30 Jun 2015

On V4 power

Whilst the two Porsche 919s with their 2 litre V4 turbocharged hybrid powertrains were roaring/purring around the Sarthe circuit to take a superb 1/2 in the Le Mans 24 hour race I was on the last few days of my V4 turbo powered 2000km drive in Oregon and Washington State.Sadly my mount was an Avis Ford Fusion Titanium with a 2 litre turbocharged Ecoboost power unit.It was in fact a surprisingly competent if characterless car.Well put together and comfortable with a well sorted chassis.The steering is too light and lacks feel for my taste but that seems to the market requirement nowadays.
With a rental car there is no handbook so I was never able to work out how to operate any locking and unlocking mode other than the basic buttons on the fob however the fact that red numbers appeared on the driver's side B post suggested there was PIN activated access system and another Fusion driver I spoke to told me there was also a proximity activated locking system.Typically American-too much choice.
I was able to access the menus on the electronic dashboard and so was able to set the aircon and exterior temperature readings to celsius as I no longer can relate to fahrenheit.

The Ford V4 turbocharged family of engines come in a variety of capacities and are fitted across the US Ford range in models as diverse as the Mustang and the F150 truck.In the car I was driving it was coupled to a 6 speed auto transmission.
The engine has good grunt low down -very useful for merging onto a fast moving interstate highway but it runs out of grunt at the top end.
Over 2000 kms it averaged 10.1 litres per 100 km fuel consumption.A tad lower that I might have expected given the eco part of its moniker but not so bad.

The 2/2.5 litre V4 turbocharged configuration seems to be the power unit layout of choice for many manufacturers as the way to meet ever tightening fuel consumption and emissions targets.Apparently Porsche are about to announce a flat 4 turbocharged 2 litre power unit for the Boxster and Cayman ranges and soon there will only be one sports car model Porsche with a naturally aspirated engine.Turbos are soon to rule beyond Le Mans.
919 photo by Porsche Cars

29 Jun 2015

Checking the oil

                                               Terrigal,NSW,Australia.Winter afternoon sunshine Mon 29th June 2015

28 Jun 2015

Welcome Felix

Welcome to the world,Felix.
Grandchild #5,grandson #2.To Julia and Toby at Sydney RPA Hospital approx 17.30 on Saturday 27th June.

Photo taken today - Felix being introduced to big brother,Otto.Leica X1.Jpeg file straight from the camera.1/30th sec at f2.8 ISO 500

Today was a wonderful day.It was also a personal test.I had a momentous family event to record.I had a choice of 4 cameras-the Hasselblad film camera,the Sony a7,the Leica X Vario and the old standby, the Leica X1.Instinctively I took the X1.No fuss,no decisions to make and I knew that it could produce outstanding results.It did.I am delighted with the photos I took and this has to be my personal favourite.Simplicity wins again.Maybe eBay beckons for the others.

26 Jun 2015

Thoughts on classic Porsche prices

Not for sale.My 1977 2.7 .

A few weeks ago a 1975 2.7 911 Porsche sold at auction in Sydney for A$75,000.Apparently it is a very tidy car in original but by no means concours condition.This is an extraordinary price for what is one of Porsche's least exciting models.At the moment this sale seems to be an outlier but it is indicative that the prices of big bumper G-series 911s are moving rapidly upwards.
Prices for longnose pre-1973 911s are continuing to climb into the stratosphere and 356 prices are already stratospheric.

This is all very bad news for Porsche enthusiasts.It means that many genuine enthusiasts will be tempted to cash in their much loved cars. I have recently heard a story of one enthusiast who has owned a very desirable early 911 for many years.He restored the car and for him it has been a long term project and a real labour of love.It is now worth approaching A$200,000.He finds himself asking whether he should sell it and put the proceeeds into his mortage or his children's education.Others will be asking the same questions.
I have also heard from two friends of recent instances where they were offered very substantial sums for their Porsches,one a longnose 911 the other a 356,whilst at local car events.
Already we are seeing competition fields depleted of early cars as the owners consider them too valuable to take on the track.

The price inflation will move the classic cars out of the reach of most genuine enthusiasts.Less cars will be run on the road.More cars will end up in the hands of rich collectors.This is already a well established trend.It's the wealth inequality thing again.Wealth gets concentrated into the hands of a few.

This is all particularly sad for Porsche as the older cars are so usable.They are very reliable and they keep up with modern traffic.They deserve to be driven and owned by true enthusiasts.Alas it looks as if many will end up as garage queens.

A Sony lens for $43

I may be telling this story against myself given my enthusiasm for Leicas and Leica lenses in particular but this photo was taken with a lens which I bought for A$43 on eBay. It was A$60 with the postage from an Australian seller in Brisbane.
The lens is a classic Minolta F1.7 50mm MD mount which I fitted onto a Sony a7 with an adapter I also bought on eBay and which cost A$11.47 with free postage from Hong Kong. Despite its price the adapter is very well made - how do they do it?
The lens did not come with caps and to protect it I bought a 49mm Hoya UV filter off eBay from another Australian seller for A$14.50 again with free postage.So my total outlay for the lens,adapter and filter was A$86 say US$64.
The lens is in excellent condition.Optically it is mint and the focus ring turns like oiled silk.Minolta were once a very well regarded camera and lens manufacturer. Indeed they had an association with Leica at one stage. They were bought by Sony in 2006.
The above photo of Phoebe,my beautiful old Himalayan,was taken at F1.7-the colour is great and the lens is tack sharp - see the enlarged section below.

 Below are a couple more shots I took with it a few weeks ago. It performs very well and also it it feels good on the camera.The pattern on the focus ring on the lens reminds me of an Olympus Zuiko lens.The adapter is quite short so that the lens/camera combination is compact.The problem with using some heritage lenses on the a7 with adapters is that the adapters are long so you end up having a slim camera body dominated by a great big lens.
If I had been asked to do a blind test of this lens and had been told it was a new $1000 Zeiss lens for the Sony I would have said that it is a very good lens.For A$86 it is a quite extraordinary lens.If you own a Sony a7 and are looking for a wide aperture 50mm lens find yourself one of these. And if you own a Sony NEX this lens becomes a F1.7 90mm equivalent which really is a useful piece of kit.Sure you have to focus and set the aperture manually but that is not a big deal particularly as the Sony's manual focus peaking works so well.And remember many of those high priced current Zeiss lenses for the Sony mount are manual focus and aperture control.

24 Jun 2015

Concorde in Seattle

I never had the opportunity to fly on Concorde but 2.5m lucky people did whilst it was in service from 1976 to 2003.I used to see the British Airways and Air France Concordes at Heathrow and Roissy on my trips to Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.Now there are 14 of the original 16 Concordes left and on display -for list of locations see Concordes on display.
I photographed this one at the Museum of Flight in Seattle two weeks ago.When you go into it the interior is small,cramped and the analogue flight deck looks very antiquated.It was by any standards an amazing piece of aeronautical engineeering-a commercial failure but a technological triumph.
I have entered this photo into an international competition-I hope its simplicity will appeal to the judges.I stood for some considerable time on the spot waiting for the cloud to drift into exactly the right position and luckily it followed my script.

22 Jun 2015

In Portland

Portland,Oregon is a very liveable city.It has a very nice feeling-some would call it a vibe.It has an unofficial slogan-Keep Portland Weird.Well it's not weird but just different.
It is a very green city with good public transport and obviously a strong sense of community.The city is beer,bike and tattoo mad.There are 84 microbreweries,74 bike stores and 72 tattoo parlours in the city-all for just 600,000 people.That's roughly one brewery,one bike shop and one tattoo parlour for every 10,000 Portlanders.
It also has what is claimed to be America's biggest bookstore,Powells, and this means that it is probably the world's biggest bookstore.The store still seems to be thriving.It is enormous and open till late into the evening.I suspect that some people live there undetected.
Portland is home to Nike,Columbia Sportswear,Intel and numerous high tech companies and even Leatherman tools.It still is a major port for timber exports.
It must also have the world's largest concentration of Kia Soul cars.They are everywhere.When you pass a Portland Kia dealer their forecourt is just a sea of Souls.Some would say that this enthusiasm for the Soul proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Portland is in fact weird.
Saab,Volvo,VW and Subaru used to be the cars of choice for Portlanders going by the old uns you see.Subaru and VW are still in there but new Volvos are thin on the ground and Saab has gone.
If you don't have a Soul in Portland then you have a Subaru XV and for maximum brownie points it has to be a hybrid with a Thule roofbox and a bike rack.Portland hipster.However there is an electric Kia Soul now and this may qualify for even more Portland brownie points.
Here's a selection of the cars I spotted on my early morning walks within a couple of blocks of my hotel in N Portland.Some are well decayed,some just needing some TLC-how about the Porsche 944 with the rust patch on the wing? I even saw a rare BMW 2002ti in a very sad state being driven in the traffic.

19 Jun 2015

Back from the USA

The blog has just been barely ticking over for the last four weeks as I have been travelling in the US but I arrived back this morning and am into sorting out my photos despite feeling exhausted from that long trans Pacific flight.
I have had a love/hate relationship with the US and Americans over the years but on this trip it all crystallised for me.I really began to more fully understand the US and Americans. I realise that I had been taking a sometimes oversimplistic view of the country and the people despite many trips to the US and working for Americans and American companies. It's a very complex place and society/culture and full of contradictions and things I still do not understand-more on these later.It's almost as if it is a patchwork of separate countries as the regions are so different in terms of landscape and culture.
I travelled predominantly in Oregon and Washington State with a flight to Las Vegas to see the Grand Canyon.I drove over 1300 miles-2000kms -and enjoyed perfect weather nearly every day for 4 weeks. I met so many friendly,helpul and polite people and surely some of the most patient and courteous drivers in the world.Indeed the only person who was not friendly or polite in the whole trip was the immigation official at Los Angeles Airport on the way in.Yes I know that they are trying to keep the bad guys out but they do seem to have an attitude problem.
As always I took quite a few photos with both my Leica X1 and the X Vario and a quick selection is below.I tried to avoid tourist shots and I don't do landscapes well but I could not resist including a couple of photos of the Grand Canyon taken from inside the Canyon.
My picks of the photos below have to be the portraits - particularly the guitar player. I now just ask people outright if I can take their photo-in the US I avoid asking if I can shoot them as I could be misunderstood.I only had one refusal on the trip and of course I gave a few dollars to the young guy with the dog in Las Vegas who was obviously doing it tough but who still manged to smile for the camera.
My first take on a very sunny US trip.Thanks to all the lovely smiling people - it was a real delight.

10 Jun 2015

Studies in orange and pink

                                     Monks lining up to collect alms -early morning,Luang Prabang.Laos.Leica M6 with Fuji Velvia film.

 Monk at prayer,Myanmar.Leica X1

9 Jun 2015

Prince Charles

I spotted this old guy in Myanmar who has more than a passing resemblance to Prince Charles,heir to the British throne, - even down to the ears.

6 Jun 2015

In your face

Two in your face portraits.Both taken in Myanmar with the Leica X1. A monk and  a veteran soldier.That's the joy of the X1 -it's not threatening.You can get close.I would have liked to have had less contrast in the bottom shot but he wasn't going to let me pose him.It was shoot or lose.

4 Jun 2015

Times have changed

In those long ago days the grid girls left nothing to the imagination.......and yet the racer seems too far in the zone to notice.Now if they want to get those F1 crowds and TV audiences back here's an idea.Imagine the fuss if anyone even proposed it.