With a day to spare on a recent European road trip, I couldn’t fight the urger to head south to Stuttgart and take in Porsche’s famous museum. Far more than just a typical automotive museum, the Porsche Museum is an attraction for both car fans and non-car fans alike. The first thing that greets you is the incredible exterior of the building. I would never claim to be an architecture aficionado, but this left me in complete awe. But for all the steel and glass on the outside, how the museum itself is laid out, in its ever so slight upwards spiral, is a true work of art. During my visit, the museum was celebrating 50 years of the Porsche 911 and as such, the majority of the collection reflected arguably the greatest sports car ever built. Still, there was plenty on display to satisfy the appetite of even this part-time Porsche fan.
Ever since I first used a camera to photograph a moving car, I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. When you dedicate yourself to an art, despite what some might say, you always set personal goals. Some big, some small, but for as long as I can remember I’ve always dreamt of shooting a full grand prix weekend. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a Formula One anorak or anything, but I’ve always found myself drawn to the visual impact of the pinnacle of motorsport. The speed, the glamour, the history, the prestige, the personalities, the circuits, the technology. Need I go on? The biggest hurdle in achieving F1 accreditation is the act of getting accredited in the first place. From the day I applied, to the day I received notice of accreditation was around three months. Needless to say, this isn’t your average local event where the criteria of ‘have camera, will shoot’ apply. Even when you’re accredited, you realise that there are different stages of accreditation too. The full season photographers obviously have more access than those who are covering on a race-by-race basis, which in my opinion is perfectly fair. For me, this was my chance to try my hand at shooting some of the fastest objects on four wheels that you can find anywhere on this planet. In this case, some access is certainly better than none. Spa Francorchamps is for me, the greatest circuit on the Formula One calendar. Set amidst the rolling Ardennes forest, it challenges both drivers and photographers alike. It’s easy to get the typical Spa shots, but seeking out that new angle was always going to be a challenge. Added to that the sheer speed of the Formula One cars and you have a challenge worth […]
On a recent trip to continental Europe, I made the point of visiting the American War Cemetery in Luxembourg. The cemetery and memorial, based just outside Luxembourg City, is where over 5,000 serving Americans have been laid to rest following the second World War. It’s all too easy to not really appreciate the loss of life suffered during World War II. Estimates put the total dead at somewhere between 60 and 85 million people. That number is quite simply beyond comprehension. To think, that every one of those dead was someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, friend. The memorial which is located almost directly beside Luxembourg Airport, is both a beautiful and humbling place. When you walk through the gates and past the large memorials, your first sighting of the thousands of white crosses is overwhelming. It takes your breath away. Walking through the cemetery itself, reading the names, ranks and places of birth of all these young men (and one woman) is almost too much at times. You can’t help but be humbled by the sacrifice of these young men and women, who went to war and never came home. Never was so much owed by so many to so few.
I was asked late last week to fill in for someone who was meant to document Martin’s exploits at Punchestown, and seeing as it has been over a year since I last covered a full drift event, I could hardly say no. What was meant to be a relaxing day off instead started with a 6AM alarm call and getting on the road not long there after. It’s always great to catch up with the people in the Irish drifting community, a friendlier bunch you could not meet. I know a lot of these people from my first day of shooting, so it’s inspiring to see them all still giving 100% commitment to the sport. Times have moved on, and there are a lot of new faces both on the starting line and in the media briefing which made the event feel somewhat alien in certain regards. The one thing that hasn’t changed was thankfully the reason I was there – Martin Ffrench. I can’t even remember the last time I seen Martin drive, but even though he only has a handful of events under him this year, it’s plain for everyone to see that he still has the talent and aggression he is known for. Driving the LBD Achilles Nissan PS13, powered by an ex-Mosler V8, it’s almost the perfect car for Martin. Although things didn’t work out as planned, with more seat time in the car, it won’t be long before we see him back on the top step of the podium. Big thanks to Martin Ffrench, Team LBD Achilles and Paddy Macken from IDC.
There’s not really a whole lot more than can be said about the Hemizon, that hasn’t been said already. It doesn’t really make any sense as a build, but that’s sort of the point. When was the last time you done something just because you could? Further to that, when was the last time you built something from the ground up, for the sole reason that you could? Rat Fink’s Zombie Nightmare: The Volvo Hemizon on Speedhunters
Sometimes the stress of everyday life can take its toll. We all have our ways of relaxing and letting off steam but my personal favourite is a spirited drive across a familiar piece of tarmac. Earlier this year I was introduced to the A4069 in Wales whilst on assignment for Speedhunters. Although I was working that day, I knew I needed to come back at some stage and really spend the time learning and appreciating the route which cuts through the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. Fortunately for me, the road isn’t too far out of my way when travelling from Ireland to London, so I make a point of taking the slightly longer route whenever I can. I’ve already wrote about the experience on Speedhunters (link below) so I won’t bore you with my ramblings. Before I finish I just want to say, I’m already looking forward to the next trip… Pursuing Performance on Speedhunters
This is something I’ve been trying to put together for quite some time, but can finally share with you that I’ve just released my first collection in print. Thanks to the good folk at Photobox, I’ve just launched an online gallery where you can purchase prints from as little as £19.99. Choosing images to publish is quite daunting. I must have made a hundred different decisions followed by another hundred processing methods before I arrived at something I’m happy to share. The first collection is an exclusive set of prints photographed during the 2012 Nürburgring 24HR event. I’ve selected five landscapes which best reflect the incredible northern loop and processed them with my own black and white treatment. The prints are available in a variety of sizes and also in mounted and framed versions. I’ve tried to ensure that there is something on offer for every budget: – 18″ x 12″ Print on Professional Paper at £19.99 – 30″ x 20″ Print on Professional Paper at £49.99 – Mounted 600mm x 400mm (23.6″ x 15.7″) Print at £89.99 – Framed (Black, White or Wood Frame) 750mm x 500mm (29.5″ x 19.7″) Print at £124.99 You can purchase the prints from the online gallery here
Since the article has just been published on Speedhunters, I can finally share the results of this shoot which took place last month outside London. Rather than try to repeat Ben’s words from the article, I thought some of you might be more interested to read about the photography side of things. With the extended winter we seem to be having, we were confined to an indoor location. Thankfully, Richie from Milestone71, based just outside London, gave us full access to his new workshop. The primary light source was via a large frosted window on one side of the workshop. There were ceiling lights but we only had those turned on for one or two shots. To balance the window, I used up to three speedlights on varying power settings and all diffused (two bounce brollies & one small soft box). Some of the exteriors were shot with just the small soft box providing fill in the shadows. All the details were shot with the same single soft box. Being a light coloured car, it reacted really well with the lights. The only difficulty was trying to ensure that the car didn’t appear white, as it’s more of a light cream colour. It was just one of those shoots where things worked, and very little post work was required. I would have liked some alternate locations and maybe some tracking shots, but it just wasn’t going to happen with the weather refusing to play ball.
Anyone who knows me, will probably have noticed that I’m a just a tiny bit obsessive about keeping my car clean. With the poor weather (and even worse roads) we are blessed with in Ireland, trying to maintain a daily driven car to a high standard is an uphill battle to say the least. That’s even before the nine month long winter rears its ugly head… Regular upkeep and proper washing techniques go along way to keeping your pride and joy in top condition, but every now and then you need to step back, and let the professionals deal with it. Enter CleanCar.ie, a Wexford based detailing service who have been leading the way in the car cleaning business on these shores for quite some time. You might have noticed that I referred to them as a ‘detailing’ service and not a ‘valeting’ service. Detailing is essentially the epitome of car cleaning and paintwork care. I’ve known the two main men behind CleanCar long before they set up shop, and I know that both Larry & John take huge pride in their work. They are enthusiasts first and business owners second. It had been quite a while since my car had been treated to an enhancement (the ground work was done quite some time ago) so earlier this week I dropped off the car to the CleanCar workshop to let Larry work his magic on it. All the work carried out is recorded, so when I turned up today to collect it, Larry talked me through the whole process. It goes a little something like this… – Strong Wash & Deep Clean to Remove Old Layers of wax – Paint Spatters Removed from Paintwork & Glass (a neighbour painting their house recently covered my car in house paint) – De-Tar […]
The recent Ultimate Dubs show, held at the Telford International Centre, was your typical UK VAG show. That is, a gathering of the cream of the UK VW & Audi scene under one roof. Although there were plenty of cars present which caught my attention, it was these three Audis that stole my heart. An S2, A2 and a Group B inspired tube chassised S1 all presented in white, but each showcasing three different approaches with a similar end goal in mind. We’ve already taken a closer look at three cars on Speedhunters, and we’re hoping to feature the three cars in-depth over the coming months. What I wanted to – briefly – write about here is shooting cars on a show floor. Most shows I attend are usually well attended, so getting the right shot can be difficult. Ultimate Dubs however was absolutely chock full of paying spectators, often two and three people deep at the more interesting cars. I needed to constantly re-visit certain cars during the day to capture extra details, but even so I was still missing images. As a work around I started shooting some long exposures from a tripod. An ND8 filter was too dark for the indoor venue, but a circular polarizer and a mid-range f/number was just about right giving exposures of around ten seconds. The advantage to shooting a show with long exposures is quite obvious – in that the spectators will often blur and vanish through the frame. The other, and maybe not so obvious, advantage is that by shooting with a tripod, people become more aware of your presence and make an effort to stay out of shot regardless. Working with the awesome Ben Chandler at Ultimate Dubs, we wanted to show off the Audis in a story that was […]
It’s not often that someone throws open the doors to their collection and tells you to pick whatever you want, but this was exactly the situation I found myself in earlier this year. I shot an overview of the facilities at Mondello Park last year, including an overview of their racing collection which included this Kenwood liveried Kremer Porsche 962C which raced at Le Mans in 1989. I returned in the middle of January to shoot the car in isolation for an ’80s theme on Speedhunters. You can read the full story which is linked at the bottom of this post, but for now here are some excerpts from the shoot. Shot exclusively for Speedhunters.com / Full story here
I’m sure a lot of other photographers will relate to this, but the last thing you want to do when you’re on holiday or ‘off the clock’ is to lug your DSLR around with you. At the same time, being a photographer is something you can’t switch off so it’s always best to have a capable camera to hand. I’ve never really bonded with traditional point and shoot cameras before, I’ve just never used one where the quality was good enough for me. Back in 2010, Sony released the first of their mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras – the NEX-3 & NEX-5. At the time, this was exactly what I was looking for – a small capable camera with the potential for expansion down the line. It’s taken me nearly three years to write this review, but it’s only looking back that I’ve come to appreciate just how important the NEX-5 has become in my arsenal of equipment. Although it has no doubt been replaced several times over by newer and fancier versions, I’ve never really felt the urge to update this compact. It’s magnesium alloy construction has ensured that it has stood the test of time. Even looking at it now on the desk beside me, it still looks like a new camera. Its 14.2 megapixels has always been more than I’ve ever needed and its dynamic range still blows me away. It can get a little bit noisy higher up in the ISO range but I still find it more than usable at ISO800. I originally purchased this camera with the ‘pancake’ 16mm f2.8 and the more versatile 18-55 f/3.5-f/5.6 OSS kit lenses. When equipped with the 16mm (25.6mm equivalent on 35mm) lens, the camera is very compact and can be discreetly carried on your person. Quality wise, it’s […]
It’s actually quite difficult to write a review of a year whilst trying to avoid every cliché available. I guess it is always good to take the time to look back and appreciate things and learn from mistakes. Speaking personally, 2012 was a bit of a hit and miss year. Although there were certainly some fantastic moments, there was also a lot of time that needed to be endured rather than enjoyed. Photography wise, I don’t think I built upon my technical skills and ideas as much as I would have liked to, mostly due to a lack of field work in comparison to other years. However, these are all things I can focus on for 2013 and try to evolve further as a photographer. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who comes here, to those of you who take your time to send me e-mails and everyone I’ve interacted with over the last twelve months. I hope that your best moments of 2012 are your worst ones in 2013.