PHOTO Competition

We are offering a first prize of £100 for the best photo we receive out of the first 200 photos submitted. Second prize will be £50 and Commended Photos will receive a Book or DVD token. The prize will be awarded soon after number 200 is posted on this page. The Trustees’ decision will be final but we will take into account the opinion of our followers from the comments posted by each entry.

Photos should be emailed to  at full resolution up to a size of 5MB in .jpeg or .tiff format with a caption including the date, location and photographer. An article by Rob Rowe on how to take a good photo is at the end of the page.

The entries are in three galleries,  (1-60, 61-120 and 121-   ) – just click on any photo within a gallery and use the arrows to navigate to the next. You can comment on each photo. Press esc to get back to the page. Here are the latest entries:

Click on any photo to see it in more detail and to leave a comment

 Tickford Triptych

Alvis Green Train 3 litre special coachwork by Cotoneaster
Alvis Green Train 3 litre special coachwork by Cotoneaster
...some time later
…some time later

Photographs for the Bulletin  by Rob Rowe

 The modern world has become one where photographs are heavily photo-shopped, but the photographer should still be working to a principle of trying to capture the image when taken.

As a general rule, the bit of the photograph that headlines the story should be in focus. It’s amazing how many photographs are ruined by this. Great photographs of cars on the road, well composed but only the background is in focus or vice versa, the foreground is in focus, but the car is out of focus. Generally when I’m trying to get a photograph of a moving car, I try and focus on the windscreen. That way the driver and passenger who are often visible, are in focus as is the length of the car ahead and behind the windscreen.

Typically to do this means you need to understand how the autofocus in your camera works and what the semiology (the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation) that it displays, means. Once you understand this you start to take photographs where the main subject is in focus and then stick to the method you’ve learned. This is what the professional photographers do. They do not just roll up at an event and think about what to do; they just know what works.

The background is important in telling the story, but it’s not the story; in most cases it just sets the scene. If you get it wrong, it becomes a major distraction and can really minimise the impact of the photograph by attracting attention to it rather than the main subject. The background works when people notice the background and it either leads them to the photograph or just supports it.

If you see photographs taken at Bicester Heritage, they often place cars in front of the hangar doors where the paint has blistered off and has a patina of rust and flaking paint. This really sets the cars off by enhancing the beauty of the car’s lines and the quality of their paintwork against a faded industrial backdrop.

Alternatively, a car placed on a drive way with the eye drawn along the drive to the car is a very powerful way of using the background to set the scene and focus the image.

A background can give a car context if you’re trying to make out the car is special, exclusive, etc. then a country house sets the scene. You only have to look at any of the Alvis car adverts for the later 3-litre cars, which are all very aspirational. Sometimes there is no choice. A car cannot be moved to change the background. Accept what you are given and deal with it. I have found the best way of doing this is to throw the back ground out of focus.

The simplest way of doing this is to use a long lens, step back from the subject and set a sports programme on the camera. This will restrict what is in focus either side of the central point of focus. Where you stand to take the photograph can make a difference to the result. A metre or two either way can change the perspective significantly, as can dropping down on one knee or hopping onto a wall or similar.

Have a really good look into the viewfinder or the screen and check what is going on before you decide that’s the view you want. It is amazing how often a sign post grows out of someone’s head or a telephone wire loops down into the photograph. These can be edited out, but that takes time and effort and the Editor might decide he’ll go with someone else’s photograph for a plethora of reasons rather than spend 30 minutes blending out a telephone wire.

Finally, think about where the sun is and sometimes this is a case of being patient.

Waiting for the sun to come out from behind a cloud that brightens a scene, might change the photograph completely. For professional photo shoots, the photographer will literally wait for hours to light the scene to fill in all the shadows and bring out the highlights.

For me, seeing any of my photographs on the front cover is the biggest accolade you can get as a photographer. But you have to prepare the photograph as well as telling a good story; you have to almost reformat the photograph. If you look at any Bulletin, a significant part of the cover page photograph is covered by the title and club logo, but this still needs to be a part of the photograph. It’s a portrait photograph of an object that typically works best in landscape due to its shape.  So you need to take a photograph in portrait orientation that has a lot of blank space, typically sky, above the main subject, almost a contradiction.

From a technical point of view, because you are shooting a photograph with a lot of light coloured sky, you risk darkening the subject area of most interest. Some cameras now deal with this, but not all. So you need to understand how your camera meters or exposes the picture. Often you find that if you expose the main subject area, by framing and then lightly pressing the shutter release without releasing that light pressure, before re-framing the final picture, the camera will hold the exposure and will consequently expose correctly for the subject area.

Some editors have rules about what goes on the cover. I had no people in the photograph, just the car. I broke this rule once to include a photograph of former Editor Rex Harvey and his car.

Taking photographs in car parks etc. are probably the most difficult shots. That line up of well-polished cars parked up in a neat row has to be one of the best expressions of an event. However, unless you are really clever, that row of radiators can end up looking like a row of chromium tombstones.

You have to contend with an out of control background. There is always a brightly coloured modern car painted in a colour that one of the major manufacturers designed specifically with scientific help to draw the eye to that car when covered in print.

A couple of tricks can help this. Change the perspective and reduce the viewing angle, perhaps snap two cars from behind as the foreground to frame a car ahead of them that is still being driven into place, giving the picture a bit of life. If there is someone new on the run attending, then feature them, their car and their partner and make them feel welcome.

My most published Alvis picture was taken of the cars in the car park at the Alvis IAD in Wales. This was taken using an iPhone out of the gap of a window. All the cars were crowded into a triangular shape when seen from nine floors up; so there is always an angle.

Photographing people and the cars is my personal failing and it’s not helped by most people being naturally shy. So you need to help them pose for the photograph. One part of the photographer’s job in the Navy was to take the publicity pictures for local newspapers. There were guidelines to help you, most of which were about posing people doing their jobs.

Electricians were to be seen holding screwdrivers; others had paintbrushes or were posed by missile launchers, etc. So do the same with the car owners; this could be by holding the car door, putting a mascot back on, closing the bonnet, etc. Please remember to include the ladies in this and always give them a chance to comb their hair etc.

So that is the posed photos of people; then there are the candid photographs, which actually are some of the most powerful pictures you can take. You need to get back from the subject, use as long a lens as possible, narrow the angle of view and isolate them from their background. The club’s characters are often to be found at their best when they least realise it, running a stage in a competition, judging the concours, etc.; keep your eyes open.

It’s not just photographs of individuals I have taken at IAD or similar events. I do try to take family groups, as these often have moments where, for example, glasses are raised round a picnic table and a moment that means something to them, tells a story of an event enjoyed in the photograph captured. Stationary cars are so often just dead metal, especially where the parking limits the ability to catch the cars as anything other than stationary.

A moving car and its passengers are living things. Sometimes it’s a case of just snapping a passing car, but if there is a programmed route, go early and find a spot and wait for the cars to pass. I like bends where there is no roadside furniture, signs etc. and catch the cars as they go by. The crews often recognise you and wave and that adds life.

Try and focus on the eyes of the driver as they combined with the photo of the car often tell a story. Look at the photographs of racing drivers in the 1950s and early 60s before full face helmets hid them away and safety isolated photographers from being right at the scene of the action. There is a great photograph of Moss taken by Lord Litchfield at Monaco. You can see focus in his eyes whilst the car is doing things that are at odds with where he’s looking; all telling the story of concentration and mastery of the machine.

It’s unlikely you’ll catch someone four wheel drifting a 12/50, but you do capture some expressions on people’s faces that range from concentration to sheer enjoyment.

My final words on taking photographs of moving vehicles would be as follows. They do not have to all be from the front. In actual fact, the rear quarters view is greatly neglected and we are the poorer for it! The other thing is do not freeze the action. Smoothly pan with the subject so that the blurred background suggests motion. Ideally, do not stop the wheels dead either, you want a perfectly in focus subject, with a blurred background with the wheels nearly stationary, telling a story of motion.

I do get asked by people at events what’s the best camera to buy. That is a how long is a piece of string question, as you need to ask, what do you want to do with it?    If I had to get by with one camera, it would be my iPhone as it does the majority of shots really well; it has good resolution and is very convenient. Okay, you do lose a lot of control, but you can work round it. Camera gear does not have to be expensive, many cameras are almost fashion items and the latest and greatest often appear on eBay for modest money a year after a camera is launched and is subsequently replaced. Indeed, if you are serious, put the money you have into the best quality lens you can afford.

Going back to my opening suggestion, it’s really about what story are you telling or seeing when taking the photo, if you have that, then to some extent the camera is merely the instrument you use to capture the image.

Practise makes perfect as does having a style; the great photographers don’t make it up as  they go along. They know what works for them. So look at photographs you like and think about what makes them good, then about that as a style and work towards it. As you develop, then learn a bit more about how your camera works and use that to develop and improve your style.

If you do get the bug and start to feel that need for a better camera, you should consider your style and how it works. It’s no good buying a camera that doesn’t suit your style!

The great thing about digital photography is that once you’ve invested in the camera, there are really no further costs. You can experiment and burn through electrons without burning a hole in your pocket. It’s not like the days of wet film when you were worried about only having 36 chances of covering the event correctly and then the wait for Boots to process it.

Finally some words on sending photographs in to any magazine. Send them full size as they come out of the camera. If you’re emailing them straight off a camera phone, then select the biggest image, as bigger images have the best resolution. Magazines generally use 300 dots per inch (dpi) as a minimum resolution, but that is likely to go up as time goes by. It is likely that top magazines will only start asking for a greater resolution than this for snob value..

Always include a caption such as; the model of the car, the owner, the registration number and if possible the chassis number and what is going on. There is nothing worse than a great picture with no details. Wayne Brooks often comes to the rescue, but even he goes on holiday from time to time.

This article is aimed at the helping Vic to obtain photos for the Bulletin, but there are other places in the club looking for photographs. John Fox is always interested in pictures for the Archive Trust site and Philip Olden has set up an AOC Flickr page, see  or perhaps more simply search Flickr for Alvis Owner Club. I’ve uploaded the pictures for this article at . Or you can find them on my Flickr page at  along with many more pictures of past club events.

My final advice is to keep it simple and have a go; you might just score the front cover, which is a terrific feeling.

2 thoughts on “PHOTO Competition”

  1. Dale Parsell writes “I Notice that you haven’t been overwhelmed by photos for the competition so
    thought I should find some more, feel free to reject them if you don’t feel they
    are interesting enough.” Entries 42-4 are now included, taken with a Fuji Finepix S7000 Camera.
    2007-SA, taken at the South Australian National Rally, 2007, Alvis in the Outback.(photo taken near Port Augusta)

    2008-JNBC, 2008 JNBC Tour of Victoria, (Mt Hotham, Victorian High Country). Snow on Alvis is no doubt a common sight in the UK but very unusual in Victoria in March, two days before in Echuca the tour had experienced temperatures above 40C.

    2005-alvnat, 2005 Victorian Natinal Rally, Summit to Sea, (Old Trestle Bridge near Nowra SE Victoria)
    If members want more information on these events they can go to the National tour page of the ACCV website


  2. The Kindell’s like in order photo 23 then photo 3 and then photo 51. Photo 64 is fun and photo 27 is good composition but the car is not prominent enough.

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