Show and Shine – cars

My final Show and Shine gallery, cars. Rather than attempt a full three-quarter view I decided to concentrate on capturing a range of front grilles. I didn't spend time removing reflections in the chrome in post, however I did apply a retro 'instamatic' style filter to give a different feeling to the series.

The Show and Shine mini-project was fun, made me think more about the point of the activity and prompted me to put more thought in to shooting differently. I'm enjoying reacquainting myself with manual control after too many years of simply compose and shoot.

Show and Shine – Inside Story

The inside story of Show and Shine

Continuing my Show and Shine series, I shot a set of interiors through the nearside window. The only post was minor tweaks of the jpeg as I'm not looking for perfection, simply the practice of returning to manual and thinking about what I'm doing. It's a very valuable process as I'm slowing down and thinking more about what I'm doing. I'm confident that the more I shoot, the better the composition will be. 

As I begin my journey in to commercial photography I want to explore many genres until I home in and hone what I'm good at, what I enjoy and what my commercial style is.

The range of interiors on these show cars was amazing. The detailing, the materials, the colours, the smells; quite a heady blend. It's not a stretch to visualize hours of tlc spent on these cars, either at home or in a shop. The results are a petrolhead (gearhead) delight.

Rip off Canada

We recently had an issue with a door mirror on the car which led to a perfect example of how “rip off Britain” can be equalled by “rip off Canada”.

Unfortunately, whilst backing out of the garage, a door mirror was snapped from it’s mounting by someone other than myself. The car, a Ford Focus, has exceptionally cheap door mirrors in the North American market. Whereas the Euro models come with a hinged fitting, locally, the door mirrors are just mounted in a single moulded piece of plastic, which of course makes them very vulnerable to any impact.

So, what would be the cost of a replacement fitting? It was time to trawl the web. Surprisingly, most of the on-line sources were from south of the border. However, with a price of $40 US, I wasn’t complaining, even after the exchange rate adjustments.

I then thought that I may as well try a local scrap yard as the prices for used parts must be even better. Imagine the shock of being told that a used door mirror would set me back the princely sum of $125 Canadian. The guy at Ralph’s wasn’t bothered that I could source them on line for around a third of the price – take it or leave it.

Having recovered from the shock I wondered what the price of a new part would be so I phoned my local Ford dealer. A brand new item would be around $175 including taxes. The used fitting from Ralph’s was obviously a bargain!

Time to head back to the virtual world. Things became a little more awkward at this point. A number of suppliers south of the border would not ship international, so no delivery to Canada. I did find a couple of places that had a work around that doubled the price, however, it would still be less than buying used from a scrap yard.

How about Canadian on-line suppliers? Having got fed up being on hold for ages and only getting through to voice mail I finally spoke to a person at one supplier who advised that the mirror would have to come from their US warehouse and would be $111 US. So, that would be $111 for the $40 part then. Great.

Hmm, back to the drawing board. I then thought about checking out UK suppliers as the replacement fitting would be hinged, but I then remembered that the concave/convex issue would mean the mirrors would be the wrong way around. Ah, we have friends in Germany, maybe that would be the way to resolve the problem – right mirrors and hinged. Prices were certainly higher than the US part, but still not as expensive as Canada.

In the end and despite thinking it wouldn’t work the damaged fitting was super-glued back together and amazingly enough it’s holding out. Should I need to replace the part, I’ll probably head south for the day as I can probably still save money even after fuel, food etc.

So, Canadian consumers, why are you letting yourselves be ripped off like this?

New wheels, old wheels

When we bought our first car here it was clear that new tyres would be needed on the front of the car fairly soon. The great day arrived and it was one of shock and awe. Okay, the Focus had after market rims fitted, however, I really wasn’t expecting replacement tyres to require a mortgage to purchase. So it was either bite the bullet and pay $250+ per tyre or think out of the box.

New rims on the Focus

The answer was a return to rather boring, factory fit alloys together with stock size tyres. The rims actually came from a used car parts dismantler (scrappy), Ralph’s, and were a pretty good price. Ralph’s turned out to be like an old school scrappy. I stepped out of the car in to a pool of oily water, the yard was surrounded by wooden fencing and the office was full of guys up to their armpits in grease – this is used car parts as it should be. My mind flew back to days of rummaging around scrap yards for that illusive bit, clambering up a couple of levels of stacked cars and hoping that they didn’t over-balance whilst you tried to remove a coil or similar. I can vividly remember one visit to a yard in Essex with my cousin. I bought an indicator column and he wandered out with a limb caused by the hidden shock absorber under his overall’s.

I didn’t get to see the yard itself at Ralph’s as my replacement rims were already waiting for me when I arrived. Now that’s good service. So, I was spared the complete trip down memory lane and to be honest it was rather pleasant not to have to contort the body around stacks of rusting metal.

So, rather than spend mega-bucks on new tyres I replaced rims and tyres for less than the price of 4, 17″ tyres.

The result is a car that looks less cool (can a Focus look cool?) but actually runs smoother and gets better mpg. Oh, and one more thing. It’s still the normal thing to rotate wheels over here, something I can’t remember having done in the UK for 20 years. I suppose this goes back to the days when rear wheel drive cars were prevalent and tyre wear could be evened out. However, with most cars now being front wheel drive, why on earth spend time and sometimes money rotating rims? I’m really not sure of the benefits.


An old Sunbeam or Horizon

On my back from Ralph’s I had to take a snap of what some may recognise as the rear end of an old Talbot Horizon (albeit in it’s Dodge form). This car must be around 25 years old and is pretty typical of some of the old cars I see on Canadian roads. Before leaving the UK I used to feel that my 7 year old car was, well, rather past it by UK standards.

Over here I see plenty of 20+ year old cars in daily use. Of course there are lots of newer models as well, but I truly haven’t seen so many 1980’s cars in regular use for 15 years or so. I’m not certain if that indicates a lack of car culture, maybe the car is more often seen purely as transport or maybe Canadians like to get what they can from their cars, bearing in mind the daft prices of used vehicles.

Why I miss European car design

I really don’t need to add any text here. The ‘car’ in question is the Pontiac Aztek and I feel it embodies everything bad in US car design. In fact, Time magazine placed the Aztek in their worst 50 cars of all time. An honour richly deserved.

Stirs the emotions eh!