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19 Feb 2017

Taking the plunge


Taking the plunge at the headland Avoca Beach,Central Coast, NSW- last day of the school holidays-Summer of 17.
Leica XV photo.

17 Feb 2017

The lone surfer

 The lone surfer-first surf of the day at Terrigal just before the sun was over the horizon today.
I have an Instagram account and I am challenging myself to take one good photo a day to post on it. A few years ago there were personal websites where photographers posted their photo taken that day. The websites enjoyed a very fleeting success - the issue being that the viewers had to actually log onto the websites to see the photos. Also perhaps, even more critically, posting a photo a day was too much for most of the photographers and many of the photos were rubbish.
Anyway Instagram avoids one of these shortcomings-you can follow an account/feed and when a photo is posted on it you get to see it automatically. You can avoid most of the rubbish photos by only following feeds with good photography and there is some superb photography on Instagram and it really has made great images widely accessible. There is also a load of rubbish being posted.
Today I managed two photos for my Instagram account-@therollingroad- and the above is one of them but after consideration I decided that the surfer is just too small for Instagram where most people view the photos on their phones.




16 Feb 2017

Training


My early morning walk has been providing a steady stream of  photos over the last few months. The hot weather seems to be giving even better early morning light and many days the clouds have been interesting too. I'm trying to develop a distinct personal style with my photography whatever the subject. It's taken a long time but I think that it is beginning to evolve.
Photo above taken on the Leica Q at Terrigal Beach this morning with the surf training squad hitting the sea running.

13 Feb 2017

Respite

 Relief ! After a scorching weekend to a very hot week which was preceeded by a very hot weekend we woke up this morning to a cooler day. It's all relative but today 29ºC felt really cool. A welcome respite from the record breaking heat.
More heatwave conditions are on the way but at sunrise this morning these two guys were enjoying the cool air looking north from the headland at Terrigal Beach.
I waited around for the sun's rays to light the scene. I used my "walkabout" camera of choice - the Leica X1.

That is smoke above the horizon from big bushfires burning further up the coast. The weekend saw the worst bushfire conditions ever experienced in NSW. 

12 Feb 2017

Spectating in comfort


I saw this kit up the top of the mountain at Bathurst at the 12 hour race. For years Bathurst spectators have been making their race watching kit more and more sophisticated and this crew have taken it to new heights.
They had a large canvas gazebo,chairs and this ingenious hand truck fitted with go-kart wheels. The big box is a full size fridge. There is the large LCD TV and sound bar -still with its screen protector film- plus a Weber barbecue and gas cylinders. Is that a small microwave oven on top of the fridge? Power for all this gear was supplied by a sizeable portable generator placed some distance away. 
Most spectator encampments seemed to have bought their own generators which nowadays are almost silent - a far cry from the generators of yesteryear.
The one thing missing from their set up is a portable cooling unit. Maybe they solely relied on the contents of the fridge for cooling.
I saw many spectors watching the race on the Channel 7 free to air TV using their phones or tablets. A good idea if you have a big data allowance.
I remember years ago I was very tempted to buy a small handheld Casio TV to use at the racing. I am surprised to see that Casio still sell an updated digital model.



7 Feb 2017

Bathurst 12 hours 2017

I spent the weekend inland at Bathurst for the 12 hour GT race. Hot conditions were forecast and they were not wrong. Saturday was very hot -mid 30sC.( that's 97ºF) Race day on Sunday looked good as it was overcast initially so the temperature hovered around the low 30s until midday but then the sun broke through and the temperature went off the dial. I moved right around the track including walking over the top and down the Dipper towards Forest Elbow. I went  with two friends - we drank a lot of water and tried to stay in the shade. We did spend the last 2 hours in the very empty Nissan hospitality area on the inside of the first corner by a large electric fan watching the race both on the track and on the TV monitors. We managed to survive -just. I have never been so hot. Thank you Nissan.
It was a great weekend but there were a few times I questionned my own sanity.
It was a good thing that the pub in Orange where we stayed had such fabulous cold craft beer. A cold beer or three was never more welcome than on Sunday evening.

There was a very big entry for the race with a large number of international teams and drivers.
For the first time there was a top ten shoot out for grid positions. This was topped by the eventual winner the Ferrari 488 of Vilander, Lownes and Whincupp. Two Porsches made it into the qualifying shootout as did three of the new and very fast, but fragile,BMW M6s. It was good to see an Aston Martin Vantage in the top ten.
The race followed the pattern of recent years and was very tightly fought with multiple changes of lead and unfortunately quite a few safety car deployments. Cars were bouncing off walls all day and the drama lasted right down to the last 20 mins when last year's winner Shane Van Gisbergen in a Mercedes AMG in pursuit of the leader pushed off a Porsche right at the top of the mountain and then as the red mist, or maybe sweat, descended over his eyes he bounced the Mercedes off a wall coming down the mountain and his race was over. One of his  co-drivers, Marc Engel, did a major dummy spit on TV-eleven hours and 45 minutes racing wasted.
In the previous two years Porsches have been also rans in the race but it was very different this year. The new GT3Rs were on the pace and the Competition Motorsports car driven by Australians David Calvert-Jones and wonderboy Matty Campbell with Porsche works pro-drivers Patrick Long and Marc Lieb came second two minutes behind the winning Ferrari in the ICE Break car. A Walkinshaw GT3R came 4th and Porsches won three of the five classes with Caymans taking out the top three places in the GT4 class. The natural order has been restored.

How did the drivers keep cool? Most of the GT3 cars have airconditioning. The drivers wear cool suits/shirts where ice cold water is pumped around a tube woven into the fabric and some cars, such as the Nissan GTRs, have cooled seats. The pit crews were the ones who were really suffering. Many pits had portable cooling units but many of the overseas technicians looked really stressed late in the afternoon.

I  used Leicas for my photos as hauling a camera with a long lens in that heat was just not on. Surprisingly the best results from the weekend came from the Leica Q - a camera with a 28mm wide angle lens. Not a combination one normally associates with motor racing photography but the layout of the Mount Panorama circuit means that there are a couple of points where you can get really close to the cars if you are prepared for a steep climb. Now I leave the real close-up action shots to fitter and younger men and women who can carry that heavy gear and I just and concentrate on the atmospheric shots
I hope that you enjoy my personal take on the Bathurst 12 hours.


























30 Jan 2017

Summer in Australia

It is the most glorious day today. As close to perfection as one could ask. A sea breeze,not a cloud in the sky and 28ºC. A million miles from care and a very long way from Donald Trump.
Most of the schools have gone back today although some go back tomorrow so there are less people around. I went for a long walk along the beach from N Avoca to Avoca mid morning. It was beautiful. I took a camera and came away with this photo. Teenagers were jumping into the sea from the point. There was no shortage of takers.
I used the Leica XV  - the zoom lens was useful but after the Q I find the focusing slow and the electronic viewfinder dim.
Footnote-since I wrote the above yesterday I have had another look at this photo and have decided that it is one of the best I have ever taken! It really tells a story about summer in Australia and photos should tell stories. It would have been nice to have the foot of the girl on the left fully in the photo but I had to be so fast to get the boy jumping and in exactly the right place and also the two girls framing the shot. In many ways it is a lucky photo. I do have another version without the two girls and it does not work anywhere near as well. 

28 Jan 2017

Beached-oh what a feeling.



I went for my early morning walk this morning and found a crowd of spectators on the esplanade looking at a Toyota 4WD HiLux crewcab ute bogged on Terrigal Beach with the waves breaking around it. I made straight for the sand and asked a specator standing there "I wonder which idiot did that?". A nearby voice said "Me". Whoops. The speaker laughed it off and explained that he had been taking his son fishing at 5.00 am and decided to do a quick drive on the beach because there were no signs on the ramp prohibiting driving on the beach. He said that he had seen the Toyota TV commercials so he put the ute into 4WD and away he went -road tyres fully inflated on very soft wet sand and after about 10 metres he was totally bogged with an incoming tide and waves breaking around him. By good fortune the sea was very calm this morning and he manged to get a tow truck to come out to Terrigal to extract the Toyota just before it was swamped by waves. It was rapidly sinking into the soft sand and if it had been left it would have been very firmly stuck and he would have been in very serious trouble on environmental grounds.
That's the driver and his son watching them pull it out in the bottom photo. I can't see him attempting beach driving for a while.


27 Jan 2017

Time out

Activity on the blog has slowed right down the last few weeks. It's the holiday season. The grandchildren have been staying and it has been very hot. My study is at the top of our house. It is like an oven during the day-too hot to occupy. Our large house is open plan-it even has a large atrium-like opening from the lower kitchen family area upto upper levels so airconditioning is not an option. We have installed an aircon unit in the master bedroom in the past 12 months and it has been earning its keep for January but the rest of the house has been getting very hot. We really have only had a couple of day's relief from the heat since Christmas Eve and more very high temperatures are forecast for next week. We are all adjusting. A forecast of 30ºC (86ºF) sounds like a cooler day now.
Our two old cats have not been enjoying the heat. I have been putting a fan on where they are sleeping and they appreciate that.
My photography has been restricted to my early morning walks although I did take some good photos of my granddaughters this week which I then accidentally deleted. 
So in the heat of a late evening I'm posting two portraits from the last two weeks. Above Phoebe. She is one of my favourite subjects and this is one of my favourite shots of her. Taken with the Leica Q by crawling on my belly towards her.
Below - The dawn surfer. I see this guy most mornings summer and winter. He always pulls up in his large local council truck at the same spot . He offloads his surfboard and he's soon into the waves. Then a quick shower and change and he's off to work. I took this one with the Leica XV which I took out with me last week because I thought that I was not using it enough. A surfeit of Leicas.



21 Jan 2017

Kodachrome days- to be revisited?

Last week Kodak  announced that they are commencing manufacture of Ektachrome colour slide film again and that they will be launching a Super 8 film camera to use Ektachrome Super 8 film.See  KODAK
They also announced that they are investigating the feasibility of manufacturing Kodachrome film again. Behind these announcements is the fact there has been a big upswing in demand for film from younger enthusiasts who are turning to film in the same way as young music enthusiasts are turning to vinyl records. Also many movie studios want to shoot on film for the "look". It seems as if everything old is new again.

Fuji have been trying very hard to drive their remaining film business into the ground by repeatadly jacking up prices and discontinuing emulsions. Maybe Kodak's move will cause them to reappraise this strategy.
Starting Kodachrome again will not be easy. Most of the complex coating equipment will have been scrapped. Also much of the hands on know how will have been lost when the technicians left. There is also the question of processing as Kodachrome requires complex processing. There was only one Kodachrome processing lab left operating when Kodak discontinued manufacture of the film, Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons, Kansas, USA and that processed the " last" roll of Kodachrome which was taken by Steve McCurry in 2010.

If Kodachrome does reappear I would be tempted to run a few rolls through my Hasselblad. Big 6x6 Kodachrome slides-magic but surely very expensive.

I first put the story below onto the blog in November 2013 and it maybe of interest again in view of Kodak's announcement.

Early Kodachrome Days



I found this Kodachrome slide last weekend in a shoebox full of discarded slides. It was taken by me in 1960 on my first camera-an Halina 35X-pictured below.
The Halina was apparently made in China - although it was marked "Made in Hong Kong"-and had a resemblance to a Leica although Leica themselves had not adopted the red dot at that time. Maybe the Leica resemblance and a few favourable reviews and the price attracted me. As it happens I have fond memories of that camera and its surprisingly good results. Of course it had no exposure metering so I used a newly acquired and quite reliable little hand held Hanimex Sekonic lightmeter. The Halina had a metal body and you had to manually cock the shutter as well as advance the film after each shot and I do remember that the focussing was always very stiff which I found out was a characteristic of the model not just my example.


Soon after I received the camera as my 14th birthday present from my parents I took it and a much prized cassette of the -to me- incredibly expensive Kodachrome film on our family holiday to N Devon in the UK. The Kodachrome was the original 10 ASA ( today's ISO) emulsion. Hand held shots were really only possible in bright sunlight- usually a rare commodity in the UK but not luckily on that holiday. The film had almost no exposure latitude and it was very contrasty. But it was sharp and the colours were bright as you would expect from Kodachrome. Of course the last thing you need with a contrasty film is bright sunlight but with only 10 ISO and a maximum aperture on the camera of F3.5 you really had no choice.
Kodachrome could at that time only be processed by Kodak themselves and the processing was included in the price of the film. When you purchased the film there was a small envelope in the box and you put the cassette of exposed film into it , stuck on some postage stamps and posted it back to Kodak -in my case to their laboratory in the UK. A week or so later a little yellow box of 36 mounted slides popped through the post box. The films were identified by Kodak with numbers on labels which were stapled on the leader of the films as they were put into the processing machine. It seems these labels often became detached and I received the incorrect slides on a number of occasions. It must have been very harrowing for someone waiting for slides of the big wedding or whatever to receive someone else's slides. I heard that at that time Kodak had a department wholly devoted to chasing up incorrectly directed slides.
This-above- is the first slide I have ever scanned from that little very basic camera and I am still very surprised by the quality. I have not manipulated it at all .This is just how it came out of the camera. This slide is 53 years old -from a completely different era. Since then everything has changed and improved so much - including hopefully my photographic skills.
But this story just took another turn for on Monday morning it was pouring with rain (at last) and I spent time clearing out a cupboard and found a slide numbered "1" on the cardboard mount from that first film. It was, not perhaps surprisingly, a photo of my home at that time- 17 Station Avenue, Ewell, Surrey, England. There was little fogging into the lip of the cassette which is visible on the right hand edge. I did search in Lightroom for some detail in the shadows but there is none -they are black .That's how it was. So there - bottom-my first colour photo - the first of tens of thousands as it turned out.


18 Jan 2017

Heatwave

I've lived in Australia for 40 years and I have never experienced such a long hot spell as we are experiencing here in NSW. We have had just two days since Christmas Eve when the temperature was in the low 20s C. Here in Terrigal the sea has moderated the temperature most days but it has still been around or above 30C. Today is the worst. Overnight it was 34ºC at 3.00am - apparently the hottest since records began over 150 years ago. Now as I type this at 10.30 am it is 41ºC and climbing. That's 107ºF. Heatstroke territory. Just a few kilometres inland it will be even hotter. It is too hot to even go in the pool. The cats are asleep close to a fan but still uncomfortable.
At dawn the beach was full of swimmers. For the first time ever due to heat I took my car down the hill to start my morning walk. It was just too dangerously hot to walk back uphill. Anyone who denies that there is global warming needs their head examining.
These guys were showering down after a dip. Photo taken with the Leica Q. That camera is just brilliant. This is a jpeg-with the camera set on low contrast,low saturation.


15 Jan 2017

Mud, mud, glorious mud.


Two photos from the archives- scanned in prints as the negatives have discoloured. Taken in 1989 on the Australian media launch of the 1990 model year 3.9 litre Range Rover in a remote area inland from Wauchope in northern NSW, Australia.
The area is known as The Cells and was a gold mining area in the mid-19th century. In 1989 a horizontal mineshaft -filled with glowworms-was still accessible.
The descent into a gorge where the mine is located is very steep and there is a serious river crossing. The early miners managed to transport very heavy pieces of mining machinery down into the gorge. A large boiler and a massive stamping battery and other bits and pieces are still there rusting in the bush. The machinery was bought by ship to Port Macquarie where it was offloaded onto wagons and using big teams of bullocks was hauled up into the hinterland -a major task  as it is a long, steep climb and then taken down into the mine site. The descent into the gorge where the mine was located would have been extremely hazardous with the wagons anchored by ropes and chains to trees.

On the media launch pictured we had 12 Range Rovers and one Land Rover Defender which was fitted with a winch and full recovery equipment. In the week before the event there had been heavy rain and whilst the descent and river crossing were easy the track for the steep climb out turned into a quagmire very quickly. I was in the lead Range Rover and we manged to get up with a lot of wheelspin and sliding as did the Defender. But we had shredded the track so after those two vehicles it was chaos. As you can see from the photos the mud was clay and was so deep that there was no traction, no braking or steering control. I have a vague recollection that the Range Rover in the photo was being driven by Australian 500cc motorcycle world champion Wayne Gardner but I would not swear to that. Anyway the driver was extremely lucky not to go over the edge. It was a sheer drop into the gorge at that point. As you can see from the photo as a precaution we fixed a steel cable from the rear of the Range Rover around a tree to anchor it.
The guy with the red boots is Bani McSpedden who was then a partner in an advertising agency and also a motoring writer for men's magazine. Bani is still writing -now as a watch journalist. I suspect from his expression that at the time I took the photograph he wanted to be anywhere but on that muddy track.

It should have taken 30-45 mins for the vehicles to climb out of that gorge. In fact it took over 3 hours as we had to winch all the remaining vehicles up most of the slope.
The delay meant that we were very late back to the hotel in Port Macquarie. I drove back ahead of the convoy to change the timing for dinner so I was the first back and when I stepped out of the Range Rover at the hotel entrance the young lad who was the porter asked me if it was true that Wayne Gardner was on the launch and if so could he meet him. I said I would set it up and he was delighted so he then did something which I am sure he later regretted- he volunteered to clean all our boots for us. Well there were 20 journos on that launch and all of their boots were as muddy as mine. The lad did get Wayne Gardner's autograph- I hope that he thought that it was worth the effort.

I used my Leica M6 with a 28mm Elmarit lens for these photos. In later years I acquired -from a pawnshop in Sydney at a great price - a brilliant mint Nikon L35AW-AF- a rugged waterproof camera with a superb lens. See photo below. I took it on a few rugged Land Rover events and did not worry about getting it dusty, muddy or even wet but I wish that I had it years earlier. A wonderful journalist and camera collector extraordinaire,Brian Woodward, -sadly no longer with us-put me onto the Nikon.

11 Jan 2017

Walking the dogs



The three of us. Walking the dogs Terrigal beachside 6.15 am today. Another scorching humid day and no relief in sight with more heat forecast until the other side of the weekend. Big fluffy dogs like this one are feeling the heat so an early morning walk is the best time. Ditto for older humans.
In the many exercise classes and morning walkers and joggers on Terrigal beachfront on any day-winter or summer-women outnumber men probably 10 to one. There's a lesson there. Not sure what it is though.
The light pole does lean by design.
This walking is thirsty work

9 Jan 2017

Summer

As the Rolling Road seems to have more readers in the US and Europe in the northern hemisphere winter than in Australia and as both the US and Europe are currently suffering from some really cold weather I thought that a few summer photos from a very warm east coast of Australia would be well appreciated. A little sunshine to brighten up all the cold and misery around although I doubt that even my sunny photos can lighten the mood for many of my American readers as the Presidential inaugration date approaches.

We are enjoying, if that is the right word, a long spell of hot weather with cloudless skies and no rain here in Terrigal. Hot air is being pushed out from the interior of the continent and heatwave conditions are again forecast for the rest of the week. The only really cool day ( 23ºC) we have had since Christmas Eve was last Tuesday. Here right on the coast the seabreezes moderate the temperature most days but if you drive just a few kms inland the temperature is scorching.
The best time to go out is very early in the morning and that is when I took these photos over the last 10 days. 
The high surf was shot at a very high tide this morning. The two girls in the car was also taken this morning. They had taken their dawn swim and were watching the sunrise.
The first photo is my personal pick of the bunch. Also it really shows how good the Leica Q is. This is a jpeg straight out of the camera. 
If you are suffering in the cold I hope you enjoy the photos and I'll be thinking of you when I am in the pool this afternoon before I crack open a cold beer at 5.00pm. Cheers.