The 1959 Aston Martin DBR1 is one of the beautiful and valuable sports racing cars in the world and I had the enormous privilege of shooting the actual Le Mans winning David Brown works team car for my book The Art of the Le Mans Racing Car.
The DBR1 had been driven to victory by the unlikely coupling of Brit’ Roy Salvadori and American Carroll Shelby.Like most drivers of the day they did not just drive for one team and Salvadori achieved success in a wide variety of sports racing to F1 cars including Maserati 250F and Ferrari 225 to Cooper-Climax and latterly Jaguar saloon cars. Likewise Texan Shelby raced in all motorsports from F1 to hill-climbing and rallying and whilst competing in the fearsome Carrera Panamericana suffered a bad accident in an Austin Healey that left him in hospital for 8 months.
Remarkably Salvadori, who drove for 14 hours of the 24 hours of the race, was suffering from the flu and Shelby had a bout of dysentery and had tucked a nitroglycerine pill under his tongue in case his heart problem flared up during his stints.
Seen above is the raw un-retouched image of the car in the infinity cove studio on a black cloth background with the bonnet removed.I’d had an idea to create a layered image with bonnet on and off but had been too busy to develop the idea at the time.
The technique uses Photoshop to layer the image one on top of the other and adjust the opacity to allow you to see through the bonnet to the engine bay and takes a long time to get it right. Here’s the final comp’ image and there’s another taken from overhead in Portfolio One on this website.
The few weeks ago I got the opportunity to photograph Lewis Hamilton’s 2019 F1 championship winning car at a secret location in the UK.
As is often the case there is neither the time or the funds available to bring the car to a studio so I built a studio around the car. When I say studio it is the bare essentials of what I need to capture the image.Lighting is by flash either direct through softboxes or bounced into a white sheet behind the car.
It’s not perfect and my technique relies on my 30 years plus of experience of knowing what’s important to spend time on and what’s not.My friend Rob came along as assistant and we wrapped up the shoot with minimum fuss in just under four hours.
Here’s the final retouched head on image. You may notice that the car is still quite dirty… actually it is uncleaned from the final race of the F1 season in Abu Dhabi. Lewis won it with Max Verstappen second in the Red Bull Honda and Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari taking the final podium spot.
I’ve featured the front 3/4 view in my cars portfolio see : https://www.jamesmann.com/portfolio-one/
I’ve recently been out to one of my favourite race circuits for a shoot with the epic 1971 Ferrari 512M. Circuit Paul Ricard is set in the mountains at Le Castellet behind Marseilles in the South of France and is reminiscent of Laguna Seca in California with its mountain air and clarity of light although the track is flatter and more open. Dramatically painted run off areas highlight the corners and the atmosphere in the paddock is typically Prevencal with a long break for ‘Dejeuner’ always scheduled into the program. I arrived at dawn and woke Tim Samways’s transporter driver who sportingly agreed to unload the car for me to start shooting statics in the creamy early light.Track time was arranged between 12-1.00pm but the car only arrived in the pit lane at 12.50 pm giving us only enough time for just one lap for car to car photography…which was sufficient. Just fifteen 512Ss were converted into M spec in 1971 and with over 600bhp on tap through the quad cam five litre V12 engine…we tiptoed our way around the track, the glorious song of the Italian race tuned V12 the only noise shattering the silence of the important procession of lunch.
After over a 100 years without turning a wheel the Beast of Turin was back in England with a vengeance racing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and wowing the crowds with it’s deafening flame spitting roar. The stats are incredible for the Fiat leviathon with over 300HP on tap from it’s monster 28.4 litre four cylinder engine. The car has been rebuilt by Duncan Pittaway over the past 10 years after he discovered the chassis in Australia ,where it had been campaigned as the Fiat racing special, and matched it with the original engine. A pair of Fiat S76s were built in 1910 to snatch the flying mile and flying kilometre speed records back from the dominant Blitzen Benzs and Pietro Bordino drove the Beast at Saltburn Sands in Yorkshire in 1911 finally taking an unofficial record in Belgium at over 135mph.
I’ve spent the winter writing and compiling photographs for a new book about Jaguar cars. It features every model from the first Swallow side-car in 1922 right up to the very latest F Type convertible and I’ve been photographing cars to fill gaps in my archive. Jaguar Heritage have been very helpful with access to some of the early SS models but whilst I was up at their old Brown’s Lane special operations department I got a sneak preview of the new light weight E Types being built. These are six brand new chassis to complete the series of 18 that was started in back in 1963, manufactured in aluminium to the exact specifications of the original cars they will even be allocated the missing chassis numbers making them eligible for classic racing events.
The South Downs reverberated as the sound of more than 30 Ford GT40s took to the Goodwood motor circuit for the Revival meeting.Under leaden skies the Whitsun Trophy race and high speed demo’s celebrated 50 years of the legendary GT40 featuring a host of famous cars such as the 1966 Le Mans winner and drivers including Emanuele Pirro,Steve Soper and Andy Wallace who lead the pack into Madgwick on the first lap. But it was the unbeatable pairing of Red Bull’s Adrian Newey and Swedish ace Kenny Brack who took the checquered flag after a storming drive in Newey’s own1965 white and red-striped no 5 Mk1.
I cornered Bonhams boss Robert Brooks at the Goodwood press day and asked if I could photograph their most high profile aquisition for the July sale…..the ex Juan Manuel Fangio Mercedes W196 team car in which he won the Swiss and German Gran Prix of 1954 helping him to the F1 title that year.The car, which has been under the radar for a number of years, featured many innovative ideas for the day including in board brakes, fuel injection and desmodronic valve actuation and is in an fabulous un-restored state remaining the only W196 on the open market.Estimate $15-20M
It was a great coup to get to shoot this year’s Le Mans winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro for the Legends of Le Mans book.In a grand tour of Europe covering 2500 miles ,James has been photographing the last few cars for his upcoming studio art book, including a stunning 1920’s Lorraine Dietrich B3-6, a Mercedes SSK once owned by Sir Malcolm Campbell, the 2005 winning Peugeot 905HDi and the stunning Audi R8 and R18 e-tron quattro.