February is usually one of the slowest months of the year for me which is nice to have some downtime, but by the end of the month, I start to get cabin feverand cant wait to start traveling and getting busy with shoots.
Early in the month I headed over to Tein for Import Tuner for a two car feature and cover shoot.. I got there a bit early and decided to drive around my hometown a bit. I was sad to see how rundown things have gotton over the years, it’s a shame because it used to be a really nice city, but how the traffic is horrible and the business center is slowly decaying.
On the 23rd I had a cover shoot shoot for RV magazine, we took a truck and trailer to the cajon pass and did a lot of car to car photos, a fairly easy shoot to do and the cover came out nice
February 26th shoot was at the former el toro marine air station for truckin magazine. This was a testing day where they had six trucks doing slalom and braking. They took baseline numbers and then did some modifications and reran the tests. It was a bit of a long day, mostly what I had to shoot was the behind the scenes photos and action photos on the track.. There was also a feature to shoot at the end of the day.
Here is part 2 of the Japan trip. My next assignment was for Honda Tuning Magazine at J’s Racing in Osaka, Japan. I would not need a translator for this as they have someone at their office who speaks English. One of the things I hate about photographing cars in Japan is that 9 out of 10 times you have to shoot the literally where it sits, they don’t move it or want to take it anywhere, so many times you have these great cars in lame locations and this shoot was no different. It sat in the service bay and it did not move just shot it where is was parked
This was a pretty quick shoot and I was back on the Shinkansen bound for Tokyo by 3pm so at least I got back at a decent hour. Before I got on the train had some soba and tempura.
For the last 14 days I was staying at Tokyu Stay in Shibuya, nice business hotel, quiet the one nice thing was that there was a washer and dryer in the room so I didn’t have to bring so many clothes. The one thing that sucked was that each day there was at least a 15 minute walk to the main part of shibuya.
On the 27th it was time to change hotels, I used some points to stay at the Hilton, ah it was nice, big room comfortable bed, executive lounge access for breakfast. This was supposed to be the start of a week vacation but my editors had different plans. I had planned to spend 5 days going through my list of things to do but I had to work 3 of those days.
So a couple of days before I moved into my nice hotel I was told that I had a few more shoots. So myself and my translator Kenta took the Shinkansen down to Nagoya
When we were in Nagoya we transferred on a couple more trains and ended up in the sticks at a shop named common snapper.
By the time we got to the shop it was 3pm and we had 3 cars to shoot and it gets dark at 5pm. Nothing too memorable about these shoots, just wanted to work through them and get back to the hotel.
We stayed the night in Nagoya as the next day we had an NSX to shoot at Esprit in Suzuka, Japan. this was a very nice place, lots of highly tuned vehicles there along with a huge nice showroom.
This was a really nice car just with I could have taken it to a better location. That is one of the hardest things about doing photo-shoots in Japan are the limitations. Before I even went to Japan for my first time, I saw Wes Allisons photos in Super Street and always wondered why his choice of locations were so bad when he was in a country with such diverse locations. On my first photo-shoot at a company in Japan I quickly learned why. The shops we visit won’t go anywhere and in some cases want the car shot literally where it sits, also the time of day usually isn’t optimal for great photos. So I do the best I can with the locations given to me.
About halfway through the shoot my translator Kenta told me that the Shinkansens were not running due to a problem on the tracks. Since we were not due to catch a train for another 3 hours we were hoping it would be resolved by then. Wishful thinking on our part. Once we got to Nagoya we found out that nothing was running, the train guys thought maybe in another couple of hours. We talked about it and came to the conclusion that when the trains do start they will be packed for a few hours to work through the backlog of stranded passengers. So we went to an itsakaya to kill time.
Once on the train we were making good time but that soon ended as we approached Yokohama station. We stopped for a while before getting to the station, because the trains ahead of us had to unload. Once at the station we were stuck there for 45 minutes for the same reason. After finally getting underway we had the same issues once we approached Shinagawa station, they told us that there were 5 trains ahead of us, a little before midnight we finally got to the Shinagawa station. I was so done with trains and hauling my gear around that I opted to take a taxi to my hotel at the Hilton in Shinjuku
After the Nagoya trip I was really hoping to get at least three uninterrupted days to see some sites Ive been wanting to see. Well that all ended when I got an email from my editor at Super Street Magazine. They wanted me to go down to Fuji Speedway to cover the HKS Premium Day. As usual was only given partial information and a contact name. One thing I did know was that the event started pretty early in the morning so I had to spend the night near the track. Once again I was to leave my comfortable surroundings at the Hilton and stay in a business hotel. I spent most of the morning figuring out how I was going to get down to where Fuji speedway was, getting a hotel and packing minimal clothing and gear for a one day trip.
Here is the plan, get bus ticket, dinner, get on bus where no one speaks English, hopefully get off at the correct stop, check in to hotel, wake up around 6am, take taxi (30 minute ride) to Fuji Speedway, attempt to get credentials from media person who doesn’t speak english and I don’t speak Japanese, walk uphill about a mile to the track pulling 30 pounds of gear, luckily get pickup by someone who recognized me, shoot event, walk about 10 miles of stairs, walk back down hill, return media vest, have the office people get me a cab which they did not want to do but realized that the only way they are going to get this gaijin out of their office is to get a taxi, get to train station, get ticket get on train and relax for the next hour and a half having a few pints of Sapporo while on my way to Tokyo. That in a nutshell was the Fuji trip.
The next day and a half were spent in Tokyo just taking it easy which I really needed then back home on Feb 2. On my last night in Tokyo We had Sh it was cold enough to snow, while this is no big deal for those live in show areas it is for me and was interesting giving the city a different feel with a few inches of snow.