Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Behind the Scenes: A Day with Motor Photojournalist Dino Dalle Carbonare

In a departure (well not fully) from my usual posts about me and my car, this post is about a full day I recently spent with a good friend of mine, Japan-based automotive photo journalist Dino Dalle Carbonare (also known by his initials “DCD”), as he covered the last day (May 2) of the Spring Drift Matsuri at Ebisu Circuit in Fukushima Prefecture in northern Japan.

He does a lot of work for Speedhunters.com, but some of you may know that Dino used to have a blog - coincidentally his last post was on July 7, 2007 - which turns out to be the first day of THIS blog...

As a motor photographer and journalist, Dino has what to many might seem to be one of the best jobs in the world – driving, reporting on, and photographing some of the most interesting, beautiful, and noteworthy cars in the world. Both here in Japan as well as around the world, on some of the best driving roads!

Check out this beauty, one of his masterpieces both in photography and vehicle selection!!! LOL!

(photo used with permission of Dino Dalle Carbonare)

The job description, as well as his increasing fame, has probably led many people to want to emulate him, and embark on a career as an automotive photojournalist. (Men want to be like him, women want to be with him??... maybe not the latter, but the former certainly…)

Unfortunately I neither have the drive nor the talent to do what he does, but in spending the day with him, I realized that his job, while certainly glamorous, is not as easy as it seems. There are other necessary and required skills, including physical stamina, a critical yet appreciative eye for anything with an engine, extreme amounts of patience, an ability to meet crazy deadlines, and the creativity needed to “set up” what later becomes a memorable, “desktop” worthy photo.
All of this takes years to develop to the level Dino has taken it to, and in the process, he’s made friends and contacts in the industry, giving him an unquantifiable and insurmountable edge that solidly cements him as one of the premier non-Japanese auto journalists in Japan.

Anyway, enough buttering up. His ego needs no (additional) inflating. Here’s how the day began for me at 0600 Sunday morning, Tokyo station - an amazing ride, yes, but nothing close to what I would later experience that day!

3 hours later, Dino was waiting for me beside his workhorse Subaru Legacy wagon at Nihonmatsu station, the closest station to Ebisu Circuit.

Once at the circuit, Dino proceeded to immediately hunt out the best possible shots. This is much harder than it sounds.

It isn’t about walking around looking for interesting/interesting looking cars – although he does that too. In order to get interesting shots, he has to be creative, even risking injury to himself for that perfect shot:

Note: I was right behind him, and when the cars passed by us, we both swung around, backs to the track, to protect ourselves from the gust of wind generated by the passing car and the brake and tire dust that comes flying at you! It was THAT close...

Getting the best angle is very important – sometimes it’s interesting what cars look like from above I guess. And as the photos later show, it’s not just about the angles – he’s simultaneously playing with different lenses, ISO speed, aperture, etc. and all those other technical camera settings.

Here he is inviting me to check out the view:

Behind him, I can see that not only is this position safer, but...

...it also allows a rapid series of photos to be taken as the cars come flying down and then take the corner at full speed.

He also has to risk getting his clothes dirty – here he is in the “sniper” position, focusing on a very interesting (to him) wheel on a red Nissan.

Note how he strategically parked his Subaru in front of this red car to make sure it didn't drive away!!

This allowed him to produce the shot found here:

(photo used with permission of Dino Dalle Carbonare)

Getting the “right shot” often also requires him to place himself into awkward positions, or even worse, potentially embarrassing situations:

But, most of the time it’s about patience – standing for minutes, or hours in one location, waiting for the right moment. Believe it or not, these photos were taken about several minutes apart. Notice it's the same car he's trying to get in a perfect shot:

Minutes later, the guy next to him is getting bored and I am getting tired... yet Dino keeps trying to get The Shot.

In the end, while he continued his work, I lost interest in taking photos of him and watching him work. (I suppose he has to take hundreds of photos just to get a few publishable ones...)

So I decided to enjoy the Drift Matsuri – here I am with Allen from Tomei Powered, getting ready to experience the thrill of a lifetime in Allen's very special AE86!

I then was offered a ride with Andy Gray of Powervehicles – I took the following in-car video.

Words can’t adequately describe how this all felt, and the video does not do it justice either. Simply awesome! Thanks again Andy.

Meanwhile, Dino continued to do his job, taking photos all day long, until well after the event ended (I was off taking to people, taking naps, etc.).

We drove back to Tokyo together, getting back into the city about 1100pm. After which, Dino rushed to make his deadlines. The results can be seen here:


That's a LOT of HARD WORK!

I for one could not do this kind of work. While we do share a passion for cars, Dino certainly has a way of staying focused and energetic while working. I think the conclusion is, like any profession, the guys who have invested time, energy and resources are the ones who make it look easy, and rise to the top. Shortcuts don’t work here, either.

Final word – thanks Dino for the invite to tag along at Ebisu, and for letting me write this up. My hope is that with this post, readers can have a better understanding and appreciation of your work!

PS - Dino, you really need to change your taste in music...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good post Aki!!
His (Dino) job is one of the most dreamed for all car enthusiastic but if you want to be the best, you have to improve your skills everyday and he just do it.
IMHO , he is one of the best car photographer in the world, even before I met him in Japan ;)

Keep on with your blog.

Regards from Spain