goal sooner. I’ll maybe dedicate the “thank you’s” to a separate post, but I did want to say that this was the first of many photoshoots coming in the next few months. I know the blog has been stagnant over the last year and a half, and I hope to bring some life back to it now that I have a little more time.

After my post on Saturday morning, Jimmy messaged me literally minutes after and said he was in. We went out to shoot later that afternoon hoping to dodge the rain and we quite literally beat it by a few seconds. On our last location, it started pouring and by then, I had an ample amount of photos already. JC helped me tag team this one and although he usually helps me with rolling shots – we couldn’t do that this time due to my lack of a wide angle. I could’ve done it with the 35mm but it just wouldn’t be the same.

Jimmy’s wagon is an excellent example of a perfect family mobile with the room and power to boot. This would be his first shoot with me as he’s awaiting tires to mount on his new wheels before we go out again. Hopefully by then, I’ll have my new gear to get some different perspectives on it. Saturday’s weather provided perfect overcast for the white/block combo and a dark and moody scene to add to the look.

As Jimmy dries off his car (it’s still drizzling at this point), I took some candid set up shots…

Over the years, my “style” has evolved and I went from trying to shoot in open spaces and getting complicated with angles to now using the existing environment to add a more natural feel to my photos. I always feel like if you spend more time looking for the best backdrop/surroundings, you spend less time post processing things that you don’t like or need.

From the side, Jimmy’s wagon sits aggressively on KW V3’s and Weds Sports with the M-performance brakes in blue popping behind the black.

A lot of the angles I tried to get of Jimmy’s car includes at least the rear portion of it to show how different the wagon can look compared to the sedan. It’s the same, but so different at the same time.

Head on, you can’t even tell the difference obviously but it’s the head on shot that usually works almost every time with BMW…

This was one of my favourite shots of the day and shows the length of the wagon and how aggressive wagons nowadays can look if you do it right.

From the rear quarter, you can see the aggressive stance and fitment of the Weds Sports – although his new set is a little more aggressive than this…

No finger gap. That’s the way.

It’s almost like Jimmy’s car was right at home here…

An upclose of the brakes and the Weds

One of the things I was initially worried about was the lack of creativity I could have with cars with my single 35mm lens but as you can see – it turns out there are thousands of ways to be creative with the one lens alone. I was getting used to using it on people and it was fantastic for that, but trying it out on Jimmy’s cars using different perspectives and angles almost makes it look like I had more than one lens.

That, or his wagon just shines in front of the camera and I didn’t even have to try. 🙂


Another upclose…

And finally one of the most interesting shots that came out from that day was this rear quarter shot. I’d say it was on purpose, but I think it was all just coincidence. The sun peaked at just the right moment to cast almost the perfect shadow below the car while highlighting all the perfect body lines that BMW had planned for it. My polarizer was turned just the right amount to capture an almost oil-slick look to the windows.

It’s almost like I had a whole lighting crew with me there at that moment, but it was just good timing. I love this shot.

We’ll be back again soon with Jimmy’s cars with new wheels hopefully by the next time you see it, along with other new cars to add to the mix that I’m excited to share over the course of the summer. Glad to back and it’s good to have you here 🙂