Month: November 2014

Documentary Perspectives – Supporting Statement/Mid Evaluation

Normally motorsports are focused on one thing and one thing only, the car on track. But there’s much more going on behind the scenes that are much more significant than just the car on track. The Pit crew play just as great a role as the driver. And in most cases the pit crew don’t get nearly as much attention as the drivers. I want to challenge this by making a photobook that shows only the pit crew in action as I feel they are the backbone to the whole event even taking place and normally aren’t even shown in traditional media.

I was photographing at Donington Park on the 1st November at the Britcar final thanks to my friend Josh Bailes. I was photographing a TVR club day at his workplace in Swindon (Neil Garner Motorsport) a few months back, just for fun and to get to know Josh better. I was talking to Josh at the end of the day when he mentioned the Britcar final at Donington Park in a few weeks, he asked if I would want to come along. Ofcource I said yes, I’ve never photographed an official race before, let along a night race. So I jumped at the chance to photograph the race. We spoke to Josh’ boss Neil Garner and sorted out arrangements for the race.

I would be photographing and representing for Neil Garner Motorsport. This is step one into how I got the access to a Media Pass. I would need to sort out some Public Liability Insurance (PLI) in order to have access to a media pass. The coverage needed to photograph at Donington would have to be up to £5m coverage. I’ve had PLI before and i’m used to the way it works and understand why it’s needed. In short, it covers me incase I cause a crash or cause any other damages to the circuit etc. It does not cover my own equipment however, it’s there simply to cover you as a photographer should you ever be in the wrong place. Thankfully it’s hard to be in the wrong place at a circuit like Donington Park with all it’s protective walls and barriers, so i’d be perfectly fine. It’s just something you need, just in case the worst happens. I’d also need a letter from the publication (in this case, I would be shooting for Neil Garner Motorsport) confirming that I am actually photographing for them. This is the letter they sent me.

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On the 1st, I got to the track an hour early before the first practice session, to say hi to the team, sign on, have a coffee and work out the proceedings for the day. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I spent most of my time in the pits, talking to people and lurking in the back with my camera snapping away. It was cool that the dunlop tire changers were situated in the pit box next door, they would be the ones putting tyres on rims for all cars throughout the day. With a lorry full of slicks, they were well prepared.

Photographing in the pits was alot of fun, especially with unlimited access. Although it was rather challenging at times, especially due to the poor lighting. I would be stuck at 2.8 the whole time pretty much. It was hard to be unique too, I felt that what I was getting, would be what anyone with a DSLR could get most of the time. So I decided to get closer to my subjects. When the crew were preparing the car for the race, I would get up close and sometimes even lay on the floor with them, trying to get the expressions on their face. I thought it would be better to get close, yet try not to get in the way, as they all have a job to do at the end of the day. So I did, I thought it worked pretty well, rather than just being in the corner with my telephoto.

What problems did I face? Well I regret not getting everyone’s individual portraits at the end of the day. In my head I wanted to line up the subject along the garage door and photograph them with real moody lighting from the overhead garage light. I really wish I had done this. Some of the images are very repetitive, it was hard to get unique images in such a small and concise garage like the one at Donington. I could have taken my time and got better pictures. Most images were rushed if i’m honest. I didn’t want to get in the way, so i’d snap a few then back off out the back for a drink then go and get a few more pictures.

I feel like the images I took are fairly strong, yet could use some improving if I had the chance to shoot again. I think my pictures of the drivers in the car are stronger than the pit crews working. Why is that? I think mentally I thought the drivers were more significant than the crew, so I took more time and thought about what I wanted, looked for different ways of photographing them and got a better image as a result. I am happy with the images i’ve taken, I just need to work out the correct order for the book. As the low isn’t right at the moment.

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001 Research – Sophie Green

I was looking on the British Journal of Photography this evening to see a photograph of what looked like banger racing. I then googled the artists name (Sophie Green) and found her portfolio website. I was amazed at the quality of work shown and love the perspective of how she has photographed a banger race. She takes the insight of a spectator taking an inner look at the subtle details and spectators around the event with a very up close and personal attitude to it. She also chooses to focus on the people behind the drivers and starts to take a look at the spectators which helps justify what sort of crowd banger racing appeals to. I love the way her photographs are shot! Fairly wide, shallow depth of field and amazing lighting!

Here’s her website:  http://www.sophiegreenphotography.com/bangers-smash/

and here’s the BJP article: http://www.bjp-online.com/2014/10/ideastap-and-magnum-award-shortlist-announced/

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I love how her images show the underground/working class nature associated with banger racing. By choosing subjects and details suitable, you can really get a feel and insight into the lives of the people who participate as well was spectate this type of motorsport.

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I also love these detail shots of the food being served from the event, it’s such a small thing, but alternatively gives a very clear understanding to the demographic of the venue/spectators. People often say dont judge a book by it’s cover, that’s kind of what’s happening here. We’re judging the venue/sport/spectators on the quality of food being served at the event.

I love Sophies work, her “tomorrows people” portraits are outstanding! – As a result of seeing her work with the tomorrows people charity, I have just emailed 3 charities about the possibility of photographing. If i don’t get anywhere with being able to photograph, i’ll volunteer for a while, make friends and hopefully get to know them close enough so that I could come back and photograph them. In short, seeing her work has made my want to focus my efforts on working with charities.

002 Struggle

I never like to make excuses or like it when I make mistakes, but I recently met up with a group of Mormons on the Prominard high street who wrote their numbers down on my iPhones notes page. I recently had to update my phones software to the newest. Doing so managed to wipe my phone completely. I had to restore my phone from a day before Paris. No more images of Paris, no more Mormon phone numbers in my notes. ARG!

I’ve tried to find a number for the group and also tried to find a number for their church. But it just rings and rings for days. What im going to have to do is just turn up on their Sunday service at 11am and hopefully see Elder Ross and Elder Shumway and get talking to them and hopefully write their numbers on paper this time.

Dealines getting closer and i’m getting more stressed out.

003 – Narrative Landscape shoot

So I decided to go to the Cheltenham Racecourse Boot Sale on Sunday to photograph the stall holders/landscape as well as to get an understanding of why the Boot Sale is going to be closing down after years of success.     BootSaleScan 9

I didn’t really know what I wanted to take away from photographing the boot sale. I just wanted to talk to people and take some images of the affair, before it will soon be gone for good. I decided to do this for Narrative Landscape as once the Boot Sale is gone, there will be nothing that remains of it, except memories and photographs, it will turn back to the same old empty space it once was. Every Sunday, the Boot Sale brings that empty space alive with joy and happiness of the friendly and heart warming vendors. I feel it is important to show how the Boot Sale bought in the public to the racecourse and also how it places a dominant foot-mark onto the racecourse’s grounds every Sunday.

I wanted to talk to people selling their goods on their opinion of why it was closing down. Walking around, that’s what everyone was talking about. Conversations of the closure was all around. BootSaleScan

I got talking to this man (unfortunately I didn’t catch his name) who was selling his duck and pheasant meat. He was very upset with the announcement of the closure, as it would affect his business. Selling his goods at the Boot Sale isn’t his only source of profit, but every little helps. I wish I caught his name, as he said something that could be such a good quote. “All good things must come to an end”.

I used the Mamiya 645 to shoot this on, and what a pain in the but. I took my time to check all the settings were correct my focus was spot on and that the horizon would be straight. Most of them were, but the focus, almost all of my images from this day are out of focus and I dont know why. It could be me, it could also be a faulty camera. The lens and aperture were very stiff in movement, but still operated as they should, and looked okay down the viewfinder. So it must have been me, which is highly annoying – annoying in myself.

Here’s the rest of my images, im not overly happy with them, so I’m going to go back Sunday and re shoot. Hopefully it will be a little busier. I am also going to take my small pocket sound recorder and keep it recording as I walk around to help pick out quotes for the images, as well as produce some ambient noise. I feel that would add to the images greatly.

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Bill Kimberley (market manager) giving out flyers notifying everyone about the closure of the boot sale on the 14th December

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Wanted to focus on the kid sitting in the van looking like he’s loosing the will to live. Reminds me of my childhood, when my parents would do boot sales and i’d be dragged along.

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Probably my favorite image of the set.

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Hideously out of focus, why?!

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Boring photo, doesn’t add anything to the set. – get rid.

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Slightly boring? Shows how quiet the boot sale actually was compared to other years,

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Soft focus, actual focus is somewhere on the objects on the floor – annoying

AD5801 – Documentary Perspectives

I’ve been stuck for an idea for Documentary Perspectives for a month now. Nothing i’ve thought of in my head seemed worthy or appropriate to work with this module. Therefore progress has been very very slow.

Although I have been productive and have been shooting alot over the past month. I decided to look into what I’ve been shooting (for myself) to see if any of the subjects could be used to accommodate this module. I am really interested in using some of the images I shot from Britcar at Donnington in November. As I feel some are my best work to date, and doesn’t deserve to just be sitting on my hard drive doing nothing. I want people to see them, as I am genuinely proud of them. Anthony and Kim are starting to get a little bit disheartened at the amount of car pictures I take, so I decided to focus most of my time in the Pit/Paddocks. I already knew before photographing that I might be using the images for an assignment in the future, so mentally I told myself to get more human interaction. Whether that be portraits, candid shots or anything… other than racecars wizzing around on track.

After talking to Anthony and the class today, people have said that they would rather see the pit crew and mechanics other than just the drivers. I have plenty of images of the Mechanics, team owner, drivers and pit crew. Some from even a month before the race, from the Neil Garner Motorsport garage with all the parts layed out on the bench. I got some pretty cool detailed shots of the engine components, as well as the bodywork/suspension.

I intend to mix the photographs from the Garage detailed shot with the paddock shots from the race, with an intention to build a narrative of the hard work and importance of teamwork to get the car on track in the first place.

I will talk about how I want my ‘book’ layout in another post with sketches.

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003 Idea – Cheltenham Racecourse Boot Sale

The Cheltenham racecourse bootsale is to be closing down on the 14th December 2014, due to the traffic caused by Evesham road and Hyde Lane. I read an article in the Gloucester Echo yesterday about the announcement of the closure of the boot sale. I thought it would be beneficial to the photograph the Boot Sale closure and try to talk to some of the stool owners to see their views and opinions on how the closure will effect them and their little businesses.

Here is the Echo article on the closure: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Cheltenham-Racecourse-Sunday-car-boot-sale-close/story-24561528-detail/story.html

Recently there has been an article about members of the public voicing their outrage on the closure of the boot sale: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Axing-Cheltenham-Racecourse-Car-Boot-Sale-Market/story-24573904-detail/story.html

I intend to photograph one shot of the venue from a high vantage point, to get a general veiw/establishing image, possibly taken from Cleave Hill, which I will use as my first lead shot. Followed by a general image of the stalls and their owners. At the same time keeping the Racecourse as a dominant figure in all the images, so you can tell where the images are taken. As overall, the narrative is about the racecourse closing down the boot sale. I also want to include a portrait of one of the stall owners standing behind their stall selling their goods.

I intend to photograph this all of medium format colour film.

002 idea – Mormon lifestyle

I was walking down Montpellier on the way to uni when I was stopped by 3 young men who are talking to people about the Lord, but from a Mormon perspective. They were all really nice and was easy to talk to. All 3 guys were from America, one from Idaho, another from Texas and another from Missisippi I think. They were all really nice guys and payed alot of attention to myself and what I was doing before starting to engage me in persuading me to come to the church where they worship.

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I dont know anything about Mormons and would love to find out more about their lifestyle. The aim of the video will be showing their lifestyle and why they chose to be Mormon. I also want to learn more about the Mormon lifestyle and what they do on a weekly basis. Interestingly enough, there seems to be a greater Mormon following in the USA rather than the UK. It would be really cool to follow these guys around for a day or two to get an insight into their lives. They were all more than happy to have me meet up with them and video them. Although they would like me to meet with them twice and come to church with them once. Which I will do, as im genuinely interested in their lives.

I have watched one very good documentary and one very well shot video about Amish people. I intend to shoot my video in the same sort of way as the Amish video shot my Philip Bloom. The 4od Documentary has given me more of an idea of what it’s like in a Mormon way of life.

Meet the Mormons – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/meet-the-mormons/on-demand

An Amish Man – http://philipbloom.net/film/an-amish-man/

I’m going to test out my camera and sound whilst recording video on my DSLR this week hopefully and post it on the blog later. I’ll probably take and hide a small voice recorder as well as the DSLR sound to get higher quality audio.

I intend to call the two guys tomorrow called Elder Ross and Elder Shumway whos number is 07800614544

Previous video experience

I was into video a long time before I got into photography. The reason I asked my dad to buy me a DSLR was because I wanted to make Motocross videos. I was heavily into motocross at the time and would watch hours of videos of YouTube, Vimeo and Mpora all day and night. This was around 2007/8 odd, I was just starting secondary school at the time.

Shortly after, in my mid/early teens I got heavily into video games. So much so that, I bought a capture card and would begin to make my own little videos. Anything from Call of Duty videos/playthroughs to Forza Motorsort montages. At the time I was doing it for fun, and as a hobby. It was alot of fun, but alot of work.  http://youtu.be/p68617kF3-0

I soon got approached by a YouTube company called Machinima. The biggest on YouTube at the time, specifically Machinima Sports and I would submit Forza Motorsport 3 drifting videos to them. I would also earn money from them! The rules were very clear, no copyrighted music, proof of music approval from the artists must be given in a letter/email which will be attached in the folder that you send the video in to them with. They basically did everything else for you. You could assign your own title and descriptions too. It was really cool to be a part of and I felt like I had acheived something at the time. I loved it. – unfortunatly as it’s been about 4 years, the videos have been removed.

Although I eventually got bored of making gaming videos and got into photography. The last video I made was like last year about a game called Live for Speed. Chris and I occasionally host drifting competitions online that anyone can join. It runs the same format as real life drifting competitions and operates the same. As it was one of the first ones we’d done, I decided to make a video about it, to encourage more people to join. It worked, the next week the online server was full and we stuggled to fit everyone in. It was awesome. http://youtu.be/WuKKs3EZO1w

Real life videos? I haven’t done too much real life videos, except a few smaller videos. I decided to video a little bit of drifting at Teeside, as well as a little from JDM Allstars Wembley. The first time I shot real life video was the 2nd day I bought my DSLR, I went to Red Bull X-Fighters at Battersea Power Station and decided to record some footage. http://youtu.be/_hpWSTr4IUM http://youtu.be/rMjm-Qz94KU http://youtu.be/D6eHJ8eo_ko http://youtu.be/KXSaB-EOrR8

Other than that, I just tend to use my GoPro to record myself at different drift days. Just so I can watch my performance as well as expand my ego a little bit. That doesn’t take much effort though. http://youtu.be/3AhOZSdOns8

First Shoot – Learn 2 Drift

11th November

I went down to Birmingham Wheels again on Sunday the 11th November for my first shoot with Learn 2 Drift. Thankfully they were teaching at Birmingham wheels again this month, so Andy sent me a facebook message the day before saying they’d be there.

Funny story about that actually, I was tagged in a post from Andy late Saturday night on Facebook. I click on the link to find it’s my uni work blog. He must have googled himself and found the blog address with me talking about how I found the Learn 2 Drift Team/School. Here’s what he tagged me in on Facebook.

Photo 11-11-2014 03 58 28 pm Photo 11-11-2014 03 58 37 pm

Andy also left a very nice comment on that post with the following:

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As you can see, I literally got the go ahead at like 2am Saturday night.

I went down on Sunday very early with a coffee in hand eager to photograph Andy and the drift school.

The day started off with an obligatory drivers/safety briefing in the office behind the track, where Andy would talk through the days proceedings as well as the safety briefing.

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Then the drivers were taken to the cars and immediately started off the day learning how to do donuts. They started off with the instructors demonstrating what to do with them in the passenger seat. Then they would swap and the students would have a go at doing the basic doughnut.

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After they had mastered the doughnut, the students would then be taught the basics of weight transfer by completing a small chicane section which would teach and show them the feeling of drifting the car from one side to the other – this is called a transition. Ofcource the instructors would demonstrate this first with the student in the passenger seat.

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Finally the students would be a passnger in 5 high speed passenger laps, where the instructors would take the cars out in pairs and aim to drift in proximity of the car in front. This is called tandem in the drifting world. This is to simulate the type of drifting seen in the British Drift Championships. It would also give the students an insight into what drifting actually is like when paired up with another car. Fast, adrenaline pumping fun.

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I maxed out my 16gb card by the end of the first session, straight after this group finished, another was sent in to the briefing room to get signed up. I only stayed for one session and had to head off. I said goodbye to Andy, and Ian, the professional photographer there who i got talking to who gave me a lot of useful tips. Especially in regards to my nightclub photography. He gave me alot of useful ideas and printers and ways to make money. Awesome bloke to talk to. I’ve actually bought some images off him in the past from Drifting.

Also. here’s the appropriate Risk Assessment which i filled out the day of the event.

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I know motorsport is dangerous and there are many problems that could arise, but i’ve been around motorsport and have been photographing around tracks since my early teens. So in a sense, i’ve become a custom to it and have always abided by the rules. They’re pretty straight forward, dont get in the way and always keep an eye on whats going on. If you’re moving around the track, do so in a safe maner far enough away from the live circuit that you’re not a walking target. It’s pretty simple. But for sakes of this assignment, here’s a brief Assessment written up using the UOG link.

On another note, I am also fully PLI insured up to £5m . So in the case of me being in an accident whilst photographing, I am fully covered besides kit.

Banger Racing at Birmingham Wheels – 26th October

I traveled over to Birmingham to go to photograph some banger/f1 stock car racing on a freezing cold Saturday evening, a few hours before work. I wanted to photograph the banger racing as my previous idea of photographing the Learn 2 Drift team has kind of fell through, with no more chances to photograph them in Birmingham. Therefore I wanted to just turn up to an event and photograph it, to get a taste if what the Birmingham Wheels track was like. Turns out very dark, dingy and run down.

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The event was from 5pm-11pm, which meant the night time lighting would have to be on. Which turned out to be awful. Black spots almost everywhere, yellow casts and uneven lighting across the whole track. Which makes i extremely hard to photograph, let alone pan.

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I found that the stock car racing was actually alot of fun to watch. Fairly high speed and bumper to bumper action with the occasional love tap. I didn’t expect them to reach such high speed either.

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The crowds in the stands were a mix of young kids watching with their family, drivers, working class men and older men who seemed to have grown up watching and driving stock cars over the years. It brings me back to my childhood, as my dad would take me to watch banger racing once a month at Arena Essex. My uncle used to do banger racing also, there’s tons of photos and videos of him racing around at home from when he was around my age back in 1994 or so.

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I dont know where this project is going. I’ve lost track of what I want to do. Speaking to Anthony, he suggested to make contact with some of the drivers and photograph them as they setup, prepare to race and packing up. So i’m going to have a look around on some forums and try to find drivers willing to participate.

Here’s a few more pictures of the bangers.

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