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 .


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 🙂


Nova Sport… resto

Back to my homeland of the North East for this one for Practical Classics.

Slightly different format to an epic restoration, this Resto Heroes was for a Nova Sport. One of my oldest friends mum used to have a Nova ‘Ski’ back in the 80s and we got a life to school from time to time in it and this took me back to those days…

The opening image for the Resto Hero is a vertical shot…. and its a good job I took this rough ‘setup shot’ in order to get a full vertical out of it as I didn’t shoot a clean one. So I had to photoshop the flashgun on the floor infant of them out… the final opener is below…

Again I like the option that the Nikon D810 gives when you can crop a vertical frame out of a landscape without having to upscale the final crop.

I shot a few more frames in the workshop with a similar setup… With the Vauxhall posters in the back and not wanting to get any other vehicles in the shot this angle was the best and so to save time (as we had over 2 hours to drive to the next shoot in the afternoon) we ran with this setup.

Using the two main studio heads, to light the two guys and a couple of speedlights to light the underside of the Nova we shot one or two slight variants….. : )

Once the workshop image done we headed out to get some tracking images and statics. As the shoot was based in Newcastle we headed on down to a location near the Tyne with the Millennium and Tyne bridge as a backdrop.

The lamp posts weren’t the best but the sky lent itself to some photoshopping if it came to that. The low angle above was to get the red distinct tail pipe in and also to hide the lamp post behind.

A rare image of me at work ….. and yes if I can help it I’ll lie down on the job.

I could have put the bonnet on its arm rest but if I have a willing volunteer they can hold it so I don’t have to worry about having the rod cutting through the engine shot.

Below I was shooting some closer details so the bonnet can go on the stand. I’m using the small speed lights just to save time and with no direct sunlight to contend with the speed light dose a decent enough job. The underside of the bonnet being white is a nice reflector : )

The engine shot below with the simple speedlight giving a little lift.

Immaculate was an understatement for the interior… using as many original and refurb parts this took me back to the late 80s and getting a lift to school…

A few simple pans and then using a quiet access road beside the river we took some tracking shots…

A few portraits and details and it was done and dusted so off to another car and story…



No ‘Mini’ Shoot…Practical Classics Cover Shoot

This was the 2nd day back in the North East of shooting a few automotive articles. The sky was clear, the sun was bright, the wind was just a gentle breeze… this was a great shoot.

Already marked as a strong contender for a cover we just needed to pick out the locations for the tracking images to make the most of the weather and car.


document171303670255513909.inddThe cover shot was taken along with other static filler shots near to Souter Lighthouse. We had about 100 yds to geta few frames fired off per pass to get the front shot in the bag. Knowing we needed to be either side of a dead on shot to reveal the estate side of the mini; if we shot dead on it would look like ‘another mini’. With the sun in its position the front offside was chosen (as well it sits better on a page with us in the west / reading from L to R)

We did about 3 passes on this short stretch of road. The road further up beside the trees in the background we used to get the car into position quickly so when we came out of the tree shadows we could fire off about 5 frames per pass.

You can see that a little work was done from the file I sent. The shadows within the car and the clarity on the grill are a few areas you can see whats been done.

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A few detail shots that weren’t used in the final edit.

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The images about were shot for the opening DPS. The one on the right which was chosen above the left one. The sun was really intense but the issue was the shadows especially the one coming from the left which was cast by a caravan, so full power from a flash to help lift it.


We had a bit of time and a quiet road with a good turning point at either end so we could do a  rear tracking shot. The images below shows the set up how we got the image. Using the carbon boom attached to the tracking / donor car you can get the camera as low as you feel its safe before your camera becomes one with the road!

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Simply follow the car and click away via remote, check results repeat if needs be… Takes a little while to set up but worth it in the end.


Grabbing some fish n chips on Rover pier…getting a few images thrown in with the gulls, good times. (you can see Roker lighthouse in the bottom right of the image; thi idea was to get closer down the actual pier but couldn’t get down there)


Another image not used in the final edit…simple interior shot.

Great weather, great location (slightly biased), great restoration.

Until next time


To see more from Practical Classics click here. To see the final article click here.

This Stag Estate is no weekend runner…

Well its been too long since I blogged last as I’ve been too busy and I’m sure while I’m sat on the train now there’ll be more posts coming…

This one is for last months cover shoot for Practical Classic mag. A great restored Triumph Stag estate… Even though as I’ve mentioned before each mag and article has its own feel and standard shots.

After saying that each location is different and brings its own challenges to capture some interesting images. I try and capture the opening DPS or the owner shot which takes the most time in general to create.


This was a double garage but the contents weren’t interesting enough to shoot inside. The sun that day was intense and blue sky. With the sun hitting the garage doors we had the sun to contend with. 2 lights used here, the green one was shooting through the fence on the right which a panel was able to be removed… (Happy days!) the one indicated by the blue was just to the right of me with a snoot. The areas circled is where the light was aimed.

Shooting at full power here to balance out the sun. The white line that I’ve drawn in the centre is what ‘m looking at as well for the centre crease of the mag. Not wanting to get any ‘important’ info lost in the crease.


This is the same set up but including the owner. Usually give 3-4 variants with the owner. Be it working on the car, stood, sat… again leaving enough space for titles, text boxes etc…


Using the sun while its there is the best form of lighting…


Don’t think I added any light to this as the Stag had a sun roof and so had enough illumination without any harsh sunlight (as we parked it under some trees which gave some nice dabbled light)


This was a little tricky as we kept going under trees, in and out of shadows…. still had to work it post to pull it out. Not the best but still acceptable for a fill shot.


The car in the same place as the shot shown first. One light brought in just over my right shoulder and another just out of shot hidden by the bonnet which was aimed at the owners left shoulder to give a key light with a snoot.


Plenty of detail shots to be had on the Stag but this was a decent one. Not yet wired in and connected but sat there with the same 8-track when the car was bought before restoration…..


This was a vertical shot that was eventually used for the cover and opening DPS. We were using a Triumph 2000 for the tracking car which seemed to sit quite low so with me long arms could hold the camera about a foot of the road surface.

Stag resto-1

This is the full framed image with minimal top and bottom crop… and one which I’m happy with.

You can see the final layouts in the In Print section of my gallery.

More posts to come in the hour!!!


The ‘Grumbleweed’ restoration…

Earlier this year I had an interesting shoot… Robin Colvill a petrol head & founding member of the ‘Grumbleweeds’. Having restored over 20 cars Robin has many hidden talents other than just his entertaining side…


Shot for Practical Classic… this ‘Readers Resto’ featured Robin’s Ford Anglia Super. From his home garage, with this and other projects he takes on as much work as he can…from engine rebuilds, re-sprays through to stitching new interior carpets. As well as listening to his stories of the Anglias’ re-build, one or two impersonations and stories were woven into the conversation and the days antics!


Once we got some of the opening shots done with Robin…including a few spray guns, guitar and welders helmet!… (we weren’t short of ideas or a willing owner to stand infront of the camera!) we moved onto a few interior and detail shots…

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Really loved this interior, simple clean and the American styling influence all packaged up into a ‘hamper basket’ size car!!!




As with these shoots we look for a decent road we can do some tracking shots. Fairly straight road with good views into the distance so we can get back onto the right side of the road etc etc…

One image that never made the final article (Practical Classic 2014 Dec Issue) was a shot of Robin with a juke box (he repaired juke boxes as his first job and where he started the Grumbleweeds.) a picture of his best friend, the late Graham Walker and other elements of this restoration story.


I’ll add the layouts to the ‘In Print’ section in the near future…

This one I’ll remember for a while!

Behind the Lens – MG Midget

On the shoot for Practical Classic magazine, as well as the owner and myself we had Neil with us (senior writer for PC who came to interview the owner and also to keep an eye on me 😉

I asked him to grab a few shots of me in action so I can include some more ‘Behind the Lens’ articles.

BTL Midget 1

You don’t see many images of me…but at least this one has my best side!!! The resulting image of that set up is below… Straight forward shot.

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Another shot of the set up… I mainly use a couple of Speedlights with Phottix triggers which I can work with at a good pace.

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Simple set up with a few speedlights just to bring a bit of definition to the engine bay…

MG Midget

The roll bar helped with attaching the rig and also to capture a driving shot. I would normally sit in the car to shoot a driving shot (see the camaro shoot blog) but as the Midget is…well small… it would be too crammed to get a shot without my feet or knees in it. Thank you roll bar!

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As I ran beside the car (thankfully not traveling that fast!) on a wireless remote I fired off a few frames…


Till next time for some more behind the lens blogs…

Its been fun



‘Reader Resto’ shoot makes Cover

My first shoot for Practical Classic magazine was a little MG Midget restoration based only 20 mins away… #Happydays!

The day was booked were all three parties involved were available… With the weather being the best day of a bad looking bunch on the weather sites. At best we were looking for no rain and true enough it was dry. Unfortunately we were left with a flat white sky… the kind that I don’t like… the kind I don’t like to shoot. I much prefer rain clouds that have some definition in them…

Anyway we set off to capturing the required shots of the owner and car plus all the other shots listed in the brief (which was a very good comprehensive brief!). Being the first commission from PC I liked this brief as I had a better idea of what they wanted and needed for the article. Plus the ‘Reader Resto’ article follows the same style and imagery from month to month.

The single garage was a little tight, unlike some of the large double garages some restorers have, but once the car was placed into position we shot a few of the owner and car.

While the weather was dry we needed to get some motion / action shots in the bag as these tend to be the main key shots… with a private drive at another location available to use we decided that this would be better to grab some rig shots and take a little time over them.

With this being a potential cover we took some portraits and landscapes using the rig…

Once in the bag we took off to the tops and on the edge of the moors to grab some straight forward angle shots to the car from all sides. This is where the flat sky would help with the cut outs of the car if that’s what was required.

MG Midget - Moors

After a few detail shots for fillers the last on the list were a few shots inside of the car being driven.

Pleased with how the day went and looking forward to reading the finished article… which you can see here.

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Till next time