Kirroughtree is a perfect example of a well thought out trail centre, on paper its everything you could want to get the most out of your day riding, regardless of your ability.
This 7stanes trail centre boasts, adequate parking, good café, a bike shop and rental, a skills loop, and most importantly a blue, red and black option taking you out further into the Galloway forest to enjoy some of the best trail centre riding Scotland has to offer. One of the most important features is the skills loop. It opens up the centre to so many people of varying ability and creates something far more accessible than daunting trails a long way from the safety of the dry, warm café. It allows beginners to get an understanding of the skills required for each trail and encourages progression whilst managing your expectations. Often you see a few riders of different ability helping each other improve before heading out into the trails. It’s a perfect introduction and gives you an appetite for what is to come. A 20 minute skills loop session followed by a chilled lap of the blues is a great way to spend a summers evening. I think making mountain bike riding accessible is one of the most important things to consider and one of the biggest barriers to people with little experience. Kirroughtree does a very good job of providing something for everyone.
The trails themselves are really well maintained and run well in the wet or the dry. You ride out on the blue trails, which start predominately sweeping and smooth then begin to overlap with the reds after a few miles, this allows for slightly more interesting lines choices and the opportunity to gain confidence and gauge if the reds are for you. Slowly building you up without throwing you in at the deep end. The climbing is well managed, it never feels like you aren’t rewarded for your climbing efforts. The blue and red sections are intertwined with each other nicely allowing for you to add in sections of red and then loop back onto blues using fire roads. Again, adding to its usability for everyone. Kirroughtree is often a go to for me and my other half, using sections of red to build her up towards the full loop, whilst keeping enjoyment levels high on the rewarding swoopy flow of the blues.
Sooner or later the red has to progress away from the blues and when it does it gets more technical, more remote and more serious. taking you ever closer to the black route, with beautiful views along the way and some sharp technical climbs to wake you up to what’s to come. Once you are out there there’s not a whole lot around, there is a noticeable lack of people – you have come much further out than most walkers would manage from the visitor centre and the only real sign of life is when you reach and cross the A712. There are always short cut options and ways to avoid a lot of the more technical sections, but should you come off your bike up here you are pretty isolated and exposed to the elements. So tell someone where you are going and maybe use an app like find my friends to let them know where you are at all times. I had the added benefit of having the Specialized ANGi equipped helmet which when paired with a phone can share your location and detect a crash impact to the helmet and send out a message to selected contacts (more on this another time).
The riding itself is awesome, this is a great example of well-designed trail centre. Hard climbs must equal epic descents, you need to be rewarded for your efforts to keep your brain and body stimulated. The way trails are put together truly is a science, you can’t peak too soon and find that most of the fun is all over. It is all about managing expectations and delivering the thrills at the appropriate moment. After all no one likes a massive climb to the carpark at the end of it all and I don’t know about you but being thrown down the gnarliest, rockiest hill fresh out the car doesn’t sit well with me either. Kirroughtree builds to an epic crescendo; puff and scrape your way through McMoab and drag yourself up heartbreak hill and drop in to Talnotry and all of your efforts are rewarded. This descent favours the fit riders with the ability to carry speed. A few pedal strokes in the right places and confidence through the turns along with ability to hit the drops and rocks and maintain your speed makes this trail flowy and fun. To little snacks or a lack of fitness can make this a disjointed uncomfortable descent. If you are expecting a no holds barred steep, fast, bike-park type descent this isn’t for you. The trail works hard to keep its elevation dropping you down and pulling you back up to drop again with as little effort as possible maintaining your height until you re-join the reds, there’s a few short punchy climbs here but its all to keep that height before dropping you back onto the blues for some well designed berms, rollers and epic flow to leave you grinning from ear to ear.
Trail centres are such an important place for mountain bikers, it pulls you away from dog walkers, horse riders and you don’t have to spend your time map checking and route planning. It leaves you free to forget these things and focus on your riding. You know the ride statistics, you know the type of riding you are going to get and you know there are escape routes back to the car if you need them. Natural routes are very rewarding but you find yourself trying to perfect your own recipe, you are always tweaking and changing sections and wishing you hadn’t taken that bridleway through the boggiest field in the UK with the angriest cows you’ve ever seen. Trail centres are ready designed and built ready for you, someone else has done all the thinking and hard work and its now just up to you to go and ride it!
I’m going to answer this in one line: good. Absolutely
amazingly good- and I’ve hardly even ridden one. Although I have answered the
whole question posed by the title of this article in less than three sentences
I would urge you to read on. It’s not just because they can make you go
further, faster and harder than ever before. Taking you places a ‘normal’ bike
simply couldn’t manage. Its far more than this; E-Bikes are great enablers. It’s
not the terrain and distance that you can achieve that amazes me but it’s the
people it can help.
I have been properly riding bikes for 2 years now, and I owe
all of this to a few mates of mine who suggested I gave it ago. Bikes have
changed my life. My bike means freedom, exercise, great times with friends, and
something that’s never failed to clear my mind of all my worries. Now, thanks
to E-Bikes they have changed even more peoples lives. My Dad, for instance, is
fifty-something years old, not fit, not active, has dodgy knees, the works. He swung
his knee over a Giant E-Bike little over eight months ago and now he can fly down the final decent of the Monkey trail at Cannock Chase. Granted Dad
has upgraded significantly (the bug has truly bitten him), and he is now the
proud owner of a Specialized Turbo Levo. I’m severely out-biked. But that’s
what I love about this sport: it doesn’t really matter what you are riding or
what gear you have. I’m now spending weekends with my Dad and we are outdoors,
getting an adrenaline rush that’s hard to rival. It’s much better than sitting
in front of the TV!
E-biking has built my Dads strength up considerably. He’s
not yet capable of keeping up with me on a regular bike, but with a small
amount of E-Bike assistance we become a very even pairing. However, there are
steep inclines where an infuriating whirring sound and a smug look and I’ve got
no chance of keeping up with him. But that easy climb is leaving him fresh and
prepared for the next descent, and after all, crashes happen when we get
fatigued and run out of talent. Honestly, there is no way he would even
entertain the idea of a muddy, cold, wet ride around Cannock Chase without the
assistance of batteries, and there we have it again. Its enabling an experience
that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. I’m sure it’s the same for so many people
across the world, managing to continue riding their bikes as age, fitness or
injury gets in the way.
Bicester Heritage is one of my favourite places in the world, a photographers dream and a car enthusiasts heaven.
2018 brought as many eclectic and incredible cars as ever, from Hot rods to
brand new Ferraris and everything in between. The thing that makes this event
is the incredible variety on display. Every time you go you find a car you
haven’t seen before, something new or old to get excited about. People flock to
Bicester for Sunday Scrambles from all over the country and I don’t blame them.
You could spend hours pouring over the car club stands and hours more poking
your nose into all of the workshops and garages and lusting after the
incredible machinery on display.
Sunday mornings couldn’t come better than this, bacon roll and a cup of tea and a wander amongst childhood dream cars. A firm favourite was the green Jaguar XJ220 basking in the winter sun, a car I remember playing with miniature versions of as a
It’s a photographers dream here, this ex-RAF base preserved lovingly and maintained carefully by its owners has a beautiful aesthetic. Gorgeous golden morning light streaming through windows of workshops and casting long shadows as hundreds of car
enthusiasts meander about with no particular route planned. Moving from car to
car sharing their own memories with their companions. Never has a car show had
so much nostalgia. Its like Goodwood meets a PistonHeads Sunday service, in the
most amazing location you could ever dream of. It’s great to find a car show to
get truly excited about going to. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Sunday Scrambles’
at Bicester. Here is a small selection of photos from the day. Enjoy them.
Every new year I sit down and review my hi-lights from the previous year. 2017 has been great year, with amazing opportunities, experiences and of course some great cars. So join me as I look back through some of the best bits of my year of automotive photography.
Lets start with this image, photographed for CAR magazine. The new 308 GTi vs a Civic Type R. Photographed in a multi-storey, carpark to avoid the horrid winter conditions.
February saw a frosty morning photographing the Audi S4 Avant Long termer for PistonHeads. Perfect photographers car; big boot, loads of grunt and no compromise on comfort and ride. Gorgeous sunny conditions to photograph in.
A real highlight this one, a twin test, Panamera Turbo vs RS7 what a pair! Insane performance from two heavyweights.
Next up a trip to Prodrive HQ, so many awesome cars here, one of the highlights was this Vulcan.
Then to Central London to photograph CAR magazines new long termer; the Porsche Macan.
Slightly less glamorous, another multi-storey shooting Chris Chilton in some truly miserable weather!
This was one of those days where I had to pinch myself. V8s galore, a whole day in the Northamptonshire countryside photographing and playing with some super cool V8s with PistonHeads.
Oh and we had a mustang… would be rude not to!
Something a little different this time - A trip to West Surrey Racing with BMW Car club to photograph and interview Dick Bennetts.
Next up a trip to the seaside with this Volvo V90 to photograph it for CAR magazine.
The Silverstone Classic, straying away from the track action I focused a lot of my day in the paddock documenting the atmosphere surrounding the drivers and teams. This driver was waiting to head out for his first race of the day, keeping cool in the pre race build up.
Next up a road trip! To Scotland with the PistonHeads Skoda Superb Sportline. Lots of changeable weather conditions and some epic scenery. Scotland is a beautiful country with some amazing driving roads and stunning views. Its the perfect place to explore and to experience in a car.
Some work for Drivetribe next, documenting GTI International at Rockingham.
A private shoot for a client - his gorgeous V12 Vantage with London in the background.
Peugeot 3008 shot for CAR magazine. The glorious weather helped to make this a nice easy shoot with some lovely colours and light.
Another big highlight for me. The VXR8 photographed at sunrise for PistonHeads in the pitlane at Donnington.
And finally CAR magazine Golf GTE longtermer photographed on a freezing cold airfield in Oxfordshire. Thanks for reading, I have lots of exciting projects & shoots lined up for 2018 so stay tuned!
New Discovery or used Range Rover - Which would you have? Photographed for CAR magazine just outside of Peterborough on the foggiest day i’ve ever seen! Fighting the fog we shot the tracking photos first, getting these two cars side by side on the road you quickly realise how much more presence the Range Rover has. Front and rear tracking completed and having given up on panning shots due to the fog being to thick to see anything we moved on to statics. These images were published in the February issue of CAR magazine.
PR automotive work: RS500 Photoshoot at Donington Circuit
Cold, wet and windy. And no cars. It was a rather un exciting start to the day waiting for the owners of various RS500’s from across the country to turn up. But then. In the distance, a mint condition Black RS500 looms into view, followed by SUV’s towing trailers. This was going to be a great day! 5 cars in total, from iconic race car to showroom condition street car. We had it all! The brief was to photograph the cars and their owners ahead of the Performance Car Show. We had the run of the circuit for an hour and not a moment longer. So I got to work. Shooting statics off circuit and focusing the time allowed on getting a 5 car tracking shot along the pit straight.
It was a proper, pinch yourself moment as 3 genuine race cars (No replicas here!) and 2 street cars thunder along the pit straight as i’m hanging out the back of a Skoda. Its days like this that remind me just how amazing my job is!
With 2016 drawing to a close, I thought it would be a good idea to look through all of my images from 2016 and select a few highlight points from the set. From photographing Peugeot hot hatches to a Ferrari 488 with everything else in between. So grab a coffee and take a browse through a year in pictures!
The first part of the year saw me photographing for PistonHeads, from a 400bhp Skoda Octavia to a pair of off roading heavyweights and finally the new Ford Mustang at Santa Pod, demonstrating its line lock feature brilliantly.
Next up I was at Blenheim Palace, photographing promotional images for the Bentley Drivers Club with a fantastic trio of Bentleys from all eras. Followed up by a trip to Bicester Heritage for a Sunday Scramble, I came across this gorgeous 911 basking in some spring sunshine.
I was contacted by a private owner in Yorkshire and was asked to photograph his pristine BMWM1 - a flash setup in his garage captured some lovely details. Then when the rain cleared we had to head out onto the moors for some more photos!
Personal projects are always important to try new ideas and experiment with techniques that could be used for client projects in the future. This Mini was photographed in a empty carpark and lit with flash to achieve the end result .
Some editorial work next, for CAR Magazine - The new Peugeot 308 GTi longterm test car photographed for the “Our cars” feature in the monthly magazine. Static images and some tracking photos to fill the page spread.
Next up, more PistonHeads assignments. First a Mercedes SL500 for a PH Heroes feature photographed in Nottinghamshire forest. Then next up the awesome Alfa Romeo 4C tweaked by Alfaworks and shot round the corner from their HQ. Tracking shots through a little section of forest gave some lovely results.
Another private client - a teal coloured GTR photographed in Bedfordshire. Finding new angles and working with flash to achieve some great results on a gloomy day.
Maybe the most exotic car I have photographed this year - The Ferrari F12TDF, what an amazing car. I had a morning to shoot this F12 on location. One of my favourite shoots of the year!
Salon Privé was very wet this year - despite this people still flocked to this prestigious event. Some beautiful cars on display and well worth attending. Then another shoot for PistonHeads, the MX5BBR GTi Super 200. A great modified MX5 with some great tweaks that improve on the already great standard car.
Another hi-light of the year was shooting the BMW i8 for CAR Magazine’s October issue. Such a cool car!
Another Magazine feature; this time, Autocar - the Ford Focus RS ann exhaust popping, 4 wheel drive 340bhp weapon. Photographed for the October issue. Now, double that horsepower figure and you have the Ferrari 488 Spider. Photographed for PistonHeads, we spent the day blasting around with the roof down. For pure enjoyment and speed you can’t beat this car!
A bit more serious now; the Skoda Superb estate photographed for CAR magazine’s November issue. Showing the size and practicality of this rather sensible car. Followed up by the cheeky, nippy Vauxhall Adam S photographed for CAR mag’s December issue.
And thats it! A busy year of cars, with a few more shoots left to be published its fair to say i’ve had a busy and varied year of shooting. 2017 projects are starting to take shape and I cannot wait to show you!
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to contact me to discuss any future work.
Editorial photography for PistonHeads; the Ferrari 488. 670bhp, no roof and an incredible noise. What an awesome car.
Cutting the roof of a car weakens the structure and results in a slightly more wobbly 488. The GTB is the drivers car but with no roof the spider more than makes up for it. The acceleration is indescribable. The gearbox shifts with amazing speed and the turbo addition is hardly noticeable with such fast throttle response.
Editorial photography for Autocar: The new Focus RS has been surrounded by so much hype, with drift buttons and clever all wheel drive its a new era of hot hatch. Does it live up to it? Its fast, nearly 350bhp is an insane amount of power to put in a hatch back and its quicker than many of its rivals. However it feels cheaply made, you sit behind a cheap ford focus dashboard with tacky gauges. You can’t help thinking that £30,000 could be better spent.
Editorial photography for CAR magazine; shooting the BMW i8.
Shooting for a magazine output is different to shooting for Web. There is spacing and size to consider - leaving room for the addition of text. It is always great to see the finished image in print.
Such a space age car deserves to be shot somewhere a bit different - in front of a towering old radio mast seemed fitting. Shooting this car in such bright sunshine meant filling in shadows with flash and compositing in areas of the shot to blent exposures. The BMW i8 is a fantastic look forwards toward the future of cars and shows there is true hope for motoring enthusiasts.
Editorial automotive photography for PistonHeads: The BBR GTi MX5: Lightweight, rear drive, two seats. A perfect recipe. The company based in Brackley have worked wonders on this latest iteration of Mazdas MX5.
The sensation of a lightweight naturally aspirated sports car is a thing to behold and its something that every petrolhead should experience. The car is fitted with decent tyres and is sitting lower on a firmer suspension and it transforms the standard car now end. Lets not forget the power boost as well!
This is a shoot that dreams are made of. A Ferrari F12TDF and a whole morning in the sunshine to photograph it. The TDF is a harder, faster more performance focused version of the already pretty brutal F12. This car is dripping with carbon and areo tweaks.
Picking out details of this amazing car was really important to me. Photographing details that make the car special, showing the intricate features and amazing technology that is pumped into this machine.
I was also shooting with the intent of creating a bespoke book, keeping the car small in the frame for some shots, picking out details in others and photographing in such a way to aid the layout and design of the book.
Want your own photoshoot and Bespoke book? Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
A quarter of a million pounds is what you pay to get your hands on the new Rolls Royce Dawn. Based on the Wraith but using almost all new parts, this 500bhp car wafts you along as every Rolls does - in complete comfort. Rolls Royce boast that the Wraith is the quietest convertible you can buy. There really is nothing quite like it. I photographed it with very limited time, even still it was enough to give me that Rolls Royce experience that I don’t think any other brand can match.
Photographed near London, on a country road I looked at how I could convey its incredible presence an show off its amazing features. The bright orange interior was flawless and was completely unavoidable compared to its rather subtle exterior. The roof folds back to reveal the incredible interior. Its hard not to admit. This is such a cool car.
The exterior - although new panels have been used and only the grille surround from the old Wraith remains. It is still typical Rolls Royce; big and imposing yet elegant and classical all in the same moment. This really is a beautiful car and was a pleasure to photograph.
Recently I was contacted by CAR magazine and asked to shoot a few cars for their magazine. One of these was the 308 GTi. An awesome, fun little hot hatch showing that the cheaper options are often worth paying attention to! We shot the car in a few different situations, with and without journalist Ben Barry in shot. Leaving plenty of space for text to feature I set up and photographed some static introductory shots with a few off camera flashes.
Next up we did a few interior photos and details showing off the squashed little steering wheel and the view from inside the cabin. Then on to some motion shots. A few wide panning shots to give context and to help complete the story.
You can read the article in this months CAR magazine!
Shooting for Historic Race Tech Mag gives me access to some incredible people and some awesome cars. This Lola, is as minimalistic as it gets. 4 wheels and an engine and that is it. It doesn’t even have paint! It makes modern cars seem hopelessly complicated! Read more by buying the magazine: http://www.kimberleymediagroup.com/#!subscriptions-/sqqbe
A palace and 3 Bentleys, a great day for a shoot. Photographing at Blenheim Palace on a Friday morning has its limitations. With only an hour to conduct the shoot, arrange the cars and get the shots required for the client. I set to work.
Making the most of the incredible backdrop I positioned the 3 cars in front of the building and got snapping.
Searching round Milton Keynes for an unlit carpark on a Wednesday night. An odd evening to say the least. But we found one, set up and began throwing water on the car! Lit with 2 flashes and made up of many, many photoshop layers to build the image up and combine all of the different splashes around the car to create the over all effect. Backlighting the water with the flashes makes a dramatic and high contrast image. See some behind the scenes and the final image below!
Shot for a private client around the picturesque town of Stratford Upon Avon, this GT4 looked awesome in Green. Spending the afternoon blasting down country lanes, looking for photo opportunities made me realise just how capable this car is. 380bhp in a car much smaller and much more nimble than a 911. Its a really well sorted package.
This car changes direction with such poise. The power is more than adequate for the weight and the size. Its an awesome car.
Recently I looked into printing and designing portfolio books for private shoots that I often do. The first example album arrived today. I’m really impressed with the quality and looking forward to producing more in the future. For a private shoot of your car or collection get in touch to discuss it further and view some examples.
Its bright yellow, shouty and huge. There is massive appeal for this car. At the price this car is a bargain. Although with some of the quality lacking, you get what you pay for. Read the full story here
A super clean 1M. Gorgeous sunshine and 2 hours till sunset, perfect!
This particular 1M owned and run by Deutsch Tech (find them on Facebook here) is incredibly well put together. The 1M benefits from a few simple upgrades and a remap. Sitting lower increases the aggressive look and this car has a real presence. First of all using natural light I shot the 1M, working quickly to get the shots I needed before the sun dropped. Just as it began to fall behind the trees we had some awesome golden light.
As the light dropped I broke out the flashes and got to work again!
Recently me and the PH team went romping about in the countryside in 2 high end, high performance 4x4’s. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Range Rover SVR and its a truly incredible bit of kit. The noise is addictive and the performance is mind blowing for two tonnes of machine. The Porsche is just as quick and equally as impressive. Read the PistonHeads article here!