Another year, another RIAT. One of the few remaining subjects I'm still interested in photographing but a great day and great fun.
A project with highly detailed 1/43 scale Lotus Esprit models shot on a practical set with backgrounds, smoke and lights added in post. The last image of the black Esprit is a 1/18 model. Much more cost effective to shoot cars using models in a studio rather than the real thing (hiring the car, driver, photographer, fuel for an engine that gets 16 mpg etc...).
Spent a lovely day at this beautiful property in Suffolk, the ancestral seat of the Parker Baronets. Built mostly in the 16th century, it's history has experienced the Dissolution of the Monasteries, during which it was passed from the abbots and granted by Queen Mary to Sir William Cordell; the Stour Valley Riots and a fire during World War II. It was eventually sold to Harry Parker, son of Admiral Hyde Parker. Beatrix Potter was a cousin of the family and would often visit here. Queen Elizabeth also stayed at the this property while being set up on a blind date (which was obviously to no avail).Typical for this kind of property, each room had a fascinating story to tell, replete with a wealth of beautiful paintings, porcelain and furnishings, many of which were made by young craftsmen over 200 years ago and are still immaculate today. A lesson, perhaps, for today's disposal consumerist tendencies.The photographs are not to what I believe are my usual standard for this kind of subject, rather hand-held snapshots that tried to avoid unsuspecting visitors breaching the frame. Sincere gratitude to the excellent and extremely well-informed guides who generously bequeathed their knowledge of this fascinating property. I would heartily recommend a visit.
This was a personal project rather than something for a client so you may forgive the (extra) silliness.Shooting a Delorean scale model was in fact something I was reluctant to do because it has already been done. But a buddy of mine kept bugging me to do it until I relented so I decided to get the flying version from the second movie as I figured that would be a more original project. The movies (especially the first) have excellent screenplays but since the main protagonist (Marty Mcfly) has virtually no narrative arc to speak of I always felt the Delorean was the star.Nevertheless, we had the idea of inserting people into the shots just for a change and they turned out ok. At least they made us smile. We shot ourselves separately in the various poses against a white background so that we could be easily selected, copied and pasted into the vehicle shots. I then matched the colour and luminosity of the subject to the background as best as I could. In some of the shots the desired effect was a movie poster style rather than realism.Since I had the Knight Industries Two Thousand from Knight Rider knocking around I included it in a couple of compositions. (When I drove the actual KITT Trans Am a few years ago it happened to be parked right next to the BTTF Delorean.)Once again, the vehicles were all shot on a practical set, suspended with wires in some shots, and with backgrounds and effects added in post. Hope you get a kick out of them. We sure had fun. The video with theme music can be seen here.
Just to get away from it all, Brubaker and I decided to take a drive and ended up in Snowdonia. He hadn't been here before so I took him to some of the spots I enjoyed on my previous visit, including a hike up Cadair Idris to Cwm Cau (the lake), Cregennan Lakes, Swallow Falls, and Pistyll Rhaeder. We even watched the RNLI haul a vessel into the sea at Barmouth Beach.Not really a trip about photography it was exhausting and fun.
Creatively this kind of thing is becoming a little routine but I'm getting commissions for more posters with this subject. Once again all made with die cast models on practical sets with only the Chilean backgrounds, lights and flying dust added in post. The exploding rocks were also added in post and blended into the image. Enjoy.
This project exemplifies that you never know where the next commission will come from. The 80s TV stuff garnered interest from the nostalgia crowd, which was unsurprising. The nostalgia market is huge. But at the start of this year a snowboarding/bike enthusiast contacted me wanting to have some posters made depicting a snowboarder or biker flying over a car.I discussed the possibility of photographing him snowboarding (a subject I would love to shoot) in order to make it more customised and personal but we decided that could be a project in itself for another time. He was happy for me to use a generic or stock shot of a snowboarder. But then we had to choose the kind of car he wanted in the shot. He specified something sporty (naturally) and coloured blue or red to contrast against the snow.So I trawled eBay looking for something and soon found this 1/18 scale 1977 Lotus Esprit Turbo, blue with red and white stripes, on auction. I felt it would look great in a snow setting. I checked with the client and he approved so I bought it. (I didn’t bill the client for it since I plan to sell this model again myself).Polystyrene foam doubled for snow, while some rocks from the garden had some flour sieved onto them. The background plate was from one of my Iceland trips. I personally wanted to have more snow flying off the vehicle but the client didn’t want the car to be too obscured. Fair enough.On one of the shots I also used a flying biker that I photographed at a stunt show a while back, although I think the snowboarder works better in the wintery setting. I also made a couple of static shots of the car in the snow just because it’s a great looking car.Not wanting to play my own trumpet, and you won’t be able to tell from these web sized images, but they look great on the wall at 120x80cm (minus the black bars, of course), a reminder to us all to print our work whenever we can, especially large. It will enhance your appreciation of it no end.
Due to popular demand for more posters since the first set of images using these vehicles I made some more. It does take some time (the editing rather than the photography) and I tried to price myself out of the commissions but there's evidently a willing market for this kind of nostalgia. Once again, all made with 1/18 and 1/48 scale die-cast models. Enjoy.
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...