A smashing day out with an Opel GT

Josh Cornelius, who I had known from being at King Edwards School in Witley, has kind of a dangerous passion for cars. Classic cars in particular but I remember chatting to Josh and James, his brother, about them at school before roll call or just on the way to lunch or between lessons. We had been planning doing a photo shoot for maybe like 2-3 months but because of problems with the Opel and either Josh or I being busy we weren’t able to do so. Early May bank holiday rolls around and Josh and I finally have the chance to photograph their gorgeous 1972 Opel GT, which had recently come back from the mechanics and been polished earlier in the week by Mr Cornelius so we was in for a treat. 

My day started at 7am as we had planned to shoot earlier in the day rather than later because there was a chance of rain in the early afternoon. As I was staying in LDN, the trip down was around 1 hour 30 mins so I was down in Haslemere at 9am.

North Greenwich station at 7.30am and I am about to jump on the Jubilee Line to Waterloo

North Greenwich station at 7.30am and I am about to jump on the Jubilee Line to Waterloo

I was expecting Josh to pick me up from the station at 9am in the Opel already but nope, he pulled up in their trusty “granny like” Nissan Note. I feel so sorry for you Josh. We pulled up at the Cornelius house and proceeded with getting the beauty out the garage, after a quick bite to eat and coffee, of course. 

Right so we planned a target to basically get down to Goodwood and then along to a road that Mr Cornelius said would be great fun to drive and really good for photos. I can’t remember which road it was, sorry. And so off we went…

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Josh said, even within the first few 100 meters that the car was running the best he had ever experienced so we were feeling optimistic about having a successful day. All was well. Happy faces all round. However after about 20-30 minutes around the Petworth region, we started to encounter some backfiring and mis timing from the pistons in the engine and etc.  

Picture a Frank Underwood address: the Opel GT, yes wasn’t that pricey in terms of money/investment value but the car had been in the family for donkeys. Josh’s grandfather first bought it around the 25-30 age and it had stayed in the family ever since then. 

Josh being overly cautious decided to pull over at West Sussex Specialist Cars, opened the bonnet and have a peak around before calling his old man to find out what he thinks given the symptoms. The verdict… try driving back home and rethink what we could do to not make the day a waste.

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So a quick check over and drive by his old man and we were back out. Josh and I took this time to go and look though the documents, photos, articles and just cool shit he had. I only have this 1 photo which I took on my phone of this. I wish I had taken a few more with my big camera tho.

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All seems fine as long as Josh kept the revs high by staying in a higher gear longer. Opel GT’s only have 4, incase you didn’t know. Our first stop was back at our old school, King Edwards School in Witley. I had been back a few weeks prior as I was in the area anyway shooting some bikers at some dirt jumps in Milford but Josh hadn't been back in donkeys. Around 5 years.

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Nice little behinds the scenes pic from Josh. We didn’t like the final pic in the end, but it made me think about what would

Nice little behinds the scenes pic from Josh. We didn’t like the final pic in the end, but it made me think about what would

Right, time for some pub grub. We headed for the most middle class, countryside pub you can think of, The Noahs Ark in Lurgashall. Yes, it did come complete with cricket playing just across the road. 

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2 burgers down and a beautiful Aston Martin DBS Volante turned up, among other cars, which actually followed us a bit down the road when we left. It sounded and more importantly looked fuckin’ magical. 

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Next on our adventure was Cowdray Ruins in Midhurst to try and get some dramatic more period style photos. 

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The weather was a bit iffy around early/mid afternoon as there were a few cloudy lying around up there but we decided to make the push down to Goodwood. Im so glad we did because it was my first time there and we were able to make these beauties:

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It was around 4pm by the time we left Goodwood and headed back to Haslemere. By the way the Opel had been running really smoothly all afternoon, we had like 2 little hiccups from the engine on the way back but that was it. It started raining just as we pulled in home so we were happy to call it a day there. I spent like 30-40 mins going through the photos with Josh already rating them for ease of finding the better photos in the future (as I do always) and doing quick edits. I was able to have a shiT as I wasn’t able to have one earlier in the day. Sorry Josh and family. I was on the train headed back to LDN around 5pm.

Overall, what a bloody fantastic day out, THANK YOU! We sure will be doing that again. All I need now is a classic Porsche or E30 or something. 

Catch ya later,

Ray Petty Meccanica - November 2017

After my US West Coast trip in October 2017, I was able to find a gem of a motorbike repair shop in Greenwich. I stumbled upon Ray Petty Meccanica during a bike ride (a break from being in the flat all day) one cold dark, but dry Friday evening. 

As someone who within the last year or so, especially who is frequently on the discover page on Instagram (seeing what the rest of the world is up to), I have grown a strong passion for specialist "cafe racer" style custom bikes, which Ray Petty where clearly into. After a quick Google, website and Instagram stalk, I got in touch and asked if I could take some photos of the bikes, workshop and people involved, for free, which they were happy to let me do on 2 occasions.

Below are some of the photos I captured on both these occasions. I hope you enjoy them

Its mid February at the moment and I am going to get back in touch to see if I can get involved again and maybe work on some more bike showcasing style photos (like seen on @bikeshedmc, @autofabrica & @losperdidos_ on Instagram). I hope I can take these passions of mine further throughout the next few years here in London. 

Cheers

The Shadow Campaign 'The Warmth of Winter' Film Review

The Shadow Campaign’ is a series of 4 short films for DPS Skis in partnership with Outdoor Research & GoreTex. Directed by Ben Sturgulewski, these longer form film series mate features from traditional filmmaking and television shows, viral, commercial and branded video to create what I think is where the future of content and media could be ending up.

Below is the film in question I am reviewing today

Directing

Sturge Film founder and director Ben Sturgulewski is an Alaska based; award wining director and cinematographer who has won prizes such as Powder Magazine's coveted Movie of the Year Award. It was true that people in the ski, action sports and film industry were expecting big things, but big things were definitely given! With an online branded film series like this where DPS Skis and Gore-Tex are essentially Ben's only major investors, the brief of creating 'an annual line up of fresh artistic festival worthy film shorts released online' which still respects and shows off these brands in the correct way is no easy task. 

I would like to start by focusing on the title of this episode in the film series, 'The Warmth of Winter'. Most would say that its total nonsense. How could winter, known for being cold wet and dark, be warm? Well to answer and put straight your fuss, the idea behind the title is in fact how when winter and the ski season arrives on ski resort and mountain doorsteps, the ski community once again can rejoice in their shared passion once again and from that a lot of love, belonging and warmth is felt between community members. After the release of 'Valhalla', of which Ben took several roles in, during an interview with Coldsmoke Winter Film Festival, Ben brought up that ‘the average skier doesn’t really connect with’ people hucking cliffs and doing all these crazy freestyle tricks.

Editing

I am not one to rightfully comment on a films editing as this skill of mine is still in its infancy, but I will say a few things. Firstly I really like the cuts and transitions that were chosen in this film. They are slow, gradual interlacing transitions that help amplify to its audience of its dark, mysterious and new tone to action sports and ski films. The films colour pallet is such that it amplifies the 'warmth' of winter. In the 2 screenshots above, the colour palette reminds the films audience and viewers about that special christmas, family and homely feel. Finally the mix between the Japanese mountain time lapses and steady, static 'b-roll' environment shots within the middle of the film is cool playing along and emphasising the bouncy but smooth tempo and mood of Sylvan Esso's 'Coffee' (the films soundtrack).

Cinematography

As a whole the Shadow Campaign series comes across as having very high production value and that for sure comes across in the high level of cinematography that is being shown. Drones, high image quality cameras and lenses have been used and I can tell the team spent spent some time during pre production to really narrow down the shots they wanted each morning. The majority of lighting in the film comes either from natural light from the sun, both harsh and soft diffused light from clouds, or practical light found in the Japanese bar in the intro and outro to the film. I think this use of lighting really helps to show off the 'soul' of Japanese skiing, which is based around the huge amounts of snow Japan and its resorts receives, the small bars serving sushi bento, amazing Japanese beer and the Japanese "cough syrup" of sake shots and then the extremely fun and friendly Japanese people who love pulling off the signature peace sign in a photo.

Even cinematography basics like composition and camera movements are done to a level that is awe inspiring. Below are some screen grabs from the film with my comments on that bit of the film in relation to the films cinematography.

In the film, the shot that is shown above is one of the many cool camera movements that I am drawn to. In this shot, as the skier makes his way down the face, on the spine, the drone is moving towards this mountain face, the camera is tilting down keeping the skier in frame and ends pretty close to the mountain face. Its just the originality of the shot that draws me to it as I think a lot of directors and cinematographers would take the same scene with the skier heading down the face, as stick top a shot of the drone following from behind the skier.

Take a good look at the screenshot above. Today, almost every production will have drones on their radar of tools to use because of their vantage point they can give a story and production. However the framing and vantage point of this drone shot is just little bit more different as many would have associated the skier to be facing the drone or the drone following from behind him. I think the attraction in this shot is that it uses the width of the 16x9 frame to show the length and possibly the gradient of that particular run without directly showing how long the ski run through the pillow line is.

Music & Sound

For the most part this film features the song 'Coffee' by Sylvan Esso and the intro and outro features Marmoset's 'Night Street'. In my opinion the latter of these song choices best suits the nature and style of this film because I can't match up why a song 'based on the idea of contra dancing as a way of talk about relationships' can relate to Japan or skiing. Maybe the decision to use the song is beyond what I am currently thinking so I am going to leave it there for you to make your own decisions. Regarding the films sound effects, they are strong. I love films or edits where raw clean high quality sounds like ski boots clipping into ski bindings or the glass of whiskey been thrown down the bar with the ice swirling around, mixed in with visuals and music is what todays top action and adventure sports films are made of. Its a paradise for the bodies senses.

“Coffee” is based on the idea of contra dancing as a way of talking about relationships. What happens is, you do a series of movements that are called out at the beginning of the dance — everyone knows 25 movements — and then you string them together. You’ll do the same movements with your partner, then do a dance with another dude, then come back to your partner. Dancing is just really important. So many pop songs are about dancing, which is super strange to me, because it doesn’t feel like something many people do. There’s this stigma for people who don’t dance. There’s something magical about it, and I don’t think anyone knows what it is except that it’s about letting go.
— http://www.wonderingsound.com/feature/sylvan-esso-interview/
M: What role do you feel music has in film?

SJS: Music has a special power to express something you can’t see, but the director wants you to feel. The same way that a choice of lens can add a layer of texture, sound can add a new sense of touch.
— http://journal.marmosetmusic.com/read/2015/6/always-experiment-an-interview-with-marmoset-band-lullatone

Matchstick Productions 'Fade to Winter'... My thoughts

Before I start I would like to use this review as sort of a public tool to use to get some of my thought and feelings I had about the film across to anyone who stumbles upon this review/blog post. Also I did not write this blog post to offend anyone. If I do, then I am sorry in advance and I hope you understand these are just my opinions

Watch Fade to Winter here ... https://www.redbull.tv/film/AP-1N9BJJJJ51W12/fade-to-winter

The thing I love about Apple TV is that I am able to watch Red Bull TV on my 10 year old Loewe 720p HD television that we bought when we first arrived in Jakarta before living there with my family a couple of years. I am surprised it still kicks out a reasonably good picture for this day and age. So one evening I was in that "I want to watch a ski film" mood and I happened to fall upon watching Fade to Winter by Matchstick Productions through Red Bull TV.  I had not seen the film but had had it in my watch list for a while now. The film is an ode to times of change that skiers, snowboarders and surfers alike experience. 

I started watching the film and as a 3rd year Film & TV Production student here in London and one that wants to work in the ski film industry, I found that I picked up on a few things that could be of interest for my future self. 

Firstly I learnt some awesome new phrases to add to my skiing, mountains and snow arsenal. One of which was the way snow, and in particular falling powder snow was described as 'big fat potato chips floating down from the sky'. I don't know why specifically this phrase stuck out in my mind but it remained me of one of Queen's famous songs and then the British  documentary series 'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings'. The likelihood of you knowing of Queen's song is pretty high but if you haven't heard of or seen some of the TV series then I suggest you go and check it out because it is both a big laugh and pretty eye opening (for me at least) at the same time. 

Secondly, the shotover shot through a valley between 2 rocky peaked mountains in Haines, Alaska, I think should have been longer. With the sounds and music that were playing at the ned of this segment, the shot should have at least lasted for 5 or 10 more seconds and the helicopter could have moved both up and back whilst the camera lens could have zoomed in. I think it just would have been a more "set in stone" way to end such kick ass segment. 

PS in case you don't know what a shotover is, the picture and video below will tell you. Its one hello of a piece of kit for sure. 

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Lastly I would like to raise an enquiry as to what people think of featuring a narrator in ski and other sports films. For me, I always thought a narrators guiding words in ski movies was always going to be something that Marren Miller and his films would feature. I would think that the guys there were the best at it and if anyone were to copy them and use a narrator to guide the viewers attention, it would be weird and somewhat wrong and "breaking the law" of modern and semi modern ski films. And so when I was watching Fed to winter and the narrator would be there doing his thing I built a strong disliking to it and started to question 'What would a ski movie be like without a narrator?' or even athletes that would say what was going on in their dialogue. There may be a market for that sort of film where the audience has complete freedom as to what they think is happening and the story thats being told. Something like this would surely open up a whole lot more creative "latitude" to the visuals, sound design, effects and music.

And so yeah I will leave it at that to ensure I don't upset anyone further or fall into any legal or political "stromash". 

 

Thank you,

 

 

PS below are some screen grabs of the rubber duck/s that made an appearance in the "skiers spring break" segment in the film

Travel Photography in Helsinki, May 2016

So having just finished my 2nd year at university, I took a trip out to see my good friend Fabian out in Helsinki who was doing an Erasmus year out there. I took these photos to capture the fun time I had there with him being tour guide and me being tourist. 

All photos taken on the Samsung Galaxy S6