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….. : )





Hawker Harrier – Full Resto

Not the usual four wheels this one but 5… and not on an automobile. Was contemplating I should put this blog on my editorial website, but thought as its Octane Magazine its on here. 🙂

The day before this shoot the sky was a deep winters blue but came the day of the shoot it was a flat damp January sky…

At around -1 it was a tad cold and pleased I had some thermals on 🙂

A harrier is not a small vehicle you can just manoeuvre easily… so we had to get it into position and stick with it. All in all I think we only moved it once throughout the shoot.

Not only because of the weather but just because of the size we had to light it. Tripod out and wireless trigger and flash head at the ready.

The image above is the RAW file, untouched, flat straight from the camera. The image below is the finished image once all the various elements have been combined and levels adjusted. Think I took over 30 images for this image and used about 15-20 in the one below.

I repeated this process 6 times to give the best options for the final layout with this one above being a DPS.

Image above was never used but just as a talking point here it is. I thought I took a quick photon my phone to show how the camera was mounted on some really tall steps. Really old steps about 15 foot high and coupled with an uneven floor took a few ups and downs of the steps to get into a good position for the set up.

I had the tripod on the standing platform and with some rope strapped it as best and securely as possible to the steps. Once I started shooting frames I knew I couldn’t check the preview screen because if I moved the steps too much then the photoshopping would be all the more laborious. Again firing about 30 frames until  I had a good idea the plane was lit enough.

To get these few images direct nose on we spun the harrier a little so the background wasn’t cluttered with other aircraft and related paraphernalia.

Again while in the same position a few more angles and those un-even steps 🙂

Once the full aircraft was shot I took a few more images with flash in the same way.


Two images combined to make the image above of the iconic jets.

Took three images of the cockpit all with the camera mounted on top of the seat. This one above had to have a small button pressed in order for some of the cockpit lights to be illuminated.

Even with a 17mm it was a tight squeeze to fit everything in so this one above to get some of the canopy in.

The shot used in the final article which the harness was better dressed that the other two.

Another cockpit from a different angle.

For me the cockpit was just too much to take in… too many buttons that wanted me to become acquainted with them 🙂

I must say I was waiting for this moment for me to get in that pilot seat and start taking some details… However my 6’3″ frame was never meant to be put in a Harrier cockpit. When I did eventually get sat in the seat my knees were wedged and I quickly realised that there was no way my head would fit in that canopy even without a helmet!

Anyway I had then had to prise myself back out of the seat and then crack on with the details.

Labels, dials, anything that looks good, fire buttons, chaffs and flares…. all good to shoot 🙂

My ‘Sure-Shot’ wasn’t this sophisticated but it reminded me so much of playing some Commodore 64 games. Bet it didn’t have four suction cups to keep it in place!

600 Knots sounds fast….. nuff said.

Don’t ask me…. its bright yellow, looks important and dangerous…


Final Layout and all in all even it if was minus degrees, the weather wasn’t all that good this was a good change and great subject.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any behind the scene stuff but I was just trying to keep going to keep warm.

Below is a video of this Harriers engines being started up for the first time in 25 years.

Also this Harrier is up for sale… so grab yourself a running Harrier 🙂

Another video of it below.


Interview – John Cleland

One magazine that I’ve always enjoyed looking through is Octane. You could say that Evo is a pictorially heavy with images which is great but Octane is also heavy on the images but the content is another aspect that I really admire. Articles that aren’t just about cars and cars alone. They cover off the wall editorial stories that have a wider subject matter but still loosely linked with the ‘gentleman’s interest’ at heart.

This is the third shoot I’ve shot for Octane and I hope for more to come. Just as far for me to travel to London is Edinburgh… well just south of the Scottish capital is where you find John Cleland’s Volvo dealership. There and back in a day with a 8 hour round trip…

The main thrust of this is to capture the interview with the emphasis on his DB6… and anything else that maybe of interest.

Back at his home / garage we started off with the car in the garage and then moved the car out… capturing as the interview rolled on. Interjecting only when needed and as little as possible. The opening image was a suprise to me as with any new article / magazine you work for and how the Art Editors select the images and how they lay them out.

A few of the images not selected but to show the gestures, facial expressions I tend to try and capture. Your waiting for a gap in the conversation or for a funny comment from either party and then you can grab a few frames…

This image above featured in the final editorial… almost a throw away image but shot it because of the Opel roof in the foreground with John’s dealership details on it… Also his original touring car which he tracked down and purchased. His son I think maintains it and John races this at various meets including Goodwood and other historic race series.

Not just facial expressions but also hands and other details that add weight to the other images. Another reason I like Octane and its approach to photography and photo journalism…

Once the formal interview was done and we had enough images in the bag we took off with the DB6 to grab some car shots.

These images never made the final article but shot in-case… I would have preferred not to have so much light spill on the tar-mac but the barn-doors couldn’t be used as the wind was fairly strong up there and didn’t want my lights flying all over!

A few interiors for capturing sake and in the bag in-case needed.

Out on the road the weather and light was a bit flat so a bit of post to bring some details out and stuff.

If any owner of a car I shot would be good at tracking for photography John was not a disappointment. Wherever I ushered him he was there straight away and kept constant… which really helps.

The few images above I think a few frames apart just showing a little angle change and it just gives a little different feel.

Again from under the passengers door (above)… liked this one and probably my favorite from the shoot but never made the final cut.

A few from the cramped rear!

A decent long day but happy with the final outcome.

Jona : )