I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18

I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18

It's been a big year for improving on my photography

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Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva

When I started working here at Jalopnik, one of the first things I did was buy a new camera. I justified it by saying that I’d take photos for all my reviews (which I do), but it was also just something I wanted. I wanted to shoot cars like the big kids, to have those stunning top shots, to do Tokyo Auto Salon at 50mm. Am I there yet? Absolutely not. But I’ve had a lot of fun on the path to improvement, and I’m apt to share.

I’ve shot six real events since I got here, one of which was technically just before I started, but I wanted to share a top-three from each. So, I guess these aren’t the top eighteen photos I took this year, but three each that I enjoyed from these events. Photo nerds, this one’s for you — I’ll be giving camera and lens details for each shot, so come hang out and let’s talk shop.

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The New WRX

The New WRX

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Nikon D3300
  • Lens: Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens
  • ISO: 200
  • Focal Length: 42mm
  • Aperture: f/5.0
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000 sec

I’ll be honest, this one isn’t a great photo. It’s clear, and it shows the car, which were my two main goals; unfortunately, those Wicked Big crowds are a doozy to shoot around. This was the first public appearance of the updated WRX, outside of the press launch, and I went out the weekend before I started here to grab photos.

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The New BRZ

The New BRZ

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Nikon D3300
  • Lens: Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens
  • ISO: 200
  • Focal Length: 32mm
  • Aperture: f/4.5
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec

Normally I thoroughly dislike wide-angle lenses for shooting cars. Getting too low on that kit lens left me with photos that felt like they could’ve come from an iPhone, and that was always a disappointing outcome after I’d committed to lugging a camera bag around all day. Here, though, I actually like it — the wide angle combined with the low angle makes the BRZ feel even more like a Hot Wheels car. Still not a fan of that front end, though.

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The Ratty S13


The Ratty S13

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Nikon D3300
  • Lens: Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Aperture: f/4.2
  • Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec

I’m an absolute sucker for a ratty 240, with a poorly-secured body kit and big dumb window stickers. Genuinely unsafe headlights done For The Bit are always a bonus. My goal here was actually a new phone wallpaper, but once I got home I discovered I hadn’t left enough space around the car. iPhone screens are so tall, they crop more of the sides than you expect. You live and learn.

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The First EUDM Car

The First EUDM Car

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 1250
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/50 sec

When I went to Belgium to drive Volvo’s C40 Recharge, all the airports were full of cars we don’t get here in the U.S. the first of those was this gorgeous Cupra, in its satin-blue finish. This was also the first time I got to bust out the new Sony a7C, which arrive from B&H just days before I left for the trip. I was scared I’d have to take my little Target Nikon with me, and be laughed at by the Big Car Journalists, but it turned out most of them shot on iPhone anyway.

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Chiaroscuro Cupra

Chiaroscuro Cupra

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 400
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/50 sec

My favorite thing to shoot, bar none, is “cool lights, especially when it’s dark out.” Putting those lights on a car is a great bonus, because it gives a strong aesthetic focal point to what is otherwise a pretty normal crossover.

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The Three-Pointed Star

The Three-Pointed Star

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 400
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/50 sec

See what I mean about cool lights? Seeing a Mercedes wagon, even in the airport, was one of the last vestiges of “normal” from that travel day. After that, I was in and out of Mercedes vans and hotels, and every photo from the day looks like a still from a Paul Greengrass film.

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The Frank Ocean Album Cover

The Frank Ocean Album Cover

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/2500 sec

Fun fact about this photo: it’s almost entirely unedited. Bit of lightening, bit of contrast, but that’s really it — all the warm tones were in-camera. The a7C is my first full-frame, my first mirrorless, and my first camera that feels like cheating at photography. Also the first time I’ve used a circular polarizing filter, which is a must for shooting cars.

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The Twofer

The Twofer

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec

Radwood Greenwich was honestly a tough event to shoot, the day was gray and cloudy, and most cars were silhouetted by the sun. Without being able to capture full cars in that classic golden-hour lighting, and without the flexibility of a zoom lens, I really had to get creative to try and make interesting images. Somehow this led to me getting really into shooting in portrait orientation, and shooting cars through other cars. I don’t get it either, but I can’t stop.

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German Engineering

German Engineering

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec

Only one of these cars was actually part of the Radwood display at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, but the rest drove through it for some scenic photos on the way out. The lighting by the end of the day was this sorta-warm, cloudy-flat-mix-partially-hiding-how-cold-the-actual-day-of-shooting-was lighting (absolutely freezing). Made for fun shots, though.

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The New Civic Si

The New Civic Si

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec

Speaking of events with difficult lighting, the press drive of the new Civic Si was an interesting mix. No matter what turns our canyon route took, the sun was always to the outside of the road — I could never get a shot from this angle, looking out into the canyons, with the sun at my back. Luckily, some stopping points along the way had room to spin the car around, or at least move the camera.

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The Fantastic Paint Color

The Fantastic Paint Color

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/2.2
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1600 sec

Honda’s Blazing Orange Pearl, exclusive to the Si, has a sort of depth that you don’t normally see in paint at this price point. Their Aegean Blue is good too, but this is really closer to Mazda’s Soul Red in how it just looks like you could reach your hand inches deep into the bodywork. The way it plays with light is just fantastic. See also: Ford’s Liquid Blue for the Focus RS debut.

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The Open Road

The Open Road

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/2.2
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1600 sec

The advantage to twisty roads is that you can get these kinds of shots, where the car is looking down an empty straight, without actually parking your car in the road and interfering with traffic. Speaking of those harsh shadows, I had to boost the lighting on the rear of the Civic so much here to make it at all visibly orange.

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The All-Blue Extravaganza

The All-Blue Extravaganza

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 200
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/50 sec

I was going to title this slide His Pills, His Hands, His Jeans, until I realized I did that exact same Halsey reference in the actual LA Auto Show slideshow. This shot needed so much work in post to make the blue car pop against the all-blue background. Ford’s display had so many cool cars, and such terrible overall design for shooting.

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Rule The Galaxy As Father And Son

Rule The Galaxy As Father And Son

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 400
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/50 sec

I tried so hard to get a different shot out of this display. I wanted the blue new Z, reflected in the rear view mirror of the old Z. Unfortunately, with no right-side wing mirror on the 240, there was no way to get that angle. I still like how it came out, the two of them together in one shot, but it could’ve been so much more Artsy™.

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All Of The Lights

All Of The Lights

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec

This one pretty much eschews the car completely, I’ll be honest. This isn’t a photo of a car, it’s a photo in which a car happens to be involved. However, it’s also genuinely one of my favorite shots of the year. In the comments of the original LA Auto Show slideshow, someone used it as their phone wallpaper, and that’s an absolute honor. I’ve used my shots as my own phone wallpaper before, but there’s someone out there who sees my photo of the Porsche Mission E every time they unlock their phone. I’m not over that.

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The Honda Rabbit Hole

The Honda Rabbit Hole

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec

I’ve been falling down a slippery Honda slope recently, including a lot of Integra shopping on Facebook Marketplace, and between the Civic Si drive and Radwood SoCal, this West Coast trip certainly didn’t help. I refused to leave this car until I took a good phone wallpaper of it, since I knew the angle and backdrop would work. This was the 30th near-identical shot of the car, and it’s the one that made it to my phone.

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A Tale Of Two Integras

A Tale Of Two Integras

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec

Speaking of shooting cars through other cars from Radwood Greenwich, I think this may be the apex of that concept. The new Integra, through the eyes of the old one. The keen-eyed among you will notice how different the yellow of the Integra is compared to the NSX, and will realize how much time I put into Lightroom to try and differentiate the two. This is also a prime example of the use case for that circular polarizing filter, which affects reflections in shiny objects — like, for example, glass windows.

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A Time To Relax

A Time To Relax

Image for article titled I Took 4,026 Photos At Car Events This Year, These Are My Top 18
Photo: Steve DaSilva
  • Camera: Sony a7C
  • Lens: Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 prime
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec

This took by far the most post-processing work of any photo this year, just because of the shooting circumstances — I had to intrude a bit on someone’s impromptu campsite to get the right angles, and I didn’t want to overstay my welcome by taking too long to frame the shot. I love how it came out, though — just a couple people, relaxing in their Porsche, taking a break from the heat of the day.


I won’t pretend to be any kind of great photographer. I realize I’m just a writer who happens to own a camera, and I need a lot of work before I can really hang with Raphael Orlove or Victoria Scott. Still, I’m proud of this year’s crop of photos, and I want to see the shots you’re proud of too. So, photographers of Jalopnik, throw your best work in the comments! Let’s talk photography on this cold Tuesday night.

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