Gallery>>loading Up @ Ebisu Drift Festival

Most people tend to live their lives in some kind of reality tunnel. You see life from your own perspective and tend to push your own value judgements onto your perceptions of the world. Perhaps the most evolved of us live in a very wide tunnel with a semi-objective viewpoint, while some of us live in very narrow bands, and are unable to see anything outside of a small perspective. It's very hard to know exactly where you fit into this scheme isn't it? Are you someone with a balanced semi-objective view of the world or a blind person who only sees themselves in everything?

Anyway personal philosophy aside, whenever I go to a car event with a Speedhunter photographer/writer I tend to become quite aware that my own reality tunnel is not necessarily in line with that of with my peers. I keep observing moments and seeing images that I feel would make great photographic content for Speedhunters. However I'm not a photographer by trade at all, I'm a film-maker and creative director. When faced with a creative moment at a car event, I often will look over to my peer, hoping that they are seeing what I am seeing and are pointing their cameras at the exact image that is currently burning a hole in my retinas… but this isn't how things work is it? What is plain and obvious in my own unique point of view more often than not is not the same to that of my fellow Speedhunters. They are at the same event as me, but their automotive perspective is based on their personal experience…. So they point their cameras at different scenes and select different framing that is a reflection of their own camera and photographic languages.

Now this is absolutely fine as we have some pretty stellar writer/photographers working on the Speedhunters team, but still for me, I sometimes would like the opportunity to tell stories on Speedhunters that are based on my own viewpoint and visual language.

So what to do? Well after a long weekend of shooting the Ebisu Summer Drift Festival I put down my… err… EA's HD video camera and borrowed one of Antonio's pro cameras which he kindly set up into full auto mode for a photographic newbie like me. So let's see what happens when I try my hand at photography with some proper equipment in hand.

By the time I borrowed the camera, the festival had just ended and the participating cars were packing up and getting ready to disperse to the various corners of Japan from whence they came.

I think this photo is a nice detail shot.

This is the first time I've ever used a pro camera with a proper lens…. I have to say its fantastic.. You look, see the shot, and capture. So much more fluid and instantaneous than film making.

There were around 300 cars or so at the festival I'm told and it seems
a few came in on trailers. As I wandered about many of them were being
packed up on to different transporters and flatbeds.

One thing that amazes me about Japanese street drifting culture is the quality of the cars. A good percentage of them looked high end enough to be magazine material in the west, yet they were being fully thrashed about on the circuits. I suppose that these chassis in Japan are a dime a dozen and are relatively easy and cheap to source. Expensive parts can be transfered right?

This reminds me of the early day of hot rodding (not that I was there!)…. there was a time when it was quite cheap to build a '32 ford. No problem, just go down to your local junk yard to find a body or drive out into the desert to pull apart an abandoned machine. These days are long gone though! Similarly to modern hot rodding,  I would imagine there will be a time when a clean S14 shell will be a rarity and a real expense to build up. Perhaps someone someday will start to manufacture replica shells.

This Hachi was a pretty nice car at the start of the day. Antonio and I saw it tooling around between circuits a few times over the course of the weekend. Not much left now though, looks written off.


Antonio was busy at one end of the West Course paddock area setting
up a photoshoot with a pack of fellow Hachi lovers. Can you feel the
love eminating between them?

Check out this amazing S15 from Tex-Modify. Pretty stunning machine and remember this is after 2 days of hardcore drifting.

Ooohh yeah….. If you owned this car would you be out sliding about against the walls at Ebisu?

Antonio will show this car in more detail in a future post.

A little glimpse of one of the cars Antonio was shooting. I think his happiness is directly related to the distance from an AE86 chassis (similar to how my happiness can be gauged from the distance to a computer monitor). Given that this shoot involved three Hachi's I'm sure he was trying to fight back tears of happiness!

This pic shows the drifting lifestyle in a nutshell no?

Fellow Speedhunter Naoto Suenaga has a full time job at Ebisu managing the facility and tells me that most weekends at the track they get up to 100 cars showing up to practice their drifting styles. Imagine that huh?

So clean and beautiful, yet this is an average street drift car in Japan. In North America this is known as the Lexus SC300 and is a bit of an overlooked tuning platform IMO. They look great though fully done up don't you think? Bit of an alternative to the Supra.

A visual exploration of composition, negative space and colour.

Look at that stance huh? You can see why it makes Antonio and I a bit crazy when people build street drift cars in the US and Europe, but don't put any effort into refining the overall presentation of the car. Mind you in Japan it costs a hell of a lot less to build a car like this than in the West so you can understand its harder to do this in Europe, Oceana and North America……

Perhaps we should all move to Japan and live the dream there!

Of course such great stance does have some drawbacks as this group found out when they loaded up their transporter. The bumper got caught and started to further crack open on the bed.

This guy must have just waxed his car before I took this picture right?

Who says that you need a small FR sport-compact to drift? 4 door sedan drifting is a huge part of the culture in Japan.

Another look at that Toyota Soarer as the group of friends got ready to drive off.

And away they go. Anyone notice that most of the cars don't seem to have any colour? Or is it that I like cars without colour and therefore concentrate on shooting them?

Until next time….

It's like a painting no? For me being at this holy ground of drifting is almost too good to be true. What an incredible place.

I really enjoyed messing about with a pro photo camera and am feeling very inspired by the experience… wow! Will need to explore this further and expand my own "reality tunnel" to include the art of photography. Thanks Antonio!

Ok time to get ready to head back out to Ebisu… We have a few days of special shooting with Team Orange lined up…

Signing off….

:Rod Chong



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ohhh nice shots. yeah i can agree the sc300 is overlooked, i really liked those shots you put out.


I WANT HD VIDEOS !!!!!!!!!!!

and pics of the Team Orange's cars please. Nice pics Rod :)


nice shots. sometimes being a good photographer doesn't mean you have to know how to tinker with SLR cameras, all you need is imagination. really great shots. love the JZX100 on the composition, negative space and color shot.


Very nice pictures Rod!


hell yeah I love the jzx exposure on this site


i love that TEX MODIFY S15, just so beautiful


I'll pick the Tex Modify S15 and the JZX81.


Lots of cool images, I keep an eye out for pics from you in the future.


very interesting article detailing the various viewpoints and differences in style that are associated with being a videographer/photographer/whatever and are thrown into a different medium. good photos consindering you aren't used to using a DSLR! ;D


I love how so many of the cars have cracked bumpers, it really shows their devotion to their hobby, and the last shot is quite good, gives a good sense of scale to the event and its circumstances... that and the purple car acts nicely as a contrast to the rolling green hills :D also good to see that even though you're working with still shots instead of moving frames, you still managed to really effectively apply the rule of thirds on the background, so well divided!


Excellent post!! Loved the philosophical references throughout the story.

Will we be able to see more of the "big picture" of Ebisu? Like more scenery (like the pic that is posted last) and more track?


great photos, really appreciated them. Thank you


This is drifting.


Rod your last few articles are killing it my friend. Keep up the awesome work!


Great great pics Rod.....and well written...



Great Job! :)


Dude, you need to shoot stills more often! Nice work!


Hey, you take good pictures, especially those of the Silvias! Love that white Levin with N2 fenders, and yes, Soarers are sweet, I'd definitely go for it instead of a Supra!


Hey, you take good pictures, especially those of the Silvias! Love that white Levin with N2 fenders, and yes, Soarers are sweet, I'd definitely go for it instead of a Supra!


Awesome.. stunning.. i am jealous. lots and lots of jealous


tx for the feedback guys!


i think tears of joy are starting to flow, thanks.


Can we get that last photo in the article as a backgorund?


Ohh ya.. your a master with that Kamera.



what brand is the car getting driven on the truck with the cracked bumper?

Very nice pictures :)


whats the car in the 5th picture from the bottom? the white sedan