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.
Early last month I picked up Toyota Ireland’s GT86 for a week of ownership. The two litre naturally aspirated FR coupe has been gathering a lot of attention since its release earlier this year, along with being lauded by the motoring press. I was lucky enough to shoot the GT86 earlier this year for CAR Magazine but I was still very excited to spend a week on my own with the car. My experience was nearly all positive. I liked the balance, driving position, gearbox and even the engine which most seem to have deemed as being underpowered. For a standard factory car with a warranty, I thought the two litre flat four 4U-GSE was more than capable. Although lacking in torque, its responsiveness more than made up for it. I couldn’t help myself by blipping the throttle on each and every shift, both up and down the gearbox. The only downsides for me were the tyres which I found to be a little bit too hard and the fact that the car was probably a little bit too hardcore to be a daily driver. As a second car for weekend and trackday duties, I can’t think of anything else currently on the market that would get my money. You can read my full report on Speedhunters, be sure to leave a comment letting me know what you think.
Every September, something amazing happens in the south of England. About an hour outside of London, a place called Goodwood – famed for its annual Festival of Speed – is transported back in time, for what is probably the greatest automotive show on earth. Even describing the Revival as a “show” is an injustice. It’s an experience like no other – from the car park to the paddock, it’s as close to time travel you can get without the need for a flux capacitor. I’ve been lucky enough to attend for the last three years, but each time I’m always left in awe. This year however, I wanted to approach the event differently. Originally, I was to attend the event as a casual spectator with no obligations and had planned to shoot with a 35mm rangefinder. However at the last minute, I was commissioned for a story by Speedhunters which put a small spanner in the works. If I was to shoot film, I would immediately need to have it developed and scanned for me which would eat into my deadline. Any potential problems that could arise would be disastrous. I ended up resorting to shooting the event with two digital SLRs, using only prime lenses. I would process the images afterwards to mimic aged film which took much more time than it should have. Originally, I included a lot of texture in the edit – dust, scratches etc. along with some OTT light leaks. I pretty much immediately regretted this but needed to push on with the story as the deadline rapidly approached. However, in the meantime I’ve been able to re-visit the photographs and re-edit them to a standard that I’m much happier with. They’re certainly not perfect nor was it an an ideal situation, but I can’t remember […]
Is there a more important place on earth for petrol-heads? I’ve been to the ‘ring several times, but on each visit I’m always humbled. I don’t know whether it’s the size of the place, the location, the history or a combination of them all but it’s not a place you’ll forget in a hurry. I’ve wrote a more detailed story over on Speedhunters, check it out for more.
When life deals you lemons, you make lemonade. Or so they say. One of the toughest aspects of being a photographer is often having to shoot in less than ideal circumstances. I arrived in Sweden back in June to find that my 5D MKII had died in transit. Of course I was well armed with back-up bodies, but I had developed a bond with my 5D2. It sounds strange and a little sad, but losing it really put me out. Never the less, it’s one of those occasions that you just have to get on with it. Location wise we were limited to either a busy paddock or we could shoot on-track for a limited amount of time (I think it was around 20 minutes) but we couldn’t move the car or get any tracking shots in. Luckily, we didn’t need much more than the car itself as it done all of the work for me. You can check out the full story on Speedhunters – here.
We all have dreams and goals in our lives. Some are big, some are small but with enough work and dedication everyone of them is achievable. You just need to want it bad enough. Throughout my photography career, I have and continue to work towards two goals. 1) Shoot a full season of Formula One and 2) Shoot for CAR. I can now scratch the latter of the list. A couple of weeks back, I received an e-mail from Ben Barry, the deputy editor of CAR in the UK. He asked me if I was free at the end of June for a shoot that I’d have particular interest in, but couldn’t elaborate until closer to the date. Intrigued, I ensured my calendar was free and agreed to meet CAR writer Ben Pulman at a secret test track outside of London. A couple of days before the shoot, I received a brief with three important words: GT86, AE86 & Tsuchyia. Those of you with an interest in drifting will surely recognize the name Keiichi Tsuchyia, also known as the ‘Drift King’. Tsuchyia-san is the godfather of drifting, and without doubt one of the most important people in the history of the sport. CAR wanted to celebrate his history whilst also exploring his involvement with Toyota’s new GT86. The brief I received illustrated clearly what CAR wanted from the shoot, and allowed me to plan in advance what equipment I would be relying on. Unfortunately, on the day of the shoot my appendix decided it no longer wanted to be a part of me. Shooting in much discomfort and pain, I was limited in my movement and abilities. It was pretty upsetting, as this was something I wanted to deliver 110% but I just couldn’t. I pushed on as much as […]
Following some recent health issues, I’ve been out of action for the last few weeks. On the plus side, I’ve a couple of interesting shoots and stories to share with you. After the Bavaria City Racing Dublin event, I took to the skies once more. Destination? Sweden for the annual Gatebil show at Mantorp Park, a couple of hours south of Stockholm. Unfortunately on arrival, I found my 5D MKII was unresponsive having presumably taken a knock somewhere in transit. My 5D2 has been a reliable work horse for the last three years so I was pretty bummed out by its loss. Thankfully, I had two other great cameras in reserve but it did put a bit of a downer on the event. The mayhem at Mantorp was even better than expected. Having experienced the Rudskogen event the year previous, I thought I would be prepared for the Swedish take on the popular event. I wasn’t. Check out the full coverage on Speedhunters below … Read the full Speedhunters coverage here.
If you only ever do one thing in your automotive life – make sure you experience the sight and sounds of a contemporary Formula One car. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling that hits you when that 2.4 litre V8 revs to 18,000RPM for the first time. Despite comical organization and an almost impossible lack of access, I managed to grab a handful of images when Jenson Button unleashed his MP4-26 on the streets of Dublin last weekend …
The Irish modified car scene is a strange one. On one hand, you have lots of people who only follow the pack, scared to move outside of their comfort zones. On the other hand, you have people like Keith Wheldon who prefers to go his own way. You can check out the full and in-depth feature on Speedhunters but I’ll summarize Keith’s 180SX in one sentence – this is the best built and most considered RPS13 ever built in Ireland. Oh, and it’s his daily driver too …
I owe a lot to Prodrift. What started as a small series quickly expanded into one of the most respected and innovative drift series’ on the planet. Although the recession has hit Ireland hard, the quality of driving at Prodrift events has show no sign of dropping off. From the amateurs to the pros, the standard of driving at any Prodrift event is unnaturally high. Congratulations to Damien Mulvey on his pro-class win. Not the first time the Cork man has topped the podium and it certainly won’t be the last …
I’m sure I’ve certainly said this before, my year revolves around the Nürburgring 24HR. It’s the centre of my world, an event that I dream of during the winter, look forward to in the spring and reminisce about during the summer and autumn when it’s over. It’s an event that has everything, and I mean everything – the greatest racing circuit on earth, changeable weather, an almost impossible variety of cars, hundreds of thousands of animated spectators and fierce racing. This, sadly, is my final N24 post for 2012 but not my last Nordschleife related one. Be warned though, there are around 40+ images after the link so these might not best be viewed on a mobile device …
Apologies for the slow updates, but as silly season is well and truly underway at the moment one must concentrate on priorities. I’m not forgetting about here though and have quite a backlog of work to share over the coming weeks, not least the rest of the N24 event. This particular post highlights some of the action from the 24 hour qualifying session on Thursday and the Classic race on Friday …
I’m quite a lucky person. I’m working in my dream job, traveling the world and photographing fast cars. I honestly couldn’t ask for more. Even the variety of events that I attend is often breathtaking, there’s never a dull moment. When you have it so good and yet one event still stands out above all the others, then you know it’s special. For me, the annual Nürburgring 24HR is the centre point of my year. It’s such a challenge to shoot but it’s just so rewarding in many different ways. We’ve just wrapped up our coverage on Speedhunters (which is well worth a look as always) so I thought I’d start catching up with things on here too. The first part of this story documents our arrival at the ‘ring on the Wednesday before the race …
I’ve always admired the Berg Cup from afar, having been introduced to it at an Autosport show some years back and more recently when visiting KW’s factory in Fichtenberg, Germany. One of the unfortunate things about the series, is the lack of coverage outside of mainland Europe. With such a vast variety of cultures and languages crammed onto one continent, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Even during my travels over the course of the last few days, one person could speak French and his neighbor German.Although the language barrier proved difficult at times, it turns out we all spoke one language in common – that certain dialect of high octane, high speed and high risks. For full coverage of this year’s Eschdorf event, check out the stories on Speedhunters.
I’ve just landed in the door from a truly epic weekend in Luxembourg, where I was covering the first round of the Berg Cup for Speedhunters. Shortly before I left, I put the final touches to my own car and grabbed a couple of quick snaps to share with you. Since part one, I’ve made a couple of changes… I loved the LM style wheels, they were proving a nightmare to keep and when the lacquer began to lift on one of them, I knew we would have to part ways. I always liked CSL style wheels but preferred the concavity of the rears over the flat finish on the fronts of the genuine wheels. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fit a 9.5″ front wheel (especially with their offset) without reworking the front wings and probably adding coilovers to control the ride height. I had a chat with Paul in AutoAlloys and he managed to source four 9″ CSL style wheels with that concave finish for me. It’s only a subtle difference, but it really makes the car IMO. Behind the front wheels, you’ll now notice a pair of Brembo aluminum six piston calipers with 365mm drilled and vented discs. Rebranded as ‘BMW Performance’, the brakes provide a much more reliable pedal with a lot more bite when leaned on. They were a relatively cheap upgrade too when compared with other six piston braking solutions. I’ve also made a couple of small cosmetic changes including a full carbon fibre boot lid, a new exhaust exit and some carbon vinyl wrapping on the steering wheel trim. The car has also just received a full paint correction thanks to Larry in CleanCar.ie
Last weekend gone saw Northern Ireland play host to the annual Circuit of Ireland rally which was also the third round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. After years and years of listening to relatives talk about the Circuit of old, I was looking forward to the challenge of my first rally in nearly a year. This is a pretty hefty post, so if you’re using 56K (does that even exist anymore?) you might want to go and make yourself a cup of tea. Full detailed coverage is available on Speedhunters …
I recently headed out west to cover the Irish Escort Club’s annual Clare Run, which tours some of the most scenic parts of this country. I was shooting and writing for both Speedhunters and Classic Ford Magazine so it was quite a busy day but an immensely enjoyable one none the less. Be sure to check out the coverage on Speedhunters along with the upcoming feature in Classic Ford magazine.
With the start of my 2012 season rapidly approaching, I needed to get to an event to setup two new cameras and blow some cobwebs off my own skills. The Monster Energy Masters of Dirt show, which took place in City West this weekend gone, proved to be the perfect event for this task. Subjects which were fast and could change direction quickly, low light, mixed light sources and rapid action provided the perfect challenge of ‘bedding in’ my new equipment. It certainly wasn’t an easy to event to shoot. The low light forced an ISO of 2000 and relatively slow shutter speeds (much slower than what I would have liked). The lighting system inside the arena was tricky to work with too, with the riders often jumping above the lighting rigs into the darkness. Access was slightly limited – although we had almost free reign of the venue, we needed to be conscious of not blocking the views of any paying spectators. The show itself was top class with some genuine breath taking moments. Credit to the organisers for the smooth running of the entire operation and although this was my first FMX event, I’ll definitely be looking to attend more in the future.
I made a quick visit to Formula D competitor Darren McNamara last week to check in and see what he has been up to over the winter months. Darren is a huge Toyota fan so it comes as no surprise that he always has a couple of interesting projects on the go. His Carina project has certainly attracted a lot of attention over on Speedhunters. It has divided opinions too, but as Darren has said, it’s not really meant to be taken too seriously and is only intended for a bit of fun. Having taken styling cues from a mix of different automotive sub-cultures (VW, JDM, USDM) it’s certainly an interesting project. It’ll be even more interesting when it receives its SR20DET conversion later this year …