It's not everyday you get to shoot a car you idolised when growing up, and when I got the chance to take photos of Brett's 1999 R34 GT-R V-spec I jumped at it. Like most males in their early 20's, Gran Turismo was not just a game, but it was pretty much responsible for my obsession with fast cars. As soon as I got enough credits I always went straight for the R34 GT-R In Bayside blue no less, and here I am taking photos of a car I digitally drove around Tsukuba racetrack countless times trying to shave a thousandth of my virtual PB. To have this car right in front of you for a whole afternoon and then be taking it for a spin was something I won't forget in a hurry. Although not exactly rare in Australia, R34 GT-R's are somewhat mystical, if you see one you stop what you are doing. well I do anyway.
Brett's R34 is a V-spec model but has a few extra "herbs and spices" to give it 350kw at all 4 wheels, hardly massive power for a GT-R in Australia but it's the way that the power is spread in this particular Skyline that makes it the ultimate street car, No lag, No wheelspin just relentless neck straining acceleration. How fast? Brett has managed an 11.008 @ 127mph. With 10's easily within sight there is not much on the Streets of Sydney that will trouble this blue beast.
Built Motor, Pistons, Rods, JUN Oil Pump, Big Baffled Sump, Ported Head, Poncams, Power FC, HKS GT-SS Turbo's V-Spec 2 Bonnet 19inch Volk GTC's..... Impressive!
The shoot was relatively straight forward. The location was something I wanted to try for months but never found a car that suited the dark surroundings. This spot was located by the water it gave virtually no reflections onto the car but provided an interesting background to do the shoot. After unloading the car I heard the distinct rumble of a cammed RB series engine from streets away, it sauntered down the street, it's front lip nearly scraping the ground. As I got a closer look I noticed how amazing Nissans Bayside Blue is, the paint is very deep and unique, this car for an import was in amazing condition. It looked like it had just been driven off the showroom floor rather than something that is nearly a decade old.
Equipment was again budget off camera flash setup but with a bit of the dark side blended in. I used two Nikon SB600's triggered by Radio Transmitters and my trusty Sigma 500 Super using the trustier inbuilt optical slave. After a bit of technical problem solving (one receiver was out of batteries so I did some mcgyver style electronics with some AA's) I like to shoot in a bit of a methodical order for some reason so nothing changed this time around, Front, Back, Side, Front Quarter, Rear Quarter and interior/detail and finish up with rolling/rig shots. Camera as always was the old beast Canon 1DsMk2 and 24-70 + 70-200 2.8L Combo.
Take note, these shots are all one exposure, no HDR or bracketed exposures, I'm too lazy to do that sort of work :) so some basic RAW post production methods of adjusting curves/levels and colour balance are the only tricks here, I also must note, save your RAW workflow for one shot and use it multiple times, First up, front on. as it was still quite light outside 2xSB600's at full power @ 24mm aimed at each quarter panel from high up and the Sigma from the rear of the car to provide a sort of none existent accent light. The same was done for the rear and side profiles aiming the flash into the wheel wells to avoid unsightly bright highlights to the image and to accentuate the big guards. (insert setup shots) Front quarter shot is a bit trickier than the others as you now have the front of the car to light evenly but by giving plenty of distance (and power) between the flash and the car gave a nice even spread of light. This time the flash was aimed into the grill on a downward angle to give the bonnet a bit of light. I always shoot low to the ground to avoid light spill over and at a long focal distance (around 200mm) to get a nice undistorted look to the car and from down low the car appears a bit more menacing.
One of the major payoffs of taking photos of high performance cars is a lot of the time the owner will give me a ride/drive of their pride and Joy. Brett was no exception and I was genuinely excited to ride shotgun in one of my childhood hero cars. I snuggled butt into the bucket seats, a whirr of fuel pumps and then the RB26 fired into life. The twin plate clutch takes a bit of a tricky sidestep to master, a few blips of the loud pedal and we were off, first thing I noticed is how sedate and easy the car appeared to drive slow, often hi-po streetcars are hardly friendly to drive at low speed but this was an exception. As the water temp rose so did the rpm... then before I could ready myself I was pinned to the seat! (Private Raceway Mr Police) My head was Glued to the headreast as we launched from a standstill to warp speed in no time at all. The revs just didn't seem to end and neither did the power, 2nd, 3rd, 4th still into it! The noise, the feeling of complete helplessness and the rumbling of my bowels about to turn into a brown mess all over immaculate recaro's! I returned back to my car, you could not wipe the smile from my face, all in a days work. Thanks to Brett for been so co-operative and for letting me take a ride in his weapon, also thanks to Simon Ziarkowski for assisting me on the day.