Hayley’s Rat Rod Drag Race

Hayley’s Rat Rod Drag Race

If you are going to absorb a piece of photography advice from someone you could do a lot worse than Ansel Adams’ often quoted “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”. With that in mind I teamed up with good friend and talented photographer Darren Skidmore to fake a desert drag race… in Peterborough!

From the outset we knew the photograph itself was never going to the the final product so care needed to be taken to light it correctly. As the final composite was going to be set in the desert sun, we needed to fill in the shadows with some flash.

This was the set up:

The set up

There is an Elinchrom Quadra pack about 10 feet behind each car at half power pumping light into the shadows to give that high noon look, resulting in this image. The double shadows are something that need to be addressed in post production.

The original photograph
When shooting at a car show held on an agricultural showground you are never going to have a clean background to work with. Cutting the straight edges of the cars out in Photoshop wouldn’t pose much of a problem so we concentrated on timing the shots so there we no people intersecting with Hayley.

With that, it’s over to Photoshop. Admittedly there are a few layers here but they can be easy broken down into 4 groups covering the road and background, the cars, the shadows and the tyre smoke. Most are just masked layers to drop in elements from various source photographs with a few curves adjustment layers to balance colours.


Big thanks go to Darren for taking the shot, Hayley for getting our idea, Performance Direct for their support and hospitality all weekend and of course Pip Hitchcock and Lee Freeman for building such awesome cars.

Enough talk, here’s the final image. We’d love to hear what you think.

Hayley's Rat Rod Drag Race



Photo Of The Week – Vintage Hayley

Photo Of The Week – Vintage Hayley

This week’s photo comes from an advertising campaign I shot a couple of years ago for the insurance company Performance Direct. It was piece of work that was born out my ethos of working for free to build relationships but that’s another blog post

The brief was to shoot a range of images to be used in adverts across a range of magazines, from  prestige and classic to performance and modified. The lovely Hayley here was the face of classic insurance.


The whole shoot took place in a classic car club in east London, basically a large building filled with a vast array of amazing cars.

hayleyexifDefinitely not a studio so in order to minimise clutter in the background of the shots I underexposed the ambient light by quite a bit. My sync speed of 1/160th (the 5D MKII would have managed 1/200th, but the cheap eBay triggers I used at the time were more reliable at 1/160th ) and f/10 did the job nicely without taxing the my pair of Elinchrom BRXi500’s. In this case, the main light is camera right in a 50″ Westcott Apollo softbox and there’s a gridded separation light coming from camera left to lift Hayley’s dark hair and right shoulder off the background.

As you can see above, the shot I delivered to the client was left pretty much how it came out of the camera as they had a team of designers who would be working with the image. All I did was remove a few specular highlights from various bit of chrome trim on other cars off in the distance.

For my portfolio I wanted something a bit more striking so I dropped in a city skyline to finish the image off. Once the tones were matched, the trickiest part was distorting the image so everything looked in perspective. Here is my version of the final image.


Modified Nationals 2010

Modified Nationals 2010

The Sextons Grid Girls weren’t the only thing I shot whilst at Modified Nationals this year. Here are some more shots from the show.