Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shore Blvd, Astoria 4.24.10 - Joseph's Corvette

Over a decade ago, when my knees were still in decent condition, I trained to run the New York Marathon. Day after day I would run along Shore Blvd. and see a man relaxing in the sun in a classic red Corvette Stingray convertible. I always wanted to take pictures, but I was running, without a camera, and... I've always been a bit shy. Today, I had a camera and wasn't running... but suddenly got shy. I passed by. Walked to the south side of the park, and doubled back. Finked out again. Then on the third pass went back and asked him if I could take pictures of the car. I started, and asked questions along the way. What year is it? (I promptly forgot. Have to work on this.) As we talked, he told me that he's been hanging out by the park in his car for 19 years. A lot of people ask to take pictures, but no one ever sends him prints. The only person that ever sent him a print was a Chinese man who asked to photograph his lady friend (an opera singer from China) in the car... but he somehow knows that I will send him prints of the car.

He pointed out that he is a veteran, and has his dog tags on the glove box:

Then he took me into the street and pointed out his favorite angle to capture the car:

There were no cars on the boulevard, so I ran into the middle of the street and got the following shot as well. I think he will like it. The prints will be in the mail on Monday, Joseph. Thank you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shore Blvd., Astoria, 4.18.10

Somehow, I slept until 11 a.m., so I missed seeing any classic cars down on Shore Blvd. Those classic car guys seem to get there early. I packed up my gear in the afternoon to see what I could get, and it appeared to be Ferrari day today. There were not one but two F430s parked along the river. The red one had the top down, and the guys let me take their picture in front of it.

The second was a nice black one. If I had Photoshop 5 with the new content aware tool, I would clone out everything behind the car. I thought that the reflections were kind of cool:

When I took this shot, I was thinking it would be great in B&W. I'm not sure which way I like it better:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

When shooting auto show press days, you run on instinct, nerves, and copious amounts of press room coffee. You constantly test the limits of your camera and creativity. There are some standard shots that are needed, and press conferences are filled with obstacles (wonky lighting, jaw-droppingly bizarre dance numbers, lots and lots of people.)

(Above photo: outtake from Sonata Hybrid reveal at NY Auto Show.)

You need to adapt to the situation, FAST, and get your shots. For me this usually requires running back to a car previously revealed between two other press conferences while everyone else is running to other press conferences. After the press days, I comb local (e.g. Detroit Free Press) and national (e.g. NY Times, AutoBlog) coverage to see what other photographers saw. Often times I will see shots that I admire and wish I shot - I think that should have seen that or thought to shoot it that way. Practice makes perfect, so when I have free time to roam the auto shows for myself - sometimes I'm lucky enough to do that before the show has opened to the public - I slow down and look; let myself see the shots instead of reacting and getting the best I can get in a fleeting situation. I live in NY, so I geared up and went to the New York Auto Show several times to shoot for myself. Here are a few of those shots.

I had seen a really awesome shot of this robotic arm at a Ford display by another photographer (shot at a different show.) For my shot (below), I stood around the display shooting for about thirty minutes, just watching the arm's action and motion, the people, and trying out different angles to include different elements. It's still not the best shot ever, but it's the best of the bunch with the least amount of reflections from my flash, some cool reflections of text, and good (50-point art school word alert) *juxtaposition*. For the shot of the Porsche display, I decided to turn off the flash and let the light from the display bounce off the faces of the people looking.

(Above) Shiny surfaces are all over the place, so rather than trying to avoid the reflections, I try to incorporate them into the composition.

"P" is for "Pony", that's the car I want for me....

The Mercedes display of the SLS AMG with gullwings was mobbed. By the time I got there, I was in that zone where what I'm photographing doesn't matter as much as the shapes that I'm seeing. I can't decide which of the two shots I like better:


...and then after walking through the crowds and a convention center full of OOOOH SHINY! ...a quiet moment outside.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Remember Datsun?

A few weeks ago, I was roused from a sudden nap with a phone call from a friend of mine. A buddy of his inherited an '83 Datsun 280ZX, and would I like to take a few shots before it goes to the shop to be made road-worthy? Of course I would. The car does run, but the dusty body had some rust along the edges. The paint was cracked and bubbled here and there, but the interior was in pretty decent shape.

Brushed metal in the dash - and a T-Top to boot!

We opened the hood to an amazing tangle.

Since my brain was only half awake, I completely forgot to get full body shots.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I decided to take a walk to Astoria Park this morning in the gorgeous weather. When I got to the river, I saw a guy polishing what looked like an almost show-quality Skylark. I turned around and quickly walked home to grab my camera, kicking myself along the way at the foolishness of leaving home without it in the first place. Along the way, I saw a light blue Corvair parked. When I returned with the camera, the Skylark was gone, but the Corvair was still parked near 23rd Ave. with ample space for good shots.

It was in surprisingly good condition - some small rust spots and bubbled paint here and there, but the interior looked original and in great shape.

What an excellent specimen of automotive history!