It started out as making some posters as Christmas presents for my friend's little girl. I introduced her to re-runs of the Knight Rider show and she absolutely loves it (what child wouldn't love a car that talks back?) Her favourite episode is one where KITT goes up against a rival, KARR, so I acquired that model to make a couple canvas prints for her room. Then, of course, some grown ups, undoubtedly inebriated with a heady mix of mulled wine and nostalgia, asked me to make some more match-ups. Well, supply the models, pay my fee and maybe I will.So they did, lending me a 1/43 scale (and surprisingly detailed) A-team van and, for some reason, an Apache helicopter (not sure which show that featured in). The Airwolf model is my own.Some of these will be made into prints for their office and home. But for now enjoy some 1980s vehicular nostalgia.
Felt like taking a holiday and hadn't been to Chile before but we're certainly glad we chose it. Chile is a vast country, with the Atacama Desert and the Salt Flats to the north and the mountains and glaciers of Patagonia to the south. All braced by the long arm of the Andes mountain range. With our private guides we managed to cram in quite a bit with no less than four internal flights taking us up and down the country from the mid point of the capital city, Santiago.One particular ambition of mine was to see the flamingoes in the Salt Flats. But I also indulged myself with a swim in a hot spring at 4200m up in the Andes. We visited beautiful lagoons, salt mines and rock formations, and were treated the whole time to a wealth of information about the landscape and its remarkable geology. At one point our vehicle, with the ignition off and geared in neutral, was pulled uphill by magnetic minerals in the ground. Patagonia was a little cooler but not too cold in their late spring. The scenery was reminiscent of Norway with ice-capped mountains looming over sapphire blue lakes and windy fjords. Wildlife was in abundance too with no shortage of guanacos, hawks, vultures, rias and cormorants. One disappointment, given that Chile has the clearest skies in the world, was not getting a night sky shot of the Milky Way. Rather unluckily during our visit the Moon polluted the sky with too much light. Not much respite for a holiday it was intense, exhausting and exhilarating. Loved it.
This latest project isn't especially original but one has to give the client what they want. And they wanted flying cars. Or rather flipping and flying through the air. Now the client's son, for whom these images were made, only had cars at 1/64 scale, which typically do not have very convincing details. So I agreed to supply some cars at 1/36 scale and added them to the invoice. I didn't add too many backgrounds to the images so as not to distract from the cars and I also decided to set all the action at night.The last two images aren't flying but they had gull wing doors so I picked them up thinking I could use them for something but ultimately I just made stills using e-smoke and lighting.
Spent a few days in Northumberland recently, up by the Scottish Border. Beaches, bridges, castles and churches, a relaxing place to visit and imbibe the abundance of the United Kingdom's effortless beauty. From Alnwick Castle to Dunstanburgh Castle, Bamburgh Castle to Lindisfarne Castle, there's plenty of history to dwell on, to say nothing of the views. The castle on the mount at Lindisfarne was a particular highlight at sunset and dusk. We also visited Paxton House near Berwick upon Tweed and crossed the Union Chain suspension bridge into Scotland. On the way back we popped in for a brief look at Hexham Abbey. I didn't take many photos on this trip; that wasn't its purpose, and being with other folks I was somewhat subject to their timetable. But is was a welcome respite and I enjoyed it.
A slight detour from the vehicular photography, this time someone asked me to make some shots with their figurine from the Alien movies. The figurine was around 25cm.I quickly constructed a spaceship 'corridor' by taping some black drinking straws together and then gluing the tape to some cardboard. The rest was smoke and light, and a glycerin and water mix sprayed onto the alien for additional shine and saliva. The results in-camera were actually good enough that I (fortunately) didn't have to do a lot of additional editing or processing. I shot with tungsten white balance to give the bluish tinge reminiscent of the movies, and in post I removed any obvious joints in the model and added some saliva strands to the teeth (using a pic of dripping honey!). Some of the images were desaturated to give them a colder and more remote feel. I don't think the last few images of the whole figure on the rock (actually a doorstop) or the close-ups were completely convincing but anyway. I'm happy (and so is the client) with the corridor shots. You can almost hear the hissing...Video with music can be seen here.
Another scale model commission, this time from a collector who wanted me to create some posters of some of his collection. I selected the models that I felt were the most photogenic, namely the primary coloured muscle cars plus a couple of others, all 1/18 scale. Since most collectors of the real versions spend a lot of time tinkering in the garage I decided to build a scale garage to put them inside and photograph. Basically a few sheets of cardboard sprayed with concrete texture paint with a window cut out of one of them. A few items of paraphernalia, such as springs from clothes pegs and a black drinking straw doubled as suspension springs and an exhaust pipe respectively. A vaping device and a small lamp outside the window created the musty, smokey atmosphere that I wanted, giving the cars presence, vintage and mystery. The client also wanted some action shots (naturally) but with the strict caveat to not cause any damage to these precious collectibles. Thus the hardest part of the set-ups was ensuring that the models remained in mint condition before and after the shoot. They did. Black bars were added to the top and bottom of the images to give them a 'cinematic' look. Once again, success was all about finding the right angles and lighting, along with a few practical effects.
Possibly not as thrilling as last year's racing but we nevertheless had a great time in the company of our friends Nat, Rob and young Harry at this annual event in Powys. The stubborn rain slowed the pace somewhat, clogging the track and no doubt many wheels, but the determined drivers battled through the resistance to send mud flying and smoke billowing in every direction. In any case, I could barely hold my camera steady laughing so much at the commentary offered by a hilarious duo blaring over the field through the ubiquitous speakers. They clearly enjoyed their drink and it was worth attending just to listen to them. Good weekend, good fun.
Less of an epic drama and more of a random assortment the client gave me three of his small Formula One models to photograph. Luckily he didn't give me a deadline and wasn't concerned about showing a surrounding environment, which fortunately meant I didn't have to construct a winding track, spectator stands or advertisement banners. In fact, as the models were detailed he was more interested in close up and dynamic shots, which is indeed what I returned to him.Formula One racing is a little too boring for me to ever watch so I tried to find interesting angles and add a little drama with some smoke and light. The small models, around 10cm each, had enough details to allow some macro shots in addition to wide angle and zoom shots. Now I'm wondering what I could shoot if I could get near the real thing...Being Alpha Whiskey there naturally had to be at least one obligatory collision/crash shot and for this I used the birthday cake sparkler. Shooting models this way allows one to get into angles and positions that might not be practical on a real scale, for example the worm's eye view in front of the oncoming cars. The video montage of this shoot (with music) can be seen here. Anyway, job done, another client happy; on to the next one...
Another scale model commission turned into a project, this one an epic action extravaganza of 43 images, of which 25 are chosen to be presented here. The client wanted bespoke posters for her son's bedroom, giving me the briefest of briefs, namely a chase involving police cars. Naturally. These were all shot with 1/36 die cast scale models using as much practical effects and props as possible, such as the road and grass and some of the smoke. Editing filled in the rest, including the backgrounds and debris. Not all the images are convincing, of course, but they all collaborate to tell the story, the full version of which can be seen on video here. Once again, despite the outward appearance of merely playing with toys, this was an exercise in composition and framing, finding the right angles to make the images as dynamic as possible. The photography didn't take too long but the editing took a while, with some images requiring upwards of 25 layers. This time was obviously factored into my fee. Anyway, I hope you get a flavour of the action below. There aren't many people shooting this kind of action with die cast models so hopefully this brings you something fairly original.
A somewhat intriguing departure from the small clique of scale model clients or those wanting help with their travel photos, interior photography adds to the ever eclectic mix that I am grateful to enjoy.This post won't presume to offer any instruction but merely a flotilla of ideas using examples below from a number of stately homes and historical properties.
Another year, another visit to the Royal International Air Tattoo, this time in the company of friends. Much the same aircraft and displays as last year so we didn't stay for the full show and perhaps the limited variety of this set reflects my indifference. Still, the incredible pilots put on a good show despite the oppressive heat under the searing sunshine. Blinding rays pierced through the rings of undulating vapour trails as the deafening afterburners roared through the sky. These machines could undoubtedly find a missile lock far more easily than our cameras could a focus lock, our rattling shutters presumably no match for the cannons on the underbellies of these aerial knights. As they careened past in all directions it proved a trifle difficult to keep up but the show was efficiently organised and we enjoyed what we saw. A worthy distraction.
Not the greatest images in the world but great to see the planes over the Mall as they celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Royal Air Force. Forget Top Gun, these guys know how to do it and make it look good. Some were on display at Horseguard's Parade. Happy 100th Birthday RAF.
Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is a pleasant if unspectacular city, whose friendly and laid-back atmosphere belie the fact that the country was at war a mere quarter century ago. The city is modern and developed, with a plethora of beautiful churches, the most dominant being the Saint Sava Temple with an as yet unfinished interior. The outwardly unassuming Alexander Nevsky Cathedral probably has the most beautiful and colourful interior, while the Ruziça Church on Kalemegdan has chandeliers made from bullets and swords. The city's history is exemplified at Kalemegdan, a large ascending park at the top of the old city whose summit hosts the Belgrade Fortress. The open military museum here allows one to walk amongst divisions of tanks and rocket launchers while marvelling at the huge dinosaurs in the Jurassic kids park nearby. The Victor Monument overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers provides a classic sunset venue. The long city streets are replete with bountiful shops and eateries, Skadarska being a popular evening destination with its cobbled streets and live music. Lots of museums too, we only had time to enjoy the impressive art collection, including many by Yugoslavian artists, at the National Museum. We thank the friendly and helpful inhabitants of Belgrade and their tasty food; it made our short visit enjoyable despite the oppressive heat.
Some real cars this time rather than the models. Another year, another display of pretty much the same old wheels and another challenge to shoot them from interesting angles. Thus, a lot of low shots with a wide-angle lens looking up to capture their imposition and scale, and processed with a slightly vintage look in keeping with their ages. The Corvette Stingray is a personal favourite of mine, hence the cover photo; they simply don't design them like that any more. Logos, wheels and even the exhausts underneath the vehicles were all fair game. And then it got a little too hot for comfort so I packed up and left.I used a variety of lenses, all of which had a polariser to cut out reflections, except the 45mm.
Always a safe bet for a good day out, Waddesdon Manor once again impressed us with its opulence and scale. Despite the heaving masses that clearly had the same bright idea as us, I managed to eke out a few shots absent of people. Possibly similar to ones I had taken before but this time all accomplished with one lens. Beautiful and ornate exteriors, well tended gardens and luxurious interiors are all characteristics of Waddeson Manor, built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to display his art and to entertain his guests (a rather exquisite weekend retreat).Excellent guides, gardeners and volunteers made this visit as enjoyable as previous ones.