As more than a third of the world is currently in lock down, it gives us time to reflect, get stuff done around the house that we've procrastinated on, or just rock in acorner. For me I've been able to look over the past year and a bit since I started my website and photographing Melbourne car culture. I thought I might also share with you a bit of a review of these past 17 months.
In December 2018, I decided to start creating my website and attend my first car show - Classic Japan 2018 - to practice and improve my photography skills, whilst covering car culture and motorsport around Melbourne. My photos from this first event were... crap. My composition was off, editing skills callow and coverage uninspiring. I could see I had good ideas, but they were executed poorly. In general, I needed more experience. Which is why I started out on this venture, so I was kind of on the right track.
With practice needed, I decided to do a practice photo shoot with my Mum's old Grandis. It's definitely not a very interesting car, apart from the fact it's a nice shade of purple and has the 'big block' 4G69 engine, but the main purpose of this shoot was for practice. My composition improved but my editing still was way off the mark. I would soon learn however the importance of editing, and that you can't rush learning it's secrets.
My next chance to shoot car culture would be at the Loyola Classic Car Show. This is where I'd see the most improvement from the past couple of months. and it turns out that throwing caution to the wind during editing and trying something new would produce some cool images (sometimes).
My next call would be a week later at Calder Park for the first round of the 2019 VicDrift Championship. Equipped with a media pass, it was very cool to get up and close to these grassroots monsters and the drivers behind the wheel. This new experience taught me a lot, including the importance of sunscreen and making sure the camera's sensor is always clean so black dots don't appear in EVERY SINGLE IMAGE! Yes, all 2,500 of them.
Next up would be Friday practice at the Australian Grand Prix. Equipped with a few pictures of the cars around the track, my Uncle who is also a photographer showed me some tips in Lightroom on editing pictures. The editing on the top image is his work and the picture below is what I remembered a week later.
MotorEx would see my best work in my opinion at the time. I also extremely enjoyed the show, particularly the fact that it was more of a festival that celebrated the skilled hands of many and the fruits that they had put blood, sweat and tears into building and driving the wheels off.
From the high that was MotorEx, unfortunately it was a bit downhill from here. Whilst attending a small night-time car meet, I would find the limits of my camera. One half decent photo was taken during that night, whilst on a tripod set on a long exposure. However. one photo was enough to teach me the importance of a tripod in low light conditions and how a high ISO can have a very grainy effect on your photos. It also gave me something new to try in the future.
The following day, I'd photograph the All Day MINI Show. With the tiny cars crammed into a small space, I got to focus on the tiny details that made each car different from another. I also learnt my history and got to share it with you guys in my event coverage.
I'd planned to shoot the 4th round of VicDrift two weeks later, but on the same day, I got a chance to photograph the VicState Race Series instead. Taking up the new challenge, I focused a lot of my time practicing panning with a slow shutter speed, whilst also trying to get story shots of those involved in the sport.
I'd also end up playing around with Lightroom and doing crazy things to black and white photos. This would end up spawning the idea of 'The Monochrome Files', which I'll talk about in another article (eventually).
In August of 2019, I would apply everything I had learnt from the past nine months into my first slightly professional (not really) photo shoot with Dan & Dani's 1954 Chevrolet Pickup. It was very rewarding to see everything come to together, and I can't thank Dan and Dani enough for the support they've given me and my photography.
Two days after completing my Year 12 exams (boy am I glad I'm not completing Year 12 this year), I went and photographed some of my favourite cars. Datsuns! I also got to share some of the history of Datsun through my coverage from Melbourne Datsun Day.
Next up was Classic Japan 2019. Same types of cars, same location and sunny afternoon light as the previous year. This would be important to get right as it would really show how much I'd improved compared to last year, when I started on this project. I remember being really happy with my shots, particularly with the editing, which although I still needed working on at the time (and still do), I'd achieved the look I wanted and had been searching for ever since my uncle had shown me some tips in Lightroom back in March.
During the holidays, I decided to try some basic light painting. This turned out to be a real trial and error skill to learn, finding the right camera settings and even just making sure enough light went onto each part of the car equally.
To start 2020 off, I attended the Victorian Hot Rod Show. With the low and varied lighting inside the Royal Exhibition Centre seeming eminent, I brought along a tripod to try some long exposures with blurred movement from the other people admiring the craftsmanship of the cars on display.
About a month later it was time to head back to Loyola College, not for classes thank goodness, but for the Classic Car Show the ex-students hold every year. It's a great little car show that's full of friendly faces and cool rides to check out.
With the motorsport off season finally coming to a close, it was time to get ready for the F1 Australian Grand Prix. It would be short lived though, as the weekend and many motorsport events along with it would be cancelled. Luckily, activities on Thursday still went ahead as planned, so I did get a few shots of the action. I do enjoy a good car show, but motorsport is a completely different kettle of fish when it comes to photography, which is why I enjoy shooting it so much. It's fast paced, grueling and very colourful.
On the Saturday that would be Grand Prix qualifying, I was back at Calder Park for the first round of VicDrift's 2020 Championship. Reflecting on this past event, I definitely need to keep in mind where the sun is, so that my old camera doesn't decide it needs all the sensitivity in the world. I also need to keep it safe with shutter speeds when it comes to the final few rounds, so I have sharp photos of the final battles rather than blurry ones I need to chuck out. Planning needs to be key.
Since I graduated Year 12 last year, I planned to attend plenty more events this year, although the current situation has sort of put a stop to that. I am certainly itching to get back behind the camera soon, and when I do, I hope it's a busy few months (or longer).
To conclude, here are a few tricks I’ve found that have really helped develop my photography skills that you can use for pretty much anything: