Herman Au Photography

My photo
Welcome to my blog! I'm a professional wedding photographer based in Los Angeles California. Follow my footsteps in turning my life long hobby into a career I love, and check out my latest work, newest products, teasers, and photography tutorials. I shoot in an unobtrusive photojournalistic style with an emphasis on natural and genuine emotions. You can find my portfolio on my website - http://www.hermanau.com.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Definitely a good read, interesting insight in this post (sorry OP i can't find the original thread):

All of us are forgetting the main advantage of the Auto-WRX: the AWD system itself. When we talk of "Rally Proven", the "proof" is actually missing in the Manual-WRX. Here is the reason why:

The VTD-AWD system of the Auto-WRX is the most advanced AWD system of Subaru, with a true torsen (torque sensing) planetary gear center differential, which works in association with electronically controlled continuously variable multi-plate clutch-packs. The torque split is at 45/55, with a slight rear bias in power, in normal driving, unless more is needed front or back. This system equals in sophistication and effectiveness, the best AWD systems currently available in the market including the Audi Quattro (not the "Quattro" present in the Audi TT, which is inferior to the VTD-AWD). The VTD-AWD system is conceptually identical to the AWD system present in the World Rally Conquering Subarus, the significant difference being that the WRC cars have driver adjustable torque splits and are much more of a heavy duty kind. The hardware otherwise is identical in design. The Rally Subarus also have a true auto-manual transmission, which is actually a clutch-less manual, but the underlying AWD system is better adaptable to the Auto-WRX, not the manual-WRX, due to which the manual-WRX soldiers on with an AWD system that is essentially tractor-technology. "Gets the job done" but nothing to write home about.

The other Auto-Subarus do not have the torque-sensing center differential and drive more like a FWD car in normal driving.

The manual WRX on the other hand, has the same Viscous coupling AWD system present in all other manual Subarus, which is a reactive system, as opposed to the proactive nature of the VTD-AWD system of the Auto-WRX. The viscous fluid which is used to transfer torque front/back needs slippage before it can react and transfer torque. Also, since differential lock is acheived due to the viscous fluid being twisted (unlike the torque sensing incredibly sturdy planetary gear differential in the Auto-WRX), the torque-transfer is both slow and in-efficient. The AWD system of the manual WRX cannot be compared with the Audi Quattro or any other sophisticated AWD system. It does not have the breadth of operation (cannot transfer the amount of torque front/back like the VTD-AWD), the reactiveness (reacts slowly due to its very Viscous coupling nature) or the rapid torque transfer characteristics (due to the "reactive" nature of the system) of the VTD-AWD equipped Auto-WRX. With the Viscous coupling AWD system present in the manual-WRX, Subaru certainly would not be winning many rallys....just a heads-up.

Everything else remaining the same, I would have preferred a manual in the WRX. But in this particular case, everything else is not the same. Far, far from it. Let us face it - we admire these cars for their AWD systems and not for their "manual gear shift capability". So on that criteria, the Manual-WRX has a huge and glaring deficit.

About a year after I posted this, I actually went ahead and installed a modified torque converter by ProTorque to try to improve my WRX's low end power. The part cost me something around $500, and it cost me almost as much to have it professionally installed. The results are nothing short of impressive. It's very hard to describe how it performs differently, but let's just say that it feels like you're revving up your engine a bit while slowly releasing your clutch, and yes it feels just like that. It also allows you to brake-torque (holding your brakes while pressing the gas) to a higher RPM. I sometimes do it to about 2k-2.5k rpm and it makes the initial stop and go feel much stronger, and for the first time I can feel the AWD launch from an automatic.

After a while I got all used to it, and I figure the ride is too smooth and I can't exactly feel the turbo kicking in anymore. No lag is supposed to be a good thing, but driving a turbo car without the turbo lag makes me feel like something is wrong. I should have re-calibrated my butt-dyno, but I found a pretty good deal on a used VF30 and injectors, and did a turbo swap. A few hundred dollars later, I regained the turbo lag I originally hated and then got rid of. The car now has much stronger top end power and it can pull all the way to red line STRONG instead of tapering off somewhere around 5k with the stock TD04 turbo. It's now tamer, and more controllable, but once unleashed it's just ferocious and hard to control. Do I like it? Of course I'll never say no to power. But is it suitable for the roads and do I feel it's necessary, the short answer is no. It probably would be better to keep the TD04 and Torque Converter setup for everyday driving, but if it's a sunday car for you? Do it!

At the end of the day, I picked up a different interest and started my journey in photography. I still love my WRX, and I try to combine both interest and shoot cars as often as I can. But I think I came to the end of my journey in the endless quest of tuning my car. I might have done things differently if I had all the knowledge I gained from all this. But then again, today I'm driving a VF30 WRX that will not lose to a 5MT WRX... trust me, it's fast. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Speed Loading Adobe Acrobat 6.0

Ctrl-R, enter C:\Program Files
Navigate to Adobe/Acrobat 6.0/Reader
Rename plug_ins folder to plug_in_NOT
Make new folder plug_ins and copy the following 3 files from plug_in_NOT to the new folder: EWH32.api, printme.api, search.api

That's all you need to do. :) Enjoy

Taken from PC MAGAZINE October 19,2004

Friday, September 24, 2004

WRX model number clarification

What is "GDA", "GDB", "GGA", "GGB", etc.?
GDA - 2002+ Impreza WRX
GDB - 2002+ Impreza WRX STi
GGA - 2002+ Impreza WRX Wagon
GGB - 2002+ Impreza WRX STi Wagon
GDB-C - Current model (US 2004+) WRX STi

S202 - Limited Edition WRX STi. Light weight version. Came with Carbon Fiber rear spoiler, Volk wheels, lowered/uprated suspension, titanium exhaust and other performance/appearance differences.

Spec C - Ultra lightweight version of the Impreza WRX STi - Light weight Rally version.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Subaru WRX Wagon

Here's an interesting article that's worth reading a couple times :)

Road Tests: Follow-Up Test

Follow-Up Test: 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX Sport Wagon
Subaru Boosts its Versatile Compact Wagon
By Brent Romans
Date Posted 01-01-2002

We like the Audi S4 Avant. This 250-horsepower wagon has handsome styling, capable handling characteristics and a weather-beating all-wheel-drive system. Its more-than-$40,000 asking price actually seems worth it. Until one drives a Subaru Impreza WRX Sport Wagon, that is.

Subaru's fortunes have improved dramatically since its Spring 2001 introduction of the 2002 Impreza WRX. Equipped with a turbocharged engine and a sport-tuned suspension, this performance-minded Impreza has tapped into America's growing interest in sporty compact cars and expanded the awareness of the brand. The company's new tagline should be "Subaru: It's Not Just for Vermonters any More."

When Subaru decided to offer a WRX wagon along with the sedan, it wasn't quite sure how well the car would be received. Would Americans go for a hot-rodded compact station wagon, or did the wagon's last hope at being cool die in 1983 after Clark Griswold tied Aunt Edna to the top of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster?

So far, it seems Americans have given the WRX Sport Wagon a hearty thumbs up. Both the sedan and the wagon are selling briskly. Previously, we've driven the WRX sedan and the Impreza Outback Sport. We've given positive reviews to both, so logic would dictate that we'd like the WRX Sport Wagon, too. We acquired a Blue Pearl Sport Wagon and spent a week doing things we expect WRX owners to do, such as driving to work, heading to the mountains with gear in the back and, on a few occasions, beating the pants off other unsuspecting sporty cars.

There are very few mechanical differences between the WRX sedan and wagon. Both come with a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This small dynamo packs 227 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 217 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Impressive to be sure, but near idle, the engine's responses are dulled. There's turbo lag down low on the tachometer. Big happy mega fun time happens past three grand. Here, the turbo awakens, the extra boost pressure flows freely, and the engine pulls hard toward the 7,000 rpm redline.

Power is routed to all four wheels via a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The WRX sedan we tested had the five-speed, so we were interested in the performance of our automatic-equipped wagon. While we don't recommend it for people looking for maximum performance, the auto certainly makes congested traffic much easier to bear. We did note that the transmission could stand some additional refinement, as shifts are a bit rough and downshifts don't occur promptly enough. Given the sporting nature of the WRX, Subaru would be wise to give the auto a sequential-shift mode similar to Porsche's Tiptronic.

From a standing start, the automatic amplifies the engine's sluggish low-end response. Step on the throttle after coming off the brake, and the WRX dribbles forward. In our first acceleration run, we recorded an unimpressive 0-to-30-mph time of 4.0 seconds on the way to an 8.7-second 0-to-60. Better results can be obtained by using a brake torque launch technique. This technique (for an automatic transmission only) is done by placing the transmission in drive, firmly applying the brakes with the left foot and applying ever-more throttle with the right. The brakes keep the car immobile while the engine spools up until it reaches the transmission's stall speed. Results vary depending on the type of powertrain, but the WRX responds quite well. Done this way, the WRX winds up to about 3,000 rpm and then shoots forward vigorously once the brakes are released. Our best acceleration run gave us a 0-to-60 time of 6.7 seconds with the quarter-mile occurring in 15.1 seconds at 89.0 mph.

The automatic also gives the WRX a different type of all-wheel-drive system. Manual-equipped cars have a simple but effective center differential-mounted viscous coupling. WRXs equipped with the four-speed automatic get Subaru's Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) all-wheel-drive system. Used in the WRX and the Outback H6 3.0 VDC, VTD employs an electronically controlled hydraulic transfer clutch and a planetary gear center differential to distribute power in a 45/55 split between the front and rear axles.

The VTD system uses multiple sensors to measure front and rear driveshaft speeds, throttle position and gear selection. Then it actively transfers power accordingly between the front and rear wheels for optimum traction and handling. Enter a turn under braking, and the system will bias the power toward the front for greater steering control. Lay on the throttle out of a turn, and the VTD will send the torque out back for maximum thrust; all of this done in a matter of milliseconds completely imperceptible to the driver.

While it didn't rain or snow during our time with the car (as is usually the case here in Los Angeles), we're confident in saying that the WRX's all-wheel drive adds an element of security. It works quietly behind the scenes, applying power where needed. Owners living in climates where there is actually weather should appreciate the increased traction.

Another useful feature is the WRX's ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brake setup. Our particular test car did not perform as well as we expected, with a 60-to-0-mph stopping distance of 131 feet, longer than the WRX sedan we tested. It was also longer than that of the Impreza Outback Sport we drove, and that car has rear drum brakes. We can't offer an explanation other than this particular car might have been an anomaly.

Taken to curvy roads, the WRX Sport Wagon provides a high level of driving entertainment. The wagon weighs just 80 pounds more than the sedan, and the automatic adds another 55 pounds, bringing the total to 3,220 pounds. This might seem a bit hefty for a compact, but consider that an S4 Avant weighs 3,704-pounds. In terms of suspension, the WRX Sport Wagon (as well as the sedan) has a MacPherson strut at each corner. It's a simple design, but Subaru's engineers have managed to tune the suspension quite well. Pitch it into a corner, and the car claws its way around. There's no wheelspin or loss of grip thanks to the all-wheel drive. The WRX's enduring appeal is that it can flatter the most ham-fisted pilot.

Through quick transitions, the wagon is not as sharp as the sedan, a result of a higher center of gravity and the thinner-diameter rear antiroll bar. We managed a 62.6 mph slalom speed, slower than the WRX sedan we tested. Our test driver did note, however, that the sedan had the optional 17-inch wheels and the 215/45R17 tires, while the wagon was stuck with the stock 16s with 205/55R16s. With the 17s, the wagon would have certainly posted better times. It is also interesting to note that the wagon has a slightly narrower track front and rear than the sedan.

Around town, the ride quality is comfortable enough, and the wagon is certainly more versatile than the sedan. It's roomier, with additional headroom given to both front and rear passengers. Rear passengers also get slightly more legroom. Being an Impreza, the WRX Sport Wagon is saddled with a few lackluster interior trim materials, but this is a minor complaint. Behind the rear seat, the wagon can hold 27.9 cubic feet of cargo. Folding down the 60/40-split rear seat increases that maximum amount to 61.6 cubic feet, more than the S4 Avant, the BMW 325i wagon and the Mazda Protegé5. If that's still not enough, the wagon's roof rack can be used to hold up to 100 pounds of gear (meaning it could support Aunt Edna's weight).

Not too shabby for a car with an MSRP of just over $24,000. Like the Impreza Outback, the WRX Sport Wagon is perfectly suited for people with an active lifestyle. Hiking, rock climbing, biking, surfing — pretty much any activity that requires more than a pair of shorts — can all be accommodated. And like the WRX sedan, the wagon has the power and the grip to compete against sport coupes like the Acura RSX Type-S and even high-end luxury wagons like the S4. It's the perfect blend, and for the money, you won't find a more capable sport wagon in 2002.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Wagon Body Kits

Wagon Spoiler!

Wagon body kits

Thursday, September 02, 2004

BOOooost Gauge!

Finally got that thing installed... cost me $100 thou. >_<
I actually worked with the guy on the installation and nothing's really too complicated really. After this I think I'll feel a lot more comfortable working on my car by myself. Well, maybe with a friend around to give me advice and some handy help. Taking apart the TMIC wasn't too bad either, and I think *IF* I ever get my hands on those Samco hoses I can do it myself too. ha... reminds me that I probably have to redo that vacumme hose 'cause I really don't like that hose touching the exhaust manifold... I think the manifold will melt the hose somehow.

Here's a good documentation Ron pointed and I saved it on my site. TMIC

Oh yea I bought a set of ramps at Kragen too so I can take apart my front endlinks and relube everything... I don't think Jackson did a superb job the first time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

BMW E30 M3

I remember a while ago I had a very strong urge of owning a BMW E30. I was still going to school and working part time, and I managed to save up a couple thousand dollars, ready to trade in my 94' Corolla DX for an even older car of my dream. The enthusiasm died down after I moved down to LA snapping back into reality. I forgot about the car and ended up purchasing a Subaru WRX Sports Wagon, and got deeply interested in automobiles. I started reading articles about cars, aftermarket parts, and even started doing hands on experiments on my car. It wasn't long until I realized I even regret picking the easy choice of an 4EAT WRX isntead of a manual. My desire for a sport utility AWD daily grocery driver soon turned out to be the ultimate sport utility Mustang and Ricer beater. All that has to stop at some point thou, I tell myself. That is when the money I spend into the car can no longer be justified. If I spend more money on the car including its original cost gets over the cost of getting a stock STi version, then it's no longer worth it. At least I am conscious enough to set a budget.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Dude, you'd think it's a joke but uhh... they made a Ultra-man style Kiko-man (kikoman is a soy sauce brand if you don't know). I hope it's a prank... I thought Pepsi Man was kinda crazy already.


English version:

Monday, August 16, 2004

MR2 -> Ferarri 355



Friday, August 13, 2004

Several bookmarks for myself... :D
Pikko's Pot
WRX noise question on Cobb Forum
Herman's FFXI corner
Gold WRX
APS high flow Turbo Discharge
Mr Josh Pulley
Siya & Linaaa
Kastle's Korner Steering Rack Bushings

About me | Herman Au

Photography is not just my profession. It is most importantly my life-long hobby and my passion. I first picked up a camera on my honeymoon, fascinated by the camera but drawn by what I was able to capture. It is the joy, the happiness, and the memories that stayed with me after the trip that made me realize I wanted to continue shooting. I photographed everything around me - food, flowers, water, buildings, cars, people, and everything else I found. I took my camera out wherever I went, shot whatever I could, and all I read was photography books and magazines before bed. However, nothing satisfied me more than being able to do what I do now - preserving precious memories and capturing life stories as they unfold.

Random tidbits about me:
  • I was married 3 years ago, and I still freshly remember the bits and pieces of it. I treasure my own wedding pictures because they preserve the memories for that memorable day from a different perspective. I love that, and now I try my best to pass that along with my own camera.
  • I currently own 7 cameras - Nikon D700, D300, D200, F100, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, DMC-TS1, and a Polaroid ONE Instant Camera. I do take quite a lot of pictures with my iPhone, but that's my phone and it doesn't count!
  • I wear glasses, sometimes, and yes they are corrective lenses if you're wondering.
  • I use Macs, and I <3>
  • I bought my first convertible - a 92 Mazda Miata, in 2009; and driving it with the top down became one of my favorite pass-times.
  • I lost count of how many polo shirts I have already...
  • I don't know why, but I keep on losing my bluetooth headsets; just like how everybody's socks keep disappearing when they do laundry, but somehow you only lose one of the pair...
  • I'm usually very critical about things in life, and I am also my own worst critic. =)
  • I love Japanese food, and I love love love good o' authentic real Japanese sushi.
  • I have fruits phobia. Yep, you read that right... the only fruits I eat are: apple, orange, lemon, pineapple (on Hawaiian pizzas only), and tomato (yea?).
  • Latest addiction - watching Dexter on Netflix