It’s pretty wild to think of 2015 in the past tense, a memory filled with fantastic people, exotic destinations, and an obscene amount of automobiles. Traveling to virtually every corner of America, we were able to experience some of the most engaging roadways America has to offer from behind the wheel of a bevy of different vehicles, and as luck would have it, quite a few of the photos we took turned out looking halfway decent.
Please note that we are by no means professional photographers by trade, and while my Nikon Coolpix 8700 will soon be old enough to get its learner’s permit, taking photos of cars in interesting settings makes me happy, and my colleagues share the same exuberance.
Since joining The Autos division of The Cheat Sheet last March I’ve experienced things most people only dream of: This includes crossing the Continental Divide in a turbocharged Kia Optima and had hot apple cider at its summit, blasted around Chicago’s Autobahn race track in Hellcat Challenger and a supercharged Cadillac CTS-V, toured multiple manufacturing plants in America’s heartland, spent time chatting with executives of auto manufacturers, and made friends with some of the most amazing people in all areas of the automotive realm.
So in a gesture of good will, here are a dozen of our favorite photos from 2015. Remember, there is little in this world that is more gratifying than doing what you love, and hopefully, with a little bit of luck, you too can experience the joy that these vehicles have brought us through the following photos.
1. Infiniti Q50 S in Front of Music Hall
There is just something about this picture that speaks to me, and I believe that a lot of it has to do with the contrast between the colors, textures, and dimensions it offers. The century-old cobblestone pavers are encrusted with fresh street car tracks, the warm blood orange tinge of Cincinnati’s Music Hall contrasts beautifully with the cool Hagane Blue paint job that sweeps fluidly across the lines of the performance-oriented Infiniti Q50 S, causing the sedan to stand out all the more against its backdrop. If only all my photos turned out like this…
2. Kia Optima on the Backside of the Continental Divide
On the east side of the Continental Divide lies an area commonly referred to as the Twin Lakes. It’s a gorgeous aquatic area, and after some consideration I decided that an impromptu photo shoot beside one of these bodies of water was in order, especially since I had a hunch that the blue paint of the turbocharged Kia Optima SX-L would stand out nicely in front of said scenic backdrop.
Sure enough, the clay-like soil, pine-clad mountains, and serene lake water all offered just the right flare to make this shot work.
3. Reflection Eternal, Cheat Sheet Style
Esoteric, and awesome as all hell, this photo is a gorgeously colored homage to motor cars of yesteryear, and is a prime proof that reflections in a photograph aren’t always a bad thing.
Derek Sapienza snapped a 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial that’s reflected in the window of a 1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta at RM Sotheby’s “Driven By Disruption” auction in New York City last December. All of the vibrant colors, distorted lines, and rustic shades are beautifully blended into a bowed glass frame.
4. Toyota Tundra TRD-Pro Meets Slippery Slope
One late summer morning I grabbed my camera, some sturdy hiking boots, a big ass cup of coffee, and saddled up for a drive in one of the gnarliest trucks you can buy on the market today. The Toyota Tundra TRD-Pro is a fire-breathing, bright orange example of what Americans want in a truck, and after chucking mud in every direction imaginable for a few hours, I can totally see why.
5. Toyota Tacoma in a Winter Wonderland
Resting high within the rocky outcroppings of Colorado’s key mountain range, the rugged Tacoma stands sharply at attention in its natural habitat. It’s a picture that just pops, and with the timberline sloping away in the background and the freshly fallen snow adding depth, Andrew Ganz’s creative snap offers what you, too, could achieve as the proud owner of a new Tacoma.
6. Hyundai Genesis R-Spec Coupe Gets Corn-fed
Burnout tracks snake down an old farm road, stopping only when they meet the rear tires of the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec Coupe. If this sport coupe gets all of the upgrades it deserves in the next generation, how am I going to showcase that refined aggression?
7. Lexus RX 450h F Sport Lights-Up the Smokey Mountains
This was a shoot that yielded more duds than a North Korean missile launch program, but a select few shots made the cut. It had been raining in Charlotte, N.C, for almost a week straight. The heavens held, and even though it was dark I was able to scoop-out this gem: From the radiant LED headlamps to the cracked yellow double-lines backed by slowly changing foliage, this shot yielded an artsy look at the 2016 Lexus RX 450h.
8. Acura RDX Gets Some Gazebo Love
It may not be as flashy or as picturesque as some of the other snaps here, but every time I look at this photo of the 2016 Acura RDX, the symmetry of it all stands out to me. From the shadows cast by the hotel next to it and the green plant life on either side, to the dark red brick background and the worn wood roofing above its silver shell, there is a certain balance to this photo that just worked.
9. Buick Regal GS Snuggle in for a Close-up
This close-up is a very simplistic look at an extremely complex car. The Buick Regal GS remains one of the best vehicles I drove in 2015 due to its clever all-wheel drive powertrain, Subaru WRX-thumping turbocharged torque curve, adaptive dampers, and sumptuous leather interior. But instead of just focusing on the performance or luxurious sides of the equation, I also opted to highlight some of the smooth angles on this machine, with this picture of the rear badging playing a fine example.
I liked how the Roebling Bridge’s reflection feeds into the Regal badge, and how the tail lamps feed upward into the duck-billed trunklid and flushmount. Toss in a bright yellow concrete barrier and the Ohio River in the background for some out of focus depth, and you have a minimalistic picture that speaks volumes.
10. Alfa Dog and Old Pup Reunite
This is just a fun compare and contrast kind of photo, where our managing editor Andrew Ganz puts his own Alfa Spider convertible alongside a 2015 4C for an amusing photo op. The gritty, graffiti-riddled backdrop adds a stark variance to the silky smooth red and black Italian paint spread out in front of it.
11. Behind the Veil, a British Beast Awaits
Reveal events are always an exciting time, and if the vehicle in question just so happens to be a highly anticipated supercar, the hype is all that more intense. Here, Derek Sapienza captures the moments leading up to the reveal of the infamous McLaren 570S at the New York Auto Show last April. From the lushly seductive cloth coverage, to the LED lights glimmering beneath, this picture ushers forth feelings of sensuality and anticipation like you would not believe.
12. A Jeep Renegade Reminds Us It’s OK to Play in the Mud
After playing hopscotch in a massive mud pit for the better part of an afternoon I decided that the little Jeep Renegade Sport had seen enough, and I took it to a remote locale for a photo shoot. Out of all the pictures that came out of that hour-long session, this one stood out to me the most.
It’s a perfect depiction of what a Jeep can do, and it has all of the elements in their proper place. The angled Jeep logo sits amid contrasting alloy lug nuts, while splatters of mud spray outward, like modern automotive art. Meanwhile, tucked beneath an alloy spoke, a Mopar brake pad peeks out from behind a coated caliper, like an excited little sibling, ready to play once more.
13. Singer Porsche “Indiana” Wants to Say Hello
I’ve shot some beautiful cars in my day, but dammit if this isn’t one of the prettiest pieces of machinery I’ve ever come across. Everything about this car is purpose-built, and for costing almost $400,000 it better be!
Shooting in direct sunlight sometimes has some pretty negative effects on the quality of picture you will receive, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this photograph turned out as well as it did. Simple, elegant, and oh-so blue, this gorgeous piece of Porsche machinery from Singer looks a million times better in real life, even when the photos I took of it didn’t turn out half bad.
14. Subaru Prepares to Take America By Storm
Taking photos while in a a massive manufacturing plant can be a risky business, and in the case of my coverage of Subaru’s zero-landfill plant over in Indiana, the majority of the pictures I took turned out dark and grainy due to a lack of adequate lighting. But somewhere halfway through my tour the machines stopped, and a slew of factory workers went to lunch, leaving the robots along the assembly line a moment of respite.
As you can see, this is an extremely vibrant photo, taken in a place where colors are typically muted, and backdrops are minimalistic at best. The assembly line on the other hand is a colorful place, filled with bright, cobalt blue robotic arms, yellow safety railings, complex mazes of piping, and gratuitous servings of lighting, all of which made this picture a real winner.
15. Chevy Trax Plays in the Park
While the Chevy Trax LT may not be a head-turning road warrior, it certainly has its place in modern society, and in the case of this photo it serves as a sharply lit blue beacon, deep within Cincinnati’s historic Eden Park. Green foliage adds additional balance to the shot, along with some nice shadow effects, and once accompanied by the brick tower in the background, a certain level of depth is achieved that wouldn’t be possible in most other places.
16. Toyota Prius Prepares for Take-Off
This next photo comes to us courtesy of an old abandoned military base in California, where Hollywood filmed parts of the 1990s blockbuster Independence Day, along with a car that has been completely redesigned in order to offer far better handling and performance than one might expect. With the runway stretching out toward the smog-laden hills behind it, the dark blue fuel-sipper waits patiently for me to wrap-up my shoot, as the hot Pacific sun beats down upon its freshly redesigned lines.
Everything about this picture hits where it should, and every time I look at it memories of how much more agile the resigned Prius is in comparison to the outgoing model causes me to smile.
17. Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Chevy Right Over…
Hate on the car all you want, but this picture from Andrew Ganz turned out pretty freaking stellar. The vibrant green background with dark accents, the crisp, freshly polished lines of the bright red muscle car, and the mud puddles, with their muted reflections all give this photo boat-loads of energy. It’s amazing he didn’t get it dirtier than he did when it was time to leave that day…
18. Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire…
Our final photo of 2015 comes to us courtesy of a polished nickel fuel filler cap on the aforementioned Singer Porsche. There was so much to love on this car that it was virtually impossible to encapsulate it all in just a single snap, so I felt this close-up shot might be a great way to wrap things up today.
It’s not every day someone gets to review a car like a Singer Porsche before revealing its presence to the world, and on behalf of all of us in the Autos Division at The Cheat Sheet, we promise to offer you even more unique stories and photos in the 2016 year. Happy New Year, guys.