salford quays

How to photograph a black Porsche at night without lights by Neil Alexander

The other evening I headed up into Trafford Park to meet up with performance car enthusiast and all round good egg, Colin from BAD Power vehicle tuning and sales. They specialise in remapping, bespoke exhaust systems, sports preparation and generally anything loud, fast and stunningly good looking. We've done several shoots together and tonight's muse was no exception.

The idea was to shoot this delightful Porsche 997 before it underwent a major refurb and was transformed from a purring kitten into a roaring tiger. Midnight is a rather surreal time in Trafford Park. The frenetic daytime norm of the relentless onslaught of juggernauts on a deadline is replaced by wide open roads devoid of traffic and lay bys littered with the sleeping giants waiting for their tachographs to cycle. Large empty car parks, run down warehouses juxtaposed with shining chrome cooling towers and smoke enshrouded factories. It's a photographer's dream. 

Except that the roads aren't completely empty. There are some great photographs to be had in the middle of the carriageways, but in spite of 30mph speed limits, any traffic that time of night is absolutely flying. And that includes the artics. You really have to have eyes in the back of your head and your ears wide open. They ain't stopping for nothing. So for most of the locations we wanted to shoot, setting up lights was a no no. In fact it could have been downright dangerous. So without being able to use any of my own lights, I had to fall back to using anything there was, street lights, car park lights, tram lights, tail lights, whatever there was available. 

Shoot street lights at a really narrow aperture and they transform into little orange and white stars. It can be a bit of a faff getting the subject into the right position and obviously the lights are fixed, so I had to move the car backwards and forwards to where it would be lit just right. But we got there in the end.

All in all not bad for a night's work I reckon.

BBC Media City at Salford Quays by Neil Alexander


I decided to take a trip up to the new BBC Media City on Salford Quays
in Manchester the other morning. It's quite some time since I was last
there and there has been some real progress. The 3 main buildings are
well under progress and there are currently 3 sound stages and
associated facilities up and running. Read more details on Demotix at

"In 2007, the first foundations were sunk on the new Media City site in
Salford Quays in Manchester. The site on part of the old docks on the
Manchester Ship Canal opposite the new Lowry & Imperial War Museum
buildings is projected to be home to around 2,500 BBC staff by 2011
with anticipated employment for an additional 13,000 people in media
related industries. The BBC will be relocating BBC Sport, Learning,
Children's (including CBeebies), Radio 5 Live & Future Media &
Technology as well as all local and network broadcasting currently
housed in Manchester City Centre. The 200 acre site will consist of
three core towers designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre and will
eventually provide 700,000 sq ft of office space, 250,000 sq ft of
studios, 60,000 sq ft of retail and leisure, apartments, a hotel,
5-acre public piazza and an enhanced tram link doubling the current
Currently in operation at the site, there are 3 sound stages and
accompanying facilites on the former "Freshbake" pie factory site
adjacent to the main site from which the BBC has produced a few shows.
There has been considerable discussion and deliberation about the
proposed relocation within the Beeb with many London based stuff
relucatant to make the move. The organisation have offered substantial
incentives to staff and several high profile names such as Nicky
Campbell and Simon Mayo have already publicly committed to moving North.
These images were taken of the site mid-development in April 2009. A Shot of the original site can be seen here.
There is also a streaming feed of the site here: "