One of Maui’s largest photography competitions – Photo Maui – is just around the corner. For the first time in five years, I’m not on the committee that puts the event on, so I decided to dip into my old photography tool box, wipe the dust off of some old equipment and have fun.
A couple days later of shooting like a mad man and having a blast, I’m surprised I haven’t been shot, arrested or placed in the loony bin. Maybe I better explain…
Back in my “automotive journalist” days, I shot nearly every kind of car made – from Audis to Zimmers and everything in between. Static beauty shots were easy, but the real fun was mounting a camera to the car (usually with several suction cups and a conglomeration of articulating arms and aluminum rails), then driving it along canyon roads.
I had talked with my friend, Paul, about taking a drive up Haleakala Highway. We both had Sunday free, and the Corvette and Pantera hadn’t been exercised in a while. The night before, I was cleaning my car, and noted to myself that it had been way too long since I had photographed it.
Down in the studio, I opened the door to “The Closet,” a spaced carved under the stairs where the remnants of my wet darkroom and all the gear I used to shoot cars resides. I pulled out the dust-covered bags labeled “Speed Rail/Magic Arms” and “Suction Cups/Clamps/Cables,” then hauled them outside to blow off the 10-plus years of neglect. I tossed the bags into the car, hit the starter and proceeded to piss off all the dogs in the neighborhood with the staccato exhaust note.
After sucking down a tall coffee at the local Starbucks, Paul and I hit the road, the traffic light and open where we could stretch the legs of our cars a bit before hitting the terrific twisties that would take us to Ulupalakua.
Just past the Sun Yet Sen Park, we downshift and head into some of the best driving road in Maui County. I take note of some dramatic sweeping turns and trees, and open turnouts. By the time I reach the Ulupalakua General Store, I’m excited to gear up the car. I park, shut down the V8 and grab the bags o’ tricks.
After about 20 minutes of attaching a menagerie of suction cups, gaffer tape, magic arms, tripod, camera and phone cabling, I lock the camera settings and focus, and then set the DSLR Controller app to shoot every three seconds. With racing harness latched into place, I fire the engine, select first gear and ease out the clutch.
Working through the gears and gaining speed, I keep a close eye on the right wing mirror and the view of the Canon 5D MARK II hanging about four feet off the rear quarter panel. I keep the car close to the center line, and breathe in deeply in sharp corners with close hill sides – a feeble attempt to make the car thinner.
After driving eight miles with the shutter continually clicking, the skies open up and I quickly pull into a turnout with a large Jacaranda tree. With rain pouring, I pull off the camera and rigging, carefully stowing it in towels for the ride home. Drying off the camera, I take a quick look at the images and a smile comes to my face: The side of the car is sharp, with blurred wheels spinning and landscape streaming away. I feel like a kid again, watching my first image coming up in the developer bath.
While I have “the image” now for Photo Maui, I can’t wait to put the gear back on the car and go for another drive. The question is, take a drive to Haleakala or Hana?