Color Test Shots

I’m posting primarily to test color/exposure on different mobile devices and to also act as filler content. I’ve been racking my brain on what it could be, and I could have done more harm than good at this point, but I’ve come this far so I’ll try anything.

I’ve been playing around with the picture profiles and trying to see if it will recreate the same results of pictures before this whole fiasco. I seemed to have gotten close, but I’m not sure if I’m exactly there yet… I’ll try again tonight at the meet to see if I can get better pictures than last week.

Either way, here are some test shots in the garage…

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A shot of the TiBurnt valve stem caps.

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This one in particular is pretty dark on the front of the car, and this is where I feel like I did not find a solution…

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But then this shot looks fine with little editing to the exposure.

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This one as well – shows fine and the histogram looks relatively normal.

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Then I get this darkness… LOL my camera is possessed!

Meh.

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And maybe a new, but minor addition. After years of owning the car with the original Level One decal – I finally replaced it with a new one. The original holographic part was starting to become brown and transparent.

Anyway – more test shots tonight! Let’s pray.

The Return of Beyond Meets? 2018 Edition

Yesterday was one of first really nice evenings in a loooong time – you know, the one where you don’t really need long pants and a sweater, but if you wanted to, it wouldn’t hurt either? lol

Anyway, I saw Arif post on facebook that it was going down and I haven’t been to a car meet in AGES so I decided to join in and hang with everyone for a bit again. Most of the time, I’m left watching through instagram posts but I wanted to take the car out and also take the new camera out for a test drive on new subjects too. I learned a few things last night with the camera – 1) it’s not easy switching from using a 10-20 all the time to a prime 35mm. 2) shooting at wide open aperture sounds like it could be a good idea for full car shots, but it isn’t because you end up missing lots of detail at certain angles. 3) I still love my Sony over Canon.

Regardless, I’m still working on figuring out what the hell I did with my camera color profiles – I reset the settings and it appears that most pictures are dark everywhere but on the monitor I’m staring at right now. In fact, they look perfect – but as soon as I view it elsewhere, everything looks like it needed an exposure boost. I apologize if that’s the case for you as you’re viewing this right now… When I’m not lazy, I’ll try and figure it out.

You came here for the pics, so lets get to what I was able to get…

Yesterday was my first time meeting Arnold – and he also happened to pick up a new Type R that I was able to see in person a little more closely. Errol was going for a test drive and as you can see – all smiles – and he hadn’t even moved it yet.

Alex ended up going with him… And off they went.

Alex showed up in his beautiful M3.

The beater

Joe brought out his awesome Porsche Cayman out on Advan TCIII’s. It was my first time seeing it in person – I dig.

You can see his new addition of canards that I think he just recently put on.

Errol’s Type R – probably not the one he wants anymore.. But it’s still tight right?

Arif’s EK – been a while since I’ve seen his car as well.

Project Mu BBK x Volk CE28. I see he has yet to change his valve stem caps out to titanium…

Frontal

Josh’s Golf R on Rotiforms. Wish he had brought out the Civic…

Rich’s Element with a few changes this year. Rich always coming in with unique mods to his cars… I particularly dig the retrofitted headlights. Can’t go wrong with those.

David’s IS dumped low on Weds

Apparently no one took pics of his car – maybe they were just throwing shade. Lifewithjson throws shade sometimes, but not this time, David… Not this time…

Another shot of the tuck

Oh one more cause I want air now…

Wing gang

Sunset Paradise

Errol’s Mugen wing

And just like that, they were back. Errol’s face hadn’t changed so that must mean a good thing…

These kind of shots are what the 35 f1.4 shines at… It just doesn’t showcase the car all that well.

Close up of Joe’s TCIII’s

Frontal of the Civic Type R

Honestly, I love this car but there’s something about the body lines that reminds me so much of the GR STI (my old STI) that I’m not sure I’m sold on. There are certain angles that just don’t rub me right but I still love it.

Jackie’s Tundra on bronze TE37’s

Jeev’s also brought out his Porsche sitting low. Looked nice with the sunset in the back.

Interior shots

Rear quarter. The lighting was too good to not take a shot.

The rear of Arif’s EK

Rear quarter of my FRS. I need another diffuser… I just don’t know which…

Big wings and things

Two M3’s beside each other both on TE37’s

Rear quarter of Arnold’s Type R. This angle is my favourite…

And maybe this one… But I’m an ass man so maybe I’m biased.

Mediocre shot of me and bossman Alex.

I’ll end it here with a random shot of my drive home. I’ll be honest, I missed nights like this. Just hanging out with cars and talking about random things. Hopefully I’ll have more time to get out and get more pictures this year. Adios!

Out for a Quick Run

On Saturday, I decided to take the FRS out for a quick leg stretch and to also break in the Brembo brakes. (See how I spelled the two words properly? Lots of people don’t lol). I initially didn’t want to take it out until I gave it a full detail and cleaned up some minor things but the weather was perfect and I couldn’t wait! I still have to a full detail and clean up the paint, put the TiBurnt valve stem caps on, replace the worn out level one sticker, and clean the tires and remove the browning. Right now the car is a mess – it’s just dusty and looks like it sat in a garage for 6 months lol.

Forgive me – I “think” I’m having some technical issues with my camera, or colour profiles and I have yet to figure out how to calibrate it all. When I edit these photos on my computer, they look perfect. However, when I get them onto my phone or a different monitor, they’re really dark and unpleasing to look at – or at least that’s what I see. I’m betting that you’re also seeing a fairly dark photo as well – and I promise you, that’s not how I intended it to be. I just didn’t want to hold off on the photos because then it just gets to be old news. Anyway, aside from the technical issue – it was just a quick drive off to some warehouses to get some sunset pics and show off the new set up as best I could. I’ve pretty much gotten comfortable with shooting people with the new camera set up, but shooting cars is a whole new ball game for me right now. I’m rusty as hell and at the time of shooting this, I couldn’t even figure out exposure lock – something I took for granted on my Canon 7D. It wasn’t until later that night after getting home that I finally figured it out… So I’ll go back out and try again sometime soon.

Anyway – just a few quick pics!

What wheels are those? Steelies?! damn it.

It helped a bit more when I was facing the sunset – but barely…

One thing I am finding is that the 35 f1.4 is an AMAZING portrait lens. This thing is a beast when taking pictures of people and things. But it’s a little more difficult with cars. I’m used to either using my 10-20 to get a nice wide perspective or my 135 f2.0 to get a nice distant shot. But with the 35, I’m trying to find the sweet spot and I’m not sure I’ve found it yet…

One last shot before going back home and after working the brakes for a bit. I’m lucky that I’ve got dead roads near home where I can just test the brakes and break them in properly with no issue. God, they just bite like crazy compared to stock brakes – to be expected – but when you actually use them, they’re amazing. They’re also loud as hell though cause of the pads that came with them – everyone around me thinks my car is broken haha.

Here’s where the 35mm shines. Close quarters where you want details of one main thing and everything else around it to be blurred out.

I miss this view… Thank god summer is finally here.

The Death of the Black Swan; Enter Bumblebee

The day I’ve been waiting for months finally came. If you recall my previous post about actually getting the Brembo’s, you’ll know that I ordered it at the end of January and didn’t end up getting them for almost 2 months after. Even after getting them, I couldn’t put them on because of the shitty weather we’re having. As I type this, we are under a snowfall warning and expecting 10-20cm of snow – WTF – it’s the middle of April for Pete’s sake!

Whatever, I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about our century-long winter so let’s just talk about the exciting stuff. This last weekend ended up showing us a bit of mercy and we had +10C weather – nice enough for us to stay in the garage and wrench on the cars. Punit and JC came over and helped me swap out the brakes and flush the lines. You know when you have those projects/installs that should really only take an hour but one small thing goes wrong and it takes you like 3? It happens to us every time…

Anyway, I’ll talk about it as we go… On to the pics!


The Brembos all ready to go.


You (background) vs the guy she told you not to worry about (foreground). lol


We got started right away by removing the original brake line. This was the first part that really should’ve taken like 1 minute. The brake line was caked in gunk and seized a bit so when we took the 10mm wrench to it, it sort of rounded off the nut. We ended up taking two vice grips to latch on and turn. Cue the “That Was Easy” button press.


The weapons…


Removing the brake line bracket


Punit installing the Brembo caliper bracket to allow the caliper to mount properly.


Shot of the bracket on!



The dust shields were removed – they’re not needed nor will they fit with the new brakes. You can see the new rotor to the right as well.


The stock rotor came off with a bit of hammering and the new one slid on like a glove. We put some lug nuts on to keep it in place while we installed the caliper.


Shot of it all complete!


Another shot of the finished product.


The stock calipers and rotors

Next problem was that the TE’s didn’t clear the calipers. It rubbed just barely on a part of the brakes. So who you gonna call? Zokusha Tuning!

As soon as we realized spacers were needed, I slid into Eric’s DM and he met me within half an hour to give me these 5mm spacers. The one good thing about this over shops or online sites is that if they want to be, they could be open all day, every day. Where would I get parts on a Sunday afternoon otherwise? Thanks to Eric @ Zokusha Tuning for the quick service! Life saver!


We popped the spacers on and then the wheel – perfect! The next hard part was getting the car back on the ground without getting the jack stuck or wrecking the bumper on the wood lol.


I am SO digging the look though.


The next few shots are just of the car outside. I didn’t think I’d hate it as much as I have been saying it, but I really hate taking pictures of black cars with black wheels. I did a quick edit on this because I had no polarizer and it was just bright as hell outside so everything was either overexposed or underexposed.


And another…



One more…

Front quarter shot you might have seen on the Gram…

A bit closer…

Unfortunately, back in the garage. 😦

One last one before closing the garage and heading in. I suppose it’s OK – I’ve still got a little work to do before taking out. It’s been a while since I’ve done a full detail on the car, so I think I’m going to take a full day and give it a spa day.

I need to clay bar it, give it a 2-stage polish, seal and wax it up. I want to give the front bumper a little TLC – the grill is all chipped up from last year and I need to touch it up. I’m hoping some polish will get rid of a lot of the spots from a lot of the grime it’s picked up from driving. I’m going to be a bit more patient this year and wait until most of the rocks are gone. The combination of being a black car and being low is terrible for catching everything off the road. More pics soon!

Canon to Sony: The Leap of Faith – A Tragic Love Story

A question that I’ve been asked for a while now is “why did you switch?”, or “do you like it?”. I thought I’d answer that here. Note that I decided to answer it in form of a story. Far too many of the reviews/blogs that I’ve read about making the switch are too technical, and not helpful. You’re basically giving me the spec sheet in paragraph form. I’m the type of person that needs something more tangible and relatable. Hopefully this helps those of you looking for another opinion. I won’t put any pictures here as I don’t want to clog the reading space… So read on if you’re interested.

For those of you that don’t know – one of the biggest decisions I made over the winter was to finally make the jump from Canon to Sony. For the last 12 years, I’ve been a loyal and happy fan of the Canon brand and that’s the brand that I’ve worked with to learn all of what I know now. I certainly don’t dislike Canon but the spark between us has dwindled and it was time to move on. It felt like I was ending a relationship that I had originally thought would last forever – I didn’t see this day coming, but when it did – I couldn’t think of anything besides moving on. This must be what destiny feels like.

My love for photography started at the same time my love for cars did 12 years ago. I remember the days of browsing car forums and seeing amazing pictures of amazing cars and amazing pictures of not-so-amazing cars. I remember wondering what kind of magic this kind of art was and how game changing it was for me. A decade ago, photography was not a huge thing like it is today… There were a few well-known blogs with great photography, but for the most part – just standard point and shoot pictures are all that you would see on forums. I would say at that time, the rise of automotive photography was on the horizon. Legends like Easton Chang and his rig shots were the epitome of what automotive photography could and should be. Nowadays, everyone is a photographer as long as they meet 3 criteria:

  1. They just bought DSLR
  2. They write “Automotive Photography” in their instagram profile
  3. They put a watermark on their photo

It’s almost like that’s the path to becoming a real photographer – you need to front your game before you actually have game. It’s a bit frustrating to see because these same guys are asking for paid photoshoots, and some poor soul out there will pay because they don’t know any better. I’m not trying to discredit the guys that put time into learning the art – it truly does take time. Just because you can take a picture of a flower at an open aperture to create bokeh doesn’t make you a professional. It means you can read instructions. /rant.

Anyway that’s not why you’re reading this, is it? You’ve come here to see why I decided to make the jump from Canon to Sony. As I was saying, over the last 12 years, I’ve been disgustingly loyal to Canon – almost to the point of where I would not even acknowledge other brands because I felt Canon was superior. It’s not a good attitude to have, by the way. I’ll be honest though, there was that small 1% of me that was a little curious about what other brands could do. Over the last year, my loyalty to Canon has dwindled and my inspiration to shoot has faded. I’m going to be go out on a limb here and risk saying it – but I just felt like my Canon 7D was not performing the way I wanted it to anymore. “Jason, it’s not the equipment”, you say… “It’s the user” – and it may very well be the case. It wasn’t producing sharp pictures, it was always missing, it failed me during ‘once in a lifetime’ moments and thus, my trust and love towards my once trusted Canon camera just started disappearing. I didn’t want to pick it up anymore, my S8+ was more reliable than it, and despite numerous attempts at calibrations, cleaning and google searches – there just seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Now you must be saying – “well Jason, my Canon is perfect” – and I don’t doubt that it is. But my story of ending my relationship with it happened to be because of imperfection – perhaps I expected too much, or it just wasn’t meant to be. This really starts to sound like a romance novel, but I assure you that it’s just a story between me and my camera.

The magic of user-tailored ads on social media can be amazing. You search one thing and it bombards you with deals and the magic of that product for weeks on end – forcing the little devil in the back of your mind to say “just do it. This is a sign”. And no matter how much you convince yourself that this is just showing because you googled “Sony DSLR’s” once, you start to fall into the obvious trap. It was like I was willing to step right into the bear trap even though I acknowledged and saw it and that’s where my Sony journey begins.

So I finally convinced myself that Sony was the next match that I was going to swipe right on. In order to give myself the push, I put my Canon 7D up for sale and within hours, it was sold. That did exactly what I was dreading but had hoped for – it solidified the fact that I was no longer a Canon user. That same day, I went out and bought the Sony A7II. Sony’s entry-level full frame camera – I wasn’t shooting weddings, I wasn’t shooting events that were going to pay me thousands of dollars. I was shooting my daughter, cars, and that was it. I just know that down the road, I’ll convince myself again that I need an upgrade, but for now – I had to ease into this new relationship slowly. Perhaps, we’ll take it to the next base in a few years.

As I said above, it’s been about a year since I’ve been thinking about Sony, so you can imagine that my expectations of its capability had grown exponentially over that time period. I was truly convinced that my Canon was done for and that Sony was going to be my savior. I won’t keep you in suspense – it was indeed everything that I had hoped for. You know when you leave a dull relationship where things weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either? Then you find one where sparks fly every time you meet? That was how I felt. Taking pictures with my Sony was – trying not to sound cornier than I already do – magical. Pictures were sharp, they were clear and vibrant. It didn’t “miss” shots like my Canon did. When Aria smiled, Sony got them. Where Canon failed when Aria was jumping, Sony soared. That one particular spot of carbon weave in my Voltex wing that I wanted in focus was actually in focus. Suddenly, taking pictures felt like how it used to 12 years ago – I wanted to take more, I wanted to have free reign over my shots without worrying about something being out of focus when it got on the computer. Sony, Sony, Sony… You have revived my love for shooting again that I haven’t felt in a long time, and it makes me wonder where you’ve been all my life.

Dear Canon, I don’t hate you. I just think things between us weren’t working out the way they used to. You’ve done all that you could do and honestly, it’s just me. I don’t miss you either, but I’m thankful for all that you’ve taught me and I think it’s better this way. I hope you’re in the hands of another that will treat you with the same respect as I did. Perhaps you will inspire another to become a professional photographer – either for real or just by way of writing it in their instagram profile.

For those of you that want a little more technical and less drama, here’s a version that’s not so heart breaking. My Canon 7D was my trusty sidekick for the last 3 or 4 years. I had originally upgraded from a Canon 40D, and before that – the long forgotten Canon XT. As you can see, my history of SLR’s began with Canon and unfortunately does not end with Canon. The 7D was great at first and I admittedly bought it for its video capabilities which I never used. Still – it provided me with many of the successful photos and photoshoots that you see on the blog today. Over time, I just found that it was slowly declining in performance and it was the same for my two previous bodies as well. Those performance issues translated into (as mentioned above) out of focus shots, images that were once sharp were no longer sharp at all, and generally just lack luster photos. I did ensure that my lenses were calibrated and performing as well as they should have been and came to the conclusion that it was the body – right or wrong.

Upon choosing the Sony A7II, I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It was going to be my first full-frame body, and my first mirrorless body, AND I was also switching brands at the same time – so there was lots of change happening all at once. I paired it up with a Sony 35mm F1.4 – a very stellar and highly recommended lens. Again – right or wrong – the Sony just outperformed in almost every aspect when shooting the exact same subjects – most notably, Aria. One could say it’s because it’s a brand new body, others would say that it’s all in my head. Whatever it is, it’s now sparked my inspiration to shoot again and I love it. The tracking auto-focus is amazing when I’m following Aria around and taking snaps. It’s ISO noise control is superb, and separation between foreground/background is just so sharp and distinct. One of my favourite features of this mirrorless route is the ability to not only live view the picture you’re taking, but to see exactly what it’ll look like before pressing the shutter button. In other words – you’ll see exactly what your bokeh will look like, where your focus is, what your shadows and highlights look like and it ultimately gives a real (or as real as it gets) representation of what your final outcome will be. You’ll not only know what the picture will look like, but also WHEN to take the picture. I say “when” because timing is everything in photography, so when I know what the picture will look like and how it changes based on the subjects movement in conjunction with the surrounding light and all other factors within the frame – then I have a MUCH better idea of when to take the photo, if that makes any sense.

I’ve found that over the last month of shooting with Sony that I’ve just been much more satisfied with almost 95% of the photos I take prior to post-processing. With my Canon, my success rate was near 50% and that’s a very bad thing when it comes to taking pictures of people or “once in a lifetime” moments. If 50% of my photos turned out to be garbage, then that means I only have good pictures 50% of the time – this is assuming composition, lighting and everything else was ideal. I found myself taking multiple photos like a mad man, hoping that of the 10 I took, at least 1 turns out. I like to review my photos all prior to post-processing and determine whether they’re even worth processing in the first place. More often than not – I’ve been keeping all the shots coming from the Sony A7II and this time, only one shot is needed instead of ten.

Overall – am I satisfied with the leap of faith? Yes, absolutely. If I had a few words (and not a whole novel like above) to explain my reasoning: The Sony A7II has proved to create exceptional photos with outstanding colours, clarity and sharpness that I have not seen in a long time. Despite the critical reviews about “slow AF” or it’s bigger brothers (A7R**, A7S**) better performance – this is a perfect balance for someone like myself that wants awesome performance and quality at a price that won’t break the bank. I think you’ll see the quality translated over into my photos this summer and I hope that you notice the difference. A few of my recent posts are pictures from the A7II as well. Whether it’s the equipment or the user – when you feel inspired to take photos, you almost always take great photos.

Hope that helps!