Unedited Shots: Nick Chow’s Nissan GTR

Ah, this place is such a bummer lately – no posts, no updates, no nothing. It’s December 1st and Christmas is already around the corner – November just flew by and I don’t even remember what I did. Kind of sad but lately it’s been go go go. Diana and I just finished our Christmas shopping for EVERYONE on the weekend in a span of 4 hours so now we can just relax all throughout Christmas. I’m glad we were able to do that too because I hate going to the mall every week during December. All you see is bad parking, angry shoppers, no stock on anything, and end up frustrated at the end of it all… So this year, I ain’t havin’ none of that. Another plus to finishing early is no bills! The rest of this month will be collecting more money for car parts! I promise I’ll have something by January… I keep talking the talk and not walking the walk… It’ll change, I promise!

Anyway… T’is also the season for going back through old pictures during the summer and edit the ones that didn’t make the cut the first time. First up is Nick’s GTR – although most of the shots I took of Nick’s car were nice – half the credit goes to him building a clean GTR, the other half is probably because of the scenery. 🙂

Now that I actually look back at the pictures, I’m not sure why I skipped over them but here they are!

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PS – Nick has also gotten rid of his Advan GT’s for new Volk Te37’s…

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As much as I said I hated black wheels on a white car, I love it on this. Probably because I’m beginning to love Advan GT’s the more I see them.

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Them hips don’t lie.

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No cyclists were hurt during these rolling shots.

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And that’s it! Of course, it’s a lot shorter than a full shoot since these are just snippets of photos I either missed or skipped… But it gives the site a little hope until summer comes along. Until next time! Happy December 1st!

Mike McConnell’s Subaru-Powered 1968 Karmann Ghia

This was a long overdue photoshoot – Mike and I have been talking about getting together to shoot his Karmann Ghia for probably a year now since he started building it, and ever since then there has always been something that comes up – he needed to tune it, I had an appointment, something needed a slight fixing, I got caught up in other things… The list goes on. I can’t even count how many times we’ve gone back and forth about postponing our shoots. Anyway – we finally met up and with the daylight fading fast, we had to move quick.

Mike’s car is definitely something to see in person – it breaks necks left, right, and center. This is the first Karmann Ghia I’ve ever seen and before I met Mike, I never would’ve known what it was… It is older than me by almost 2 decades! The work that has been put into this thing and seeing the progress over Instagram is amazing and I’m glad I got a chance to capture this through my lens. As my Instagram caption stated – it is probably the craziest car to ever come through my lens to date. It’s hard not to respect and admire this car after watching it evolve through pictures from day 1.

I’ll add in some details as we go – as I’m sure you’re all wondering about it. Admittedly, though – I did not get all the shots I wanted to… It was a chilly night, we were losing sun extremely fast and we had no strobes to back us up if we needed it. All of these were shivering, handheld shots…

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JC and I met up, Mike came shortly after and had just washed his car, he hopped out and quickly dried the windows with his sleeve and off we went.

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On our way there, we had awesome light – not harsh and very calm – made for perfect color in the clouds and it definitely helped in bringing out the “classic” feel in the photos.

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Immediately you’ll notice how damn slammed Mike’s car is – and it isn’t bagged either like you would expect. This is all static and Mike drives with no fucks given – that’s what I loved about this whole shoot – it was very care free and “do what you need to get the shot”.

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One thing you also might not know just by looking at the pictures is that this car has been painted by Jesse – Mike’s partner-in-crime, if you will in building this car. This was actually Jesse’s car originally but Mike ended up taking it over and with the help of Jesse and his family, they built it into what it is today. I suppose you could say that Jesse is still building the dream, but with Mike at the wheel.

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Another interesting thing to note is that Mike is rocking a set of Porsche “phone dial” wheels – 15×6 in the front and 16×8 in the back. Behind those sit some nice disc brakes as well…

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Under that hatch (which I am regretting not getting a chance to show you guys) is a stock 2.2 turbo Subaru Legacy engine… This paired with a Haltech sprint 500 stand alone ECU from VEX gives it the power it needs to get going. There is currently no intercooler so he runs the risk of running hot but that is probably in the works for next year.

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There are some distinct points that stand out on the car but to me, they are more like beauty marks rather than imperfections. And it works well on a car like this – it gives it character. Funny how as things age, imperfections turn into “character”. I’m sure you won’t disagree…

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Another unique part of Mike’s car is the roof – again, painted by Jesse. There are lot of unique touches on the car that really make Mike’s car stand out and that’s huge these days. You really have to take risks in order to stand out, but you have to be willing to take the potential criticism that comes with it – good or bad. I think this is actually one of the highlights and I enjoy it a lot…

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Kind of a rare shot of the master and the project… Especially when you’re a photographer yourself; it’s rare to have a shot of your own work.

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JC’s car over to the side like usual under that nice sky.

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This shot reminded me of a scene from a gangster movie – don’t ask me which one, it just does.

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A shot to see the lines of the car. Truly one of a kind.

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One other thing to note about Mike’s car is that all the paint work that was done was done with a rattle can. Mike then polished the car to blend the new and old paint together. I would say after looking at it that it would be a tough task to point out exactly where that is… By no means is it a paint booth/professional job but I don’t think that was the intention – Mike’s intention was really just to take a car that is unique and do something crazy and different with it with what they had, and finally get it to the point where it was driveable and they could just enjoy their fruits of labor.

Shooting a car with brand new parts and paint is one thing, but shooting a car where sweat and tears are a must in order to get to a stage of being able to say “finally” is different. There’s more appreciation and more of those moments where you’re standing there admiring the work more than the car at times. You get that feeling with Mike’s Karmann Ghia and it’s a rare feeling.

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A shot to see just how low Mike rolls… There were a few times that we saw sparks fly out from the back and the car is just so low that rocks don’t even get a chance to go under it, it’ll just shoot out the side of the car. Just a little note of caution if you’re driving beside Mike 🙂

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Another shot that better shows how low it is. This road was relatively flat and to someone like me, it’s a great road with little issues. But for Mike, he scraped… And he loved it.

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Mad tuck. Even most bagged guys can’t get that much tuck.

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A nice shot of the rear and his exhaust set up. Under that trunk is a beautiful Subaru 2.2L turbo engine – once again, a thing I regret not being able to capture. But not to worry… I’ll get it the next time we go out for sure.

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The roller I posted up on Instagram that same night.

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Low shots compliment Mike’s Ghia well just because it hugs the road so tight and we all know how good cars look when they’re slammed AND rolling.

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One last shot of the many rollers we took that night that I decided to save for the long winter months. I loved a lot of these shots because we could see the moon so clearly and what better way to capture a beautiful car on a beautiful night.

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We ended up stopping back at our rendezvous point and I had to get a few more shots. Even as we sat in the lot, it was breaking necks – and rightfully so…

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That exhaust!!

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One last shot to leave you all with for a nice and happy Halloween.

This shoot was honestly one of my more stressful shoots because as I mentioned – Mike is a photographer too, and while I was not really losing sleep over what he thought of shooting the car, I wanted to make sure that he loved the photos OF his car. I say this because in many ways, Mike is more than capable of shooting and capturing his own car so that’s where he asked me to step in and take it from a different perspective. I think for the most part, I captured it well even though I didn’t get all the shots I wanted, but at the same time it wasn’t a failed shoot (I do consider some of my shoots failed sometimes).

Thanks for coming out Mike! And I know Jesse is reading this – sorry we missed you! Next time, we’ll make sure we all come out together and do some epic shooting – DUB Dynasty style. Thanks (again and again) to JC for making the trek all the way out to the boonies to get this shoot in the bag with me.

Have a happy Halloween!

Almond’s Brand Spankin’ New BMW M3

There is something about the high performance and iconic cars that will just never go away. Maybe it’s the craft or the presence, or quite possibly the combination of the two – but you can’t ignore it even if you tried. I’ve shot all of Almond’s cars since I’ve known him – from his Mercedes G500 AKA gangster mobile to his now ex-girlfriend BMW 335i. Almond didn’t do anything horrible by any means, cause he cheated on his 335i with her younger, hotter, and better-dressed sister. Isn’t that what men would call “winning”? In other words, an upgrade from someone who isn’t performing as good as you’d like anymore is reasonable, isn’t it? Sure, Almond dressed his 335 up in fancy shoes, gave her a nice purr, and even got her a nice tune to strut her stuff more confidently, but at the end of the day it’ll never be an M3…

Which brings me to my next point… The M3, like I first mentioned, demands attention when you’re around it. It’s one thing to see it in pictures and in commercials, but you really have to be near one, to hear one, to see it ripping away from you to really appreciate all that it is. Almond posts many pictures of it on Instagram and I would too if I owned one. There is something pictures can’t capture, but I tried my best to at least capture the beauty of it and perhaps even a little of its presence.

Even with this being a last minute photoshoot, the stars aligned for us that day and we got some incredible photos. Thanks again to Almond for coming out on such short notice and to JC for coming all the way out of the hood over our neck of the woods to play.

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We’ll start it off with probably one of my favourite photos of that evening. The sun was just setting, the fall colours and the orange sunset in the back made the white pop… And usually (as you may know) I hate shooting black on white, but it didn’t bother me one bit that night. It was an awesome shoot.

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Anyway rewind a bit to the meetup – we decided to meet somewhere more central – Symon’s Valley Ranch. A nice secluded and fairly dead area to just chill. It has been a while since I met up with JC, so it was good to get out.

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Every line on the M3 is just so thoughtfully crafted. No matter what angle you look at it from, it looks good.

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The carbon fiber roof – can’t forget about that…

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The front grill and lower fascia especially is my favourite.

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The new headlights are also a nice change.

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The seats are awesome too. This emblem lights up when the doors open…

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And of course the interior tastefully sports a hefty amount of carbon fiber in all the right places.

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Carbon dash trim.

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The odometer is nice and clean as well with a nice little LCD screen down in the middle and digitally lighted gauges.

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A nice shot of the front portion of the car. The sedan looks way better than the coupe IMO and the way the rear flares blend with the doors is really nice.

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A look at the fitment and stance. Not bad for stock!

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Kind of a side shot…

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Head on. This looks the best.

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The blue big brake kit stands out perfectly behind his wheels and on a white car.

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The rear section of the M3 also looks amazing – complimenting lines from the front. The shark fin is also a great touch.

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JC not knowing what to do so he just held out the lens. As you can see, it was also an awesome night to shoot. It was a bit chilly, but beautiful nonetheless.

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Details come a long way and if you take the time to really look for them, you can appreciate them. Here you can see one of the many cameras mounted on the car to help with parking and get a birds eye view from the inside.

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M3 badging in the most obvious places and also in some easily missed spots as well…

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A closer shot of the headlights. You can take a closer look at how sharp the details are and no corners are cut. The halos still remain but never look tacky on a BMW…

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One final group shot before going our separate ways… JC also back on his stock wheels ready for winter. Me and my stock POS…

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Actually I lied – this is my favourite shot and that’s why I decided to put this last… This was actually one of my favourite shoots lately. Everything worked out perfectly… Almond’s already got some plans for the M3 so I don’t doubt we’ll be seeing this again soon. We’ll see!

Ketchup & Mustard: Bill & Mario’s Performance Ford Magazine Photoshoot

I’m stoked because I finally get to post these!

A few weeks back, Bill had approached me to shoot his car along with Mario’s for Performance Ford Magazine – it’s a magazine that is more prominent and known in the UK – but still a great opportunity. Being able to shoot and support print is a great thing. Reading it online is one thing, but there’s just something different about print that is significantly more gratifying and worth purchasing… Especially if it’s your own car or your photographs.

However, one of the pains for shooting for a magazine is the fact that you actually have to wait for it to go to print. It’s like waiting for Christmas – you get anxious, excited, antsy – all of the things you feel when you’re waiting for something you just know is going to be good. Along with that comes the second pain of me having to wait before I can showcase the photos online – we’re lucky because it went to print probably a month or two later so the wait time was minimal.

Anyway, I wanted to make sure that the photos were extra super-duper superb for the magazine and wanted something a little different from the downtown, urban scene or the warehouse-look. We decided to take on nature and I’m glad we did – the combination of the greenery, blue skies, and vibrant red and yellow cars made for awesome looking photos that really just looked good on their own without much work.

A little more about Bill and Mario – I originally met Bill when he had his Grand Prix, which he babied like no tomorrow, and while it was not a typical choice for someone like you (who may be reading this blog), Bill proudly brought it to each meet and just wanted to hang with a group of people that shared the same interests: cars. It’s as simple as that, and when you really just get over the fact that some people are not necessarily going to be driving what you like or modding things the way you think they should be modded – we can all get along. Bill loved everything from Domestics to the crazy riced out Japanese GT-winged Batmobiles and I say it all the time, but we need more appreciation for everything and less opinions on what isn’t ideal. I’ve known about Mario a few years ago when he had his GE8 Fit and his S2000. He moved onto the new Ford Focus ST – which was a totally different direction from the Japanese cars he used to be in and he quickly made it quite an eye-catcher in a really short amount of time. Together, the both of them helped each other build their cars into what you see today.

Congratulations to the both of you guys for making it into Performance Ford Magazine, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to shoot your cars for the feature. Can’t wait to see the print copy!

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JC and I of course, tag-teamed this shoot (and killed it btw). We’re rolling out to the location…

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On the way there, we only had two lanes and three cars so for about a KM or so, JC pulled off into the shoulder while we got both of the cars together to get a roller.

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We ended up finding an absolutely perfect location for the shoot that gave us everything we needed, so we didn’t need to go anywhere else. The location was pretty much dead and the scenery worked so well.

The red just pops.

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Another shot of the winding road and Mario’s ST.

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A dual shot of them together was a must. For those of you that have seen the digital copy or are going to pick it up, this is the shot they used on the front cover.

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White wheels always have a spot in my heart.

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One thing that you might have noticed is that Bill’s front is in-fact off of an ST – one of the few (or only) that have the ST front end conversion – and in my opinion, looks 100x better. Much more aggressive looking especially with his added “winglets” and custom lip.

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Another shot of Bill’s car. Noticeably more different than the last time I shot it and for all the right reasons.

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One thing I noticed about Bill is that he likes to incorporate Japanese influence in his builds here and there – a more noticeable one is the blue Spoon Sports banner with his ThreeTwenty brand on it.

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A little attention to detail shows a Mario-inspired ST badge.

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Side note: I also had the opportunity to shoot with new glass that day which was perfect – the Canon 35mm F1.4L – which gave birth to these awesome shots with very shallow depth of field. Only camera nerds will know what I mean, but I love the shots that came of it.

Peep that fitment.

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Mario’s carbon-wrapped roof.

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A close up…

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New lug nuts that he just put on before the shoot…

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Can’t forget about JC’s car – the chase car, the utility car, you name it and he’s there. #killingit

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Moving onto Bill’s car. His headlights have actually changed since this shoot with a retrofit and blacked out housing.

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A shot of Bill’s fitment on coilovers – again, a lot lower than when I had originally shot it…

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Some front end shots of the two…

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Another shot of Mario’s fitment

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Engine bay shots.

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The interior of Bill’s SE

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Mario’s Accuair controller – sorry, forgot to mention it’s on air.

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JC instagrammed a photo while I was shooting and when we got back into the car, I went to check it out and liked it. The reason I posted this was because Diana liked it before me and only the two of us showed up. It’s funny because she was in Mexico during this shoot for her Stagette – when she should be partying, she’s on IG liking shit.

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Some solo rollers to end the shoot.

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And that’s a wrap!

Once again – thanks to Bill and Mario for letting me take photos of the cars for the mag! Hope you enjoyed!