Reunited with the Vauxhall Firenza

Another one of 6 articles in four car magazines in November… This one was shot for Classic & Sports Car a few months back in the middle of the summer sun.

As I write this I’ve just discovered that Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams passed away in early September, so these images are a little more poignant and have little more weight to them.

The story and reason for the shoot was to re-unite Barrie with his 1974 race winning Vauxhall Firenza reg UHO 288M.

“The last time I saw it was on the day of the race itself in 1974” Β B Williams

Barrie was 79 at the time of this shot and only just retired from racing in Jan this year was in no real rush to get the shoot done but I found myself taking images as the interview was taking place in and around the car. Trying to capture the feel and natural atmosphere of Barrie’s interaction with the car and also his expressions whilst talking to Ross (Automotive Journalist)

The sun was intense and light really harsh. The first few frames of Barrie was to get as natural a pose / portrait as I could with just available light inside the car.

The image below was one of the first set of these portraits…

The decals of ‘EJ Baker Motors Ltd’ was another original aspect to this race winning Vauxhall so this portrait below was used in the final article possibly because I included some of the decals in the image. This was one of the earliest images of Barrie after just getting into the car… again just using available light and letting the outside light expose out…

I knew the main story was the car and Barrie’s affiliation with it so knew I wanted to get a good selection of portraits as possible. While Ross was pulling stories and details from Barrie I set up one Phottix Indra head to light Barrie from the front through the windscreen and just wandered around getting a shot with ross in the image as well. Again not knowing of they would run with an image of Ross and Barrie together but just trying to give a variety of options for the layout and feel of the article.

I don’t know why but envisaged that the portrait could be a full page bled image so shot portrait for most of the posed lit images.

For me the portrait above was one of my favourite, for the lighting combination of just one head shooting over the roof of the car and the sunlight acting as a back fill. Just looking now at Barrie’s history before I blogged one of these images was used as an obituary on the Classic & Sports Cars website. Just reminds me just how photographs capture a particular moment, event, emotion and that over time can become more poignant and ‘weighty’.

The current owner and responsible for the restoration brought various documents and photos just to add to the already rich provenance that the car holds.

Really wanted to keep the images unposed as possible, well the ones including Barrie, Ross and the current owner. yes the posed images of Barrie were orchestrated but that was completely warranted …. it was the other little details like viewing images and documents above I wanted to capture naturally as they just unfolded in front of me.

After the talking was done and we had enough I let the three of them go inside for a quick drink and shade from the sun while I got some details and statics.

The restoration was really good and to a sympathetic level without tearing out the original character of the car.

Once that was done it was just the driving images needed. Barrie took to the wheel and we did a short circuit near to his home where we grabbed a few different angles of him at the wheel. The image above was just one of those ones you shoot to give a different angle. The owner was in the rear and made a good light stand for me holding the speed light to fill the interior.

Really pleased with the image above which was used as the opening DPS (below)… the trees in the background close to the car helped give the sense of speed and the lighting just worked as we were in and out of the shadows so the lighting was dancing all over whilst out and about. Also good to see that the framing was almost bang on and the whole frame was used.

After returning back to Barrie’s we left our cars there and took the owner and friend out on a run to get some more tracking images.

The two images below were the last ones we shot …. only just beside the cornering shot this monument was an interesting back drop so asked them just to make a short run while I lay flat on the warm tarmac and fired off a few frames as they came towards me.

We found a decent straight bit of road we could us for some panning and rear tracking. The light metallic silver paintwork was great under the bright sunlight…

Leaning out of my car you can just see I’ve clipped my front wing in the frame…. I normally leave these in and send them to the mag as they can then see the full un-cropped frame and so if they needed to ‘shop’ out my car then they could.

The final article above.

Was a pleasure to be asked to shoot this particular story and all the more made poignant with the recent passing away of Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams.

I’m pleased with this set of images and thankful that the reuniting of Barrie and his winning car was captured.


6 Wheels to Recovery…

Still in the middle of the summer sun we had this great 6 wheeler to shoot. The location of this shoot was on the land of the owners friend…. and a great location it was. Big enough and varied where we could get all shots done without leaving the private land…. happy days πŸ™‚

Beside a giant shed / warehouse with a car lift the owner liked all things automotive and had another shed with some nice details….. below.

The final DPS below of the image above. Just lifted a little of the levels but the removal of the pylon which was needed πŸ™‚

Was pleased with the location and had just enough space to get the rather large 6 wheeler in front of the ‘garage’ and just wide enough to make a DPS.

Only one real angle to shoot from due to other buildings and a kids trampoline (which I did look at moving, but it was secured to the floor). So shoot above and below. The images above and below aren’t to bad but as we couldn’t see the lifting arm it doesn’t really warrant or have the same impact as the rear shot.

Just one light below used to lift the owner and Mikes faces and the engine bay…

The first shots we did was to get it on the ramp so we can see the main the engineering mods underneath.

If theres one thing I wish I was is that I knew more mechanically … Β but I’m not. So when it comes to shooting technical stuff like this I need to know what I’m shooting so I need a quick explanation there and then and a complete pointing out of what I need to show in the image. As far as I can remember on the image above is that the shaft in the centre has been off-centred on purpose….. other than that I can’t remember but just needed to show that. πŸ˜‰

Getting a couple of lights under there to light people and vehicle is a lot of moving and testing to get a decent even lighting.

Once outside the sheds I mentioned a vertical shot would be good … just in passing without really thinking about it….. probably was thinking out aloud!

No sooner I said that a large extendable digger truck came round with a large bucket…. harness on and up I went. Think the only boring angle on this vehicle is directly from the top πŸ™‚ ….. still worth getting variety when you can.

Getting the tow Landrover to tow something and shoot the complete story was the aim. What else would be good to tow other than a series 1 Land Rover which the land owner had ….. again happy days πŸ™‚

The images below are of the process of hooking up a vehicle to tow.

I almost just sit back and watch the process before re-doing the process with shooting the key bits to show the story. Just one speed light to help lift the shadows and balance the levels out.

The image above and below has a speed light just stood on the near side corner of the Series 1 wing again just to light the harsh shadow of the owners face.

Shooting a few driving images was a little bumpy due to the rough tracks and so had to shoot a far few frames to a get a couple of acceptable images.

A few cornering, panning shots to finish off a decent day.

Like the shot above… just the angle, the fact the speed light stayed propped up and didn’t fall. Also there was just one big bush on that stretch we could capture when driving past to give a bit of motion.

Really enjoyed this day. There was about 4 friends there who were all lovers of automotive and were more than happy to get involved and help out. As well as plenty of coffee and home made bakes to keep us going through the day….

The only downside of the day was that I forgot some insect repellant as bugs just munch on me! With some well grown Horse-flies that a I couldn’t avoid I still have the scars from the bites months down the line. Still beats working …. πŸ™‚

A Disco 2 modified for purpose…

Well a return visit to a private disused quarry used now for fun with 4x4s. First shot here for Bentley Motors back a few years back.

This shoot was not to my mind a potential cover shoot so to see it on the shelf (below) was a canny surprise πŸ™‚

The story was to show what was changed on the Disco and also seeing it in action on some rough ground. Started to get the car into position for the opening shot of the article whilst it was nice and clean.


As well as the natural light images above I wanted to light the vehicle to add some texture to the image. before that we shot some images as it was going over this mound to get some movement at least into the wheels…

Shooting fairly wide in order to get a DPS out of the frame.

Started with a couple of lights either side of the camera… with the light to the right slightly lower than the camera in order to see whats going on underneath.

I did shoot a few verticals …. this one ended up being the cover…

The final image above with the cover overlaid so you can see what section of the frame was used.

After getting the front shot then we repeated the same process and as the Disco went over the mount we shot the rear…

On the rear I needed to get a bit more light under the Disco so had to get a speed light on the floor under the back end (green arrow) … Then dig a little recess with me boot to get the speed light laid down, then make sure the camera angle was lower than the flash and any flare.

The Blue and red arrows are showing the rough angle of the two Phottix Indra Heads…

After the initial shots for the opening DPS we moved into the middle of the quarry which is very open and flat. Also the water wasn’t as full as I remember the last time due to the very long hot summer this year.

Got the simple engine and interior images plus a few more… The engine bay was very very clean.

The lighting on the day was really good as the cloud cover was light and even so the sunlight was bright and consistent. The light grey colour reacted well to the light and so I didn’t use any artificial lights to help the scene.

Mike (news editor for LRO) had another idea for an alt DPS to show the story a bit more.

Moving the Disco to a place that you couldn’t get to any other way was on a decent incline. The issue was to try and shoot it in a way that showed that but there wasn’t anything within the frame that you could orientate and get scale or angle from. Again a couple of Indra heads either side of the left and right frame then a speed light in the boot of the Disco. The couple of cases near the tripod were some of my kit so we could fill the frame a little more as it looked a bit empty…

Once the staged shots were done we then moved to the lower part of the quarry again and sent the Disco around to get some water, mud to at least show that it could get to remote places.

No particular order the final layout and article.

A final image of a driving shot…. well a took a few frames whilst back at the top of the quarry as we were packing down again to have a working feel of how the Disco is a working vehicle.

Great working vehicle and very clean, that is until we had it round the quarry. πŸ™‚

A 101 home from home…

A very rare sunny still day in the North Yorkshire moors. Just over the horizon on this first image is the location for a few groups tests I’ve shot for Classic Cars…. and typically its been very….. very windy. For some reason this day was as still as anything with a clear blue sky and the temperature was just right.

The story was of this 101 Forward Control converted into a camper so that its owner Andrew can carry out his Drystone Walling (thats the technical term ; ) while still being on site as much as possible. Only working within a short distance from home he bases himself in the camper and can be on a job easily for up to 4-5 days at a time.

This first image was the opening DPS. This location was on a farm where he has been working regularly for a few years repairing the walls. There was a couple of locations in this field but this location is where he’s got uptown so far. Just positioning the 101 up this steep hill to create the story in one shot. Had to use one Phottix Indra head fired straight at the front of the 101 to light it up as it was really dark in colour and in shadow.

After shooting this opener we needed to see and shoot what else this 101 can do. How Andrew has modified it in order that it can accommodate his working lifestyle.

These images are not in the order we shot so I’ll just pick up on one or two things to give you some background πŸ™‚

The winch at the front, fairly standard but an essential kit in moving some serious stone around.

Didn’t need too many motion images but just wanted to get the environment that it is used in… unlike the day we shot it the weather up there can be a bit bleak!

Peter (Automotive Journalist and encyclopaedia of thinks Classic Landrover) took behind the wheel on a tight single track and amongst the faces or trepidation theres was this one ‘happy’ face but think it was more so nervous panic.

Its not pretty the 101 but functional, so any side pans are effectively just a box on wheels…

As well as tools and power from the 101 it carries everything Andrew needs to carry out all sorts of work he takes on.

Inside the vehicle was always going to be a massive part of the shoot. Ss just showing where he spends his evenings away whilst on location and how that feels.

The cabin is spacious and with plenty of power there are some creature comforts in there. Just one studio head bounced of the ceiling to light the cabin and rear living quarters.

The normal gearstick is a long and comes from the back of the engine and so you almost reaching behind you to change gear. Here this shot below is to show Andrews modification to install a ‘normal’ gearshift and you can see the square tube length that attaches the original stick to the new one.

Running hot and cold water for washing up, cleaning tools and even a shower…. plus a waste bucket : )

Also installed is an air-compressor…. can’t remember for what specific reason. Just had a small speed light tucked in the storage compartment to light the connector pipe and Andrews face.

A shot from the rear doors into the living space…. everything in its place and a place for everything πŸ™‚

Andrews home made awning which is used for some shelter for eating alfresco but also is used to shelter from the rain whilst working. Drive the 101 along side the wall and then you can create a shelter so work can continue.

A decent day and vehicle that has been adapted for a specific use …. Great to see it in action and thankful for some decent weather up there. : )


Super Saloons Cover Shoot

Its taken me too long to write a few lines about this cover shoot down in Longcross…..

Back in July it was in the middle of the fantastic summer we had and we had 5 classic saloons to shoot for a cover for Classic Cars. The brief was fairly specific for the cover… it was going to run with the Merc as a single cover but with a small group of the other cars as an inset on the cover.

The image below is the small group of 4 for the cut out…. Tried a few different angles and focal lengths. you can see the stray car in the right of frame…. knew this would be only used as a cut out so no need min moving it.

We added the Merc within the group and shifted the cars around so we could get a final group shot.

Details, Interiors, engine images for each car before we set off on getting the cover and tracking shots.

This Audi was in mint condition and for me would be my choice out if this lot. πŸ™‚

The Jag had plenty of nice details to be able to get some interesting angles.

Like I said the cover was always going to be the mere as a single tracking shot. Below are a few options that made the cutting floor …

The final cover and layout above with the group shot from above inset.

The original image below and then the over lay of the final cover to show you what was used and added.

Really do like the D810 as you can used half a frame and still get more than enough detail for a full page image. Again you can see I leave the images with enough in them so they can be tweaked more by the art editor.

You’ll be surprised just how much gets filmed at Longcross with its test circuit. Theres a scene from Transformers I spotted a while back but the most recent one I’ve seen is a Vauxhall advert which is currently on TV now shot here.

Running with the sun and shooting all around the track to give a bit of different flavour. However the cover image I mainly shot on the straight as the sun was directly on the from of the blue merc.

Along with the owners of the cars we had another photographer …. Racheal (you can check her instagram out… @rpautomotivephotography) who took a few images of me out the boot of the Andrews (journalists) car….. (thats Racheal πŸ™‚

The image below was taken on the run whilst Racheal took these images. I do have a harness as you can see and used it as the rear seatbelts in the car were too long at full extension. Just find that seat belts can be easier to use than the harness. Don’t worry I’m never not strapped in somehow.

The image above looks like I’ve got my finger over the lens….. just turning the polariser to see whats giving me the best look for the merc and BMW.

With the shoot rounding up and some cars already left we had to get a driving shot of Andrew and so the Merc was a great choice with its light interior and giant sun-roof.

In no particular order the final layout below…


EMPI Beetle

Been a while since shooting for Octane and this was an interesting Beetle. An original EMPI Beetle restored sympathetically retaining character, a few dints, faded decals…. and for me looked fantastic and gave me more than enough details to focus on and capture.

The day was bright and decided to shoot this natural light. The light paint colour and the brightwork were all nicely light on this overcast but very bright day.

I tried to keep the post processing a little muted…. no real reason, just liked to keep it subtle.

The owner had a vintage jacket in the Beetle that he found in some store and bought it….. way to cool not to try and get it into a shot.

The interior was fantastic and a visual feast…… The above image I shot a few different angles but liked the wooden locks on the doors and just liked the retro feel of the cabin.

The image above was included in the article and I remember seeing it once we opened the engine cover and didn’t really give it much more thought than …. ‘thats cool’. I shot the engine images and just before we shut the engine lid I took a quick image of the badge, again trying to capture wider than just being tight on the detail in question…

Just goes to show you just don’t know what will be used so its always with anticipation when I open a magazine for the first time and seeing which images are used of mine…

Seeing things through, in a different way. Walk around the car, open doors….. keep looking. A car is a car at the end of the day and so pushing yourself in finding a new angle, new way to look at this or capture details is what keeps the creative juices from drying up or getting in a rut.

The decals that have warn over time gave a great feel to the car and the EMPI badge above was one of the most intact ones. Just liked the iconic shape of the light cluster and simple framing…

Liked the EMPI details and little hidden ones as well…. (above)

Simple clean tracking images of what we could get on the private single track we used…

As we had some time I wanted to rig the EMPI and see what we could get. With the owners consent we rigged just the windows which then limited us on what we could shoot. I really wanted to see an EMPI badge in the frame.

These are the few variants to the finished opening image. The sun was dropping in and out so had to play about a bit as I shoot these images at least 2 seconds… Played just a little with focal length as the first one was elongating the Beetle too much…

Just a little photoshopping to take out the rig…

The final image below which was used as the opener.


Pleased with the article and my mind as ever was thinking could I have done anything better……


A great car to shoot and pleased with the results….. : )





Mantra Power

A cold wet damp morning near Merseyside…

Funnily enough both myself and Ross (Journalist) shot this Manta a few months previous in a three car shoot for another magazine….

Today it was the turn for Practical Classics to cover this home restoration project.

The final opening shot below and another ‘pose’ sent to the mag… Used x4 lights to light the Manta and the owner was light be the ambient daylight. One light behind the car in the far corner bouncing off the ceiling, another rear nearside to light the back corner of the side you can see. then one just tucked behind the door to the right of camera to light up the front wing and the BBS wheels. As they are turned away from the back light they needed a little light to get them to pop. Final light would be the speed light in the Manta lighting the interior.


The image above looks a little dull which I think is how this site handles the images but I do keep the images neutral a little so the mag has room to play with.

These ‘Epic Resto’ shoots are fairly set in the brief but theres always room for anything else. These few images of the engine is just a mock up of the owner tinkering. The one above I shot to include the Opel flag, which is another angle people like is to see whats in other peoples sheds / garages…. : )

What other parts / interest you have in automotive is another angle to get into the story as these are just as much about the owner / restorer than just the car.

Front and rear tracking of the car to cover another DPS opener option or general images to drop into a single page.

Good job I remembered me waterproof trousers…..just a little wet around the ankles and legs : )

Shooting the car previously I knew what details and other areas I had to work with…. again didn’t need that many as the article is only about 5 pages in length.

Little light to help the interior as it was a dull day. It was a comfy ride and a nice car to be around : )

Great to be on a shoot with an owner who is as laid back as Neil, with a real passion for cars and enjoys the day, despite the weather .


Northumberland Greenlane

Its been along summer without any posts!!!

I’ve a fair few mag articles that have been published so will try and get some of them up soon and work through them.

These few images are from early on in spring time up in Northumberland. Starting at Berwick then on through to Corbridge (I think!) … we took two days in travelling down the many Greenlanes. They eventually made up two Greenlane entries in two consecutive Land Rover Owner International mags.

The day was warm for spring, the breeze was cool off the North Sea, I miss the sea living equal distance from both the west and east cost in Yorkshire. These Greenland shoots are great to get out, get fresh air, bit of exercise and plenty of good conversation in the Landrovers as we avoid as much civilisation as possible πŸ™‚

I’ve just selected a few images and I’ll comment on each on… if I can think of anything interesting to say about that particular field, hedge or situation….. The gate above was actually one of the last of the final days but gave about 4 inches of space to get through.

There must have been about 8-10 fords over the few days and some that were decent due to the rain that was had in the county previously.

My favourite time…. bait time! Talking about local dialect …. we went to a pub on the evening for some food and on the menu it had “sarnies’ which for me made me smile a little as you don’t hear that where I live now….

This ford above has been visited by the editor on numerous occasions but was always too deep to pass but on this occasion it was okay to do so.

The image above was taken just after the one below. Neil the editor was capturing a few bits of video for other editorial features for the magazine.

As the only passenger in this convoy as well as the photographer you are the official ‘Gate Openorer’ . I took a quick image above to show that Neil was getting better at judging how far you can drive uptown the gate so you could still swing the gate open in front of the defender. This was the closest we got out of all the gates……. and let me tell you theres a few !

The lane above was only short and I remember we already had plenty of other similar lanes in the bag so to say but Neil asked for a couple of images for the image bank….

The causeway to Holy Island in Northumberland is one of the main iconic places in the region….. I used to go there as a kid so was just another reason why I loved being in Northumberland for a few days.

If you’ve not been then I can highly recommend getting up there as the county is large and offers sunny scenery, coastline, Forrests and the people are friendly with great accents πŸ˜‰

I’ll try and add more shoots sooner rather than later πŸ™‚

Targa Time – June / Cover Shoot

5 Targa’s, North Yorkshire Moors, the original date was moved due to the poor weather…. new dates set and the forecast was sunshine all day….. happy days! Checked the forecast the night before and still all looking good, travelling there on the day the story was different. Slightly overcast but still fairly bright but when we got to the location, on the tops of the moors the wind was a decent strength..


The image above was a quick phone snap. In that canvas bag hung on the bottom of the tripod has effectively x4 sandbags to weigh the thing down as the wind was mental. The video below has me waffling on but when I turn you get the idea of the wind!

Getting the Cover shot done while the cars were in a decent clean state and this parking area was clear of other vehicles as well. My image I sent in to the mag on the left which is made up of I think of about 6 images. The TVR front NS was light as well as the 348ts front nose, OS wheel and 911 bumper nearest to the camera just to lift them a little. Was framed incase they ran with all of the cars on the cover but with room to crop. The horizon, reduced by squashing, reducing to give more type space and a little blue sky.

For the few group wider shots we moved the TVR, TR4 and 348. Really for either an alt opener, final article image or content page. Due to time we ran with the lighting and didn’t light anything.

While the cars were there I took about 5 different ‘cluster’ images of various groups with the one above left used in the content page with the famous Porsche targa detail.

The other orchestration image to shoot was the opener with all 5 cars in the frame.

To make it easier and get as clearer shot of the cars was to shoot on a bend so we could frame the cars as they naturally fan out behind us.

A couple of runs to get everyone the feel of where I wanted them and comfortable we got a couple of frames that I was happy with.

Original image above and the final DPS below. I tend to keep my images on a neutral feel so the mag has enough latitude in the Jpegs to push and pull accordingly.

After this then the plan was to drive a root and then for me to make sure I get each car front and rear. Simply by keep mixing the order of cars and then for me to ride in each car to shoot forwards and backwards.

Some of the cars were easier to get into position and other like the TR4 were tight (for a big lad!)… Repeated a few of the shots as some cars were good to use details / badges as a lead into the frame.

These shots above and below were on the cutting floor but I still liked them…. The TR4 could have been a lot closer for my liking but again would you have a TR4 up your rear end egging you on to get going!

To cross the t’s and dot the i’s we shot individual cars to again give a few options for the layout. The road above is a fantastic road in the North Yorkshire moors…. the Romans would have had kittens if they saw this (above) but for the driver its all the sweeter : )

Tried a couple of village shots to give a wider sense of tour…. (on the cutting floor….)

With an area to get a quick static and details of each car…. below are some that were used and some that didn’t make it…

911 engines are just there…. no real easy way to make interesting in that sense but tried to use the Carrera badge on the boot lid as a lead in… and again for the 348

The dials and buttons in the 348ts look like something from a Casio calculator or 80s Walkman… proper old school retro…

The TVR hood that is in two parts had some real sculptural shapes which you just have to use and run with : )

Finally after the panning shots and details was to get Sam behind the wheel of one of them (this was after he’d driven all of them through out the day)…. TVR was the choice which is a mental car and just wanted to chew through the roads….

19 pages is no mean article and must be the biggest out a shot for me…

All in all despite the weather and conditions it turned out better than expected.

You can always rely on the weather…. and the next few days the sun was out blazing!

Since this shoot I’ve been back to that location for another very different vehicle and the day was blue sky and wind was non existent which was a change from this day… : )



Spitfire Mk2

Well nearly a year has past since shooting this restoration project for Practical Classics. As far as I remember the weather was touch and go and rain either side of this day… Again local (as in less than 20miles from my home) so happy days all round for this one. The rest opener images could be the garage shot or a tracking shot.

We started as ever with the garage shot due to lights being set up and the most time consuming set up of the images.

Four lights used to get the images below lit. Because of the post in the middle of the garage it really limited getting the car in such a way to help with the DPS and where the centre crease of the mag would go.

You can just see the bottom of a stand far right of the frame which was the main light to light to two owners, the light on a small stand beside the door was used to light the front near-side wheel. The light clamped on the back wall was to lift the light on the side of the car nearest to the camera.

This image wasn’t used as the opening images but elsewhere. if it was the centre crease of the mag would have been between the wheel and the headlight.

While the car was on the drive and the sun was steady away we shot some details to get some in the bag. Really good job and level of restoration of work… and them wheels! even on a dark damp day they would be still gleaming.

Bit of a snap shot of the roof being removed here and ended up as a cover cut out for the article.

The opening DPS above and the original image below.

More of the tracking shots below, different angles / heights.

I like these two (above and below) images, to show the owners and also one less so…

A wide range from black to whites as the car was nearly black and the sky / clouds white so had to let the clouds go a little to help bring the detail out of the car.

Coming to the end of the shoot and the clouds becoming more frequent…

Them wheels man! …bling bling

Simple statics and details whilst the sun is still out.

Again only one real ‘detail’ shot used in the final print but you can never be shy on getting details.

Nigel the journalist always makes me laugh when we both try and get into a small car to get a driving shot of him. I’ve mentioned a few times I’m 6’3″ and Nigel is a good 6’4″… knees wedged…. this just adds to the list of our restoration shoots.

Great job local to me and the roads used weren’t that far from the owners as well so all in all a decent day πŸ™‚