2017’s Salon Prive loomed larger than ever and this was our first year as their visual partners. This year the event kicked off with a tour of the countryside around Blenheim with stops for drinks and lunch at The Swan in Bibury and Slaughter’s Inn in Lower Slaughter respectively.
Tour day started out wet, immediately presenting the usual outdoor photography challenges. Wet cameras and lenses at the beginning of a long few days of shooting is a definite no no although we’re yet to find camera rain covers that you can actually see anything through…
We actually really enjoy the artistic aspect of rain on cars, it offers lots of opportunity for arty narrow depth of field shots of water droplets on bodywork but these aren’t particularly useful in terms of the photography brief on these events.
A courageous thirteen cars braved the weather – some completely open to the elements – and in true British style, they set off for the day. We’d planned shorter more direct routes throughout the tour to enable us to capture both departures and arrivals and by the time we got to Slaughter’s Inn for lunch the skies were clearing and the sun came out for the last leg of the route back to Blenheim Palace.
A relatively early finish for us, we went back to our hotel, captured and edited the days events and set about preparing for day one of Salon Prive. There couldn't be a impressive setting for a prestigious motor event than the staggeringly beautiful Blenheim Palace. Friendly, helpful Palace staff made many things much easier and we felt well looked after particularly in the evening when we had a moment of downtime before the after dinner awards commenced.
Salon Prive is set up on the South Lawn, with a long avenue between the Palace and the event that is lined with unique vehicles, supercars and motors of historical significance from private collections. Whilst Salon Prive is a fully inclusive hospitality event with entry via ticket only, the Avenue is open to all visitors to the Palace. With concours competitions on Day 1 and Day 3 of Salon Prive we were kept very busy covering the judging, the parades and all the award giving not to mention coverage of the event in general. The cars along the Avenue changed on a daily basis so we had to make sure we caught the daily flavour of the area as the guests arrived.
Day 2 was Ladies Day and hats were everywhere! Fortunately the sun shone keeping everyone very happy and making for a lovely relaxing time for guests checking out the cars and retail areas over a few glasses of champagne.
Speaking of the champagne, let’s take a moment to discuss the catering…all guests were treated to a lobster lunch and chicken skewers as well delicious and imaginative salads – as much as you could eat it would seem! Beautifully presented desserts followed and they were just the right size to enable you to sample all of them! Afternoon tea was equally delicious; an excellent selection of sandwiches and some truly awesome cakes kept guests coming back for more. Now back to the cars…
Guest judges included Derek Bell, Yasmin le Bon and Guy Berryman of Coldplay. A vast selection of different marques graced the concours lawn on Day One (sponsored by Chubb Insurance) and Day Two (sponsored by Boodles) including some motorbikes. Day 3 was given over to Ferrari who were celebrating 70 years of Ferrari - Pirelli sponsored Day 3.
The Duke was in attendance with his family; Salon Prive is an event he strongly supports and he welcomes all the new ideas that Andrew and David Bagley bring to him year on year.
Chris Eubank was relaxed as he wandered around Salon Prive, checking out all the superb vehicles on display. He was generous with his fans, stopping for selfies and chatting readily.
There were many manufacturers in attendance exhibiting some of their latest models including Lexus, Maserati and Lamborghini. ATS chose Salon Prive to unveil their latest creation with a very cool $1million pricetag! There were hypercars on display including a very interesting Zenvo creation in a vibrant lime green. Classic Car Dealers were also in abundance including Hemmels (Mercedes), Dylan Miles, Export 56 (Porsche) and Simon Furlonger.
Winner of Best in Show from 2016, Bruce Lavachek, returned with his winning car – looked after by DK Engineering – the Ferrari 500TR. Andrew Bagley interviewed Bruce on the South Lawn with the Palace and car as a backdrop and we hope to bring you footage soon from this intimate chat.
This year’s winner Steve Tillack was also interviewed on the South Lawn by our very own Rupert Cobb in front of his Alfa Romeo 3000CM. This truly beautiful creation is looked after by Jim Stokes Workshop who we have had the pleasure of working with previously. We caught up with Steve again the week after Salon Prive as he was about to throw himself around the Goodwood track in his super powerful Lancia.
With so many different vehicles to cover over the tour, three days of Salon Prive and then BCS as well for the final day, it takes a lot of fast thinking skill not to miss anything. We tend to carry two camera bodies each, one with a 70mm-200mm and one with a 24mm-70mm to cover all the bases. We are Canon advocates having used their cameras for years and we find that their sensors offer fantastic depth of colour. With cars, it’s always beneficial to use a polariser. Don’t buy cheap as your lens may not give you proper focus – we recommend Hoya circular polarisers. With this filter on your lens you can remove a certain amount of reflection from glass and paintwork so you have an artistic choice.
Another consideration when photographing events outside is the constantly changing light conditions. We were photographing in cloud, sunshine, rain and also in the dark where we needed to use some long exposures. Choosing the right white balance is important to enable you to show the correct colour for the cars as well as correct skin tones. You can of course choose warmer or cooler white balances if you want your image to show as art rather than as a true representation of the scene you were capturing at the time. Occasionally in dusky situations where colours are a bit muted once the sun has gone down you can create some beautiful images using black and white.
In the weeks that followed Salon Prive we carefully selected and edited over 8,500 images, meta tagged and collated into folders before delivering. Rupert made videos for social media over the course of the event (Lord knows how as we hardly had a moment to catch our breath!), and then a full video post event. He even took time to edit down the interviews from Boodles Ladies Day.
Pictures below of some of the scenes at Blenheim Classic and Supercar on the Sunday - the public side of the event, held in the Great Court.
Arrangements for next years event are of course underway, we strongly recommend that you come along and enjoy all that Salon Prive (and indeed Blenheim Palace) has to offer!
We last saw Bruce Lavachek's beloved Ferrari 500 TR on the lawn at Blenheim Palace, when he was invited back to enjoy Salon Prive a year on from winning Best in Show.
This car was restored by DK Engineering and David Cottingham went on to race it at Goodwood in 2015.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to photograph this very beautiful vehicle in the infinity cove. James at DK Engineering arranged to have the car transported to us and we planned a full on day of photography and filming.
We started the day photographing from every angle using our Profoto flash kit and our industrial turntable in the infinity cove to enable us to create one of our trademark interactive hi res spins. The set up for this takes a great deal of time to ensure the lighting works without any reset as the car turns round. We took images from various heights and distances to make a choice of spins.
Rupert was in charge of filming and was using the Panasonic Varicam LT with a variety of lenses. He set up a black backdrop whilst leaving the car in the cove. This gives us the added benefit of being able to bounce light around whilst showing the car off against the black.
Being able to use the turntable to move the car around saves an awful of time and equipment rental! No dolly and track required for those turning shots when you can choose the speed and direction of turn with the touch of a button. Rupert was filming under tungsten light, even with the ongoing development of LED, there is nothing to beat the creamy highlights and complete gamma that tungsten offers - one of the few constant light sources that miss nothing on the colour spectrum and produces no flickering whatsoever at any frame rate.
The final part of the day was turned over to Boo Hunnisett and her extraordinary eye for detail.
One of the most important things on these sorts of shoots is preparation, not only of the camera gear and the details of the shoot but also of the vehicle you are shooting. It is worth mentioning that this Ferrari was delivered from DK Engineering with possibly the finest degree of valeting and detailing we've ever seen - you can see this particularly well from the engine shot below. Thanks DK Engineering!!
This past week has definitely been an eclectic mix of work!
Laurent Amann, the creative force behind Storik (www.storik.co.uk) brought in the Rafale motorbike (pictured above) for a photography session. Creativity simply flows when two extremely passionate people come together and this was evident from the word go on this particular session with Rupert and Laurent immediately connecting over the Rafale. This motorbike is quietly confident, it has a gentleness about it, every piece has been meticulously designed and crafted and yet it doesn't scream in your face 'look at me look at me look at me'. It is beautiful, it is art and craft all rolled into one and although I didn't hear it start up I bet it's a different beast the moment the engine turns over. I found the bike drew me in little by little and it felt loved - this is testament to Laurent's painstaking desire to create perfection no doubt. Check out Storik online (link above) to be kept abreast of their creations.
An Aston Martin DBS Vantage up next, a pretty baby blue coloured beast that roared into the cove earlier this week! All Aston Martin are one of our regular clients so this is generally a nice straightforward job. Particularly enjoyed this car, every one of them are very different and all paintwork has to be treated slightly differently in post. This colour required a careful hand, not too much contrast or clarity so as not to 'muddy' the paintwork. If you fancy owning this lovely vehicle you'll be able to find it on All Aston Martin's page shortly via this link http://www.allastonmartin.com/aston-martin-cars-for-sale.html
Not too strange a week you may be thinking but here is the final piece of the puzzle...Gun Hill Studios got their community head on and joined Anthony Lilley's team in the Laughton School Production of The Lion King. This has been a massive undertaking for a little school but Ruth and Anthony have pulled in a million favours from all the professionals in the area and it's been a pleasure to be on board. The kids have all worked super hard, final night filming for us tonight but the show continues on Saturday. Big up to the kids!
This post comes with text heavy warning!
We work in an industry that is so overrun with competition it’s ridiculous. Every man and his dog now own a camera - be it a DSLR, a point and shoot or a phone camera - ok maybe the dog doesn’t own one but you get my point. Everybody is a photographer.
But it’s not just that everybody is a photographer, everybody is also a videographer and with more and more user friendly / lite editing programs being made available, everybody can also edit a video.
Presets on camera phones, on 3rd party apps, on photo editing software gives everyone the ability to produce some pretty cool stuff; sometimes even some show stopping stuff.
We’ve lost count of the number of times someone has said ‘yeah but those photos you take are only that good because you use an expensive camera’. This is probably one of the most insulting things you can say to a photographer. Rupert is always ready with the perfect response for this one, he says ‘give me your camera phone and I’ll take a better picture on that than you can take on my expensive camera’. You see it isn’t about the gear, it isn’t about how much you spend or how long you take fixing something in post, it’s actually all about composition and experience. Some people have the knack with composition and some people can learn it. Composition is the difference between a good photo and an outstanding photo. This also applies to film.
We are so privileged in many ways to see heart stopping composition in series on Netflix and Amazon (and not forgetting the BBC), such as Preacher, Hand of God and American Gods (ok so I’m sensing a religious theme here but go with me on this one). HBO have made some stunning series over the years too and let’s not forget how epic Game of Thrones is. Yes there is CGI, yes there is green screen involved but the shots and the finished film are all somebody’s vision and composition. The lighting in the shows is nothing short of breathtaking.
I remember waxing lyrical recently about a scene from Hand of God where Crystal Harris is sitting in a cafe having not seen her husband for a while (I won’t spoil the plot) and the light is early morning, dust particles gently float in the morning sunshine, she’s drinking coffee, the light isn’t too warm but it is definitely setting the mood. The dialogue is sparse, the composition and lighting choices have set the tone. Pernell Harris is in the cafe and he has sent something over to his wife via the waitress (she doesn’t know he’s there yet) and when she realises that her husband has sought her out the camera tracks across on a wide shot as she looks up to get a visual on Pernell. The camera tracks past some stained glass, putting the glass between the camera and Crystal. As Crystal’s reaction to her husband’s presence appears on her face the camera is moving past pale blue glass and it seems to drain Crystal’s face and entirely changes the mood of the moment, almost as if you are feeling her heart sink. Then the coloured glass is warmer again as the camera moves on but you know the mood cannot return to the start of the scene; there has been a shift and all thanks to the subtleties of lighting and framing. The effect is perfect.
When a photographer produces a shot that is emotive it is perfection itself and that shot may not always be entirely in focus but that may be the point of it. It is like listening to a song where the vocal isn’t perfect but you can hear the feeling in every note. You don’t want to make that note perfect and suck the life out of it you want the rawness, you want the very thing that made you feel what that song was written about - or the very thing that made you relate to it. The perfect shot is not always crystal clear, it can be whatever evokes a feeling, stirs a passion, makes you go back to it time and again. You have caught a moment.
When I started writing this article what I really wanted to write about was how all of the skills I have been describing above are taken for granted and not given their proper value. We work in all sorts of areas from music to film, from car photography and products, to live stage performance photography; it is very varied and we see into many different industries. There will always be someone willing to work for free to bolster their portfolio - something I think we’ve all been guilty of from time to time. The trouble with this though, is that a true professional who has spent years learning their craft is constantly devalued or doesn’t get the respect they deserve. Experience is worth paying for.
The image your business or your band or whatever you are promoting puts out to the rest of the world is one of the single most important things you can buy. Don’t underestimate the value of a carefully thought out photograph or video. We do judge a book by it’s cover these days, we are instant decision makers, consider your own online habits and 9 times out of 10 you will subconsciously buy something based on a great image or a professional look regardless of the text that accompanies it.
Take the time to make something artistic and professional; bring the right people with the right skills to the table and your imagery will stand the test of time. Trust creative judgement, trust the experience, knowledge and expertise a professional has and see what a difference it makes; and never forget the triangle!
We've been out and about this week in the beautiful sunshine! You might recognise this arm from previous shoots we've done for Colour of Noise...in a change from the music scene Bruce has taken his other passion from hobby to business and started up Brighton inshore fishing with his business partner. We popped out to take some photos for him this week and the weather was perfect to capture some coastline, making Brighton reminiscent of the Med! A little too hot for the fish to bite and as Bruce told us they tend to be more active at dawn and dusk so we'll be back another day to get some full on fishing action. You can find them at www.brightoninshorefishing.co.uk, well worth a trip out!
Although we love the British Summertime it's rather nice to get back into our nice cool cove to get down to some car photography. We had Jim Stokes Workshop in this week with a simply stunning Alfa Romeo - we can't show you any pictures out of respect for the owner's privacy so you'll have to trust us on this, it was an absolute beauty!
With Aston photos delivered to Prestige Paintworks (see this lovely Amethyst pic), we got down to some planning for a show we've got in development - all will be revealed in due course but for now we'll have to leave you guessing!
You may have noticed some pictures from the TT on our feed social media feed. Our roving reporter Felix Unger-Hamilton was in attendance and wrote us a lovely piece for Drivetribe as well as shooting some great footage from the grid. You can find the full article here: Drivetribe
While we've been in the nice cool cove we've been experimenting with graphics for another project we're developing (again, such a tease I know but details must remain under wraps for now). Some of the graphics we've been looking at are appearing in a music video and we've been editing in the infinity cove itself. It is an excellent screening room and perfect for that final stage of editing where you need to stand back far enough to see the full impact of your project. It is available to hire as a screening room / small theatre space (seating approx. 100) with or without technicians. We have plenty of onsite free parking available too. Well worth a visit even if you're just curious ;-)