Category Archives: jornalist

Less a Plane than a Jackson Pollock – Editorial Photography for Pilot Magazine

In my career as a editorial photographer, this has so far been my most ‘Boys Own’ job – spending the day at White Waltham airfield surrounded by aircraft, and in the company of walking-Wikipedia. Philip and Colin, who know about cars and aeroplanes, and two expert ‘detailers’. Sadly, the photography was not to involve taking to the air or driving cars. We were here to watch the ‘detailers’ cleaning a plane, so more ‘Widow Twanky’ than ‘Biggles’.

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Richard, Colin and Dean with dirty Dumbo

Pilot magazine editor, Philip Whiteman had got me there with writer Colin Goodwin. Colin was writing an article how to get your aeroplane clean. The grubby flying machine in need of a good scrub belonged to Colin. ‘Detailing’ was a new concept to me; very thorough, but careful cleaning, usually of classic or performance cars. My car gets a clean once a year if it’s lucky, usually because it’s so dirty I’m having trouble spotting it against the earth, or because there are toadstools growing in the filthy carpet. So Richard Tipper’s business, ‘Perfection Detailers’ operates on an entirely elevated plane. Sorry, plain. It’s not just a quick hose-down, and a rub with a good chamois leather. Because ‘perfection’ is what Richard aims for. A vehicle isn’t done until it’s ready to enter a concours d’elegance, in fact it isn’t done until it’s ready to win it.

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The propeller alone cost nearly £6000, so Colin says he looks after it very carefully!

I’d imagine that to most owners, their light-aircraft is quite precious. The fact that their life is dependent on it is also going to make them quite attentive to its well-being. Well, consider that Colin also built his plane himself, in his garden shed. He must care more than most!

Colin told me the aircraft, which he’s called ‘Dumbo’ is an ‘RV7’, imported in kit form from the US. He declines to tell me how much the whole thing cost, and won’t even estimate the number of hours it took him. “I’m anal, I spend hours cleaning the thing.” He says. “I joke with passers-by that it’s cheaper than actually flying it.”

Richmond editorial photographer-0872 The first thing Richard Tipper, and his assistant Dean do is clean off the oil stains along the plane’s belly, using a volatile oil a lot like WD40. Then the whole thing gets a shampoo, not any old shampoo of course, it’s pH-neutral with no added chemicals. He dries it straight away to avoid watermarks, using a man-made fabric which he knows from experience to be more absorbent than a chamois.

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The real challenge is the build-up of splattered insects on the leading edges of the wings and propeller. “It only takes a few minutes in the summer for the wings to look like a Jackson Pollock.” Is how Colin describes it.

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Colin was pleased to discover the paint was thin, helping keep down the weight

Elbow grease alone isn’t going to shift them, but before Richard sets about it with his powered polisher he test the thickness of the paint. Only 30-40 microns thick, about a third that of a modern car. He also tests the polish to make sure it doesn’t lift any colour.

I learned a lot during my day White Waltham airfield, photography takes you to interesting places, and lets you glance inside other worlds. You can be sure that my car is now…. still waiting to be cleaned.


Colin’s article took up 3 double-page spreads in Pilot magazine.

Catastrophe at The Apothecaries’ Hall in London – Event Photography

Ebola, Earthquakes and Medivacs; Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine

Apothecaries' Hall main staircase event photographer Trevor AstonAttentative audince Apothecaries' Hall event photographer Trevor AstonI was the photographer at the Apothecaries’ Hall in London for this event organised by the Medical Journalists Association.  The hall is beautiful and the ancient home of The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.  The talk, organised by the Medical Journalist Association was given in the Great Hall.  Dating from 1671 the Great Hall has fantastic, dark Irish oak panelling with a carved screen at the south end of the room and a minstrels’ gallery at the north end.  Every time I needed to change position to photograph I walked on tip-toes across the very creaky oak floor, but I still sounded like a ghost creeping round a country house in the dead of night!

The Apothecaries’ Hall is also home to the world’s only Faculty of Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine which trains medical professionals from around the world to respond quickly to natural disasters, outbreaks of disease and battlefield injuries as well as longer-term emotional trauma.  At this meeting chaired by Lawrence McGinty, men and women who tackle some of the most challenging medical emergencies talked about life on the frontline of healthcare.

One of the privileges of being a photographer is getting to see things, getting to hear things or in this case, both!

Professor Richard Williams event photographer Trevor Aston

Professor Richard Williams, an international authority on psycho-social aspects of disasters based at the Humanitarian and Conflict Research Institute (HCRI) at Manchester University.

speaker Gillian Dacey Apothecaries' Hall event photographer Trevor Aston

Gillian Dacey, formerly with Public Health England, who has been at the forefront of fighting Ebola and is a specialist paramedic dealing with earthquake victims trapped under rubble.

Air Vice Marshal Aroop Mozumder, Commander, Defence Primary Healthcare, President of the Faculty of Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine based at the Society of Apothecaries.

Air Vice Marshal Aroop Mozumder, Commander, Defence Primary Healthcare, President of the Faculty of Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine based at the Society of Apothecaries.

Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.