Ultimate Skylines

Another shoot for Modern Classics Mag. Since shooting the first cover for this mag almost 17 months ago its been a pleasure to see the mag grow in interest from a bi-monthly publication to now this year every month. Also I’ve mentioned before its my era, growing up with a passion for cars and this was the period I indulged myself watching Top Gear, reading Auto Express and other titles.

This was my first visit to Rockingham and as I arrived first I made my way to the paddocks whilst being bathed in the morning sun. It was looking to be a good day. Before the owners and journalist (Chris Chilton) arrived I wandered over to the inside track where there was a supercar day and almost 100 folk queuing up for a few laps in an array of cars. Funny to see girlfriends / wife’s of these blokes trying to look interested and be ‘apart’ of this big day 🙂

Photography comes in play in loads of different set-ups and seeing a trailer offering a print of you and one of these supercars out on track for a bargain £25… makes me happy my photographic career has stayed away form ‘bulk’ repetitive work.

Moving onto the shoot… If you’ve ever played Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, GTA there’s no doubt you got behind of the cars we shot here. We got an GT-R R34 R-Tune, one of only 5 in the UK and a GT-R R33 400R and this is only 1 of 3 in the UK. We had exclusive use of the outer circuit to get the shots we needed.

As the weather was good and the sun still showing his face we decided to get on with the tracking to get the best light as we could have always gone in one of the paddock pit garages if the weather turned to get the statics and details done.

The starting grid and line were the interesting features I wanted to concentrate on and plus the fact the suns direction couldn’t suit it any better. The only issue was the boot door to the tracking vehicle…. you can see it above on the full frame image. Normally I’d leave these things in and if the mag want to run with it I’d offer to shop out the defect.

It was easy enough to just sit back and make a few laps to get the feel of it and I think after that we began to just repeat the last corner and straight to really get the shots we wanted.

The final opening chosen image above and you can see the weather was unpredictable…. clouds one minute then harsh sun the next.

Quite like this shot… always helps when the road surface is not full of bumps and potholes!

Here’s a set up shot for the images above and below. I’ve recently got hold of a live-view trigger using me phone as a trigger but also giving me a live view. The reason this is a massive help is because of this kind of set-up. As you can see the car is rigged to the tracking car and so I would align the camera by eye and then do a run and keep adjusting the camera and the car positions after each run. Where as this new bit of kit I can see straight away and get the driver to move where I need the camera to me and then I can fire remotely. Here is the old school way …. and the way I would have to shoot if technology fails as it does from time to time.

Taking advantage of the wide track we were able to get the cars parallel and shoot low. It helped also as the fewer spokes you have on wheels then the faster you need to driver or slower your shutter needs to be to get some motion in them wheels. Again the smooth road and being able to drive faster in this controlled environment  all helped getting some motion in those R34’s white wheels. The shot above was cropped and turned into a vertical which looked nice.

The issue with us only having the outer track is that its just an oval for want of a better word and only had these corners on the end of the straight as a chicane which I presume they use for certain race series. Anyway the shot above we made the pass and got a few shots with me laying across the back seat and whilst holding on getting the camera in position and shooting one-handed. We had to play a little with the speed to get a compromise.

Using the tracking car again I wanted to get the corner in with these colours adding to the frame. The R33 (Silver) had to be way off the racing line as you wouldn’t see the car from this angle as it would be tucked behind the rear nearside of the leading Skyline. In the end we drove close to the track wall the wrong way then take a hard right to swing the cars round this corner… Once I got a decent shot we moved on.

Once the double car tracking images were done we quickly moved onto the individual cars and shot both rear and front of each of them. The three images above were in order of being shot and again having the track was great as you could move the tracking car around the subject car whenever you got the shot needed without stopping each pass.

Still sitting in the boot on the shot above you can get the camera around the rear of the tracking car and shoot low to get the rear shot. You can see the reflection in the bumper.

Once the track fun had been done we quickly moved onto the statics. Using the straight again we shot towards the stand and then moved the cars to get as much sky in the frame…. plus the sun kept coming in and out of the clouds which kept me on me toes.

The two images above using a couple of lights to pop some light on the front of each car. The top one you can see the small stand just peeking out under the offside wheel of the R33… quickly tuck it behind the wheel more and off we go again. Same shot in effect but just a little lower and bringing in the finishing line a little further from the last shot to give just another frame for consideration.

Now it was just getting details and single statics shot. Having the cars beside each other (with enough distance between them to frame them) in the same angle we could just hop from one to another capturing the same images as a comparison.

(I’ve not checked if these images are correct for each car or if they are in order 😉

A quick image of Chris driving each car then its off home 🙂

Below are the final spreads of the article.

Thanks for reading…


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