AC Cobra & Helen Diaz on the streets of Bristol

Nov 6, 2015 | Flash, Fujifilm X, Location | 17 comments

01. The 6L V12 AC Cobra custom built in 1991 for it's present owner.

01. This AC Cobra was custom built in 1991 for it’s present owner. They’re going to have a lifelong partnership and when I heard it start up I knew why. I used 6 flash heads/ Speedlights to make this shot.

Locations: A tunnel on a Bristol street and the Bristol waterfront by the M Shed Museum
Lighting kit: 4x Cactus RF60, 2x Elinchrom Quadra, 1x Sunbounce Pro in silver
Camera: Fuji X-T1, 16mm, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm lenses
Model: Helen Diaz


02. Helen was lit with a striplight softbox on the Quadra head for the shot at the top in this set.

The ‘tunnel’ was the perfect place on a Sunday morning in November to shoot this series of high production images. We got out the toys and had all the time we needed to set up quite a complex rig. The aim of this shoot was to get together with friends, practice new shooting techniques and have some fun. I’ve never shot a car before, apart from a wedding car, and that doesn’t count.


03. I chose quite a cinematic lighting style for this shot of Helen in the Cobra. I lit her with the Sunbounce Pro reflector high on a stand weighed down with sand bags. The reflector was about 30 metres away in the November sun.

The AC Cobra packs a V12 6 litre engine under the hood. It is a Jaguar block, normally aspirated with Webber carburettors.


04. This series was lit with the Sunbounce too. I had to get some practice in with the reflector before my friends Tom and Ioannis come over from Belgium later this month. I set the white balance to 3200k in camera to give the shots a cool look.

05. We shot the low angle view partly to mask the light at the end of the tunnel.

05. We shot a low angle view partly to mask the light at the end of the tunnel. I prefer the higher viewpoint in shot 01.

My shooting companions were Len Martin and Steve Cowell. Both guys joined me in France in the summer for my workshops with Chantelle and are joining me in Tuscany next year. This was a perfect time to put in some practice.


06. After a spot of lunch we set off to the Bristol waterfront to capture these simple but dramatic portraits.


07. Dull, overcast light with a forced white balance seemed to suit this set.


08. Sometimes the simplest images to take are the most rewarding.


09. I lit this shot by the railway tracks with the Elinchrom Quadra and soft box and I added a splash of Cactus RF60 from the right for good measure.

As the shooting season draws to a close it’s a good time to practice new shooting styles and lighting techniques. I like to have the occasional photo shoot without a customer so the pressure is off and I can indulge in shooting for me without having to meet a brief.

Feel free to comment below.


  1. Bryan Osborne

    Wish I could afford six flash, especially two quadra! I only have four speedlight and two Bowens 200 I am looking for a battery for! Great shots. I am looking to offer something similar to a Ferrari Club and Lambo Club!

    • Damien

      Hi Bryan,

      There were three of us shooting so we pooled our lights. Take a look at the Godox inverter pack power supply to run your Bowens units from ;)

      Cheers, Damien.

    • Damien

      Hi Bryan,

      I think your best bet is to use the Godox Witstra AD360 or the Genesis flash units from Calumet. They are great units, deliver as much power as the Elinchrom, and are 1/3 of the cost. Ferrari and Lamborghini drivers can afford the small increase in print prices you will be charging and the image quality will sparkle.

      Kind regards,


  2. Matt Selby Photography

    Mint! Epic model shot with the cogs! Think I prefer the lower car shot to be honest though.

    • Damien

      Cheers Matt :)

  3. john canavan

    Hi Damien
    Great stuff as ever .
    What do you mean that you used the v6 as a receiver to trigger the Quadra , i have that gear and don’t understand how you do that? or am i just thick?

    • Damien

      Hi John,

      I plug a 3.5mm mono jack to jack lead between the sync port on the V6 and the sync port on the Quadra and put the V6 into manual flash receive mode.

      I hope this helps. Damien.

  4. Ondrej Dornak

    Extraordinary shots as usual, Damien. Just one question about the overcast sky photos. Did you place Helen somewhere to cut the top light and have some directional light? Specially, I mean the photo between walls.



    • Damien

      Hi Ondrej,

      The sky was kind with dark overhead clouds and a bright patch behind me.

      Cheers, Damien.

  5. Jay Mijares

    Wonderful photos, Damien! The play of shadow and light is amazing! And I also like how you captured the texture of the ground and the walls. Once again, you’ve given me inspiration for an upcoming fun shoot with muscle cars and models!

    • Damien

      Thanks Jay, Have fun and stay inspired :)

  6. Peter

    Great set as always. I would love to see a video on doing a shoot in these styles done by you. Oh and I must disagree as I prefer the lower shot of the car, maybe because to me it just draws your focus to the car and nothing else :)

  7. Patrick McEvoy

    Really great shots as usual Damien, would love to know the location of the tunnel.

    • Damien

      Thanks Patrick for your compliments.

      I’ve given enough clues about the location. I like to keep my locations unique to me as long as I can as they take time and effort to find. A bit of Google Earth effort and you’ll work out where it is :)

      Kind regards, Damien.

    • Damien

      Hi Patrick,

      The tunnel is under Temple Meads station. If you look at Google maps you will see it.



      • Patrick McEvoy

        Hi Damien,

        Thanks for the update on location, I had already worked it out, and as road works will be going on until the early part of next year I will have some time to plan a shoot in that area.


        Patrick McEvoy


Ask a question or leave a comment. All comments get a reply.