30 Jan 2013

Glorious Goodwood

It's been quite a few months since I saw a racing car in action but these technically superb shots by Peter de Rousset-Hall from last September's Goodwood Revival Meeting are a great substitute-in the short term.
I apologise if they are slow to download but they just scream out to be big pics.The B&W shot of the Auto Union is the standout for me.
All taken on a full frame Canon DSLR they almost make me want to rush out and buy a bag full of full frame gear.Many thanks Peter.

29 Jan 2013

Storm and tempest-part 2

It's 9.00 am and it is still raining hard -now over 60 hours of continuous rain but the wind has dropped totally after a wild night.One big branch down in the back garden and quite a few smaller ones on the roof.Only some plants destroyed.
Went down to the Haven at 7.00 am -not many boats still at anchor-some were taken out in advance , some have washed up on the beach including this one which was being pulled out having sustained a fair bit of damage including a bent prop.And yes that small figure in the sea is a surfer which in my book is totally irresponsible.It's not as if the surf is good.The sea is just a mess.

28 Jan 2013

Storm and tempest

After a very hot January and a beautiful Australia Day on Saturday the weather changed with a vengance overnight on Saturday and we have had torrential rain for 48 hours as the remains of a cyclone off the east coast move south.Further north in Queensland and N NSW there is severe flooding and now (10.05 pm) we are taking the full force of cyclonic winds as I type this .It is frightening in the house as the wind whistles and the house creaks (it is all steel and glass)and that large gum tree out the back is moving alarmingly and looking very threatening.The cats are very nervous - that makes four of us.It's amazing that we still have power given the movement in the power lines which are all above ground around here.I have torches at the ready.
I went down to the esplanade at 5.00 pm to hopefully get some photos of the boiling ocean but the wind/rain was way too strong and I faced coming back with a very wet Leica so I took this bleak shot through the car window and came home.

27 Jan 2013

A photographer's tale

As a complete break from "Technicolor" Myanmar images here is a story from Clarence Boudreau who lives in Canada.
I am surprised and somewhat flattered  that The Rolling Road blog should produce such a response.I'll hand over to Clarence-

The Digilux-1 breathed new excitement for this tired, old photographer. Actually, many would say this digital camera from 2002 is tired, old equipment. Well then I am happy to say we were meant for each other. It was a match made on The Rolling Road blog. On July 6, 2012 I first visited the April 27, 2012 posting by John S which was named "Leica Digilux 1 Infra Red". I had my very own Digilux a month later and I was loving it. It was so easy to use I had great photos within minutes of receiving it in the mail.  
So why was I tired? Well I cut my teeth on film. I made a living with the stuff. I didn't need a light meter let alone auto focus. I used Hasselblad C, Arriflex S 16mm, 4X5 Graflex, Leica M3, Kowa Six, Bronica S2A and countless others. All these did not have light meters built in. I eventually had a Gossen Luna Six but rarely used it. Then the electronics technology started. I was there when the first video equipment made the scene. It was awful. The consumer-aimed 35mm cameras offered built -in exposure meters and eventually matrix metering and auto exposure. Then auto focus became all the rage and finally digital cameras.  
I held out using film until 2004. I was scanning photographic prints into the computer. I got an assignment requiring hundreds of images. The client provided a digital camera saying "Keep it." I managed to do good work but found it difficult and time consuming to operate with many controls "hidden" in the menus. Shutter lag time was stupid to say the least.
For years I struggled with that 2003 era "gift" digital camera. Static shots worked but not candid or "street". Many times I reverted back to film. However shooting film for fun or spec. was getting expensive. After reading many reviews on the newer version of the "gift" camera I bit the bullet and purchased one. It was so much more complicated. It was difficult to understand the instruction manual or the menus and get the feel of it. The electronic viewfinder had what may as well have been a two-day lag time. I was depressed over the complicated digital experience, the degrading of film processing services and diminishing availability of dark-room supplies. I felt that photography had moved beyond my comprehension and left me behind with a lifetime of now worthless technical knowledge.
I visited photography blogs to see what others were doing. What were they using? There is a lot of information on the web.Then I found The Rolling Road blog with that amazing infra-red piece. I was intrigued with this low pixel Leica camera as the photos were just as clear and presentable as those of bloggers using more modern digital cameras with many more pixels.  
I searched for reviews and other sites dedicated to the Digilux-1. The more I learned the more I felt a connection to it. I decided I had to have one. I am very pleased with it. It is so easy to use. The photos are warm and life like. Infra red is stunning. My favorite controls are on the outside and not hidden in menus. For example the self timer and flash buttons are right next to the shutter release. It has an optical viewfinder! I rarely use the LCD display when shooting. The macro setting is awesome. Over the years I have spent a small fortune on bellows, close-up filters and micro / macro lenses for various film cameras and the Digilux 1 has it built in. Its just another feature of the high-performance, high-speed LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON f/2-2.5/7-21 mm ASPH. triple zoom lens. Yes, that was f/2.0 ! It's magic.You don't need to be Houdini to come out with a good photo.
I am excited about photography again. Now I am back with tons of enthusiasm. The Digilux-1 incorporates the familiar, manual controls with digital technology. It facilitates intuitive "on the spot" shooting, offers excellent results and robust reliability. I just love it. I am grateful to John for posting his blog. He may live "down-under" but he is "up and over" in my book.

26 Jan 2013

Happy Australia Day

 Happy Australia Day to all Australians .It's a beautiful morning here in Terrigal -- hot and humid still - and we are flying the flag and preparing for a lunch with friends and eagerly awaiting the phone call to hear of the arrival of a new Australian ,our fourth grandchild.She/he has15 hours left if they are going to come into the world on Australia Day.Plenty of time. Here's hoping.

22 Jan 2013


Sitting here in very hot and humid Australia it's difficult to think about a snowstorm but these great atmospheric shots of a very snowy and gloomy Namur in Belgium last weekend from friend Patrick really bring it home. Great testimony to why you should always carry a camera.Thanks Patrick.

20 Jan 2013

Image sizes

In an effort to really make the most of the Myanmar photos I have posted them in a  bigger size in the last week.Sadly whilst they look terrific on a sharp,bright monitor the download speed can be very slow if you are not using a high speed connection.So reluctantly I have had to revert the previous smaller image size and blog template.My apologies if you enjoyed the widescreen images.

Myanmar and the Leica X1

Another batch of photos from my Myanmar trip.
Since I have posted the first batch of the Myanmar photos and a story has appeared on the Steve Huff website I have received a number of emails asking questions about the camera and processing including some from Leica X1 users.To save me answering them individually here is some more info on the photos.
All the photos were taken with my Leica X1.I use the camera with the white balance set on AWB ,the focus set on 1 point H ,the exposure metering set on multi-field and the ISO set on Auto most of the time.
I don't vary the settings as much as I should ( I would like to use spot metering more) but the LCD screen is so dim-shame on you Leica you could easily have fitted a much better screen- that in bright sunlight it is very difficult to change them.
I took the Myanmar photos as jpeg and DNG (RAW) files with the jpeg setting on vivid.Most of the photos are straight from the camera and have not been post processed .
I use a 35 mm Voigtlander optical viewfinder on the camera all the time.I cannot take photos without a viewfinder.Holding the camera at arm's length in front of my face like a new dad changing a dirty nappy (diaper) is no way to get good photos.
I have two batteries for the camera-the original Leica supplied battery and a spare purchased off eBay from an Australian company for $30.The two batteries seem to be identical in performance and a genuine Leica battery costs $120.
I carry the camera in a leather half case which I bought from a Thai supplier off the Etsy website for $50.
I used a Kiwi filter tube and lens hood( eBay $40) and a B&W clear filter to protect the lens from dust .I don't usually use this set up but Myanmar was very dusty and it was a wise precaution.
I took a polarising filter but found that it was unusable in the bright sunlight due to the poor LCD screen.This was not a problem as the jpegs have turned out with very saturated skies anyway.

One of the emails I received rather curiously asked me whether I felt that my pictures from the trip would have been better if I had taken a "serious" DSLR and a couple of lenses.My answer has to be a conditional-yes. Having a wide angle lens and a fast longer lens would have been great but it is a matter of convenience.But against this the X1 does deliver exceptional image quality (IQ) and a certain"look".
Carrying and using a light compact camera with just a fixed lens is a joy not a chore and above all else I am convinced that having the fixed lens means that I concentrated only on framing the shot not selecting the right lens and this shows in the photos .So in its way the X1 forced me to take better photos.
I hope that this info is useful particularly to the X1 owners who are still struggling with their camera .

18 Jan 2013

Myanmar and The Life of Pi

Photographed this wonderful tiger in a shrine in Yangon a few weeks ago.Nice link to the amazing film of The Life of Pi which I saw this morning .No wonder the tough Sydney Morning Herald film critic gave it five stars--it is a masterpiece.A must see.Quite brilliant.
And here's why I was at the cinema on a sunny summer's morning.

It was the hottest temperature ever recorded in Sydney CBD today -45ºC and up here in Terrigal it reached 44ºC this afternoon as my weather station showed .It was a very warm 29ºC in the house which is why I was in an airconditioned cinema.For those still using the fahrenheit scale that's 111ºF which is incredibly hot for coastal NSW .Small lizards were dying in the pool as they sought relief.
The fire situation is chronic but relief from the heat is on its way with a cool change promised late this evening.It cannot come a minute too soon.This is hell .

15 Jan 2013

The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company

In the British colonial era, in what was then called Burma, the boats of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company provided the main means of transport for freight and people and the mighty Irrawaddy and its tributaries were the main means of transport within the country .Even today most of the cargo in Myanmar travels on boats up and down the Ayeyarwady (the renamed Irrawaddy) as there is only one badly maintained mainly colonial era railway line and a very poor road network.
In Yangon in an old colonial era building there is a Dept of inland Water Transport and the ground floor-visible from the street- is full of dozens perhaps hundreds of clerks at old style desks stamping pieces of paper . The doorman would not allow me to take a photograph of the wonderful "period" scene but it looked as if it was something left over from 1920 controlling and accounting for all the cargoes on the river system.Perhaps that is what it is still doing.
At its peak the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (owned and managed from Scotland) had 600 river boats operating on the rivers of Burma.These were special shallow draft river boats.
When the Japanese invaded Burma in1942 the British retreated rapidly scuttling the whole river boat fleet.
This must have had a terrible imact on the postwar economy of Burma as it would have taken years to restore that carrying capacity.
A Scottish company,Pandaw,salvaged one of the grand old river boats in the late 80's and since then has built a number of replicas to sail tourists up and down the Ayeyarwady from Mandalay to Paya and also up and down the Mekong in neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam.
The modern boats have steel hulls with a very shallow draft and teak superstructure.They are beautifully and tastefully appointed with 30 passenger cabins, a splendid dining room and a wonderful upper deck bar.To their credit they do not have ghastly luxuries like mini bars and spas-just tasteful period equipment and big fridges to keep the beer cold-something the British colonials never had or wanted.
Today the boats are screw driven by Cummins diesels but despite all the moden gadgetry still rely on "pole" men shouting out the depth from the bow as they navigate the many shallows .Because the river is so low in the dry season and constantly changing all boats have to carry a local pilot .As we meandered down the river a vast array of cargos -- teak,earthenware pots,cement,dump tricks,oil,vegetables passed us on barges pushed along by tugs which run with totally unmuffled diesel engines apparently flat out. If you ever see a group of seaman shouting very loudly in a bar you know that they work on tugs in Myanmar.
Some images of "our" boat in Myanmar.Leica X1 photos

12 Jan 2013

Faces from Myanmar

Many of the people of Myanmar are particularly handsome.Most men and women still wear the traditional longi-long skirt-everyday and there is no sign at all of western "slut wear"-yet.They are deeply religious and the women are modest and restrained in their dress and their behaviour.Many men and women wear a tree bark dust known as thanaka on their faces as a cosmetic and sunscreen.
Myanmar is truly quite unlike any place you know about.
So many wonderful photo opportunities and so many smiling people.Leica X1 photos Dec 2012.