Tips from Zimriders: Picture Perfect

Everyone loves to Zimride in style, which is why it’s important to show off your car on your profile.  We asked an amazingly talented Zimride driver, Matt L, to share his pro advice so you can get that perfect shot.

Matt L Photo Tips

Matt L offers up his photo tips for showcasing your car on Zimride.

I Zimride in a 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback that I’ve customized heavily, so I like to show off my hard work when I get a chance. Here are some tips on how to take fantastic photos of your car with minimal gear.

Tools of the Trade

  • Any camera (one that can do manual settings is best)
  • A tripod or something like a bag of rice to keep a camera steady
  • A nice, interesting background
  • Good light

Location, Location, Location

First park your car in a nice location and make sure the environment fits the car. For example, park an outdoorsy car in the wilderness or a sports car in a city environment.

The Golden Hour

The “Golden Hour” is the hour right after sunrise or the hour just before sunset. Try to take your photos at this time—it makes everything look magical.

Photo Tip: Subaru at night

Get Down Low

You can emphasize the awesomeness of your car by eliminating any distractions in the background. The easiest way to accomplish this is dropping down on a knee or lying on the ground.

Position yourself and your camera at about a 45 degree angle to the car or 90 degrees depending on the look that you want to achieve.

Manual Mode

Check if your camera has a manual mode “M”. When your camera is on manual mode, set the aperture (f/”something”) to around f/8. This will give you an in focus image from foreground to background. If you’re using a DSLR, then you’ll want to switch to f/11.

Adjust the shutter speed so that the part of the car facing you is properly exposed. You’ll also want to keep your ISO as low as possible to get the best image quality.

If you are using a simpler camera without manual features such as a phone, put the box (or tap the screen) on the part of the car closest to you until it is the proper brightness. You may want to use exposure compensation (+2 to -2) to adjust this if your camera offers this feature.

After you have your settings dialed in, hold steady and blast away!

Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

Try different angles and position the car differently in the light. I like to place the car diagonal with the wheels pointing out towards the camera to make the car more engaging.

If you are feeling adventurous and want to experiment with some different techniques, take your car somewhere totally dark, leave your camera on a tripod, set your aperture to f/8 and your shutter speed to 30 seconds or as long as it will allow. After you snap your photo, but before the shutter closes, take a flashlight and “paint with light” on the car and around it. You’ll be surprised at the results.

Ask for Feedback

Share your awesome car photos with your friends and family and get their feedback. It’s important to practice!

Thanks for all the fantastic tips Matt! If you’re interested in checking out more of his work, please visit his Web site.

Got any shots of your car?  You can share them with us by emailing or Share with us on our Facebook page!

Happy Travels!

The Zimride Crew

12 Driving Tips to Get You Safely from Point A to Point Z

Our friends at Esurance put together their top driving tips. 

Adrian Nier, “Steering wheel” August 1, 2009 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

Carpooler or lone wolf, road tripper or commuter — whatever your driving pleasure, there’s one thing that should never vary. Safety.

Unless you’re a professional base jumper — or some equally wild (yet, totally awesome) daredevil — it’s likely that driving is the most potentially dangerous thing you do each day. With that in mind, we at Esurance put together a few driver safety tips for our ridesharing friends at Zimride.

Avoid distracted driving
From cell phones to infotainment devices, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus solely on the road. In 2009 alone, almost 5,500 people were killed and about 448,000 were injured in distracted driving–related crashes (and that’s just in the U.S.). And studies show that hands-free devices can be just as distracting as regular cell phones while driving. It turns out that (contrary to popular opinion) the human brain simply isn’t designed to multitask. So when you’re driving, make sure that’s ALL you’re doing. (You can yell at the kids or fix your lipstick later.)

Learn about the 3 types of distracted driving.

Use a talking GPS system
Apps that dictate directions not only help you keep your eyes on the road, but they also keep you from holding up traffic and driving erratically (no more straining to see street signs in the dark). Now, that’s just smart.

Get some tips for using GPS.

Drive the speed limit
Most of us know that speeding can be dangerous, but many drivers don’t realize that driving too slowly can also cause problems. The sluggish pace of overly cautious drivers, lost souls (navigationally speaking), and looky-loos forces drivers going with the flow of traffic to slow down abruptly. Slow drivers can also set off road ragers and impatient drivers, leading to unsafe passing attempts, hard stops, and the increased potential for accidents.

See what else there is to know about slow driving.

Wear your seat belt
It practically goes without saying that seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. According to the CDC, among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. So do yourself a favor. Buckle up.

There’s so much more to know about seat belts (no, really). Check it out.

Carry an emergency kit
Having emergency supplies on hand can help get you through a sticky situation (like severe weather, a minor accident, a breakdown, or a zombie attack). Water, a flashlight, and a first aid kit are just a few of the supplies we suggest keeping with you.

See what else to keep in your car emergency kit.

Don’t drive under the influence
Duh. But nonetheless we’d feel irresponsible if we left it off the list. If you’re using Zimride to go to a concert or festival, it’s especially important to make sure whoever’s driving is sober. Make a plan before anyone starts drinking so it’s clear who will be the designated driver.

Find out how breathalyzer tests measure blood alcohol content.

And if you’re a passenger, choose the middle seat
Who knew that cursed middle seat (the one we all competed with our siblings to avoid) is actually the safest? It’s true. While the back window seats are 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seats, the middle seat is 25 percent safer than the window seats. That’s because the middle seat offers the most distance from impact.

Find out the best spot for kids and car seats.

A few more safety tips for the road …
• Adjust your headrest to be behind your head (not your neck) to avoid whiplash
• Make sure your tires are properly inflated to avoid a blow out
• Keep your windshield clean (inside and out) to avoid being temporarily blinded by the sun — especially during sunrise and sunset
• When the light turns green, take a second to scan the intersection before you proceed (slowpoke pedestrians and drivers running red lights will thank you)
• Use your turn signals so other drivers can give you space to do your thing

Want to feel even safer? Esurance has a ton of articles all about driver safety. (After all, protection is the name of our game.)

How Meeting Online Led to Naps in the Back Seat

Lawrence Berkeley Labs

From left to right: Jan McClellan, Paula Ashley, Jo Dee Widmayer, and Zaida McCunney

The following post was written by Julie Chao and originally published by our partners at Berkeley Lab.

For 12 years Zaida McCunney had been driving 400 miles a week, commuting between her home in Livermore and her job as an administrator in the Computing Sciences directorate. She was on her second Saturn, after putting 300,000 miles on the first one.

Then last February the Lab introduced the Zimride program, an online service that matches people for carpooling. She signed up, and within a couple months, she met three other Lab employees from Livermore and formed a carpool. More than a year later, the carpool is still going strong and the participants could not be happier.

“I save $250 a month on gas,” McCunney said. “My husband loves it. And I think I can keep my second Saturn a little longer.”

Adds Jan McClellan: “Oil changes, tires, everything, it just brought it all down.”

McCunney and McClellan, along with Jo Dee Widmayer and Paula Ashley, say the rules and clear organization of the carpool contribute to its success. The women meet in the morning in the large parking lot of a Livermore strip mall. They will wait no more than five minutes if someone is running late. No additional stops are allowed. Each person drives one day a week and then the fifth day is rotated so that everyone drives fives times a month.

Once they reach the Lab, the driver drops each person off at their building, and at the end of the day, picks each person up. Thanks to a new Lab initiative, the driver can park in a privileged blue triangle spot. “It’s door-to-door service—that feels special,” said McCunney. Added McClellan: “It’s nice when it’s rainy.”

The carpoolers also are strict about safety, such as following traffic laws and being diligent about car maintenance. “We want to incorporate the Lab’s safety rules in our carpool because I feel the carpool is an extension of the Lab,” McCunney said.

McCunney had previously wanted to carpool but commuted alone for 12 years because there was no mechanism for meeting other people. Since Zimride was introduced last year nearly 700 Lab employees have signed up, though the Lab doesn’t have access to how many carpools have been formed as a result.

The women joke about the slight trepidation they had getting in the car the first day with a total stranger, making sure their husbands knew the names of their carpool-mates. But now they easily share laughs and have no desire to go back to the days of solo driving. Widmayer, an administrator in the IT Division, said that what used to be a 90-minute commute now takes less than an hour. “The carpool lane on 680 has opened so we aren’t held back later in the evenings,” she said

McClellan, who works as an emergency services specialist in the Emergency Services Office, noted that a common fear of joining a carpool, one that she shared, was losing the flexibility to leave early or stay late in case of family or work emergencies. But the Alameda County Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides a free ride home in a taxi or rental car in case of unexpected circumstances, took care of that fear. “I don’t think a lot of people know the program exists,” she said. “We’ve all got vouchers.”

Besides saving money on gas and car maintenance, there are other previously unforeseen advantages of carpooling. McCunney says she saves on cellphone costs because she used her commute time to make social calls. “Sitting in that horrible traffic every day, it was almost an hour on my personal cell,” she said.

They say they have been forced to become more efficient at work. “Because we do need to leave on time, you have to stay on schedule,” Widmayer said. “You have so much time to get all your work done, so you’re more efficient during the day.”

Plus, of course, there’s the benefit to the environment. “We’re reducing our carbon footprint,” said Widmayer. “We have three extra cars off the highway every day, three cars on the hill not taking up parking places.”

The carpool has only one rule that occasionally leads to discord: the front seat passenger is not allowed to nap. “At the end of the day, everyone fights for the back seat,” McCunney said with a laugh.

3 Reasons Esurance is All About Carpooling

Photo by: Divine in the Daily

Esurance is a long-time partner of Zimride. As a direct result of the partnership, carpoolers have saved more than a million driving miles to Esurance-sponsored events like the Sasquatch! Music Festival. We’ve also teamed up to make it easier for Esurance associates to carpool their commutes.

If you’re wondering why a car insurance company would care so much about carpooling, we’re here to explain. Here are the top 3 reasons why Esurance loves a good carpool:

1. Fewer cars, fewer crashes

This is a primary motivation for all insurance providers to rally behind the carpooling cause.

When we each take our own cars to work, we contribute to traffic jams and slightly increase our risk for a collision or mechanical breakdown. Congestion is a leading cause of accidents, and can have a maddening domino effect. All it takes is a single car hitting a guardrail during rush hour. Traffic thickens and becomes more dangerous as the car is cleared and our natural rubbernecking tendency kicks in. Prime time for fender benders.

Congestion also leads to road rage, which is another leading cause of avoidable accidents. Some of the most popular and effective carpools take place during commuting hours, and there’s no better time to take a car off the road.

We have a dream of a rush hour filled with happily chatting passengers and relaxed drivers, and Zimride’s working to turn that goal into rush-hour reality. The bottom-line for Esurance as an insurance company, though, is this: Fewer cars on the road makes for safer driving. And fewer accidents lead to fewer claims — and better car insurance rates.

2. It’s green

And Esurance is reaaaaaaaaaaaaally big on green. This eco-emphasis sprouted during our dot-com roots, when we helped turn a traditionally paper-hungry industry into an electronic one. In the decade-plus since, our interest in saving trees has blossomed into numerous green partnerships and tree plantings across the country.

And encouraging our customers and associates to carpool is another way we’re able to help green the planet. Consider the eco-benefits of carpooling: If you carpool 30 miles a day with 3 other people, the shared car (let’s say it gets 25 mpg) emits 3.122 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That might sound like a lot, but by leaving Cliff’s Chrysler, Joe’s (classic) Scout, and Diane’s Prowler at home, the 4 of you end up saving 9.366 tons of CO2 a year.

That’s a full-grown elephant’s worth of greenhouse gas saved by a few friendly commuters.

3. It’s community

Esurance sponsors and supports community events from Tampa to Tacoma, and what better way to get to them? To make it easier for everyone to find a ride, we work with Zimride to create event-specific pages for all of our sponsored events.

Last year was a banner year for Esurance ridesharing. People who signed up to share rides to sponsored events saved 1,484,853 driving miles over the course of the year. That’s 6.21 trips to the moon, not to mention an army of greenhouse-gas elephants spared.

So there you have it. Hopefully that clarifies our car insurance company’s interest in filling seats as easily as possible. See what ride-shareable events are in the cooker and sign up for a seat by visiting the Esurance carpool page.