Even in my line of work as a car photographer, this is a dream come true. An open speed section of road in the middle of nowhere, a helicopter with a talented pilot at the helm, a world class driver at my disposal and the incredible Porsche 918 Spyder.
Being based in Australia, I don't often get the opportunity to shoot hyper-exotics as often as my colleagues do in the northern hemisphere. I have to make the most of any opportunity that comes my way.
There is an unrestricted speed section of road in the Northern Territory in Australia, this road is part of the Stuart Highway. The aim was to see how fast the 918 could safely move, and my job was to capture that moment in the car as it happened.
It took days of scouting and low speed runs to find our perfect stretch. It had to be dead straight, dead even and dead quiet. They never aimed to achieve a particular speed goal, but rather to allow race winning Porsche Carrera-Cup driver Craig Baird to explore the potential of the 918 Spyder under these unique conditions. We knew it was going to go quick, but we never knew by how much.
Before the run, I took my time getting in as safe and as comfortable position I could in the passenger seat to photograph the dash at the right moment. Craig and I discussed at length what was going to happen and what we were going to do. I wanted to get the shot, but I needed the both of us to be safe. I wouldn't have entered the car had I not been fully satisfied with the safety and expertise of the driver, the crew and the Porsche 918 Spyder.
The world looks remarkably different when blaring past at 350km/hr (or 217mph). The fastest I'd been driven previously in a car was 260km/hr, a record now literally destroyed in a blaze of German fire.
On a road, I doubt i'll ever experience anything this fast again.
Read more after the photos. Click any photo to enlarge.
Literally moments after our successful run, I was thrown onto a helicopter, wrapped into a harness and hooked in with my camera. Just when I thought my day couldn't get any wilder, my next task was to capture the 918 in view of the air.
Nothing communicates the sheer scale of openness, loneliness and beauty of the Australian Outback as much as a view from the skies. But beyond these landscape vista shots of the tiny 918 against the vastly long Stuart Highway, I wanted to capture something more. A stretch of dirt road was available to us just a few minutes north of our position.
Shooting the 918 doing what it did in the dirt was exceptionally difficult to logistically work. Whilst communication in the high speed run earlier in the day went smoothly without a hitch. It was insanely loud by comparison in the helicopter cabin, making it nearly impossible for the 918 to pick up our instructions clearly.
On the first dusty run, the helicopter's position happened to have been so far away I could barely see the cloud of dust in the horizon. On the second run we had closed the gap considerably but we were still too far to get the shot I wanted.
Another 2 failed attempts later, either the angle of the sun was wrong, the helicopter's own shadow was on the car, or a tree was obstructing my view. Mentally I was torn between two states, my love and respect for the car and preventing it from getting blasted further with red earth, and my mentality as a photographer to fully exploit every and any opportunity to capture something amazing.
I asked for one more attempt, and that was the best run by far. I was close enough to the car, the sun was in the right angle and nothing else got in the way. Of course looking back I see a thousand little details I don't like, or wish I could have changed. Knowing full well that another run or two might have captured something better, but I will never consider having captured that elusive "perfect" shot.
40 minutes into the flight, after capturing a horde of exposures with the car on the Stuart Highway, on our dirt road and some further tracking shots on the main road. I did something totally unexpected - I put my camera down.
I decided to stop and soak in the vista - with my own eyes, and without looking through a tiny rectangle. I must have had my camera down for no more than 10 seconds, but during those 10 valuable seconds I had this amazing birds-eye view and listening position to hear the 918, surrounded in Outback landscape.
As much work as I've put behind these aerial images, I have to say they show only a tiny percentage of the full experience you get when you see it yourself.
That day, I really loved my job.