The JIMS had its media days on 30 and 31 Oct 08, these are the days during which the media are invited to attend the launches of new models, press briefings etc from all the manufacturers.  There were about a brazillion exhibitors with varying styling and model ranges and practical usage, each with a timeslot lasting 20 or 30 minutes.Dad's Bakkie

Dad’s bakkie, can take on any minibus taxi.
24mm, 1/50, f 20, ISO 160

All major car manufacturers were represented launching their common cars, their concept vehicles (cannot call them cars!) green cars (no not the paintwork but the eco-friendly versions running on anything except normal petrol and garbage/plastic bags), mouthwatering super cars (using mouthwatering supermodels to do the unveiling) and generally splashing out a lot of money to showcase new automobiles to the local and international press and the buying publicMinki.

Lucky boytjie Sean got to do the Audi launch, complete with Minki as distraction

Now as a rule I didn’t mind the splashing out of money; the catering for the media was top-notch with major brands taking turns to host the media to breakfast and lunch on the two days, trying to outdo each other to woo the media the most, adding small gifts, (branded and logo’d off course!) to the menu and basically having me end up with more USM memory sticks than I’ll be able to use in two lifetimes. Must say the one from TATA is quite nice; a pen, USB stick and laser pointer all in one pen shaped device (with the obligatory company logo added tastefully on the side). Also at just about every launch we were treated to snacks, cocktails etc making for a generally good time for all.

My JIMS experience started off on a high note; well it turned out to be a high note after the two days, in that I was walking to the media centre and picked up a 2 Gb Sandisk Extreme III CF card. I advertised the fact in the media centre, after two days nobody came forward to claim it. The card was clean so I could not even trace the owner through any images on it; oh well, my gain in the end. Btw, the card now works perfectly in my 1D MkII. After this little windfall, the hell started.

Ferrari ScuderiaTook the early morning quiet time to take some shots for myself, knowing that during the rest of the day time will not be my friend. Also the hall’s and stands were a lot quieter, so less people to worry about. Could take my time with composition, lighting and exposure etc and generally enjoyed the relative calmness inside the halls.

Ferrari 430 Scuderia
35mm, f 5, 1/50, ISO 250

Mercedes SL65

 Merc SL 65 AMG Black
32mm, f 5.6, 1/40, ISO 320

Subaru Impreza

I was contracted by the owner of Motorpics along with the two other motoring photographers, making us a team of four. Motorpics was the main agency for the JIMS and we were required to cover all of the media briefings and launches. So we had a schedule drawn up whereby each one of us would attend a launch in sequence, taking nice photo’s then rush back to the media centre for our resident lady assistant to download the images from the cards, chuck the less than good ones, doubles etc, and upload the final selection to the Motorpics website for the rest of the world to see. The basic idea was that the images should be uploaded within 15 minutes from the event, so time was of the essence. Now the issue started with some launches running a few minutes late, a power cut lasting more than an hour on Thursday morning didn’t help either. Also, with the car launches running in parallel with the trucks, buses and accessories exhibitors meant that we were running up and down from launches like crazy.

Subaru Impreza STi
50mm, f 4, 1/40, ISO 250

Day one was not the best for me in terms of schedule and timings; see table and following text for reasons:

Serial Time  Event (Hall)
 1  7:30 – 8:00  MBSA breakfast (6)
 2  8:40 – 9:00  Chrysler/Dodge (6)
 3  9:00 – 9:20  Jeep (6)
 4  9:30 – 10:00  VW Commercial (9)
 5  10:10 – 10:40  Iveco (9)
 6  10:40 – 11:10  Hino (9)
 7  11:30 – 11:50  Lexus (6)
 8  12:10 – 12:40  Toyota Lunch (6)
 9  12:40 – 13:00  Alfa Romeo
 10  14:10 – 14:30  CAM (8)
 11  14:40 – 15:10  Trailord (Trucking Terrace)
 12  15:50 – 16:20  Western Star (Trucking Terrace)
 13  17:20 – 17:50  Marco Polo (Trucking Terrace)

To put all of the following in perspective, it should be noted that the weather was hot, 30+ degrees, humidity was high for Gauteng, and I was walking with a torn ligament in my big toe having had to take off the support bandages because I couldn’t get my shoe on my foot otherwise.

So after enjoying a scrumptious, nutritious breakfast courtesy of the nice people selling Merc’s, I grabbed my trusty 1D Mk II fitted with my Canon 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens and EX 430 Speedlight all fitted with freshly charged batteries and formatted CF cards, camera set to L-Jpg as there will be no time for Raw conversions, and after watching Merc doing the world premiere unveiling of their SL 65 AMG Black super car type vehicle, left for my first launch and arrived just in time for the main speeches at Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep, the one flowing into the other with no break in between. So much for running back to the Media centre and downloading cards after every event. I had also decided to take as first photo a shot of the logo/brand of car so that poor Victoria in the media centre will know which launch is on the CF card.Adressing the media

Addressing the media at the Chrysler launch
65mm, f 4, 1/50, ISO 200

Then having 10 minutes to get from hall 6 to 9 I walked rather briskly to the media centre, dropped of the first card and ran down to hall 9 for the VW briefing. Why is there no shuttle buggies around when you need one? Why can’t they build the hall’s closer to one another, all those spaces for food carts seem so wasted! Then it happened; the VW Commercial briefing was interrupted by a sudden darkness settling down on us, ironically just as the presenter was addressing the opportunities for transporting coal to the power stations to up the supply of electricity. Eishcom couldn’t have planned this any better; we all saw the humour in there somewhere as the sweat poured down our brows with no aircons running inside a closed-up cubicle hosting 50 distinguished members of the media. So out I went, pushed the flash to the max to get some light on the huge busses, trucks and service vehicles these people want to sell and returned (by foot again) to the media centre to drop off the cards.

By now the schedule was running about 30 minutes late due to the lack of electricity, and I ran back to hall 9 for the Iveco and Hino launches which were fortunately next to each other, and because of the late schedule, these two launches ran in parallel. So I just used one CF card for the Iveco launch, snap some of the key-note speaker, insert another CF card, moved across the corridor to the other stand and snap their key-note speaker and some of the new company logo he was unveiling, then change CF cards and back to Iveco, just in time for the big bus they were unveiling, snap two different angles, and inside of the cabin and the passenger area, then out again, change CF cards and do the next light truck that Hino was launching, with a new key-note speaker, so need to snap him as well. Then change CF cards and back to Iveco for their latest and greatest mini-busses, a 16 and 19 seater, cursing them for having black/dark grey livery in a hall with no electricity, all in one go and watching the Hino stand for their next speaker and launch. Just made it time for the service vehicle launch, fortunately Iveco didn’t have anything else to launch and I wearily trundled back to the media centre to drop off the two CF cards, grabbed a Cola and fell into a chair to get off my feet.

Pianist at Lexus Launch

Didn’t have much time for sitting down though, as I had 10 minutes to go back to hall 6 for the Lexus launch, a lavish affair with black suits doing the presentation, complete with a high profile pianist playing classical music on a humongous concert piano, snacks and cocktails to die for; especially liked the pure crushed watermelon in tall glasses on ice, yummy! Obviously I had more than one glass.

Concert pianist at the Lexus LS 600h L launch
40mm, f 5, 1/40, ISO 320

Fortunately the power was now back on, and the lights in the hall made it more easy to get the better exposure on the cars and presenters. Back to the media centre, had another Cola sitting down, then went for a really nice lunch with Toyota, including branded chocolate as a take-away gift.

Modern dance coupleWent to the Alfa stand next, snapped some of the cars on display, then waited about five minutes for the main launch, a fancy Italian modern dance couple doing their wow routine followed by another wow show from a Spanish dancing couple, before this couple took the wraps off the new Alfa MiTo, an Italian car with a Spanish design heritage, hence the two different dance routines.

Italian modern dance couple at Alfa Romeo MiTo launch
73mm, f 4, 1/50, ISO 320

Sexy little car, the international press raving about it, and I can see why. Got a fancy USB memory stick (logo’d) with a press release loaded on it, and back to the media centre for a change of CF cards, a Cola and a walk to the next hall where China Auto Manufacturers (CAM) tried to launch a new coupe, not yet available in RSA and for the foreseeable future. All model badges in Chinese made it difficult for us to read the model name, and with no-one around to talk to us or hand out press kits it was interesting to say the least. Suddenly three girls appeared from behind the stand and started dancing around the car, quite loosely limbed I have to say, then the music stopped again there was nothing, nobody to talk to us, silence.

CAM Launch

CAM launch, no idea of model name!
28mm, f 5.6, 1/60, ISO 320

Maybe the Chinese don’t speak English, or Afrikaans, or Spanish or French since all those international journo’s were also there wondering what this was all about. Oh well, didn’t dally for too long and left for the media centre and immediately on to the trucking terrace to try and find Trailord, which was nowhere to be found. After walking the area twice over, it was determined that they didn’t pitch up and their slot was taken by another company called XXYYZZ (not their real name). Why didn’t they tell us this beforehand, I could have saved myself a lot of unnecessary walking. So I did the new company with a few shots, declined anything to drink as the CEO was walking around in tattered jeans and t-shirt with a rum and coke mix in one hand (boy, they should have been to the Lexus affair!) and walked all the way back to the media centre, dropped off the cards and hitched a shuttle ride back to same area for the Western Star presentation. These guys have huge trucks and trailers, quite impressive monsters. Very casual as well, but not even close to the XXYYZZ super casual standard. Walked back to the media centre, dropped off the CF card and then back to same area for the Marco Polo presentation, my last of the day, very fancy busses these guys have. Standard the same as for Western Star, so comfortably casual and friendly. After collecting all my cards from the media centre, I waited for most of the traffic to calm down before heading back to Centurion.

Western Star crane conversion

Western Star crane conversion. Just

check the axles on this beast!
32mm, f 4.5, 1/400, ISO 160

My equipment on day one was going super; camera battery lasted the whole day, as did the flash batteries, the green Recyko type stocked by ODP. The flash was used for all shots, even the outdoor ones as fill flash, when I used aperture priority to control DoF as much as possible and a C-PL to reduce glare. Indoors I used either Manual with flash or shutter priority with higher ss and f4 depending on the scene to be covered. ISO was usually 250 or 320 depending on lighting conditions and requirements. All shooting was done handheld with IS on. Subject distance was mostly very close, meaning seldom venturing past 40mm, with 24-35mm used mostly. This also meant some perspective distortion from the close-up wide angle focal length but one would combat this by getting angles to accentuate the shape and lines of the car as much as possible.
Nissan GTR

Nissan GTR Wide angle distortion quite evident, tilted camera intentional
24mm, f 4, 1/40, ISO 320

One thing is for sure; this is not prime lens territory unless you are prepared to carry three bodies fitted with a 20/28/50mm or close alternatives, respectively. Me, I prefer a single body with a handy zoom such as the 24-105 f4 L IS USM, or the 24-70/2.8 would also be just as nice. Light and quick to use, no swinging extra camera bodies when you stop for a photo opportunity, or straps slipping off the shoulders/tying themselves in knots when grabbing hold of another body/lens combo. Use a sharp lens with good IQ and good low light AF performance, all my shots were taken using AF, not once did I have issues with AF hunting, failure to lock etc. Backup body was close at hand in my car, parked inside the venue close to the media centre.

I would like the get the cleanest shot possible, not always easy with the crowd of media people milling about, also the very busy backgrounds with logos from other manufacturers creeping into the shot at every opportunity, one would try and keep it complimentary yet entertaining and informative. Showing a nice shot of the new Alfa with the Lexus badge hanging from the roof trusses is not always the best idea, so positioning oneself to hide those distractions was the order of the day. Getting to the stand a few minutes before Renault Laguna Concept Coupethe launch is scheduled to start allows one to scout around, check out the lighting conditions, background intrusions and distractions etc.
Obviously got some of my best shots outside of the media launch hours, the early morning private time with little or no people about. With some cars on a rotating platform it also meant one could stay at the same spot and wait for the car turn into the position /angle you like most, or get front and rear view, ¾ views etc all from one position, such as was the case with this Renault Laguna.

Renault Laguna Concept Coupe
28mm, f 11, 1/40, ISO 320


Jamali performing at the GM unveilings

Chevy Lumina

Day two of the media schedule was more of the same, super launches, super breakfast and lunch from General Motors and TATA respectively and another tight schedule for myself with General Motors, Isuzu, Honda, Land Rover, Mazda, Ford, Tata, Kia, Digicore (another no-show which I spent half an hour walking around trying to find the stand) and finally Rolls Royce to be attended. The launches again had quite a diverse approach, GM used futuristic stilt walkers to do the unveiling using rods with hooks to remove the covers from the new models, not one of them fell down even amongst all those mediamembers sitting, crouching, walking, tripods for video cam’s, with super group Jamali performing from the balcony of the GM stand.

Stilt-walkers unveiling the new Chevy Lumina muscle car

Ford had a nice dance and laser show with lots of smoke screens for effect, all combined to reveal their new Fiesta. The new green concept vehicle from Land Rover must count as the sexiest SUV at the show, and Rolls Royce had a professional approach; no side shows, a short presentation by a top exec from the UK, remove the covers and there it is, come closer for a better look. Talk about a launch anti-climax, but short, simple yet very effective and professional.  Maybe they don’t need to have side-shows?

Dancers and laser man

Dancers and laser man @ Ford Fiesta launch
47mm, f 4, 1/50, ISO 250

Land Rover

 Yes, it really is a Land Rover!!
35mm, f 10, 1/60, ISO 250

Super cars which I will never be able afford – the sexy Merc SL 65 AMG Black, Audi R8, Ferrari’s, Maserati’s and Aston Martins, Nissan’s new GTR, the Corvette ZO6 with 7 liter engine and retro Camaro with its bullish design and off course the Koenigsegg CCXR Limited, yours for a cool 1.5 million only,………..Euros that is. You do the maths for our currency or Zim dollars (For the latter I don’t think there’s enough space for all the zeros on an A4 paper!)

Koenigsegg CCXR Limited

Koenigsegg CCXR Limited
35mm, f 4, 1/30, ISO 3200

After two days of walking many kilo’s drinking many liters of fluids of all types except alcoholic, eating better than the Pope, shooting about 600 images (only), the media days were over, I saw much, learned a lot, wished for lots of money to buy all the nice cars on show, then packed away my old well used camera equipment and braved the traffic once again.

Anybody wants my job?

By Simon Du Plessis
Simon Du Plessis

 All images © Simon Du Plessis

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