The Batmobile will ride again…

A fun job I’ve been working on for a while – documenting the restoration of one of the first Batmobiles ever created.  This car was originally built back in the early 1960′s as a home-built project – which was then rented by All-Star Dairies to promote their line of Batman-themed ice cream and beverages.  The car was built on an Oldsmobile chassis, with a totally custom fiberglass body.

The car sat for a number of years until 2013 when it was purchased by a collector who is committed to restoring it to it’s original glory.  The restoration is being completed in Sacramento by a fabricator who’s done work on a number of cars, including the convertible Buick driven by Tom Cruise in “Rain Man”.

They are hoping to have the car completed for the Sacramento Autorama show at Cal-Expo the weekend of Feb 14-16.

Here are some links to more info on the story:

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/02/08/first-batmobile-sold-will-be-restored/

http://bringatrailer.com/2013/04/26/bat-success-story-the-pre-barris-batmobile-gets-wings/

http://www.forgottenfiberglass.com/fiberglass-car-marques/one-offs/build-your-own-concept-car-the-1963-all-stars-dairys-batmobile/

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.591531224215936.1073741829.368659396503121&type=1&notif_t=like

 

And of course – some photos!

Batmobile-1-2 Batmobile-1-3 Batmobile-1-4 Batmobile-1-5 Batmobile-1-6 Batmobile-1-7 Batmobile-1-8 Batmobile-1

 

New Smugmug site

Yesterday, Smugmug announced and unveiled their new look.  It’s not just an update to their previous site – it’s a complete rebuild from the ground up.  I spent some time last night working on my page and customizing/organizing some things and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the upgrade.  It’s VERY fast, looks great, and is much more intuitive than the previous site.  Check out my new page – http://www.calgecko.smugmug.com

One of the things I like is the multiple layers of folders and galleries you can now have – allowing me to better organize galleries of race track photos by location, date and even cars if I want.

Well done, Smugmug – this appears to be a pretty nice update!

After playing with the G1X a bit..

I’ve had the new Canon G1X for a little over a week now, and have had some time to play with it and check out the images..

To give a little background, my main camera is a Canon 7D DSLR with a couple of L Lenses (24-70 and 70-300),… I bought the G1X from the great folks at Mike Crivellos Camera to use for traveling and as something a little easier to carry around than my big DSLR setup. I have high standards for image quality after using the 7D for a year and a half now… and the G1X has exceeded my expectations with the quality of images I get out of it. It is a full-featured camera and is definitely aimed towards someone who wants Digital SLR features, functions and quality in a camera that is a little bit smaller and easier to carry around. There are only a couple downsides to the camera as far as I can tell:

  • Focal distance doesn’t go as far as some people might like
  • Aperture is variable as focal length increases, and it is f/2.8 at the widest aperture (many people are complaining that it should have been f/2.0)
  • It is a little heavy and bulky, it’s certainly not as easily pocketed as an S100 or something like that.
  • It’s a little slow to focus, so for action shots, it won’t be ideal. .but for travel (landscapes, buildings, portraits, etc), it will be great.
  • Finally, it’s not cheap. At $799, it is an expensive compact camera… but I believe you get what you pay for.

But it’s still much smaller than a DSLR, provides nearly the same image quality as a DSLR with kit lens, and you don’t have to fumble with lenses. Overall, I am VERY happy with my purchase, and so far have been exceptionally happy with the image quality.  Part of the reason the IQ is so high, is that it has a sensor that is nearly as large as what is in my 7D.. much bigger than what’s found in most compact cameras.

Pontiac Firebird

Backlit Firebird - taken with Canon G1X

Could use a new car for carrying around camera gear

I love my 94 Mazda Miata .. it’s a blast to drive, gets decent gas mileage, but doesn’t have a huge trunk. I think this would be a great ride to use for traveling to photo shoots with my camera gear… just need to take some collections from friends and family..

56 Benz wagon

how cool would this be?

I would be happy with any of the cars on this page, actually.  http://www.sportscardigest.com/2010-gooding-company-amelia-island-auction-preview/

I love getting new toys! Canon G1X has arrived!

Back in January, Canon announced a new addition to the G-line of Powershot cameras.  Dubbed the “G1X”, it created a lot of excitement amongst photographers for a number of reasons – the HUGE sensor (nearly as big as the APS-C sensor in the 7D, and a little bigger than the four-thirds sensors so popular right now), flash hotshoe, full manual controls, ability to shoot RAW, great noise reduction at high ISO, image stabilization, and more.  I’ve been shopping for a camera to supplement my D-SLR (Canon 7D with battery grip).. something that would be a little easier to carry around, but still take great photos.  A while back, I got the Panasonic Lumix FZ-150.  It was good because it had a huge zoom range on it, but a smaller sensor didn’t provide the image quality I wanted.  It was also a little big for sticking in a jacket pocket.

Here’s how the G1X sensor stacks up against the others..

 

I had pre-ordered the camera from Adorama.com back in January, but it was nearly impossible to get updates on arrival dates from them, and I was seeing other retailers get the camera in stock – so I started searching Twitter, and found a small camera shop (http://mikecrivellos.com/) in Wisconsin who knew they had ONE camera arriving.  I reached out to Mike Wilbur at the shop and placed my order for the one camera they were getting.  Customer Service was great, and I was really impressed with their response through email and Twitter.  The camera shipped to me early this week, and arrived today.

I quickly unboxed it, and one of the main things I was curious about was the flash sync speed. I took some photos as I unboxed it, and quickly put my Yongnuo RF-602 wireless flash trigger on the camera, and hooked up a Lumopro LP160 flash to test it out. VERY happy that it worked up to 1/800 !! My Canon 7D only syncs up to 1/250 .. this is really impressive. I am anxious to get out and take some photos with this camera – it’s got a great feel and weight to it and seems like another great Canon product. Thanks again to Mike at http://mikecrivellos.com/ for the great service and getting this camera to me so quickly!

 

Adios, 2011…. Come on, 2012!

2011 was a lot of fun…. I shot a number of race track events (drag strip and road course), portraits, an engagement shoot and wedding, several architectural jobs, family events, collaborative shoots with other photographers, a non-profit organization to help families with special-needs children (THE most rewarding shoot I did all year!), and more.  I spent some great quality time shooting with photographers who helped me see things differently and how to try new techniques.. I also took the chance to shoot for another photographer, who was able to give me some great feedback on my shots in order to help me get even better (Dito, owner of http://www.gotbluemilk.com).

Facebook has been a great way to show off my work and get in touch with other photographers and groups with similar interests.  I’ve found inspiration and motivation by looking through the work of other photographers, which has helped really push me to a new level with my techniques.  I’m very thankful for the talented people whom I’ve had the chance to work with this year, whether it was just ‘playing around’ in a studio (Tim), or a location shoot with multiple models and other photographers (Byron, Greg, Coree, Katie, Lisa, Linda, Donna, Monica, Tom).  There are still other photographers I have yet to work with (or even meet), whose work inspires me.. I hope to get to meet some of them next year – Jim Perdue, I’m talking to you.

One photographer in particular who has really inspired me, and not even as a result of their photography, is Jen Burgess-Thompson.  I followed her work on Facebook, along with a ton of other photographers whose work inspired me.  On August 30 of this year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She bravely shared updates on her diagnosis, emotions, fears and frustrations with all her readers.  She created a blog, where she (and her friends) could update everyone on her treatments.  Jen saw an outpouring of messages, love, well-wishes and prayers from thousands of followers, including many people she had never met.  Jen is still undergoing chemo treatment, but her CA125 levels are now within “normal” ranges.  Jen’s strength through this challenge is inspiring, she’s not looking for pity or handouts.. more than anything, she wants people to see that she is not the “typical” cancer patient… she’s young, takes care of herself, has no family history, and there’s nothing that stands out in her history that would have been an indicator that she may end up getting cancer some day… and by her not fitting the typical profile of a cancer patient, it should increase everyone’s awareness.. and hopefully plant the seed in other people’s minds that they should get checked too.  Jen – I don’t know you beyond Facebook.. but you are inspiring.

Finally.. I have to give credit where credit is due – my amazing (and beautiful) wife, Emily.  She’s been supportive and encouraging of my photography for years, and this past year was no exception.  I sincerely appreciate your support and understanding of the long days.  Also, to my great friends and family who constantly inspire me (Reese, that’s you, buddy) and encourage me to ‘do more’… thank you.

So, as we wrap up 2011, I’m excited about what 2012 has in store… new photos, new friends, new opportunities and new challenges.. and with any luck, more new equipment!

The Power of the Print

As a photographer, I find myself taking anywhere between 500-1500 photos at a given event, depending on how long I’m there, and what’s going on.  I usually have no reason to get prints of my work, because they would just sit around in an envelope or a box somewhere.  I prefer to show my digital images on line (Facebook, Flickr, Smugmug, etc)..

However, prior to a recent shoot where I tagged along with some great muscle cars, I printed up a bunch of 8×10 prints and put them in an easy-to-carry portfolio.  When I committed to the shoot, I had one client who had committed to pay me for shots of his car.  When I arrived and met the other car owners, I introduced myself as a photographer.. I didn’t get an overwhelming response.. however, when I showed them my portfolio of 8×10 prints of other cars (primarily shots from a car show I had recently attended and from Sacramento Raceway), they were VERY interested.  I ended up getting 3 additional clients that day.

This past weekend, I went back to Sacramento Raceway to shoot the ‘NorCal Invasion‘.  Prior to getting all my gear set up, I walked around the pit area with my portfolio and a bunch of business cards.  I recognized one car from a shoot I did at Infineon Raceway last year and approached the owner.  I didn’t have a print of his car, but I did have my iPhone, and quick access to one of my online galleries.  I showed him my print portfolio that I was carrying around, and while he was looking at that, I pulled up an image of his car from Infineon on my phone and showed it to him.  He nearly fell over – he must have commented 3 or 4 times about how much he loved that shot of his car, and would want to order it.  By showing him what my final print products looked like, and an iPhone-sized image of his car – he could tell that a print of his car would look great.  That night at the racetrack, I made sure I got plenty of pictures of his car to add to my gallery for him… after speaking with him tonight, he’s very excited to order a bunch of prints in various sizes.

It just goes to show – that while our lives are becoming more and more digital every day (and I LOVE it!), there is still something VERY compelling about the power of a printed image that has much more impact than a picture on a computer screen.

This is the image of the guys’ car from Infineon that he loved so much.  It was one of my favorite photos from that weekend as well.. I was really happy to be able to find the owner of the car so I could show him the image I created… and then to see his reaction – priceless.  This is what being a photographer is all about!

NorCal Invasion at Sacramento Raceway

This past weekend, I went to Sacramento Raceway for some drag race photography.  We were all hoping for a HUGE turnout, but the crazy heat (and I think the high entry fees) kept a lot of racers away.  There was still a decent turnout, and some great race cars to photograph.  I got my usual spot right at the starting line where all the action (burnouts!) happen.. it was a hot day, and by the time I left, I smelled like race fuel, high-octane exhaust, and burnt rubber.  It was great!

Take Better Photos

A friend of mine recently asked me about how to go from using Auto Focus to Manual Focus on their Canon, in order to take better photos.  Honestly.. I hardly ever shoot in Manual Focus.  The camera can focus much faster and more accurately than my hands and old eyes can do.  However, if you want to take better photos… more than just “snapshot” photos – I think it’s critical to understand the key relationship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.  It has to be such an ingrained part of what they do, that they don’t even think about it as they’re shooting.  This allows the photographer to focus more on where the light is coming from, how it will impact the image, how they’re composing the shot, what might be in the background, etc.

There are a number of things available on these cameras that are important to understand – light metering modes, focus modes, color/temperature settings, image quality/RAW settings, etc… I strongly suggest that anyone who may be looking to improve their photos beyond just ‘snapshot’ photos look into workshops, classes, groups, etc that are targeted towards “beginners”.. and if you’ve got a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera, find a class for beginner DSLR users.. Just because you have a camera that cost $1000.00 or more, doesn’t mean you’re a photographer, and doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to go right out and take amazing images.

I love the fact that I’m still learning how to use my camera, play with lighting techniques, metering functions, etc… there’s definitely a progressive learning curve with these cameras we have.. but I think the key part is learning about the relationship between Aperture (f-stop), Shutter speed, and ISO.

Helping hands…

Funny thing I’ve found out about photography and photographers over the past couple years is that while there is a level of ‘competition’ amongst the artists who are targeting the same audience… there is a LOT of collaboration, sharing of knowledge, help and encouragement for those who want it.  I’ve spent the last year attending monthly meetings with other local photographers who have a variety of interests, skills and talents.  In doing so, it’s allowed me to try new techniques I’m not typically inclined to do, as well as share some of my techniques with others.  It’s an amazing way to ‘take off the blinders’ of what you know how to do, and push yourself to try new things.

In doing this, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with some truly inspirational photographers (Scott Jarvie, for example), listen to speakers (like Zach Prez – SEO/Web Marketing Guru) who are well-known for their area of expertise, and I like to think that I’ve been able to influence the development and growth of a few other photographers along the way.

Some examples of this,…

Tim Engle is a Sacramento fashion photographer who is VERY well known for his creative use of high-powered LED flashlights to provide unique, focused lighting on his subjects.  He combines this with a slightly twisted and dark imagination to create jaw-dropping images that hardly require any post-processing.  I’ve had the chance to see Tim in action, play around in his studio, and sit down one-on-one for coffee.. the guy is a true artist.. his passion for creating amazing images and pushing his own boundaries is inspiring. Check Tim out on Facebook

Jim Purdue is an interesting guy… while I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting him (yet).. I’ve been inspired by his creative photography work with his iPhone .. YES… his iPhone!!  As with any true artist, his work is not limited by the equipment he uses.. instead, he finds a way to make his work BETTER by capitalizing on the unique qualities of the equipment.  He’s learned the unique characteristics of the iPhone camera, as well as the multitude of photo-editing apps that are available for it, and is able to create amazing images without ever having to go to his computer.  Check Jim out on Facebook.

Patricia at PhotosbyPab / Eccentric Aesthetics has a dark and slightly creepy feel to her work.. but very interesting in a cool, gritty way.  She’s not only a photographer, but she works in mixed media, and seems to have a strange draw to mannequins and old dolls…. creepy, but cool.. check her out on Facebook.

Monica at StudioKYK.com is a very talented portrait/family photographer who has been organizing the monthly photography get-togethers I’ve been attending, and has been one of the many photographers who have encouraged me to push myself and try shooting different things (people, specifically!).  Check Monica out on Facebook.

Then there’s the list of my other shooting buddies – Coree from Candids by Coree, Byron from Bycane.com, Greg from Photoload Fotos, Katie from KTMoffitt Photography, Donna from DonnaBeckPhotography.com, Tom from TomMillsPhotos.com, Lisa from El Dorado Dog Photography, and Linda Holder.  I’ve learned a ton just from hanging out with and shooting with these other photographers who have different skills, styles, tastes and methods than me… it’s been GREAT!

So, while my ‘niche’ (and passion) is automotive photography –  portrait, landscape and architectural photography are also things I do.. and I do them BETTER because I surround myself by others who do these things really well.

Find a local (insert your own interest here) group on a site like www.meetup.com and go hang out with some folks.. you never know what you might learn!!

And as always – feel free to check me out on Facebook as well!!