Standing at the crossroads at the top of Sally Gap allows an almost unrivalled view of the surrounding countryside. It was late January, and a particular cold spell had gripped the country. The roads up at this altitude were precarious enough, with snow decorating the edge of the road and some sly ice patches which concealed themselves in the shade. With a limited amount of time and quickly fading light, this made the task of navigating the Wicklow Mountains at a brisk pace more challenging than I would have liked. Luckily, the Leon X-Perience’s 4Drive provided a reassuring solid grasp of the road all day, and the awesome dual clutch gearbox – with steering wheel mounted paddles – allowed me to focus on keeping the Seat pointing in the right direction. However, as the last of the light dropped behind the mountains, a darkness began to creep across the country from the east. Taking this as my cue to head to the relative safety of lower grounds, I begun the decent towards Blessington. I was maybe five minutes on the road before the darkness released a light flurry, which quickly evolving into a full on snow blizzard. I still had a lot of ground to cover with limited visibility and on summer tyres. Wicklow County Council didn’t have the foresight to prepare the roads either, so it really was a case of the Leon against the world. With its all LED headlights piercing the weather, visibility was reduced to around 20 feet at this point, the car never really felt as if it was uncomfortable with the conditions. Traction was no issue, but with unprepared roads, stopping distances were greatly increased. With this consideration allowed for, the Leon made exceptional progress down the mountain and back into relative civilisation. With soft roaders and lesser […]
When I sat down at roughly this time last year, to write my 2013 review, I had no idea of the changes that would unfold in 2014. That’s the nature of life I guess, but maybe it wasn’t something I was prepared for. When I established this business in 2010, I created a regimental routine, which I worked from month to month and year to year. I had a set way of doing things which helped me stay organised and on top of my duties. I took great pride in this ‘system’ because not only did it keep my occupied but it meant I could be relied upon. There were two issues though with this routine. One, it was focused entirely around one client. And two, it didn’t allow for any down time to recover. From April 2010 until April 2014, I estimate I had maybe a total of two weeks holidays (not including sick leave). That sort of pace catches up with you very quickly and is quite counter-productive in the long run, especially for a creative. If you don’t crash and burn, you just end up on autopilot. In April of this year, after more years than most realise (I started contributing to the project whilst still a college student), I parted ways with Speedhunters. Looking back, I think it was the best thing for both sides. They weren’t getting the best of me, and I was becoming more and more frustrated with the direction they were going in at the time. It was an amicable parting, but a parting none the same. On the first of April, I was a solo artist with no regular income (something Speedhunters provided). It was time for me to sink or swim. April was a particularly scary month. If I worked a single paid job during […]
Every now and again, a job pops up that you literally have no choice but to drop everything and go do it. When Volkswagen Ireland contacted me at short notice to ask me to come to Dublin for the day to shoot something ‘special’, my interest piqued. When I was told that they planned on driving the ultra-rare XL1 on Dublin’s streets, I knew I had no choice but to drop everything haul myself up the M9. The XL1 is a limited run production car, which showcases Volkswagen’s abilities in one neat and very futuristic package. It’s powered by a small diesel engine and an electric motor, allowing it to achieve almost unbelievable levels of fuel efficiency. Pictured below is the car’s OBC after driving around Dublin city all morning, 0.8L/100KM which equates to approximately 353.1MPG. You didn’t read that wrong. The most impressive thing about the XL1 for me, is not the efficiency, but rather just how incredibly striking it is. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting lots of cars but I honestly can’t think of another which could spark such universal attention. And all of it positive, where your typical supercar may polarise people. People wanted to know more about the car and weren’t afraid to approach and chat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many camera phones brandished so quickly either. This is the sort of car I was promised as a kid, raised on a diet of Back to the Future and The Jetsons. Please manufacturers, can we have more of this sort of thing? Photographed exclusively for Volkswagen Ireland
Although I spend my time shooting cars, it’s a very rare thing that I get time to shoot my own car. Earlier this year, after months of planning & preparation, I was finally at a stage where I was happy to take the time out to shoot it. I’ve owned the car for three and a half years now, but since day one I’ve always had in mind just how I wanted the car to look. Some of it was simple, whilst other parts took a lot longer to come together. My main aim was to create something that didn’t look modified. I wanted it to look like a car that BMW could have released. To achieve this, a lot of genuine BMW parts were used, albeit cherry picked from other models. The wheels comes from an E63 7 Series, the brakes were an over the counter option available from my local dealer, Brembo for BMW Performance. The boot lid is a full carbon CSL style trunk, inspired by the E46 M3 CSL whilst the front splitter is a rare Hartge Japan item, and took two years of searching to find. Not long after this shoot, that splitter met an untimely demise which resulted in the car being raised on its KW suspension whilst another splitter was sourced. The real reason I wanted to shoot my E90 was for posterity. I spent so much time agonising over such small decisions, researching part options online and trying to come up with a unique look that I just wanted something to look back at in years to come and say ‘I’m proud of that.’ Since ‘completing’ it, I’ve mostly been staying on top of maintenance and ensure the car is running 100%, all of the time. There’s just over 140,000KMs on the clock now […]
To most of my friends, the idea of an electric car is abhorrent. We get our kicks from the good ol’ fashioned internal combustion engine, whether piston or rotor powered, and powered by fossil fuels. It’s all we’ve ever known. I was the same until the very moment I released the brake on the new Volkswagen e-Golf. As the age old saying goes, it’s just like a Golf. Both inside and out, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the e-Golf and a regular Golf, save for the blue detailing around the car. To drive one is definitely the most surreal motoring experience I’ve ever had. You take off and travel in complete silence. Sitting in traffic, you can hear people having conversations on the footpath and even in other cars. You become acutely aware of the idle of other engines and for the first time in my life, I was conscious of the pollution we’re putting into the environment every day. You also learn to drive in a completely different manner, as you’re aware of the energy being consumed to propel the car. With all of its torque available immediately, the car is a lot quicker off the line than some might expect. I don’t think the gentleman in the MKV Golf GTI was quite expecting such a silent and rapid getaway between traffic lights on the N11. With a maximum range of around 200KM (for a paltry €2’s worth of electricity), I’m genuinely excited about an electric future. I’m now looking forward to the day where I can commute in silence and with a clear conscience. Of course, there’ll be something louder tucked away for the weekends… Photographed exclusively for Volkswagen Ireland.
Whilst I’ve been shooting a lot of manufacturer PR & commercial work as of late, I still get the biggest thrill whilst shooting editorial commissions. Because budgets are low, everything is nearly always shot in a run and gun sort of manner. It’s exciting though and ensures that no two shoots are alike. After being – literally – run out of the first location, we took to the streets to try and recover the time lost. It’s always tricky in these situations as you need to find a suitable location but also one that’s quiet enough to shoot in comfort and without background distractions. When your dealing with the streets in a capital city, these two requirements are quite often mutually exclusive. Through the sheer brilliance of social media, we were able to get suggestions from people within the locality. Within maybe half an hour of being ejected from the first location, we were back shooting on a street less than kilometre away. For me, one location is rarely enough and I’ll always try to get another in if at all possible. This time though, instead of social media, we relied upon the local knowledge of a taxi driver who advised us of not only another location, but where there was also a break in the bollards where we could get the S2000 through. You just cannot beat local knowledge. Photographed for Japanese Performance Magazine (UK)
Ireland is a funny place to live and work. Especially, if you work outside and depend on the weather. Generally, no weather forecast is ever accurate. I generally try to take a car for as long as possible for this very reason. I can usually get the shots I need inside a day, but with unpredictable weather, I’ve often had to wait a few days before I can even get outside to shoot. Luckily my time with the new Volkswagen Golf SV, although brief, was constant sunshine. Born lucky? The Golf SV is obviously aimed at a market where practicality is at the top of the list of requirements for potential buyers. In typical Volkswagen style, the SV does everything it needs to do and does it very well. It’s comfortable, frugal and well equipped. The 1.6 TDI engine provides more kick than you would expect whilst easily returning impressive fuel economy figures. There’s also storage for days, and even as I was returning the car, I continued to find new storage areas which have been cleverly integrated into the cabin. From a photography viewpoint, I wanted to continue to develop my in-camera skills on this shoot. That is, I don’t want to depend on Photoshop or Lightroom afterwards. I want to try to get as close as possible to the final image in-camera as I can. This generally requires a lot of patience and improvisation when out and about, paying a lot more attention to small things like reflections, debris etc. Although it means more time shooting, it means less time in post production. I’ll take shooting in the sun any day over sitting in a dark room… Photographed for Volkswagen Ireland www.volkswagen.ie
Every now and again, we need to set time aside to catch up with the good people in our lives. Similarly, we also need to set aside time to do what we love. The second of these can be especially tricky, if you happen to make a living from what you love doing… Waking up every day, with a smile on your face before work, does come with a risk. It’s a risk that by doing what you love everyday, there’s a chance that your love for your work may begin to fade. That for me is my biggest fear. The fear that one morning I’ll wake up, and dread getting in my car to go to a shoot. I don’t ever want that day to come. If it does, that’ll be the day I walk away from the industry. Life is too short to do be doing something that you really don’t want to do. It’s not something that’s exclusive to photography either. My friend, Flip, is chasing his dream too. By building and working on cars that he loves. Although our trades are practically incomparable, there’s a link between the two that we can both appreciate and understand. That is, of course, our love for cars. Flip’s RX8 isn’t even close to being his first neat project car. I photographed his amazing EK9 Type R back in the day, a car which would still blow people away today. He told me that his EK9 was refused several features because the rear was stripped out, and didn’t feature an overweight stereo install… Tastes change, style is permanent. His RX8 is testament to this. Subtle modifications, purposeful wheel fitment and finished in immaculate Lamborghini Grigio Telesto paint. A perfect and individual daily driver, built with passion and love. Regardless if […]
Making a living as a car photographer is honestly not even half as glamorous as some would believe. Yes, there are amazing perks and if you happen to love cars, it never really feels like work. You get to drive a vast range of cars from complete opposite ends of the spectrum. On the other hand, there are the early mornings, the cold nights and the wet days when you have no other choice but to get things done. Shooting the Yaris was a perfect example of my little hypothesis… There’s something quite pure about the new Yaris that I like. Whilst it retains most of the features you would expect in a new car (air conditioning, bluetooth, iPod integration etc.) and some that you wouldn’t (reversing camera for instance), it presents everything in quite a simple and direct way. All of your multimedia needs are taken care of via a touchscreen head unit, there are the usual heater controls beneath this and in front of you, you have your speed-and-tach-ometers. And that’s pretty much it. There’s nothing complicated, all the controls can be learned at a glance and you never find yourself reaching around blindly looking for something. The particular model I photographed was the Sol version, which adds some nice features for not much more over base RRP. The one litre engine was perfect around town and even proved its worth on the motorway whilst remaining frugal. A refill with unleaded cost me less than €50. I though the pump was broke such was my surprise. With a light foot, your €50 should see you easily past 600KMs and probably past 700KMs. It’s hard to argue with that. Toyota afforded me quite a lot of time, almost two weeks, to shoot the Yaris. It was a good thing […]
At the time of writing, I’ve been working freelance longer this year than I had been as a contractor. It’s only a small amount of time, but I’ve learned that it has been important to enjoy every victory that comes my way. Other victories that I welcome are invoices that are paid on time and messages from Audi Ireland to come and collect another ‘S’ series car… The S1 quattro is the latest new ‘S’ car to be introduced to the Irish market. Whilst it shares its name with the iconic Group B car, the similarities between the two are limited. As the top tier A1 model, the S1 features some impressive numbers and statistics: 230hp, 370Nm, 0-100 in 5.8s and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. All of which is transferred to the road via its quattro four wheel drive system. The model I had the pleasure of shooting was the Sportback variant, featuring an extra two doors over the three door hatch. Perfect for loading camera equipment into then. If you’re reading this from outside of Ireland, you might not be aware that – for a change – we’ve been enjoying a rather spectacular summer here. The downside to the great weather is that the rest of the population has the notions of going outside and visiting scenic venues dotted around the country. This makes finding a location quite difficult indeed… I collected the car on Friday morning before heading straight back to Waterford. With a harsh sun shining on the south east, I took this time to clean and prepare the car for an evening shoot. With any car, I’m always careful to ensure the paint is kept in its best possible condition and even more so with a brand new car. This means using cleaning methods that are […]
Although I’ve been shooting for quite a while, and I’ve certainly lost track of the amount of cars that I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot, I can’t remember shooting the same car twice. There’s a whole heap of situations where this could have occurred. For example if multiple publications wanted images or if the owner decided to tear apart a perfectly good car and rebuild it into something even better. Neil Thompson’s Civic Type R is a case of the latter. It was actually only back in May when I found myself meeting Neil at a services on the M1 motorway, north of Dublin. With summer having belatedly arrived in Ireland, it was still too bright after 6PM to shoot the dark colour Honda in the harsh sunlight. I tried a couple of frames and positions at the back of traditional Irish pub, before we scouted around for a couple of different locations. With the sun starting to turn the countryside a nice shade of gold, we returned to the same pub’s car park and got to work. When shooting editorial, you not only need to ensure that you grab everything required, but also to try and vary compositions as much as possible. This allows the designer more freedom when laying out the spreads. A happy designer, means a better feature and the potential for more work in the future. Since turning freelance, I’ve personally felt that a lot of pressure to perform has lifted from my shoulders. I feel more comfortable and have begun to produce much better work than I have done previously. In my opinion at least. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great editors, who all have encouraged me to shoot how I want. That is, in as much of a LoFi style as […]
My relationship with drifting goes right back to the beginning of my photography career. I guess it would be pretty fair to say that if it wasn’t for drifting, I likely wouldn’t have had a lot of the opportunities I’ve had so far. Even in saying this, my love for the sport has waned progressively over the years. I’m not going to go into the reasons for this now – it’s covered pretty well in my article on Drifted, linked below – but rather I’d like to take a few moments to appreciate just how much the sport has resurrected itself over the last few years. In Ireland, anyways. Drifting very much so remains a budget motorsport in Ireland. The cost to entry is quite low, but as you examine the top of the professional class standings, it’s evident that a lot of money is required to stay competitive. As it is with any motorsport. 700 plus horsepower isn’t unheard of, nor is destroying a brand new pair of super soft and just about road legal tyres every couple of laps. Some will bemoan this, but it’s exactly what is required for the sport to evolve to a level where the drivers can concentrate all of their energy and time on driving. Whilst only in its second season, the newly formed Irish Drift Championship has been doing everything in its power to bring back the glory days of Irish drifting. For the third round of the 2014 championship, aptly named ‘Global Warfare’, they invited some internationally acclaimed drivers to compete on Irish soil. No non-Irish driver has ever been victorious in Ireland, a record which has so far stood for 10 years. This was the focus of the event projected globally on a high quality web stream, could the Irish […]
For years, it always pained me to read Irish road tests of cars on UK or non-Irish number plates. Often, the cars presented would be of different specification or even left hand drive. It’s a small thing but something that a plethora of manufacturers here are coming around to. One of those is Audi Ireland. Along with investing €80 million into its Irish dealer network, by introducing another Irish registered press car into its fleet for exclusive use by Irish press, it’s just a small token that shows how they are invested in this country and that they care about their customer base here. Ireland might only make up a minute percentage of Audi’s worldwide sales but they still treat the market with huge respect. Kudos to them and the other manufacturers too. Some weeks ago, Audi booked me to shoot their new S3 saloon once it arrived onto their press fleet. Little sleep was had in the weeks subsequent to this booking. 300hp from a two litre TFSI motor and the famous quattro four wheel drive with an S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. What more could you ask for? Well, besides an RS6 that is… I shot the car over the course of a weekend earlier this month. Whilst trying to limit the amount of mileage put up on the car, I chose a couple of spots local to me that I hadn’t previously had the chance to explore. With good weather forecast, I set off early on the Friday morning for the Vee in county Tipperary. With the Audi’s impressive MMI navigation leading the way, it was only an hour or so before I arrived at the first location. Whilst it was more than adequate, I wanted something that little bit better. I took this opportunity to quick detail the car and […]
With the official launch of the 2014 Kia Soul having taken place earlier this week in Dublin, I can finally share some of the images from the shoot earlier this month. Working closely with Kia Motors Ireland has been great. They’re a company with energy, vibrance and they know what they want. These images were to be used for the press packets at the official launch so the brief was simple, clean imagery. Kia had sorted the primary location for the shoot in advance, the main courtyard at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. We would start by shooting two cars together before I took one of the cars into the heart of Dublin for extra locations. I needed to focus primarily on the exterior of the car but also captured some details, inside and out. Once I was shooting in the city centre, I needed to run and gun to a certain extent. To remove the distraction of passers-by, I used an ND filter so as to drag the shutter speed out to around ten seconds or so. The Soul itself is further evidence of how far Kia’s cars have come. It’s both comfortable, easy to drive and even the base model is very well specced. It’ll be a left field choice for a lot of conservative car buyers, but I promise you that it’s worth test driving one if you’re in the market. Kia Motors Ireland Read the review on CompleteCar.ie
Last month I was commissioned by Kia Motors Ireland to shoot some quick images for PR purposes of their new 2014 Kia Optima. The car was located in a dealership in Tipperary and I only had a couple of hours to get the images photographed. Thanks to modern technology, I was able to scout out viable locations on Google Maps using street view. Whilst the first two locations weren’t up to scratch, a third location turned out to be perfect. Located on Lough Derg and just outside Nenagh, Dromineer is your a-typical picturesque Irish village. As this shoot took place on a week day, the area was nice and quiet which allowed for a hassle free shoot. With a certain amount of urgency involved, I made a shot list in advance which I could easily reference as I was shooting so as to keep track of everything. With two strobes off camera to provide some fill, I stuck to a choice of three lenses on a Canon 5D MKIII – 24-105 F4 L IS, 70-200 F2.8 L IS & a 35 F1.4 L IS. The images were delivered to the client next day, although the examples below have been since edited further to give them a more stylised look and to remove the registration plate (neither of which were required at the time). I’ll have more work with Kia that I can share shortly. Kia Motors Ireland
I’m sure some of you are aware, but I recently parted ways with Speedhunters. This isn’t a bad thing or indeed due to any sort of falling out, rather I believe it to be necessary to further my career. My time with Speedhunters was both happy and of huge benefit to myself but it has come to a stage where I wanted to take my career to the next level and to progress as both a person and photographer. I’m proud to have worked with an amazing bunch of people and will be forever indebted to them. Who knows, I might make a guest appearance or two in the future… Since the beginning of April, I’ve begun work on pursuing a new career path within the automotive industry. Where previously my work was 99.9% editorial with a focus on the aftermarket scene, I’m now aiming to work closer with manufacturers and agencies to document new cars either for PR or commercial purposes. Although on the surface it might not seem that much different – I am still taking pictures of cars – it is a completely different ball game. I have a lot to learn but can’t wait to really immerse myself in the work. My first shoot was courtesy of the great people at CompleteCar.ie. Over the years, the Irish motoring media industry has always disappointed me to a certain extent. An over reliance on stock manufacturer photographer or worse, Irish road tests with cars on UK registration plates. Having met Shane O’Donoghue, editor at CompleteCar, earlier this year, I immediately knew that these guys carried the same passion towards improving the standard within Ireland. As journalists, photographers, marketeers etc. I believe we have an obligation to do the best job possible and to show that the Irish industry is […]
March 5th, 2004. Not exactly a date that will go down in history, but it was a day that probably changed the course of my life forever. From the age of 13, I knew I wanted to be involved in motorsport in some way, shape or form. But from March 5th 2004, I knew exactly which path to take. It’s been over 10 years now since I was introduced to the world of drifting. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the greatest stepping stone in my photography career. I’ll be forever grateful to every single person involved in Irish drifting, from staff to drivers to supporters. Looking back, it feels like 20 years ago rather than just 10. If I remember correctly, 2004 was the first full season of drifting in Ireland and every round was held at Tipperary International Raceway or Rosegreen as it was also known. The events, known as D1 Drift Series at the time, were all held on the karting track on the raceway’s infield with the last exhibition event (an Ireland Vs United Kingdom battle) utilising the outer oval for the first time. In 2004, drifting was still in its infancy, so the vast majority of drivers drove their cars to the track and back home again. I think there was only one or two cars transported on trailers. It was a completely different world back then, especially when compared to fierce modern drifting has become. The layouts were simple, safety equipment consisted of a seat belt and helmet and for twin battles, the drivers were set off at 10 or 15 second intervals. The cars varied too. The majority were European brands (BMW, Ford etc.) with the odd UK produced AE86 and 200SX thrown into the mix. Only as the […]
I’ve stood feet from death on many occasions at race circuits, but nothing scares me quite like shooting a wedding. Especially when said wedding is that of two close friends. The responsibility of shooting two people’s most important day is something that I’ll never take lightly. There are no reshoots, no second chances and no opportunities for mistakes. With that said, it’s a challenge to relish. Although the day is long, time flies by so quickly as you move from one place to the next trying to stay on top of the story of the whole day. There’s so much more to any wedding than just the ceremony and the afters, and it’s finding these little details is the part I enjoy the most. From the preparations to behind the scenes to documenting the people involved. Every moment is worth capturing. Who knows, there might be more of these on the horizon… Anne and Joe, I hope you both live a long and happy life together. I’ll try make it to Bathurst Brisbane someday.
What are your earliest memories? I’m not talking about your literal first memories here, but rather something that stayed with you throughout your life. Can you think of one? I can. I don’t know what age I was, but I remember sitting in front of the TV, watching a VHS of ’80s rallying whilst playing with my small Matchbox cars. There was one car in particular that I treasured over all the others though: a 1986 Ford RS200. Over twenty years later, that very same car sits on my desk. A reminder, if ever one was needed, why I love doing what I do. This ‘dinky’ though formed a special bond between a younger and more impressionable version of myself and Ford’s Group B supercar. It’s a bond that has lasted my whole life, and created a special sub-conscious relationship with the car. I’ve been fortunate enough to come across some of the most pristine examples of the RS200 on my travels. From immaculate production cars to more modernised versions. Aren’t they all the same? Of course not. Whilst the RS200 is extraordinarily rare, they all have their own stories to tell. Whilst I can appreciate a retromod example, its more modern touches leave me a little cold. It’s an absolutely fantastic car, and I would do anything to have it in my garage, but it’s not the car I fell in love with as a young boy. C200 MNO on the other hand, is the car I fell in love with… Original Feature on Speedhunters
How easy is it to become obsessed by camera gear? You buy one body and a lens. Then you start seeing other people getting great results with a different lens so you have to get one of those two. Who is that guy with two bodies? Better get in on some of that action. And so on, so forth. The truth is, as you likely already know, that the most important part of any setup is the operator. Even with this in mind, the best photographers in the world are of no use if they don’t have a camera. It goes without saying that it’s not practical to carry around a DSLR everywhere you go and even compacts can be too much at times. I would imagine that 99% of us have a phone capable of taking pictures but why do we often neglect this function as a competent photography tool? It’s almost as if we think it’s not good enough for us. That we are somehow above a built-in camera or that it’s just a novelty add-on. Yet, by not having to worry about lens choice, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance etc. and by automating pretty much the entire procedure of taking a photograph, mobile phone photography is arguably the purest form of picture taking. There are no distractions. Similarly, there are no excuses when you mess up. You’re forced to constantly reconsider how you see things. I reckon I’ve learned more in the last twelve months from shooting on my iPhone than I have shooting with my DSLRs or NEX-5. I still don’t think I’ve got anywhere near utilising 100% of my iPhone’s potential. With that in mind, it’s been quite a realisation that maybe I don’t need that new lens or body. Instead, I’m going to […]
Having worked with the Players team before, I’m always aware that when they build something, you’ll probably want to be top of the queue to shoot it. Their latest creation, a ’60s Datsun pickup truck is no exception. Whilst it may look rough around the edges, this is intentional. By combining its original patina with modern air suspension technology – and soon to rehome a 1.8 litre turbocharged Nissan engine – they’ve created a rather nice restomod build. We scheduled the shoot as quickly as we could after Ultimate Dubs. For once the weather played ball, but to some extent, it was probably a little too good. The low, harsh sun done nothing to help the car so I chose to throw a couple of Speedlites into the mix to provide some fill. It was a pretty quick shoot, with everything wrapped up in under two hours. As the car was non-running at the time, it meant we couldn’t get rolling or action shots so we moved the car about as much as we could to vary the location. I hope to revisit the images some day and have a little bit more fun with them. There’s something quite wild west about the car and think there’s the potential to extract more from them.
After I finished shooting Simon McKinley’s Escort MKII, and had experienced it from the passenger seat, I knew I had to find out where this power plant comes from. It didn’t take much effort to arrange a visit, a quick e-mail to Connaught Competition Engines and before I knew it, I was standing in their reception area. I’ve wrote about my visit and the history of CCE already for Speedhunters so I won’t repeat myself. I will echo the amazing feeling I got from the moment I set foot inside. No fanciness, just an enviable focus on producing a product that performs. I’d like to thank Phil and all the staff at Connaught Competition Engines for making me feel so welcome during my visit. Shot for Speedhunters.com Connaught Competition Engines
I could count on one hand the amount of cars that I believe should never be touched or modified in anyway. The E30 M3 used to be one of them. Previously, I always thought it was perfect from the factory and any attempt to interfere with its natural state would be detrimental. Nick Singh Sahota, the owner, on the other hand, thought different and I’m quite glad that he did. With ECU controlled Airlift Performance suspension and an E46 M3 sourced S54 power plant, Nick has built one of my favourite E30 M3’s ever. I came across the car during the recent Ultimate Dubs show in the United Kingdom. The title would suggest that it was a Volkswagen only show, but they seem to be quite relaxed about the rules when it comes to original manufacturer. The car proved an instant hit once I ran it on the Speedhunters Instagram account. With this in mind, I wasted no time in getting the car shot in detail. In fact, the other exhibitors were still rolling out whilst we were mid-shoot. With a rapidly setting sun, we worked the venue as best as we could to maximise the impact of the car. The entire set was shot with minimal lens selection and an even smaller amount of processing. The only time consuming part of the jobs was removing the many pieces of litter in some of the exterior shots. It was one of those rare times where everything came together at the right time. Shot for Speedhunters
It was purely by accident that I stumbled upon Nick Pritchard at Players Shows, last year. I had been confined to the Speedhunters Hangar all day, shooting in a make-shift studio. As we wrapped things up, I popped out to take a quick look around as the cars were leaving when I spotted the familiar front wings of a BMW M3 attached to the body of a 3 Series Touring. I had seen a couple of Tourings before with the M3 front, but something really caught my attention. I don’t know if it was the massive Brembo brakes or the more subtle widened rear arches. A quick chat with the owner, Nick, who was sitting in the car waiting to leave confirmed my suspicions. This was a complete M3 Touring. Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m getting so excited about an estate car. Well, it’s rather quite simple. BMW never built an M3 Touring. Nick took a 318iS, and E90 M3 donor car and basically mashed the two together until he ended up with what is honestly, my dream car. I won’t bore you with the details, the link to the full feature is below, but needless to say that this conversion is quite simply breathtaking. It is flawless. The fact that it blends into everyday traffic, is a testament to the quality of the workmanship on the car. It looks absolutely factory. I’ve been shooting a lot more LoFi lately, trying to keep things simple whilst working on backgrounds and compositions. This was no different. I’ve also been stopping down a lot more lately, in a quest to find more sharpness. It’s working, too. Again, processing was kept simple in a less is more sort of way. I liked the cool tones which work with the car’s colour and […]
It must have been back in 2007, when I first saw Simon McKinley drive. It was the Saturday of a two day hill climb event, near my grandparents’ house in Co. Wexford. There were a lot of cars that day, certainly more than what would normally be expected navigating those roads on a Saturday afternoon, that’s for sure. We were close to the start line, but our view was obscured by the trees. Even though we were temporarily blinded, the sound that erupted beneath us, was a sure indication of what was coming. A scream of revs, upshift, more revs, upshift, more revs again, upshift, and just as the noise couldn’t possibly get any louder, a white MKII Escort appeared before us, sideways. Before you could blink, it was already past and into the next section, out of sight. The smiles, applause and laughs of disbelief tell you everything you ever need to know about Simon McKinley’s driving style. It’s almost shameful that it took me nearly seven years to catch up with him again, this time for a dedicated shoot for Speedhunters. Mondello Park had been kind enough to let us loose on their school course, and we were definitely going to take advantage of it. The shoot style was low key. The overcast skies provided gentle light, which I wanted to take advantage of. I think the majority of the static shots came down to two lenses: 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS & 35mm f/1.4 L with my trusty 24-105 f/4 L IS used for the tracking shots. It was a joy to shoot. Processing, again, was kept simple. Some minor colour grading and exposure correction and it was online before I knew it. The chase shots, whilst slightly risky, were probably the most difficult part of the shoot. […]
It was back in August last year when I took a couple of days off from a hectic Speedhunting schedule to unwind and reset my brain. Since I was in the area, it would have been rude not to use the familiar surroundings of Nürburg village as my base for a few days… The Nürburgring and the area surrounding it is beyond superlatives. It is the most important motoring region in the world. Staying at the Lindner Hotel with a room that opened out onto the Green Hell itself, I spent the morning relaxing on the balcony, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the day. It was the sounds that day in particular that caught my attention. Throughout the course of the morning, the sound of a high revving combustion engine echoed around the hills. The sound was unlike anything I had ever heard before or since for that matter. I’m the sort who struggles to wind down, so after twenty minutes sitting in my room, I took to the roads in an attempt to pass the time before the Nordschleife opened its gates for us tourists. Even on a Monday afternoon, in the middle of August, the Nordschleife is no less intimidating. No photograph or video that I’ve ever seen has accurately portrayed the inclines, descents and off camber nature of the course. I sat trackside at Pflanzgarten for quite a while, just taking things in. The track was quiet save for a camouflaged Civic Type R doing some filming. With time ticking closer to opening hours, I made my way to the car park at the Nordschleife’s entrance where I found more cars present than I had expected. With around half an hour before the track opened to the public, I parked my car in the shade […]
As I alluded to in my recent 2013 round up, I’ve become determined to carry out more personal work in the coming months. When you’re working week in and week out photographing all sorts, you can easily go into autopilot mode, doing whatever it takes to get things done. This can lead to staleness in the workflow, as you go through the motions to make sure deadlines are met. These situations can become a sort of vicious cycle, which can drain you of creativity and motivation. A dangerous combination. This thought has been nagging away at me for quite some time. Last month, I got in touch with the very nice people at Skoda Ireland who rather kindly donated two cars for me to photograph at my leisure. With no deadlines, no brief and most importantly, no pressure, I set about shooting each car over the course of two weeks during whatever spare time I could free up. With Ireland in the winter being Ireland in the winter, it was a challenge in shooting outdoors at the best of times. One second it would be wet, overcast and windy whilst the next the sun would be parting the clouds casting some much deserved sunshine on our little green island. My aim for both shoots was to create something a little more polished than I usually would. Maybe not quite commercial quality, but something approaching it. Quality over quantity as the saying goes. First up was the Octavia Combi Elegance 4×4 TDI. Skoda’s reputation of old is long since gone. However, it’s one thing to acknowledge this fact and quite another to experience it. The vehicle’s specification was overflowing with more than enough gadgets to keep me entertained during my week of ownership. In particular what I liked (and was fitted to both […]
It’s been a funny sort of year two thousand and thirteen. My immediate thoughts on the year are not particularly positive, and when looking back through what I’ve shot, I should be feeling much happier. But I’m not. Instead, and like previous years, I’ve again come away feeling frustrated and knowing that I should have done better with the opportunities which presented themselves. I’m not saying that the work is shit, but it always feels like I’m missing that certain little something to bring my work to the next level. I’ve made quite a lot of changes in how I approach a shoot and have been working on my processing but I still feel like I’ve a long, long way to go. One promise that I’ve made to myself is to undertake more personal work in the coming weeks and months. Without the pressure of deadlines or strict briefs, I can experiment with different techniques and shoot things that I normally would have no outlet for. It also re-introduces fun and enjoyment back into my photography, something which I feel has been missing for quite some time. The collection of images below may not necessarily represent my absolute best of photographs of 2013, but they do evoke the best memories. Some may have been seen before and some may not. None of these photographs would have been possible without the help and kindness of so many people. In no particular order I would like to thank the following for their support and contribution, no matter how big or small: My parents Gerry & Sheila, my girlfriend Laura, Derek & Philomena Troy, Martin Ffrench, Larry Kehoe, Ben Chandler, Neil Sheehan, Rod Chong, Rob Bullough, Bryn Musselwhite, Annika Goksu, Jonathan Moore, Suzy Wallace, Sean Klingelhoefer, Larry Chen, Keith Charvonia, Dino Dalle Carbonare, […]
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 […]