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31 Aug 2012

Ready.......and waiting

Crossed over into the US and headed south through New York State on Tuesday .Stopped to stretch legs in Syracuse a city with some magnificent buildings but which like so many US cities has seen much better days.The city centre is blighted .The main shops have moved out to the out of town mall,Destiny USA (can you think of a sillier name for a
mall ?)Unemployment is chronic.The city centre is full of very bored,wasted people .Even the Farmer's Market stall holders accept govt food stamps in payment.
But the city council is ready for the future. Ignoring the fact that there is probably not even one electric car in Syracuse they have installed a very impressive row of 20 electric charging stations in a main city car park .
A cynic would say that somewhere along the line they have got their priorities muddled...

29 Aug 2012

Boring,very boring .

Went to the Avis depot in suburban Montreal this morning to pick up the rental car for the trip into the US.Disappointed to see that apart from a Fiat 500 all the rest were really dreary GM cars.Mine was a Chevrolet Impala in beige .Really boring . GM's answer to the Toyota Camry but worse. I could not believe it .Plastic wood veneer on the dash, velour seat covering and steering so light my initial reaction was that it had come apart.Who buys cars like this nowadays? Answer -going by the Avis yard and the amount of stock in Chevrolet dealers I pass - no one .
When GM went into Chapter 11 and was bailed out by the US taxpayer (well actually the Chinese govt who bought the US treasury bonds ) back in 2009 everything was supposed to change .It was "the new GM".Well nothing seems to have changed.Same crappy cars and trucks.Same discounting and desperate"buy it now and save,save,save"advertising everywhere.I hope the Chinese have deep pockets.Oh yes,I forgot the great white hope - the Chevrolet Volt-75 kms range on a full battery charge.Are you guys serious?
Anyway the crappy Impala has transported me to Binghampton,NY via Syracuse .More later.

28 Aug 2012

A special place -2


As I am travelling in Canada/US the car/Porsche content of the blog  has fallen away so here's an atmospheric shot from the Le Mans Classic back in July just to rebalance the ledger .
 For me there is something very special about Le Mans and I sense it most as dusk falls and the lights come on and the cars race into the gloom in front of the stands which empty out as spectators go to eat or ride on the funfair or move to different vantage points.It is many elements combined--the history,the unique smell (hot oil and rubber, and barbecue smoke) and the nature of the track and the fact that it is sports cars and the spectators are real enthusiasts.("Formula one for kids,sports cars for men"-Michelle Alboreto).The unique atmosphere is always there even for the Classic.Photo at 10.00pm 2012 Classic .Leica X1.

24 Aug 2012

Portraits on the run

In sunny Montreal visiting daughter and granddaughters.Dabbled in some portraiture of them a couple of days ago.I am amazed by the results as it is difficult to get all three to cooperate at the same time and the photos were processed using the Snapseed app which cost me just a few dollars.Just some swift strokes of the finger and I produced three pretty passable portraits in literally ten minutes on the iPad.We live in amazing times.Heavily cropped Leica X1 photos.

Central Park,NYC

Central Park early on a hot summer morning .Runners and joggers,lone cyclists,pairs of cyclists,pelotons,even twitchers(bird watchers)and if you are lucky a quiet moment on Strawberry Fields.Leica X1 photos last week.

23 Aug 2012

Ladies who do lunch-NYC

Ladies celebration lunch,Blue Train Restaurant ,Bloomingdales,New York,August 2012. Leica X1.

21 Aug 2012

From the HiLine NYC

August 2012.Leica X1.

Staten Island Ferry

New York,16th August 2012.Leica X1.I wish now that I had taken more photos .I was too busy looking at the great view.Images processed with Snapseed on my iPad.

18 Aug 2012

NY Dogs

Mr Dog Walker has rushed in for a caffeine shot.His charges wait patiently.Very NYC.

Hot in New York

A contrast in styles and generations on a very hot NYC day today .Leica X1

Caffe Storico

Reflection in a mirror.Caffe Storico 170 Central Park West NYC .Highly recommended.Leica X1.

17 Aug 2012

Imagine

Japanese John Lennon fan.Strawberry Fields,Central Park,New York,early morning16th August 2012.Leica X1.

16 Aug 2012

A Morning in New York

The Rolling Road flew into NYC yesterday afternoon.The flight from Aus was as long as ever but was on time.I hit the streets with the camera with red dot this morning and a few of the photos are below .Whoever had the foresight to call it the Big Apple obviously knew that by 2012 90% of the inhabitants would have an iPhone .Good thing I have an iPad otherwise they probably would not have let me in .Leica X1photos

10 Aug 2012

A special place

I love the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris -the grand Luxembourg Palace, seat of the French Senate ,the lake with the model yachts ,the boules players ,the apiary,the tennis courts ,even the vintage open pissoir for the boules players,the gardens themselves and of course the setting in one of the most prestigous districts of Paris- the 6th arrondissement.
I'd like to spend the (European) summer in my grand apartment on Rue Auguste Comte overlooking the gardens from the southside.This would be after my big lottery win.
I have taken many photos of the Luxembourg Palace over the years including some just a month ago and this is one of my favourites.Taken with my faithful Canon G9 ($350 on eBay) which I will swap for a Leica M9 and a full set of lenses after the lottery win.


8 Aug 2012

Better in black and white

One of the few photography blogs I do look at is Better in black and white published by Jeff Damron which features some really nice black and white photos .Jeff does not post that often but when he does his photos are very accomplished .Recently he has been featuring photos of the declining coal industry and infrastructure in his environs.I believe that he should be looking to do a book on the subject as the photos are very engaging.Jeff's strength is not actually black or white but all the grey tones in between which he captures so well .
Certainly viewing his photos has encouraged me to do a few more of my digital photos in black and white ( as well as the B&W photos I am taking with my Hasselblad) .Jeff does a very nice job of converting his landscapes to black and white from RAW files.I used Lightroom 4 but I need to find his secrets.
As I have said previously in the blog I have an enthusiasm for machinery so here are a couple of black and white machinery photos from my recent trip to Germany -- the vintage clock mechanism in Freiburg Munster and a section of a Pratt and Whitney radial engine from a Lockheed Constellation from the Deutsche Museum in Munich.Both Leica X1 shots.
And finally to complete the set a film black and white photo of an Aston Martin ( well a Lola Aston Martin ) at speed at Spa in a round of the WSCC at Spa in 1989. Taken on a Leica M6 with a 90mm lens.


6 Aug 2012

Snowy


Snowy -fishing at The Entrance,NSW,August 2012 .Photo on Hasselblad 500C,Sonnar F4/150 lens onTri-X film processed in Ilfosol 3.

4 Aug 2012

On the way to the Le Mans Classic


Last month on n the way to Le Mans from Brussels we passed through champagne country near Epernay.They certainly pack the vines in.Leica X1 photo.



By way of a total contrast to the bucolic scene above a super atmospheric shot by Peter de Rousset -Hall from the cockpit of his Cobra.Canon 1D photo.


Now this one is a gem from my travelling companion Patrick and his Canon S90 .A gorgeous little vintage Alpine pulling  a very small caravan on his way to the Classic..

1 Aug 2012

Mini musings

A few months ago friend Laura,a VW Golf driver ,asked my advice on what car she should buy as a replacement .I gave her the boy racer default response --a Golf GTI of course. Wisely she ignored my advice and went and bought a Mini Diesel which she loves .
This started me reflecting on what Alex Issigonis the designer of the original Mini would make of today's Minis and a diesel in particular if he were still alive (he'd be 106 by the way so he may not be thinking too clearly but I'll pass on that technicality) .
I think that he would be surprised by the new Mini's commercial success particularly how well it has sold in the US and China.The very idea of selling it at all in these two markets would really have surprised him.However I am sure that he would be shocked by the size of today's Mini and very surprised that the lumpy ,smelly diesel engine of his day is now a very sophisticated and extremely economical power unit well suited to a Mini.
I am not so sure that he would like the new Countryman which he probably would see as not at all Mini like .It really is a scaled down SUV -but again it is by all accounts and personal observation selling very well in Europe.
The original Mini was an extraordinary car in its day but it stayed in production way too long and Rover Group should have killed it off years before they finally stopped production in 2000.The models of the last few years of the old Minis were an embarrasment -a continuous stream of meaningless special editions --slow as a wet weekend,harsh and just totally out of date.
Ironically it was demand from Japan where the original Mini is a cult vehicle that kept the original Mini hanging on.The final Japanese market models even had airconditioning which made the already cramped engine bay even more cramped and made the car even slower.
I went to a product evaluation event at Castle Coombe race circuit in the UK in 1995 and lapped the circuit in a Mini foot flat to the floor -- it was that slow you only had to lift slightly for the corners and not even touch the brakes.And it got worse after that .
BMW did a brilliant job in reviving the brand with the new Mini and it has been an extraordinary success story - the only good thing to come out of BMW's disastrous foray into the British car industry when they bought Rover Group .They ditched the rest in 2000 but kept the Mini brand and the UK factory at Cowley .




Here's some Mini pics just for fun.Images 1 to 3 above are of Laura's Mini Diesel .Nice scenery,nice photos and very smart car Laura--I can see why you love it .Image 4 is two Minis -- my original Mini Countryman/Traveller and a very attractive girl in a mini skirt  photographed by me in 1969 on a Leica 3A on Kodachrome (slide) film.It's an interesting coincidence that Laura's car and my original Mini seem to be the same colour-it was called Old English White back in 1969 but I'm sure it's something more cool now. Image 5 is me  in my 1968 Mini Cooper S competing in a very wet Targa Tasmania in 1996  and finally image 6 the latest big Mini Countryman photographed  in Germany on a Leica X1 a few weeks ago. A lot's changed in 43 years.