Photo by PHR reader DiAnna...
Photo by PHR reader DiAnna Reynolds
There's nothing cooler than seeing your ride in your favorite car magazine. If you're lucky enough to pound your hometown streets or your local track with something really crazy, it's a lot easier to bend the ear of a sympathetic magazine editor to make that a reality. Making things even tougher for the regular guy is that big name shops and manufacturers with lots of clout tend to float to the top of the list, and these prima donna cars often get so much ink that you'd think there was some kind of conspiracy going on. Those dream cars are certainly aspirational, but they're also out of reach for a lot of guys. That said, at the end of the day you're going to go back to your own garage, crack a beer, and wrench on your own pride and joy. You might very well be thinking I wonder what guys like me are building in far away places?
The Popular Hot Rodding Photo Contest Sponsored by Nitto Tires is the answer to that question. Every year, we ask readers to send us pics and info on their real rides for a very special story. It's the popular in Popular Hot Rodding. We're doing it again this year, but we need your help in providing us with the best possible digital images and accurate specs. We're not looking for professional photography, just good clean images. If you take the time and follow some basic steps, it's really easy, but you'll have to put in the work.
If we choose your photo as...
If we choose your photo as the winning image, you will get a set of Nitto tires of your choice! Two of our faves are the class-leading NT05 Ultra High-Performance and the NT05R Drag Radial (shown). If you haven't tried Nittos yet, you're missing out on a huge performance value.
Check out the Photo Contest Rules and Photo Tips, and if you can hack the requirements and take some of our digital photo advice, you've got a really good chance of getting in. The great folks at Nitto Tires have sweetened the pot, and have agreed to give the winning photographer a free set of Nitto tires of his or her choice. That's huge, especially since Nitto makes so many tires and sizes, ranging from the brand new NT05 and NT05R Drag Radial, to the incomparable NT01 DOT R-compound. Or, choose a set of NT555 Extreme-one of the most popular performance tires on the road today. Heck, choose a set of Grappler truck tires-it doesn't matter.
All 20 finalists will receive a commemorative PHR Photo Contest T-shirt and a PHR license plate, so get crackin' before management comes to its senses. We plan to publish at least the top 20 cars in our January 2012 issue, but that's only part of the story. We'll be taking those photo entries with young ladies out of the mix, and printing those in a special "Ladies Of PHR" story some time in 2012-just like we did in this issue from our 2010 contest entries. (Don't worry, the ladies will still be eligible for winning prizes in our January photo contest.) Just remember, to get in on the action, you gotta shoot your photos, fill out the tech sheet, write a short one-page story, and send it all in before our August 1, 2011 deadline. That especially holds true for the die-hard lovers of non-Fords and non-Chevys!
• Send in your complete entry by August 1, 2011. The address is: Source Interlink Media, Attn: PHR Photo Contest, 1733 Alton Pkwy, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92606-4901. Note that we cannot take submissions via email, or verify that your submission has arrived.
• Fill out the entry form completely (or a photocopy) in legible handwriting. We'll be writing about your car, and if you don't tell us anything (or if we can't read it) we can't write about it. Entries with illegible or incomplete entry forms may be discarded.
• In addition to the entry form, you should write a one-page cover letter telling your story. Tell us about yourself, what you love about your car, how you use (or abuse) it, your car's mods, performance, dyno numbers, timeslip numbers, or just a funny story about the car or your photo shoot. Using a model? We need her info as well. Please keep your letter to one page. Entries without a cover letter may be discarded.
• Send us no more than 10 high-resolution photos of your car. Try to mix them up. These photos need to be in digital JPG form, and must have a minimal resolution of 3,000 pixels wide by 2,000 pixels high. Burn these photos on a standard CD (not one from a drug store or retail photo shop-these have photo software on them), and provide individual matching prints.
• Please do not send photos shot from the rear of the car, and no photos with date/time stamps on them.
• An entry can only be submitted by the photographer, and it is preferred, but not required, that the photographer also be the car owner. All prizes are awarded to the photographer.
• One photo contest entry per household. One photo contest entry per photographer. One photo contest entry per car. One photo contest entry per model. One photo contest entry per envelope.
• Prizes are awarded on the combined merits of the car and the photography. That said, a really junky car is far more difficult to photograph than a nice car, but go for it if that's all you have.
• Enclose all materials in an envelope no bigger than 9.5x11. Please, no oversized envelopes or boxes.
• What if your car or model was in the contest in previous years? Please find another car or model to shoot. Photographers from prior photo contests may compete if they use a different car and model.
• At the bare minimum, your photos should be well composed, in focus, sharp, and well lit.
• The entire car should be in the photo, other cars should not be in the shot, and you should not be shooting the rear of the car. The grille/front bumper should be in any photo you send.
• Shoot from different vantage points in addition to eye level. Shooting from above, or from ground level can show off the sexy lines and stance better. Eye level is good too, just mix it up some. If you shoot low, show all four wheels. If your car has strong graphics like hood stripes, show them off.
• Try it at twilight, and position the car so that you can see a sharp horizon line in the side of the car. This will show off nice paint and bodywork.
• If you turn the front tires, don't aim the tread at the camera, show the wheel. This looks way better. (If it's a Nitto tire, we may cut you some slack on that.)
• Use reflectors to bounce sunlight into the grille. Reflectors can be bought, or made out of aluminum foil and cardboard. An off-camera flash can also do the same job. If you're unsure whether a flash helps or hurts, try it both ways.
• Use a tripod to stabilize your camera, it really helps. You can also use the hood of another car, the ground, or a railing if you don't have a tripod.
• Don't adjust the color, contrast, or brightness of your images with your computer-this will just mess it up and make it difficult to print. Take a good exposure to start with and leave it alone.
• Find a unique or beautiful background for your car. It can be dark, moody, nostalgic, exciting, serene, dangerous, or ethereal. A park, beach, historical downtown area, fairground, industrial park, run-down industrial park, an empty country road, airfield taxiway, or tarmac can be a great spot. Keep off the grass, dirt, mud, and the gravel. Stay away from painted parking lot lines.
• Experiment with different exposures. Many great digital photos are ruined due to underexposure. (If you've got an SLR, cover the eyepiece with your hand to prevent stray light from causing incorrect meter readings.) Use the exposure compensation feature (look for something labeled "EV±" on your camera menu) to increase the exposure if your images are too dark.
• Bring friends to help with reflectors, flashes, to direct traffic, to move extraneous debris, to read the camera owner's manual, and to help you move the car. You'll be in over your head if you work alone.
• Bring your cutie, and we'll make her a star! Hot rods and hot girls go together like beer and pizza. Swimwear is OK, just keep things under control. Fully clothed is OK, too! Natural, comfortable poses are best.