Chasing cars – with a camera that is.

On the evening of 22nd July, Jonathan Jacob came to present an evening of “Automotive Photography”. John originates from Sunderland but came to Bradford in 1995 to do a photography degree after his photography HND from Sunderland. He had done some car work before his courses but during his degree he did a project on the Morgan factory showing not just the cars but the people building them. He said he liked documentary photography and this came out in the shots he showed from the project. His first job was managing a photo desk for an agency (and taking some of the images himself) and he liked the variety of work which came his way. He then left to become a press photographer for the police force which he again enjoyed, but “restructuring” gave him the opportunity to go freelance in 2010. He concentrated on corporate work and automotive photography and he showed us some of the high class images in his portfolio to demonstrate the range of his work. There were plenty of examples of his skills, particularly with shooting cars and we were all intrigued as to how he got the shots – we didn’t have long to wait to find out!

In the second half Jonathan began to show some of his auto work in more detail, particularly how he set up and got the shot. Most of these were commissioned by magazines. This half was excellently illustrated by plenty of intermediate shots showing how he used flash to get the effect he wanted. Sometimes this involved making a composite of different layers with different lighting to get the final effect. He certainly demonstrated that like John Gardner says, lighting is everything. Up to now the second half had shown static shots where Jonathan could control everything but then he moved on to the “moving” shots. Here there were no flashes but simply hanging out of a car, sometimes very close to the road surface, to get a motion shot. Again this was all well illustrated and gave a very clear impression of what it took to get the shots which you see in the magazines. It was particularly interesting when he showed the original photograph and then how it appeared in the magazine. Rarely did the magazine process the shot but they would crop it and rotate it to fit in with the layout of the page (front page titles etc.) and to create an effect. He also showed the use of a rig – a long carbon fibre pole attached to the car with his camera dangling on the end! – to get a particular type of shot.

There was lots of information about the equipment and techniques he used and lots of questions from the audience which Jonathan answered fully. Throughout, Jonathan gave a fascinating commentary laced with humour which kept everyone engaged throughout. We certainly got a clear view of a different world. Thanks Jonathan for a great evening.

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