Not long after my VIP experience with Mazda and their new MX-5 and lots of tweeting about it, Toyota starting flirting with me on Twitter trying to tempt me to look at their sports car, the GT86. After many years of driving MX-5s I couldn’t see me switching my allegiance from Mazda, but I’m always open to trying new things. So last weekend the Toyota press team delivered me a GT86 to try out and photograph.
The first thing that struck me about the GT86 were the looks. There’s no doubting it’s a very good looking and photogenic car. It clearly takes some design concepts from its ancestors like the Celica and looks classic Toyota both outside and in. When driving around I got lots of admiring looks.
Upon starting the car I found another great thing, the boxer engine. Having previously owned a Subaru Impreza, which also has a boxer engine with its distinctive sound, the engine sounded immediately similar albeit without the swoosh of a turbo. The bucket seats also made me reminisce of my Subaru days.
All of this makes the GT86 a drivers car – it’s a nice place to be, a great car to drive, and perfect for anyone wanting to stand out from the crowd.
What disappointed me about the car were the rear seats and the lack of gadgets. The car is a 2+2, two seats in the front, two in the back. But there’s so little space between the front and back seats that they’re unusable. The lack of gadgets on the GT86 was surprising, especially for a Japanese manufacturer. The dual zone climate control, touch-screen bluetooth stereo with satellite navigation, and gear change indicator were all welcome. But things I’d expect as standard were missing. No parking camera or sensors, no puddle lights, and a clock which has been lifted straight from the ’80s. The only ‘old’ technology I was thankful for was the handbrake, the modern push button ones just aren’t my thing.
Photography-wise I really wish I’d had the car in summer rather than autumn when the daylight hours are limited. I didn’t have time to experiment with lighting, but maybe next time I do a car shoot I will. I tried to get photographs which are a bit different to the ones you’ll see on any car review website, ones which highlight the features which make it a GT86, which make it unique.
A carbon-fibre-effect dashboard, looks good!
Who doesn't love a stop/start button.
When you start the car all the dashboard lights come on with a little show.
The GT86 with Weston-super-Mare pier behind. The side-on profile makes the car look very sporty.
The curves of the GT86 contract against the straight edges of the colourful beach huts.
That's a very tidy rear end.
An aggressive looking front-end.
In Oxford, the shiny car looks good against the old Cotswold-stone pub.
Following hot on the heels of yesterdays post about The Red Arrows comes another Air Show favourite, the Vulcan. The Vulcan was the final aircraft to display at the Weston Air Festival this weekend and, just like The Red Arrows, the display was in bright sunshine and a little cloud.
From a photography point of view having bright sun behind the subject means that a lot of photos come out like silhouettes. With modern photo processing software it’s possible to rescue some of the colour and detail, but usually to limited success. Well, with my limited skill in Adobe Lightroom! Today’s trip out has made me realise that I need a longer zoom lens too.
This Avro Vulcan XH558 is run by the charity Vulcan To The Sky who maintain and run the aircraft for air shows. Originally the Vulcan was a nuclear bomber, never used to deliver nuclear bombs in action luckily. It’s known for its distinctive delta wing (V shape) design and howling engines. Have a look at the Vulcan To The Sky website for the history of this aircraft.
When I was a child my Dad worked on Nimrod at Woodford and occasionally visited RAF Waddington, where the Vulcans were based. Each year a Vulcan would display at the Woodford Air Show, and I vividly remember the Vulcan climbing vertically and forcing itself to stall and gracefully fall before powering up the engines to fly off.
The Vulcan swoops past Weston pier.
The Vulcan in silhouette, but with the camouflage still visible.
The iconic delta wing.
The sun shines on the Vulcan over Knightstone island.
Wales and the island of Flat Holm in the distance.
Today is the summer soltace, the longest day of the year, and so it seemed a good day to escape the stresses of life for a while and head to the Weston Air Festival for a bit of daylight. I didn’t have time to spend the whole day there, so just popped along to photograph The Red Arrows.
For anyone who doesn’t know, The Red Arrows are the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team and can be found putting on amazing displays of close flying and colour at most of the main summer air shows here in the UK.
Wanting to avoid the crowds, and knowing the local roads, I aimed to position myself on a hill to the north of Weston-super-Mare so that I could almost look down on the display. Little did I know that half of Weston had the same idea. The spot I was headed for was as crowded as the fantastic beach at Weston.
I decided to zoom into the town centre and get myself to the top of one of the towns multi storey car parks, where I enjoyed the display with a few like minded folk in the sun.
It was a great show, although it’s one of the occasions I wished I had a longer lens to get closer to the action! It was the first time I’d had a real use for fast continuous shooting and continual auto focus of the Olympus OMD E-M1, and was the ideal place to play with settings.
The Red Arrows through their own smoke, looking moody.
The local wildlife didn't seem too bothered by the performance.
The Red Arrows split from vertical.
My favourite photo from the day... "look behind you!".