Silverstone Bentleys

I recently went to Silverstone circuit to shoot a race to celebrate Bentley’s centenary for a magazine.I’m not really a race track photographer as I don’t have the long 400mm +lenses required to reach the action from the behind the barrier that can be up to 100m back from the tarmac on the F1 circuits.. However in a career of over 30 years I’ve had to adapt to get what is required.Fortunately the theme here was for portraits and atmosphere with a mere smattering of action…right up my street.

In a busy race day it’s important to remember that you have to work around the schedule of practise,qualifying,driver briefings and the race itself.Speed is of the essence.If you get hold of a subject you want to shoot, photograph them straight away and don’t make an appointment for later on as they undoubtedly won’t turn up…their priorities are on the race not you.

Be sure to shoot a variety of images ,atmosphere,action,detail,portraits in different locations to build a full portfolio of the event.The assembly area seen above is often a good place to catch up with drivers but be aware that they are often nervous before the race and may not want too chat.

Think about an opening image that might be a double page spread with enough space at the top for the art ed’ to drop in a title, a selection of action images from different places around the track as well as the incidental images that often lighten the feature up in a magazine.

For this feature we asked the organiser ,who knows the field best who, out of the 40 entrants, had the most interesting cars and stories which saved a lot of time.Make sure you have contact details for all the portraits you shoot, in case the writer forgot to ask .I always make sure I’ve got a pen and notebook with me for just this instance.

The most important action image you’ll take is always the start, either off the grid or at turn 1.This is because the cars will be grouped tightly together making for a more interesting image and much of the overtaking happens here.Pick on one car and pan it allowing the other elements to float in and out of the frame.Shutter speeds from 1/1250th down to 1/15th second will all offer up varying degrees of hit rates but with a long race you’ll have time to experiment with longer exposures.

To see the whole feature and read all about the incredible Bentley race at the Silverstone look out for the Bentley at 100 July 2019 issue of Classic and Sports car magazine

National motor museum car photography workshop

Mustang -Pan
Mustang -Pan

My latest car photography workshop was hosted by the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest for the Royal Photographic Society although, it was open to all. Ford supplied the perfect pair of contrasting cars, a brilliant orange 2018 Mustang and a lovely 1963 Consul Convertible as subjects and although cloudy the threatened rain held off.


The day was in two parts:Photographing the Mustang and Consul in the grounds of the palace of Beaulieu, choosing sympathetic locations for each, working on composition, shooting details and finally action. Here’s the Consul by the abbey ruins and the Mustang driving for cornering photos in the arena .

Mustang -handling
Mustang -handling

In the afternoon we headed inside to shoot cars in the museum. Photographing cars inside is always tricky with mixed low lighting set for atmosphere so we worked with tripods and fill in flash to capture  the historic displays.

Museum-Silver Ghost
Museum-Silver Ghost

Final part of the afternoon covered editing images and retouching.The car photography workshop was fully booked a long way ahead so if you would like to come to the next one do please get in touch via the contents page or drop me an email to:

Go to the How to Photograph Cars Twitter feed for more images:


Enter the best car images of 2017 competition

How to Photograph Cars is launching a brand new car photography competition to find the best images of 2017.

Open to all amateurs of any ages there are two categories that you can enter. ‘Static’ and ‘Action’, one image per category per person.

The overall winner will receive a copy of my Lamborghini: 50 years of the Supercars’ book worth £50 with the runners up in each category receiving a copy of the latest edition of ‘How to Photograph Cars’.

So start editing all your images you took at the race track, car club summer events,classic rallies or motoring festivals . You might get some ideas on how to pick your best photos from this website or the maybe check out the How to Photograph cars YouTube channel .

Your photos don’t have to have been taken on an expensive DSLR , they might have been snatched on your phone or compact camera…just send them them in to win some great prizes.

Lamborghini book
Lamborghini book

How to Photograph Cars
How to Photograph Cars

Image Guidance : Entries should show good use of technique and creativity and be photographed in the calendar year of 2017. Please write a caption for each image including a short sentence about how you took it. Add your full name and address and please list your age if under 18 years old.

The How to Photograph Cars photo competition is only open to UK residents.

Send your entries to in jpeg format at no more than 5MB at 72 dpi or 30cms / 850pixels wide by Weds 20th December 2017. Please title your image with your name and which category you wish to enter.i.e: Smith: Action

Winners will be notified by Weds 10th January 2018.

By entering the competition you agree to allow How to Photograph Cars to publicise your images on social media. You will be credited and retain your copyright.


Setting up a studio in a museum

Studio museum

I’ve just come back from shooting for a  couple of days at the fantastic Donington Grand Prix collection. I have a regular double page studio spread in F1 Racing magazine and have built up a large archive of F1 cars photographed in the studio style but need to keep adding to it all the time.

Thinwall Special -2w
Thinwall Special -2w

I had 4 cars on my shooting list in my museum studio and fortunately 3 of them were together in one hall so I set up my black background cloths and trusty Bowens monolites and got to work. I use a wireless Elinchrom Ranger flash system to trigger the other flash heads and a strong back light usually made up of a pair of soft boxes to give depth and add highlights to show shape.

Cars on the list were: 1950 Thinwall Ferrari Special, 1954 Vanwall VW2, 1955 BRM V16 Mk2 P30,1983 Williams FW08C

BRM V16-1-w
BRM V16-1-w-un-retouched image

The first 3 cars were green or dark green which, without careful lighting can lose their colour and end up looking black. The way around this is to use the flash heads with only spill kills on them and point the lights straight at the car. Be aware of where the reflection of the light, or pings, as I call them , appear on the body work.You can’t avoid these but make sure they reflect into a panel that can be easily retouched and don’t spread onto any detail that might be lost. The BRM was darker than the others so I set up a white sheet and banged a flash head through it to give a broader highlight along the bonnet.

Vanwall VW-2-w
Vanwall VW-2-w

Comping two images together

One of the images I try to shoot if there is time is a locked off shot of the whole car with the bonnet on and off comping these together to give a shadowing effect of the engine through the bonnet. It’s critical that you don’t move either car or camera between images to maintain the size and angle for the post production final image to be a success.

Thinwall Special comp-w
Thinwall Special comp-w

Top 10 places to shoot action at Goodwood Circuit

The hugely enjoyable Goodwood Circuit Revival and Members meetings have become some of the best classic motorsport events in the world. At the Revival meeting I met a photographer who had never been to the circuit before and was faced with the daunting prospect of not wanting to miss anything by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ideally it’s a good idea to walk the circuit to spot the best places to shoot from before the event but if you don’t have time here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

There are many great ways to cover the track at Goodwood but I’m going to pick out by top 10 places to shoot action if you are an accredited photographer. We’ll start at the very beginning, as they say it’s a very good place to start, with 5 places to shoot the start.

GW start-1
GW start-1 70-200mm f5.6 1/500th second

This view of the start on the pit straight is hard to get anymore as the Motorsport Association who govern the safety at race meetings have deemed it a ‘Red’ area but you can still shoot it from over the fence .

GW start-2
GW start-2-70-200mm f8 1/250th second

This view looking across to the clock tower is another option from the same place as the first.

Goodwood-start-70-200mm f11 1/125th second

Looking the other way towards the control tower panning the camera as the flag drops.

Goodwood-start-w 70-300mm f5.6 1/640th second

From the roof of the Race Control building, the one with the clock on it, this long lens image flattens the perspective drawing the elements together.

Goodwood start turn 1
Goodwood start turn 1 -70-300mm f5.6 1/640th second

Looking back down the start straight from the beginning of turn 1, Madgwick, is a dramatic place to shoot the first few laps .A fast shutter speed is essential with the cars coming towards you at over 100mph and jostling for position.

Documenting a restoration

One of the best ways to record the restoration of a classic car is to take photographs along the way. Not only will your pictures be a great part of the future history of the car but they may help you put it back together again afterwards of you can use restoration photography.

Porsche 356 restoration
Porsche 356 restoration

If you get the chance shoot some photos of the car before it is dismantled and don’t be shy about including people involved in the work in your images as it brings them to life.

Porsche 356 restoration-2
Porsche 356 restoration-2- 1/8th second f8

Remember you are creating a record with your images so make sure you shoot all angles and try to catch as many of the processes as you can.Many workshops can be a bit dark so use a tripod , crank up the ASA and fill in the foreground with flash. Don’t get to close to any dangerous grinding or cutting and never look directly at any welding or you may damage your eyes.

Porsche 356 restoration-3
Porsche 356 restoration-3- 1/30th second f5.6

Ask the craftsman to pause if he can so you can catch the image. Mix up your angles and lenses to keep your pictures interesting and don’t be afraid to go in close….if it is safe.

Porsche 356 restoration-4
Porsche 356 restoration-4-1/15th second f8

Don’t worry too much about your white balance, it is more important to get a set of accurate images as you document the project using restoration photography.

Adding contrast in an infinity cove

Another way to boost contrast in camera in an infinity cove studio shoot is to add black cloth or boards to reflect back into the car seen here in this very complicated Mazda RX7 shoot I did back in the days of large format film. The highlight in the side is created by black polyboards stood up between 1-3 metres back from the car creating a horizon line and forming the lowlight below and 2 or 3 lights focused onto the wall reflecting back into the side. The windscreen highlight is done by focusing a light onto the floating ceiling and then flagging it with hanging cloth on a pole or another board over the car.

unedited studio image showing a large format sheet of film with Mazda RX7
unedited studio image showing a large format sheet of film with Mazda RX7

White boards on the floor reflect back into the wheels where more black cloth has been used to fill in any gaps in the shadow down the side of the car and the black boards stapled to the back wall of the studio give a cut out line to the top edge of the car along the roof and bonnet.

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