Kent Photographer – 2013 A Retrospective

As a Kent Photographer, to say planning this post was hard would be an understatement!

Looking through my catalog for 2013 which numbers around 50,000 images all edited! This year I really tried to be harsher and keep less! So what I have decided to do is to select just one image from every month and try and convey the impossible variety of work I do! So here goes. One image from each month, with not much comment…

January

Spent a bit of time this year shooting Premiership football for the guys at SportPix

Kent Photographer | Sport

Jussi Jaaskelainen (22) saves an Arsenal attempt

February

I shot less celebrity stuff this year. However I am still a bit undecided how much I’ll do in 2014.

Kent Photographer | Pemiers

Stars Denise Van Outen and Sarah Harding. Run For Your Wife Film Premier. Odeon Leicester Square,

March

This years motorsport season was the best yet. It was a conscious effort to focus a little more. The track days are still awesome fun and I’m looking forward to continuing a great relationship in 2014 as the official photographer at Lydden Hill where Willie Woods and his team are really making a gigantic difference.

Kent Photographer | Motorsport

Lydden Hill | BMCRC Sidecar Testing | 9th March 2013

April

IMG started running the FIA European Rallycross Championship with a restructure to the FIA Rallycross RX and wow! what a difference! Here’s possibly one of my favorite motorsport frames this year. I not only cover the European and British Rallycross Championships doing team media for a lot of drivers but also for www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk. Still at time of writing this I am trying to sort out plans to cover the newly announced World Rallycross Championship. Fingers crossed.

Kent Photographer | Rallycross

Kevin Errikson at 2013 FIA European Rallycross Championship, Round 1 Rallycross of Great Britain, presented by Monster Energy.

May

I probably shot more gigs this year than before. The head and shoulders most successful frame over everything else I shot  is this one of Justin Young, lead singer of The Vaccines. Corbis keep sending me money for this frame, not sure where its being used, but long may it last!

Kent Photographer | Event

Justin Young. The Vaccines play Margate Winter Gardens, Kent. 01/05/2013

June

Did a few Royal duties this year as well. Even to the point that prince Andrew tried to run me down in a golf cart!

Kent Photographer | Royal Cverage

Her Majesty The Queen visiting The Argyll & Sutherlander Highlanders, 5th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, (5 SCOTS) at Howe Barracks, Canterbury on Friday 28th June.

July

Holiday for the first time in years 🙂

Kent Photographer | landscapes

August

Every so often I get to go and take pictures of my photographic heroes. I was lucky enough to do an editorial portrait shoot of John Cross who’s legendary images of Koo Stark are well known.

Kent Photographer | Press Photographer

Photographer John Cross, who is exhibiting his work at the Golf Road Centre.

September

One of the few premiers did this year was ‘Diana’ unwittingly capturing David Emanuel as ‘another’ where in a couple of months after this he would be the toast of the UK down to his involvement in I’m a Celebrity!

Kent Photographer | Matt Bristow

David Emanuel. World Premier of Diana. Odean, London.

October

Did a wedding for a mate, was a great day more here

Kent Photographer | Wedding photographyNovember

I shot a ton of sport this year. One of my favorite events was the ATP Finals for obvious reasons.

Kent Photographer | Sport Photography

Barclays ATP World Finals. Group B singles match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Roger Federer returns the ball.

December

This year more then any other I have shoot more regional press and editorial work. Its something I love more than anything else. Don’t get me wrong covering big high profile events or shooting celebrities is great but meeting everyday people who are doing ordinary things but also sometimes some extra-ordinary things is very, very rewarding. By the way I probably have shots of 50+ Santa’s from this year!

Kent Photographer | Press Photographer

Herne Bay town centre, Mortimer Street. Christmas showcase market stalls during day & light switch on.

So that in a very, very small 12 picture nutshell was my year.

New year is a time to reflect and make resolutions. I think if its all the same to you I’ll just keep doing what I do!

However there’s a couple of things I’d like to do more of in 2014 the first just requires me to get out of bed and that shoot more landscapes! The second is that I have realized I haven’t worked with any models during 2013 and that’s something I’d like to do more of in 2014, so if you want to collaborate get in touch!

Happy New year to all friends and clients both new and old here’s to an awesome 2014.

Christmas is coming! Santas in November – Kent Press Photographer

As a Kent Press Photographer, this time of year always full of images with Santa in. Which is fine but in November?

Last weekend alone I filed about twenty plus pictures of different Santas! from the weird to the wonderful!

Kent Press Photographer - Matt Bristow

Santa flies KLM its official I have seen it at Manston Airport!

Kent Press Photographer - Matt Bristow

All the Bah Humbug aside now. It really is a busy time of year. Which has seen me traveling far and wide. This year I’m determined to make some different images not just the run of the mill ones you see all the time, well that’s the plan. We shall see!

I got to cover the grand Christmas lights turn on in Dover this year by the cast of the Panto at the Marlowe Theater in Canterbury. Samantha Womack better known for playing Ronnie in Eastenders. Is one of the main celeb pulls. I personally remember and prefer her from Game On!

Kent Press Photographer - Matt Bristow

Phil Gallagher. better known as C Beebies ‘Mr Maker’ as well. I had shot him before a couple of days earlier. So I had already met him. A really nice guy who has the misfortune to support the Gills!

Kent Press Photographer - Matt Bristow

I have also been thrown some tough jobs lately not least shooting in dimly lit churches with varying results. Given more time the sceanareo screams for an Off Camera Flash setup, but when your rushing from job to job that’s just not possible.

Kent Press Photographer - Matt Bristow

Matt Bristow - Kent Press Photographer

With my Rubber Duck Does Automotive hat on. I have started shooting for the American car magazine European Car. My first job was shooting a feature of the simply awesome Ford Focus RS 500 ‘Optimus’ that belongs to the guys at RS Direct down in Bristol.

Kent Press Photographer - Matt Bristow

Unfortunately until they are published this is all I can let you see for now. Needless to say awesome car (I’m a real sucker for RS’s!) in an exceptionally cool location. Makes for some really great images and will deserve its own post in the future!

I’d also had the pleasure of getting some really great customer service this week. Which I’d just like to take a minute to tell you about. My external flash battery pack suddenly decided that it was no longer going to charge, not really the end of the world but I use mine on a daily basis as its quicker to charge than a load of AA Batteries! I duly contacted John at UK Photo Distro about it. I had only bought it back in the summer but I hadn’t spent a fortune on it so I wasn’t expecting much. However within about 5 minutes of sending the email he called me to reassure me that he was sending out a replacement. So I urge you to go and take a look at their website if your looking for any kind of accessory.

British Rallycross 2013 – Annual

So I thought it would be a good idea to design and publish a book that covered this years British Rallycross championship. After a few conversations with motorsport journalist extraordinaire, and good mate, Hal Ridge. He finally succumbed to my nagging and conceded to do the words for the book.

Right from when I had conceived the idea I had wanted to include an image of every regular driver in every class, which basically resulted in over 90 pages of images and a few hundred images for Hal to caption and write about!

We also wanted the book to be of a decent quality that people, divers and rallycross fans would want to keep. I hate to use the term but a coffee table book! So we decided that a 10×8 hardback  book with a wrap was the way forward. For this we decided to use the well known website Blurb for the fulfillment.

So after literally 100’s of texts and emails here’s the end product. There’s also an ebook version which is available at http://store.blurb.co.uk/ebooks/p6648271f40f254b7505e 

Here’s a preview of the book

We would welcome any comments that people have and also would like to hear any suggestions that you may have that would make it better. We are thinking about doing a give away so let us know what you think.

Photographic Equipment, How Do You Use Yours?

So just how do you use your photographic equipment? More importantly do you actually know what you use and when?

Not totally sure where I’m going with this one, but bear with me there is a point!

My thinking all came about after I had some comments from one of the picture editors I work for. Basically his comment was along the lines of ‘are you having problems?’

Regrettably I instantly knew exactly what he was referring to and it was something that I had been ignoring for quite some time. For quite a while I had been making compensations in camera sometimes by as much as a stop!  I had to face up to the cold truth that I simply had to get my kit serviced!

To cut a long story short when I got my first body back from Miles ‘the Man that does’ his diagnoses was that the sensor was out of line, possibly due to a knock or two! no shit sherlock. not really a surprise I suppose! The difference was simply staggering. I could trust readings the camera was giving me for, ahem the first time in months!

This got me thinking about how I use the rest of my photographic equipment.

Way back in the dark ages of film. When I as a bright eyed and freshly qualified as a photographer. My photographic equipment consisted of only primes. which consisted of 35mm, 50mm, 80mm and 135mm and that was it! (I didn’t shoot any motorsport or sport then)

I now cover those lengths and more with just two zoom lenses. But I got thinking what focal lengths out of that range do I use the most?  Professionals and amateurs alike are always planning new photographic equipment purchases, normally new lenses. And they aren’t cheap and as a full time photographer any money invested comes directly off my bottom line and in turn the money I take home to pay the bills! So I need to invest in any new photographic equipment carefully.

So I decided to analyse what I use and when. To help me I found a great little app called Exposure Plot. I simply ran it on only the frames I shot this year up to the end of August only. A total of around 43,000 images so a pretty fair cross section.

This is what I got for the most used focal lengths:

Photographic Equipment - Focal Length Analysis

And this for apertures used:

Photographic Equipment - Aperture Analysis

So what does this actually mean? Well to date rather than fork out a massive wad of cash I have opted to hire in specialist lenses against jobs when I have needed them. The downside of this is that my hire bill from this year currently stands at around £2,500! money I’d sooner hang onto in the long run. This is mostly for large primes, which considering the amount of Sport and Motorsport I shoot isn’t really too much of a surprise. I had been thinking about an 85mm prime but looking at the graphs what would the point be other than a gigantic waste of money? The trusty work horse 70-200mm f2.8 never misses a beat.What is does suggest is that its time to invest in a large prime again.

What is more interesting is the usage at the other end of the focal length scale. I am very tempted to retire my 24-70mm f2.8 and invest in 2 or 3 fast primes instead.

Go and give it a go I think you’ll be surprised I know that I was! If nothing else it will help you spend your hard earned wisely!

Car Rig Shot | All you need to know

So you want to do a car rig shot? Well who wouldn’t?

A Car Rig Shot is very cool! But when I wanted to build my own rig there was little or no information available. It seems that it was shrouded in more secrecy than the magic circle. Other photographers simply didn’t want to divulge their methods.

I have been meaning to write this for a while. Here’s my DIYish way of doing a car rig shot without breaking the bank! Don’t get me wrong there are widely available commercial rigs that you can buy if money is no object. Typically these start at over £1,000! So if money is no object go and check out the guys at http://www.carcamerarig.com their rigs are superb.

Heres what you’ll need to take a Car Rig Shot

A couple of Manfrotto F1000 pump cups (I only use Manfrotto as all my other stuff like this is Manfrotto so I know they are interchangable!)  these can be picked up for around £60 from places like Wex Photographic

Car Rig Shot

I never leave home without at least half a dozen Manfrotto Super Clamps in the bag, just because they are so usefull on any shoot,  but for this you will only need three.

Car Rig Shot

You’ll then need a way of attaching your camera. I use a Manfrotto Magic Arm. I have seen all sorts of other methods used to save on weight but I use my Canon 1D’s with this without any issues. These retail at over £100 but I picked mine up from E-Bay for £20!

Car Rig Shot

I also normally have with me a couple of Manfrotto Umbrella Swival adaptors. With an array of male/female siggot adaptors. These aren’t always needed but if the car your rigging has odd curves these are usefull to make up extra height.

Car Rig Shot

Finally you will need something pole like. I first used steel conduit that simply screwed together. But they proved too heavy and created lots of wobble due to their weight. Infact the Cosworth shot below was shot using these. I actually use aluminium scaffolding poles. I was lucky enough to find a 5m length in my garage I didn’t know I had!

Car Rig ShotI have it in three pieces and attach them like this.

Car Rig Shot

Put it all together and it should look a bit like this.

Car Rig Shot setup

Depending on where you shoot and what surface you might want to add some sort of tension cable. I just use some fine metal wire and a piece of carbon kite rod. You can see this in the shot above.

Taking the shot

I always aim for a 3-6 second exposure dependant on time of day and weather conditions. Anything longer doesn’t really add much infact I think it actually takes away, as if you blur the background too much the car simply looks like a cut out.

To take the shot its always easier to simply push the car, thats the trick, rig shots are taken with the car barely moving! Having said that I have done it with the car under power.

Theres a myriad of ways to trigger the exposure anything from setting the self timer on your camera to using a wireless trigger like Pocket Wizards. The choice is up to you.

Once you have taken the shot you should have something that looks a bit like this.

Caterham For Car Throttle

All thats left is to photoshop out the rig and voila you have your rig shot.

Caterham shot for Car Throttle

Caterham rig shot for Car Throttle

Here are a couple of my favorites that I have been commissioned to shoot over the past 18 months or so.

Rallycross Super car | Rig Shot for Japanese Performance

Rallycross Super car | Rig Shot for Japanese Performance

Ford Cosworth RS | Rig Shot for private client

Ford Cosworth RS | Rig Shot for private client

Ford Prefect | Rig Shot for Performance Ford

Ford Prefect | Rig Shot for Unity Media

One last word of warning from me on rig shots. Yes, they are cool and look awesome. But they don’t show much about the detail of the vehicle. A feature shoot is just that its all about features and detail. So don’t use a rig shot just because you can it has to be in context with the brief.

If theres anything thats not clear or you want more information add a comment below and I’ll try my best to answer it.

You can see more of my automotive work at www.rubberduckdoes.com

Even a Professional Photographer deserves a Holiday

As I go about my daily work as a professional photographer I always think July is a weird month, neither here nor there.

So we normally have a holiday. Well even a professional photographer is allowed one  they? But before I could have a well-earned rest there was still some assignments to take care of. As well as the end of the plethora of school sports days and proms that happen at this time of the year.

The beginning of the month saw me on the red carpet in Leicester Square, London for the World Premier of Status Quo’s first feature film ‘Bula Quo’

Status Quo's Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt | Professional Photographer Matt Bristow

Status Quo’s Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt – quite simply legends!

Actress Laura Aikman | Professional Photographer Matt Bristow

The beautiful Laura Aikman poses with a fan at the star-studded Premiere of ‘BULA QUO’.

Later in the month with the help of good friend and fellow professional photographer Ross I’Anson. We headed off on a road trip to Belgium to an extremely hot Massmechelen in  South East Belgium for round 5 of the British Rallycross Championship. I really enjoy going there its a tight circuit and always entertaining. The rest of my galleries from the round can be found at http://rallyx.rubberduckdoes.com. My race report is over on The Checkered Flag

British Rallycross Championship Round 5 Maasmechelen, Belgium | Professional Photographer Matt Bristow

Kevin Procter looses a rear damper in the Super car heat 2

British Rallycross Championship Round 5 Maasmechelen, Belgium | Professional Photographer Matt Bristow

Championship leader and the winner in Belgium, Julian Godfrey.

A quick interior and food product shoot for the guys at The Vinorium. Who are opening a new Deli and eatery. If you’re in the Ashford area I really recommend you take the time to visit them to sample their quality wines and mouth watering foods.

The Deli at The Vinorium | Professional Photographer Matt BristowSo it was holiday time and off to France we went. I didn’t do much snapping as my gear was commandeered by my niece! But I did take the time to get a couple of frames. No brief just what I felt like! Something I think that most professional photographers loose sight of.

I’m a sucker for panoramas and I hate heights! But I couldn’t resist a quick handheld 6 frame panoramic of the Bologne skyline.

Panoramic cityscape of Bologne-Sur-Mer | Professional Photographer Matt Bristow

Panoramic cityscape of Bologne-Sur-Mer

Never shoot into the sun is a rule you are told from day one when you study photography. Well I have news for you that isn’t always the case. Your flash can over power the sun, well kind of!

Professional Photographer Matt Bristow

Quick Portrait – Rules were made to be ignored!

I haven’t shot a startrail for ages. Nothing fancy just in the garden of our holiday home. A quick 60 frame stack. Shot at an exposure of 30 seconds with 30 seconds gap between. With a couple of random strobe bursts for the foreground.

Startrails in France | Professional Photographer Matt Bristow

Startrails in France

Any questions or comments please leave them below. I’ll answer everything in as much detail as I can.

British Rallycross Championship | Flying Swift

Covering the British Rallycross Championship

When I covering the British Rallycross Championship it really does mean that sometimes its all about being in the right place at the right time and of course being ready and having everything close to hand!

This time Championship contender Grahame Rodemark was good enough to launch his car into the air at round 1 of the Britsh Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill Race Circuit in Kent, UK.

British Rallycross Championship

British Rallycross Championship Round 1 Lydden Hill 16th March 2013 MSA Suzuki Swift Sport Winner Graham Rodemark gets airbourne (c) MATT BRISTOW

This post is for the guys over on Kickstarter and the Capture Camera Clip V2.