Today on a Facebook page I was reminded of the Brooklands Museum in Surrey which I had visited a couple of years ago. An activity-filled heritage museum on the site of the world’s first purpose-built motor- racing circuit – which went on to become the largest aircraft manufacturing centre in Europe. Despite the site’s pioneering role in aviation history – during the second world war and, later, when Concorde was part built here – the museum seems to fly under the radar of most tourists.
Brooklands was the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation and the site of many engineering and technological achievements throughout eight decades of the 20th century. The racing circuit was constructed by local landowner Hugh F. Locke King in 1907 and was the first purpose-built racing circuit in the world. Many records were set there. Many aviation firsts are also associated with Brooklands, which soon became one of Britain’s first aerodromes. It attracted many aviation pioneers prior to World War I, and was also a leading aircraft design and manufacturing centre in the 20th century, producing a remarkable total of some 18,600 new aircraft of nearly 260 types between 1908 and 1987 (see McSwein, D R).
I have shot many shadow images, some of the shadows are part of the image or the image itself. They can be mysterious, often abstract and can be open to interpretation, and thus more interesting. Many shadows are intentional, achieved with artificial lighting or natural light. In film noir cinema they often employ a heavy use of shadows to add more drama, mystery and danger to the movie. In this series ‘Charlemont Shads’ I was attracted to the shadows from the sun shining through
a large tree. The first session was in November with still many remaining leaves creating patterns on the wall, as the sun was shining through the trees behind the camera position . The second session was the following year in spring time with a total absence of leaves, just the branches. Whilst working with nature I shot these images at a similar time and height but at a different angle which is the difference between obtaining the desired ‘effect’ and not.
In my previous post ‘Trains’ I had mentioned how my personal work can lead to being commissioned for work that is closely (or even vaguely) related. Here are some colour train images with a selection of train related ads .
Press ad Saatchi & Saatchi London AD Casey Grady.
12 sheet & press. BMP DDB Needham London. AD Henry Rossiter CW Mick French
96 & 48 sheet posters BMP DDB Needham London. AD Henry Rossiter CW Mick French.
Press AD. DDFH&B Dublin AD Peter Snodden CW Ronnie Troughton
As I’ve just up uploaded a new website gallery ‘Trains’. Here is an account of some of the images.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of photographing trains both commissioned and for my personal portfolio. In 1988 whilst on a portfolio project in New Zealand I stumbled upon a preserved railway station in Lake Wakatipu, which housed a steam train by the name of the ‘Kingston Flyer’. There it was adjacent to the water tower in its full glory . I needed a break from just shooting landscapes of which New Zealand is extraordinary blessed. The Kingston Flyer was my muse. The romance of a steam engine in a beautiful landscape beckoned. I knew I could create a nice image at the station but the real challenge was to find the perfect position with a stunning background with a mass of sheep! or maybe a few flocks. After walking up and down the 14km preserved line with my equipment, shooting 5×4 polaroids I found my ideal spot which happened to be a 2 or 3 hundred yards from a farm house. Even better, a sheep farmer. After a mug of tea and a nice chat (about sheep shearing ) I explained my project with the farmer and his son who were willing to provide 50 – 100 sheep, but when I showed them my polaroid they pointed out that it was not their land and that I would have to be 100 yards further up the line . That 100 yards would compromise the aesthetics of the shot in that the railway line curved and would not see so much of the mountains, so I ditched the idea of the sheep, which I believe was the correct decision. Not only would they be a distraction and as I wasn’t hiring the train, it was only going to stop for a couple of minutes so my ‘focus’ would be on the train and the man on horse with the dogs , so getting a hundred sheep to position themselves in that time limit was too risky despite our shepherd’s skills.
Polaroid Type 55
Once the train driver was happy with the plan I had to wait a few days for repairs to the train. Upon my return to organise the shoot, he wasn’t to be found (no mobiles then) but while waiting for his possible appearance a coach load of Japanese tourists turned up on the platform and started to arrange photos of me with various groups, so whilst a bit confused I suddenly realised they thought I was the train driver!
The next day was to be successful . I shot the train in the landscape, exposing ,5×4 sheets of colour transparency and black and white film. Then shot the ‘Flyer’ back at the station by the water tower. I used the train in the landscape as a promotional poster which was delivered to all the creatives and art buyers in all the major ad agencies in London and worldwide. It was selected that year for the noncommissioned landscape in the Association of Photographers awards. Whilst showing my portfolio to a nameless art buyer and giving her a copy of the poster she preceded to call me ‘Lake’! (she was serious) as in the title of the poster ‘Kingston Flyer – Lake Wakatipu’ causing great amusement to the an art director who still to this day calls me ‘Lake’.
Type 59 Polaroid
Promotional poster. Original soft and moody version AOP awards book
On many occasions a portfolio or a particular image can create a commissioned job and with the ‘Kingston Flyer’ image, it attracted Art director David Bell at Young and Rubicon Advertising agency London to choose me to shoot 2 British Gas ad’s. One of them was to shoot a steam train. After a bit of research and with a lighting crew and a generator truck from Samuelson Lighting in London, we travelled to Haworth West Yorkshire, my favourite county for many commissioned ads during this early period of my career. The main commissioned shot for this press ad was for British Gas showers, so you can see the association of the steam train shot being replenished by the water tower along with the steam. The raking low sunlight mixed with our HMI daylights was a sight to behold . Once David and myself were happy that this brief was achieved nothing was going to stop me from shooting more at different angles and viewpoints which was now in darkness . Only the lighting crew could stop me from shooting masses of sheet film in which they did eventually politely ‘pull the plug’ as overtime fees would be required.
Since my last post I’ve now uploaded ‘North Africa’ and ‘Scandinavian icescapes’ with , Animals , New Zealand, Brazil, Cuba, Trains and Bloomsday to follow soon. Here are two from ‘North Africa’ and ‘Scandinavian Icescapes’.