Cholmondeley Pageant Of Power by Neil Alexander

I've been struggling to find postable material of late - partly due to the fact that I don't think I've shot anything seriously for myself for a few weeks. That and the fact the majority of the work I've been doing lately hasn't really been of a shareable nature.

But last weekend, my son and I went down to the Cholmondeley Pageant Of Power in deepest Cheshire for a bit of a boy's day out. The festival sets itself out as "The only place to see explosive power on track, water and in the air" and it really was quite a spectacular. In addition to the plethora of gorgeous sports cars and bikes, old and new, blasting round a short circuit, there was a Battle of Britain flypast, rib boat rides, helicopter demonstrations and rides and on the Saturday night, there was even a proms style firework display and concert.

Unfortunately from a purely selfish point of view, there were no really good vantage points of the track to avoid getting hay bales in the frame, unless I was prepared to climb a tree or two, which I wasn't!

I understand the need for the bales, but in the grand scheme of things, are they really going to prevent an Aston doing 100mph from doing too much damage if it came off the track? Hardly an Armco! Anyway, they got on my nerves as I'm just too short to see over them and get the contact point between the car's wheels and Tarmac in the frame.

Cholmondeley Pageant of Power Neil_Alexander.jpg

Grumbling aside, we had a great day out and will definitely make a point of going again next year. 

Incidentally, I've had a couple of emails from people asking how I create these diptych / tryptych / photo layout thingys. I use a little Photoshop plugin called Tych Panel  which is a piece of donation ware software which automates the process of laying out photographs side by side.  It makes it really easy to create diptychs, triptychs, quadtychs and a virtually unlimited set of custom layouts. Read more about it, and download the Tych Panel plugin here.

Desktop Wallpaper for June 2013 by Neil Alexander


Something a little different this month. At the end of last week I hooked up with a bunch of guys who were heading over to the Isle of Man for the start of the TT races in their rather tidy supercars. I shot a bunch of tracking shots (in the gallery just below) as they headed up the motorway, and then co-ordinated the above shot with them where they took up the whole motorway - it was a real fun morning! If you follow me over on my Facebook page then you'll have had a sneak preview of these last week. 

I've had such great feedback on the image above that I felt it would make a great desktop wallpaper for June. See here for download instructions.

Once again, I'm running a little competition running revolving around this photograph, but to be eligible and party to the competition details you need to be in my "Image of the Month" club. Sign up here - you've got to be in it to win it!

If it's more than a desktop wallpaper that you're looking for, then you can purchase prints or a commercial license for this image here.

Before I sign off for another week, I thought I'd include a few of the better links that I've found worth sharing on Twitter over the last few weeks. If you're on Twitter then feel free to follow me - I'm @NeilAlexanderD

Thank for reading. Feel free to share this around and I hope you have a great June.


Download Instructions

Windows Users

Method 1:

1. Click on the link that matches your screen resolution to open the image in a new browser window (if you do not know what your screen resolution is you can find out by right-clicking on an empty area of your desktop, select Properties, then the Settings tab, and it will show you the Screen Resolution on the right-hand side of the box)

2. In the new browser window that has opened with the image in it, right-click and select Set as Wallpaper or Set as Background.

3. Your wallpaper will now appear on your desktop

Method 2:

1. Follow the steps as above but instead of selecting Set as Background, select Save Image As. Change the file name if you with, and save the file wherever you wish to store it.

2. Right-click on an empty area of your desktop, select Properties, then the Background tab.

3. Click on the Browse button and find the image file where you saved it, select it, then click OK.

4. Your wallpaper will now appear on your desktop

Mac Users

1. Click on the link that matches your screen resolution to open the image in a new browser window (if you do not know what your screen resolution is you can find out by clicking on the apple, select System Preferences, then Displays).

2. Ctrl-click on the image in the new window, select Download Image to Disk and save in a place you will remember

3. Hold down Ctrl and - at the same time - click on your desktop

4. Choose Change Desktop Background and click on the Desktop tab in the Desktop & Screensaver pop-up menu.

5. Select Choose Folder, Desktop and navigate to the downloaded image then click Choose (bottom right) and close the Desktop & Screensaver menu. 6. Your wallpaper will now appear on your desktop

Shooting cars in motion by Neil Alexander

I've been working a little more on my car photography lately and I wanted to try and get some motion shots to liven up my options. I've a series of car shoots (watch this space) coming up and in addition to some beautifully lit static detailed shots, I felt that it would be necessary to convey some motion too. I've done a raft of research and performed a little ad-hoc testing and ended up putting together the rig in the picture below. 

For it I used:

  • One Manfrotto AutoPole
  • Two Elinchrom vacuum grips
  • 3 Manfrotto Super clamps
  • Some spigots
  • One Manfrotto ballhead
  • A camera
  • Two PocketWizard Multimaxs
  • Sigma 10-20mm lens
  • Singh Ray Variable ND filter
  • And a car....

To reduce camera shake and get sharp images, ideally I'd have had several patient manly helpers (it's a big motor) and pushed it along, or simply rolled it slowly down a gentle slope but I was pushed for time and was short on help. I ended up doing this with the engine running and driving the car myself using the PocketWizards to trigger the camera. With a little trial and error I calculated that I'd need a shutter speed of around 1/4 to 1/2 second to get the motion blur that I was looking for. It was a bright day and even at F22 I wasn't close, which is where the Vari-ND came in useful. Obviously the problem was that at those shutter speeds with the camera dangling off the end of a rather bouncy pole, getting sharp images was going to be a bit hit and miss. I took a lot of frames in order to get a very few sharp ones. 

I only ever had the car going 2 or 3 mph and even on the smoothest parts of the road surface the camera went through a fair degree of pogo-ing up and down. Fortunately being up so high I could judge when the bouncing was at it's minimum and then hammered the PocketWizard.

Then it was back to the ranch for some heavy Photoshop action to remove not just the pole and the clamps but the reflections of them too and all the mud that the car had picked up en route to the test site.

Though it worked ok, the AutoPole (which is clearly designed for use vertically in a studio) isn't really built with this kind of thing in mind. I've since been looking at some extendable carbon fibre poles (read muchos poundos) but have also found a place over in Liverpool that sells used 10ft scaffolding poles for the almighty sum of £5.  

Next opportunity I get, I'll nip over there and rig up another test., and this time with a cleaner set of wheels.

Range Rover in motion - setup.jpg