30 Jul 2012

Beautiful-Lotus 49

Saw a head on shot of Alonso's German GP winning Ferrari last week. Poor old Enzo Ferrari must be spinning in his grave .Ferraris were always so beautiful-- both the road and race cars.But not any longer.That F1 car is so ugly.
Anyway as a reminder of what we have lost two superb shots by Peter de Rousset-Hall of the Lotus 49 in action at this year's Goodwood Festival Of Speed a few weeks back.And this is the very car which won the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort driven by Jim Clark on it first ever outing  .
Not only have we lost beautiful racing cars we have lost the Dutch Grand Prix and Zandvoort and what do we have instead ?-the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.And coming soon the Moscow Grand Prix.
Photos on Canon 1D.Yes ,good gear shows . How's your back Peter?

28 Jul 2012

With a 356 at Le Mans

I love the Porsche 356 and there seem to be more and more of them at each succesive Le Mans Classic.They seem to be an accessible way to get onto the track at the Classic -not as expensive as a full on racing 911 and a fair bit slower and competing against more gentle competitors .
Yes, it would be fabulous to do the LMC in a 356 but I'm sure that at full chat in the night on the Mulsanne Straight I'd be asking myself whether it is one of my best ideas -particularly if it was raining.Probably best to stick to spectating and dreaming.

26 Jul 2012

Slow photography-continued

My attempt to embrace slow photography principles with my digital camera and to restrict the number of photos I took whilst in France earlier in the month was only partially succesful.I took less than usual but still way too many.I need to be more disciplined like Karam below seen here using an 8X10 view camera in an arboretum in the UK recently .

Apparently it takes him 30 mins to set up a shot and on this particular day he took just four shots each of which cost him well over $20 for film and processing.Seriously slow photography but not in the league of this photographer Joni Sternbach see Joni Sternbach
But for the ultimate(?)in slow photography see Ian Ruhter.Ian has converted a box van into a huge mobile camera and takes very large photos very slowly.

My personal foray back into analogue( film) photography continues now that I am back in Australia and last week I put two more films through the Hasselblad.

I am trying,not always succesfully,to branch out with the 'Blad trying different approaches which are suited to the tonality of film and not do just standard stuff-after all the digital Leica does that very well with much less effort.

Here are five images from those films .The first three were taken on Ilford FP4 film and the last two on Kodak Tri-X .Both films were developed in Ilford ID-11.My personal favourite is the bridge shot .With the Land Rover shot although I feel that the film outline "framing" completes the picture I still feel uneasy about it as it offends my sense of order developed over many years of trying to produce "good"photos .I know that Phoebe ,the Himalayan,features again but she is beautiful and her colouring seems to suit film .

I am very enthusiastic about using film again.It really does bring back much of the magic of photography which I feel I lost when I switched to digital.And there is certainly a special feeling in having to wait to see the results.The instant gratification (or otherwise )and the simplicity of digital photography is in many ways a double edged sword.Using medium format film with its big,clumsy camera and just 12 exposures per film means that you have no choice but to go slowly and you have to wait to see if you have that shot.And the camera and the lenses are just beautiful examples of mechanical and optical engineering.Just handling them is a tactile experience -something you cannot say about most digital cameras.

24 Jul 2012

Classic race circuit-Reims-Gueux

Back in 1961 television coverage of European formula one grand prix races in the UK was minimal but they televised live the French Grand Prix from Reims.It was one of the first live overseas motor racing telecasts by the BBC and I was lucky enough to have watched it.
The Reims-Gueux track was a classic French public roads high speed circuit .The 1961 race was an absolute ripper-a slipstreaming battle between the Ferrari of the new boy ,Baghetti, and the Porsche of Dan Gurney.Baghetti made the critical passing move out of the slipstream of the Porsche on the finishing straight and he took the race by a very small margin.
Although they only took second place it was one of the few good results for the short lived Porsche formula one project .
I can still remember being completely enthralled by the extraordinary high speed drama-in black and white-on my parent's TV. It was a classic race of a classic era.And I naively thought that all formula one racing was like that.Little did I know what Bernie was going to do to the sport in my lifetime.
The Reims circuit had been the scene of earlier classic races both formula one and sports cars before that extraordinary 1961 race including some famous victories for Jaguar in the Reims 12 hour sports car races.The last race on the circuit was held in 1972 .After that the giant facilities were left mouldering beside a main road out of Reims near the village of Gueux.There was a revival display event in 2010 and some of the signage was repainted but otherwise they stand,decaying,as a reminder of an amazing era.

Friend,Patrick ,and I stopped by the the remains of the race facilities on our way from Brussels to to Le Mans two weeks ago.We only had a short time but I managed to take some photos which I have "vintaged" in Lightroom.It would have been nice to have spent more time searching for more reminders of this wonderful circuit but we had a lot of distance to cover that day so our visit was short but at least I was able to see some reminders of the track for myself.Another box ticked.
It would have been even better to have had the time to do some really original photography of the old structures and the track perhaps using a medium format film camera because in the end apart from the vintage look my photos are so similar to many other photos of the track on the internet and it's even on Google StreetView.Is nothing sacred?

The track was long (8kms) and blindingly fast and very dangerous.The photos were taken at what was the start and finish line marked with a chequered line on the plan below.The photo of the start of the1960 race shows the narrowness of the track but does not show that just after the start/finish line it goes over a blind brow.Just imagine heading flat chat, three abreast,over a blind brow and then into a corner.So different to the kitty litter lined slot car tracks used by F1 in Asian and Middle Eastern kingdoms today.In those days they wanted the drivers to race wheel to wheel and spectators to come and watch and come they did in vast numbers as the photo below shows.A different era indeed.At least I saw some of it at the time and not on YouTube.

21 Jul 2012

The Demon Drome

One of the highlights of my trip to the Le Mans Classic was finding a 'wall of death' operating on the infield below the Dunlop Bridge .I clearly remember going to a 'wall of death' with my father when I was about 6 years old .It was either in a fairground in Margate on the Kent coast or in Brighton on the south coast of England and I saw one at the Oktoberfest in Munich in1967.I loved them then and was really surprised when I found one at Le Mans.And there I was thinking that the fun police had closed them all . 
Friend Patrick Wheeler has written a lyrical piece on our encounter with the 'wall of death' so let me hand you over to him and his breathless prose....

"So my traveling companion this trip is excited to see a ‘wall of death,’ apparently a feature of carnivals in his misspent youth in the UK before the emigration to Australia, no time is wasted getting a ticket to one of the first shows of the day …

Interestingly enough, it was apparently an American creation before the trial attorneys and insurance premiums and plane common sense drove them from those shores and they washed up on the wee island …  “Derived directly from United States motorcycle boardtrack (motordrome) racing in the early 1900s, the very first carnival motordrome appeared at Coney Island amusement park (New York) in 1911. The following year portable tracks began to appear on travelling carnivals, and in 1915 the first "silodromes" with vertical walls appeared and were soon dubbed the "Wall of Death." The carnival attraction became a staple in the United States outdoor entertainment industry with the phenomenon reaching its zenith in the 1930s, with more than 100 motordromes on travelling shows and in amusement parks.”

Ages ago I used to help Levi Strauss and Co sell pants.We used to search out unique personages to put our pants on to show the free and easy lifestyle and to be ‘brand ambassadors.’  Man I hope these guys are on that list and are getting free pants, because this kind of brand association simply cannot be beat !!   there are so many lads photo blogs these days dedicated to the lost art of appearing manly, featuring old motorcycles, tattoos, tee-shirts and facial hair … but these guys have it totally sussed … don’t believe me? check these out …

Of course these guys have their own web site …

An old Indian, braised floorboard where it is beat to shit, cast iron cylinder heads and heat discolouration on the gear shift along with oil patina and old heavy chrome … as they say, you cannot buy patina, and this Indian has it in spades …
 But enough soaking up the atmosphere, there is a show to put on … basically think of a large, a _very_ large wine barrel with a semi ramped floor … and a hatchway that closes locking the players inside with their insane machines … as wiki says “The audience views from the top of the drum, looking down. The riders start at the bottom of the drum, in the centre, and ascend an initial ramped section until they gain enough speed to drive horizontally to the floor, usually in a counter-clockwise direction (the physical explanation behind this act is found at Banked turn and The turning car.)”
They warned up to keep our hands away from the lip as the rider would come _all_ the way up, and they do!  As he thunders by the entire barrel shakes and rattles and the smell of the gasoline and the reverberating sounds … well, trust me on this, you _need_ to experience this show …

They warned up to keep our hands away from the lip as the rider would come _all_ the way up, and they do!  As he thunders by the entire barrel shakes and rattles and the smell of the gasoline and the reverberating sounds … well, trust me on this, you _need_ to experience this show …

The man is incredible … and scary, the tricks he does need to be seen and if you have not seen one of these, well, I see now why they made such a memorable impression on my traveling companion

No sooner has ‘the Duke’ finished than ‘the Duchess’ is off on her run, using a lightweight and more modern machine a single kick and she is rumbling around the track …

And speaking of updated, the safety is done and re-done and I see the team inspecting to be certain everything stays ship shape, if you rest your foot against the slats when the riders come by you can literally feel them drive over your toes, and watching the flex in the wood as they circle the track from the inside, well, the demon drome is a living breathing thing …

Ok, maybe I should not admit how many times I went through the Demon Drome, and how much I enjoyed the show.  The folks running the show gave the distinct impression they were having exactly as much fun.  I had a smile plastered on my face and from the genuine smiles on the rough and tough ‘carnie’ team, well, a good time was being had by _all_
Thanks Patrick .I struggled to get good photos inside the Demon Drome. The autofocus on the Leica X1 was way too slow and the Canon G9's sensor was not sensitive enough.In the end I compromised by using the Leica on manual focus .I tried the photos in monochrome but they do not convey the colour of the show so it was back to the originals red cast and all .Photos by Patrick Wheeler and the Rolling Road -Leica X1 , Canon G9 and Canon S90.
See Patrick's video from the Le Mans show on  Demon Dome video

20 Jul 2012

A quiet coffee

                   Early morning ,Montparnasse,Paris July 2012.Leica X1 photo

Whaletail lunch

A Turbo's whaletail being used as a table for a very French lunch- baguette,pate et fromage -by this couple at the Le Mans Classic.

18 Jul 2012

French Porsche Heaven

Porsche clubs display area Le Mans Classic 2012.So many beautiful cars --particularly early cars--and with so many very friendly enthusiasts ready to talk "Porsche" it was difficult not to spend all day there and not even see the racing.And the fluent English of most of the French owners made me feel very embarrassed.Thank you to all the charming ,friendly people I met.You made the weekend as much as the racing.
But why do the later model cars all come in such"me too"dreary colours?