Events

Silverstone Young Driver Test

The thought of spending £20 for an 8 hour symphony of V8's hurtling around Silverstone is an exciting prospect for any F1 fan.

Sesbastian Vettel's RB9 exciting Luffield at the Silverstone Young Driver Test.

With the 'Young Driver Test' also being confirmed as a Pirelli tyre test, it meant names such as Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa could be seen tackling the 3.66 mile circuit. 

Susie Wolff makes the most of Copse Corner at the Silverstone Young Driver Test.

Susie Wolff was out in force with the Williams F1 FW35, seen above making the most of the available tarmac at Copse Corner.

Gary Paffett in the McLaren MP4-28 exiting Luffield at the Silverstone Young Driver Test

Despite a technical difficulty in the morning, Gary Paffett's McLaren MP4-28 still managed to lap the Northamptonshire based circuit ~80 times.  

That said, the Silverstone Young Driver Test has to be one of the cheapest ways to experience the atmosphere these F1 cars create at speed. If you didn't manage to attend this year, make sure you keep an eye out for the next!

Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo EDC

Last month I flew out to the Sierra Nevada in Southern Spain for CAR Magazine to photograph the launch of the new Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo EDC.

Renaultsport Clio Turbo RS EDC Launch 2013

With both Ben (Road Test Editor) and I being a fan of it's predecessor, how would the new Clio RS fair with it's paddleshift dual clutch gearbox and turbocharged lump?

Renault Clio RS Turbo Spain Car Launch
Renault Clio Sport RS Turbo EDC Car Launch Spain
Renault Clio RS Turbo EDC Car Launch 2013 Spain

Find out in May's issue of CAR Magazine (Issue 610) as it's challenged by Peugeot's long awaited 208 GTi.

CAR Magazine May 2013 Tearsheet Renaultsport Clio 200 EDC Turbo

Olympic Stadium and Paralympic Games

Stratford, the East End of London. Once a construction site, now the centre of the worlds attention as millions of viewers tune in for the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Last night we were lucky enough to witness the incredible atmosphere that is the London 2012 games. Having been glued to the television for almost all of the Olympic and Paralympic action so far, being able to witness it first hand was an unforgettable experience.

With a buzz about the park and high-fives from energetic games-makers, we headed to our seats inside the Stadium. With various lens restrictions in place, I promised my other half I would only take one lens, travel light and enjoy the experience. Armed with my 17-40 wide angle, we found our seats only to realise we were sat three rows from the 100m start line, it was going to be a brilliant night of sport!

Of all days to visit, watching Mickey Bushell take home Gold for Team GB in the T51 100m Sprint with a 80,000 strong crowd behind him was a unique experience. Rapturous applause filled the stadium as the national anthem bellowed around the stadium.

On the build up to the Paralympic games, we often heard the phrase 'Superhumans'. No other word in the english language can describe these athletes better, achieving feats that most would dream impossible. Events such as 100m, 200m, 400m, 5000m, Long Jump and Javelin took place on the night, meaning there was always plenty of action to watch around the stadium.

Sad that our night and Paralympic experience had come to an end, although privileged to have been part of that home crowd. As we left the stadium it was cycling through a multitude of colours. It only felt right to capture it as it shone gold, symbolising the great achievement by all of the athletes who have competed in these games. Inspire a Generation? London have done just that!

Blancpain Endurance Series - Von Ryan Racing's McLaren MP4-12C GT3

Come rain or shine, the opportunity to involve myself with a professional motorsport outfit such as Von Ryan Racing is something I would grab with both hands. That said, the weekend just gone was very much filled with the earlier part of that statement....rain.

Some of you may recall last year when I photographed Stephen Jelley and his Porsche Carrera 911 GT3 Cup car. This year, Stephen is racing around the globe for Von Ryan Racing in one of their McLaren MP4-12C GT3 race cars, and I headed off to the only British round, Silverstone, to meet the team.

With only 20 race-prepped 12C GT3's being manufactured for 2012, Von Ryan Racing were announced as one of the first teams to get their hands on two marques for the Blancpain Endurance Series. CEO of McLaren Racing, Martin Whitmarsh said "Our clients are looking forward to receiving a GT car full of Formula 1 technology". It's thanks to this that you will find features such as a steering wheel design deployed by Lewis Hamilton in his MP4-24 Formula 1 car.

With the rain continuing to hammer down outside the pit lane door, it gave me the chance to get up close and personal with the 12C-GT3 race car. Ron Dennis (Executive Chairman of McLaren) is well known for his 'clinical' nature, with his factories having workshop floors so clean, you'd happily eat off them. With that in mind, for the next shot I created a minimalistic look, losing distracting elements and detail outside the door as a McLaren GT mechanic continued to work on the car.

The Blancpain Endurance Series competes across international circuits such as Monza, Spa Francorchamps and Silverstone featuring grand tourer race cars modified from production road vehicles. With the three-hour race drawing closer, the team of mechanics set about final preparations, one of which included bringing the engine up to temperature. The thunderous noise of the 3.8L McLaren V8 Twin Turbo echoed throughout pit garages as numerous sets of wet weather tyres were prepared...

Before the team made their way to the water-logged grid, the first of the Draper brothers strapped himself into the hot seat for the first stint, whilst other team members eagerly looked on at the timing screens...

These cars can exhaust all of their fuel in little over an hour, so pit stops are a chance to refuel, fit new tyres and swap drivers. Air jacks are fired from underneath the car, where single nut wheels are removed with airlines, meaning a tyre change takes only a matter of seconds. The tank is brimmed with 97 litres in less than 40 seconds and the new driver is strapped in. An exhilarating, adrenaline filled experience.

Unfortunately Von Ryan Racing's second car (pictured above) suffered a collision in the opening stage of the race, splitting the radiator and resulting in a loss of coolant. Undeterred, the team of mechanics set about fitting a new radiator during a pit stop and managed to get the car back out in the race with little time lost...

The 12C GT3 car features a new front splitter, door blade, rear wing, diffuser and louvres in the front fenders which make it look at home on any circuit.

It's only the second race meeting for these cars, but they have quickly earned the title of 'worlds most expensive flame-thrower'. Apparently, during a 24 hour race at Spa, it's not uncommon to see these cars produce blue-flames down the entire length of the back straight, something i'd love to see and capture!

The clatter of spanners and smell of race fuel brought back fond memories of when my brother and I used to compete many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the pit lane and documenting the atmosphere of a high-brow race team, an absolute pleasure to work with such a fantastic crew. For a full gallery from the day, please feel free to click here.

Events - DTM 2012, Brands Hatch

You'd be hard pushed to describe DTM cars using words alone. The 2012 season is well underway, and this weekend sees the British round take place at Brands Hatch Race Circuit in Kent.

It's great to see BMW making a comeback in the series with their devastatingly good looking BMW M3 DTM. The 4 Litre Naturally Aspirated V8 engine makes a brutal noise as it thunders round the 1.1mile circuit, throwing flames from the side-exit exhaust:

Seeming to deny the laws of physics and navigate corners at impossible speeds, this is one motorsport event I look forward to each year.

With this being Brands Hatch, and one of my favourite 'spectator' circuits to photograph from, the obligatory 'Druids' shot was repeated on the impressive looking BMW M3 DTM of Augusto Farfus, lights ablaze...

This years coupes look fantastic, and interesting liveries/aerodynamic packages make it my favourite motorsport event to photograph. Gary Paffett placed his AMG Mercedes C-Coupé on pole, with home crowds having high hopes for the Englishman to take victory on home turf tomorrow.

Focus On Imaging 2012

Well that's Focus On Imaging over for another year, a great chance to catch up with everyone at Domke, The Flash Centre and our American friends PocketWizard. Early that morning some may have noticed I posted this on my twitter account...

With the overwhelming response i've received for the ongoing "I Am..." Series, combined with my love for themed and theatrical environmental portraits, the idea of expanding my location lighting setup has been around for sometime. It's a good job I didn't make any promises earlier as thanks to Chris from The Flash Centre, i'm now the proud owner of an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra setup will allow me to explore new possibilities in the world of location lighting.

The way I work and my style of imagery has always revolved around lighting, and to date the speedlites I use have been nothing short of brilliant. I'll still be keeping the speedlites and aim to use them alongside the Quadras in my pursuit for the ultimate lighting setup. Over the next couple of weeks the Elinchrom equipment will be put through it's paces and i'll report back with a review shortly. Initially though, I love it!

Less about my shiny new toys, it seems that "Focus" this year is bigger and better, with manufacturers pushing the boat out on their displays. Hannah and I spent the entire day there and between us must of spent a small fortune.

We both agree on the fact we shouldn't of picked up the new 5D Mark III. Canon have listened to what photographers want and created what I think will be the new 'industry standard' body. Little features like dual card slots (CF/SD), 100% viewfinder coverage and a silent shooting option alone make this camera a worthwhile upgrade, but that's before you even look at the new focusing system borrowed from the 1D-X. 61AF points and 41 cross type points make this camera a revelation. The 5D2 has been known for having focusing issues on low contrast areas, particularly when using outer focus points, but in both AI Servo/One Shot focus modes, the 5D3 was accurate and held focus on solid dark objects.

Being a location photographer there is always travel involved, and the ability to rate images in camera ready to use in your workflow is a nice little touch. I could rabble on for hours about how great this camera is, but i'll save that for when I can afford one... ;-)

Last and by no means least, I want to give a brief shout out to my partner Hannah, who i'm extremely proud of as we spotted five of her images on display within the exhibition! She's awesome and you should check out her website here. More to come soon...

 

Doug Allan - Life Behind The Lens

Millions will have tuned in to watch breathtaking documentaries such as Life, Frozen Planet, Blue Planet and Ocean Giants but one man has experienced them all. Doug Allan is an award winning freelance wildlife and documentary film-maker who is currently touring the southern UK with his 'Life Behind The Lens' talk, and last night we were lucky enough to travel 290 miles to hear what he has to say (you'll have to excuse the iPhone picture).

I always enjoy good photography, but when someone such as Doug can recall fascinating stories of encounters and adventures (often with added humour) which backup those images, it's a captivating experience that had me hanging off his every word.

Throughout the evening, Doug conveyed just how much behind the scenes work takes place in order to produce a series such as Frozen Planet. The sheer scale of the operation is mind boggling and really makes you appreciate what these dedicated and extraordinary individuals goto for only minutes of television. Whilst I thoroughly enjoy photographing the natural world, the thought of plunging down a 10-15ft manmade shaft in the thick ice of Antarctica which can freeze over in only a matter of minutes seems a tad wild. Still, Doug has managed to clock up over 500 hours under the ice and goes to show why he's the best in the business.

We were lucky enough to purchase a copy of Doug's new book "A Wildlife Cameraman's Adventures On Ice" which he was only too happy to sign:

It was certainly worth the long drive and really opens your eyes to the world out there. As Doug said, we're keen to spend thousands upon thousands in researching alien life form in outer space, yet there are creatures under our seas which we don't fully understand. Doug currently has a number of stops left along his tour and if your interested in learning more, check out his website here.

Events - BTCC and Support Races at Brands Hatch Grand Prix

This weekend Brands Hatch threw us a new challenge, the Grand Prix layout. With Honda Racing very kindly granting us VIP Hospitality for the weekend, we relished the challenge of a new circuit layout and utilising different vantage points. Extending the circuit by a further 1.5 miles, the Grand Prix layout provides plenty of opportunities for the photographer as the fencing around this part of the circuit is less intrusive when compared to that of the Indy. With the walk to further parts of the Grand Prix circuit being a little bit of a trek (especially in 25-30 degree heat) you'll find that less people watch from these areas. Ideal if your after some good positions to shoot from.

Although you can't get parallel with Stirlings Bend (unfortunate as it has a very wide run off kerb and would give a great dramatic shot going down towards Clearways) there are viewing points before and after the bend. A record-equalling 29 cars started on today's grid, including new face Ollie Jackson. Ollie is the reigning Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am1 champion and looked consistently strong for a debut drive in the great looking Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra:

Support races provided plenty of action and the below shots really shows off how great Brands looks during the current Indian Summer...

Jason Plato had a great weekend which put him back into contention for winning the title, taking victory in both Race 1 and 2:

Team Parker Racing's driver Stephen Jelley also made sure that his chances of winning this year's Porsche Carrera Cup GB title are still well within reach as he stormed to victory, huge congratulations to the team and fingers crossed for the last couple of rounds!

Only 5 championship points separates the top three drivers of the BTCC, which means it's down to the last three races at Silverstone. Again the BTCC provides nail-bitingly close action as Jason Plato, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden all head to Silverstone with a chance at the title. If that's not entertainment, i'm not sure what is?!

Events - BTCC and Support Races at Rockingham

Ten years of planning, two years of construction and Rockingham became Europe's fasted banked oval circuit opening in 2001. With a variable layout it hosts many events throughout the year, and on it's 10th Anniversary it was turn of the British Touring Car Championship to dominate the Northamptonshire tarmac. Having just completed a photoshoot with Team Parker Racing and their number '70' Porsche Carrera Cup driver Stephen Jelley, we were very kindly invited back to watch the race action unfold. I for one do not need an excuse to attend any motorsport event, and happily at 7am on Sunday morning we headed to 'The Rock'.

All of my motorsport coverage in 2011 has been from a spectator's point of view, and at Rockingham that certainly makes things difficult. Circuits have safety fences to protect the public and unless you are able to get relatively close to these fences, it is near on impossible to shoot through. The circuit is able to host cars capable of reaching speeds of 200mph, and these safety fences are relatively large/difficult to get close to. As with all of my photography I want to put my own perspective on things, and at Rockingham this made it very hard with the limited access to different vantage points.

Nevertheless, with access to the pit lane and paddock thanks to Team Parker Racing we made use of the pit garage roof tops, using slow shutter speeds to pan like crazy as cars teared down the start/finish straight:

Left in the above picture we have Jason Plato storming past his pit crew to victory in Race 1. To the right we have Frank Wrathall who along with Rob Austin this weekend proved that the NGTC cars are on the pace providing exciting racing all weekend which had the crowd cheering. Team Parker Racing had a fantastic set of results with Euan Hankey taking home first place in both races:

Stephen Jelley in the fantastic looking number '70' 911 GT3 had two lightning starts which placed him 4th in both races. It was great to catch up with TPR on Sunday and run them through a few pictures from thursdays editorial shoot using my iPad.

If your a BTCC fan then the next round is less than two weeks away at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. With championship standings in the BTCC and Porsche Carrera Cup being incredibly close at the top it's all to play for in the last two rounds. The finale is held at Silverstone on October the 16th and CarBuzz.co.uk have teamed up with with the circuit to offer a lucky subscriber two free weekend tickets, simply like their page and you'll be in with a chance of winning!

Events - DTM, Brands Hatch

DTM or Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters is the fastest touring car series in the world with 470bhp rwd fire breathing machines tackling various circuits across the globe. It's this weekend that sees the British round of the DTM series and Brands Hatch plays host to these dramatic cars. For as long as I can remember i've been interested in the DTM series, having owned various models of the cars as a child. With my thirst for motorsport photography being greater than ever I headed to the Kent based circuit for 8:30am, ready for the 9:00am practice session. From a photography point of view the qualifying and practice days are fantastic not only because of the lower ticket price, but the ability to freely wander between vantage points without too much hassle or overcrowding. Brands still remains to be one of my favourite circuits to photograph at, and once I heard the rumble of these V8 monsters fire up in the pit lane I felt all giddy!

These cars certainly don't disappoint, from shredding sparks to breathing fire and the immense noise they produce as they thunder around this 1.2 mile indy circuit it's a spectacle to witness:

With free practice one lasting 90 minutes it gave me plenty of opportunity to use different vantage points around the circuit (much to my foot's discomfort!):

I'll have to admit that I immediately took a shine to the Red Bull liveried Audi's, a fantastic looking car but as the day went on I grew increasingly fond of Green's chromed Mercedes:

This round of the DTM was certainly no stranger to famous names, having David Coulthard racing in the actual series itself and various support races (such as the Scirocco R Cup) boasting legends like Tiff Needell and Mark Blundell. You'll be able to see a full gallery of saturday's DTM and Support Race action at the end of this blog post. Earlier I mentioned that Brands is a fantastic circuit to photograph, especially when you can incorporate elements such as elevation. All of my photographs are shot from a spectators point of view, perhaps one day i'll be able to get media accreditation! Below is a triptych showing a few different vantage points you can obtain:

There seems to be a greater element of spectator involvement with DTM, and although i'm still not sure what you have to do to be lucky enough to find yourself in the passenger seat of one of the DTM cars for a few taxi laps it's now a dream of mine!

I think this blog post contains more images than any previous posts of mine, but I had such a great time shooting the DTM today i'll be certain to return to next years hoping for that passenger ride! ;-) For a 200picture+ gallery from today's races/qualifying/practice sessions and various support races, please feel free to click this link. If you have any specific request for shots, or would like to use any of my images please contact me here.