30 Jan 2012


Leica X-1. DNG file converted in Lightroom .Sunday 29th January .Zoe is a 12 year old Himalayan who likes to hide in her beer carton "house" in our main living area. Photographing Himalayans close up is difficult as their fine fur confuses the autofocus on all the cameras I have used including the X-1.I could have manually focussed but I lay prone on the ground looking into the beer carton and set the camera to single point macro autofocus and focussed on the tip of her nose. There was very little light so it shot wide open at f 2.8. I took 10 shots and discarded them all except this one .
It's 12 months since I purchased the Leica X-1.It is a flawed camera with a beautiful lens and sensor. It has taken me 12 months to really become familiar with it and it frustrates me still but it has produced some of the best photos I have ever taken in 50 years of taking photos so I have to pronounce myself an X-1 fan. Maybe the X-2 is on the way and that will build on the X-1's strengths and also correct its glaring deficiencies.Let's hope I can afford it if it does .

29 Jan 2012


     I've always enjoyed wandering around the paddock and even when I have been running my own car I find working on the car in the paddock and just "shooting the breeze" and taking photos almost as enjoyable as actually running on the track . Which probably explains my times .                                                      

27 Jan 2012


Friend Patrick Wheeler and I had a personal contest as to who could take the best shot at the 2011 Le Mans 24 hours . We both like to travel light so we were both using compact cameras so there were no long lenses or fancy wide angles .

Long after the race Patrick has just turned up this shot taken with his battered and well travelled Canon S90 which must take the prize.It was taken at dawn at Tetra Rouge and shows Jackie Ickx's daughter ,Vanina ,in her Aston Martin powered Lola, which finished seventh, powering onto the Mulsanne Straight .It is a very atmospheric shot and shows what can be done with a compact camera.Looking at it I can almost smell Le Mans at dawn-- that unique blend of exhaust fumes,burnt rubber,hot oil,dust,damp grass ,frying bacon and smoke from camp barbecues .

If you are looking for a performance small camera at a bargain price the S95 , the successor to the S90 ,has just been replaced by the S100 and a number of outlets have been selling off the S95 at $200-$300 .This represents a great buy but move fast. Invest in a small handgrip for about $30 from Richard Franiek see and you have a great package which can take shots like this and which easily fits into your pocket .

The only problem I have personally with the Canon S cameras is that they do not have an optical viewfinder .Call me old fashioned but I just cannot adjust to taking photos with the camera held out at arm's length looking at an LCD . It reminds me of changing a baby's smelly nappy ( diaper). But it seems that I am in a very small minority .

Ownership of a sizeable DSLR seems almost to be a badge of honour for many  senior European tourists and some young Japanese and American women tourists. Now a big sensor DSLR can take outstanding photos -- well beyond the capabilities of my little compacts -- and some of the users are real serious photographers turning out extraordinary images but I suspect that most are just carrying them as trophy toys and they could save their shoulders and their wallets by using a compact camera.I saw a very slightly built Japanese lady -- early 20's -on a walking tour of the architecture of Grand Central Station in NYC back in July and she was carrying a Canon 1D with a long lens . She could hardly lift it .I found myself wondering "what will she do with those big files?" and "will she make it home before she puts her shoulder or back out".

26 Jan 2012


                                                        My ,"made in China",Australia Day boardies which have just been commissioned in the pool . Much to my surprise they did not turn the pool blue from running dye.

22 Jan 2012


I'm not turning The Rolling Road into a landscape photography site but it's such a special place here are some more photos taken last week in Tasmania .All taken at St Helens Point close to St Helens a small, village on the east coast .

There are totally empty, golden beaches there which stretch for kilometre after kilometre  .The sea is a really blue and the water is crystal clear ( and cold) -it is a very special place.

The photos were taken on a Leica X1 as DNG ( RAW ) files processed with Adobe Lightroom. All five images had very little processing --shown here almost as straight from the camera.
The Leica is far from being the sharpest tool in the tool shed in terms of having all the functions, maximum megapixels and menus which seem to count for everything with most photographers nowadays but it does produce the most beautiful, mellow images with that special Leica "look" .

19 Jan 2012


I've just spent 8 days in Tasmania .It is a beautiful place -spectacular scenery , wilderness ,great wine,beer and food.Colonial architecture.Spectacular driving roads with very little traffic and even a world class museum of modern art as well as an interesting motor museum .
Image above is looking north towards the Bay of Fires on the east coast  .A Photoshop stitch of 8 hand held images taken with the Leica X1.

Prior to this  the last time I visited Tasmania as a tourist was when I competed in the 1996 Targa Tasmania in my 1968 Mini Cooper S .The Targa is a 5 day speed event held over some of Tasmania's most demanding roads . Co-driver Owen and myself were not a lightweight crew for such a small car and we were  helped by the wet, slippery conditions .Sadly the very high cost and time required meant that this was the only time I have ever competed in the Targa  .

Photo below is of our car competing on one of the Targa mountain sections -I'm driving .I drove over some of the same Targa road sections last week and from a crappy, small, rolly polly rental car it's very difficult to believe that we achieved such fast times in the Mini on such difficult roads but it is different when you have track tyres,full race gear and a five point harness and a car set up to handle and ,of course, the whole width of the road to drive on and hopefully no one coming in the opposite direction.

Some more picture postcard images of Tasmania from last week .Although Tasmania is considered economically deprived to the visitor it looks reasonably prosperous and tidy with the old colonial buildings painted and usually being used and with generally well maintained infrastructure.It looks in very good shape in comparison with similar regions of the US with their rundown towns and rusting bridges which I drove through last year .

18 Jan 2012


                                This has to be a Rome dog- way too scruffy for a Paris dog . Rome July 2010

                             Definitely a Parisien dog from a very fashionable Paris arrondissement.Photo from Le Mans Classic July 2010.

                                A pampered Parisien pooch from Montmartre . Included to try and prove that the Rolling Road does not have a shapely ankle fixation . Paris ,July 2010 .

14 Jan 2012


                           Roll on July and the Le Mans Classic.Porsche display at 2010 LMC

8 Jan 2012


It's difficult to comprehend today but back in the late 1960's and into the 70's old/obsolete racing cars were not valued .I recently found these photos in my files.They were taken at Brands Hatch in either 1967 or 68 on an Olympus Pen half frame camera .The Porsche 904 would be worth a fortune today but back at that time it was just another rough club racer.Can anyone throw any light on the identity/history of this particular car ?

7 Jan 2012


How sad to see Kodak about to declare bankrupcy . Kodak was an American icon-a wonderful, blue chip company . Kodak brought photography to the masses .It made many brilliant products including the Vest Pocket Kodak , the Brownie Box camera, the Instamatic , Tri-X film and of course Kodachrome (see Kodachrome).
Kodak was a world leader in imaging science . It employed thousands of technicians and scientists .For many people Kodak was photography . Much of the visual history of the 20th century was recorded on Kodak products . Kodak was also a leader in medical  x-ray imaging . Its product range was enormous -from lens tissues to film processing machines . Kodak was an ethical company which produced consistently very high quality products . It was also, ironically , a pioneer in digital photography.

Kodak employed thousands in factories across the world and it was totally commited to silver based ( analogue) photography .There now are all the armchair experts sounding forth on the internet that Kodak should have"adapted" .They have been reading too many lightweight management books purchased at airport newsstands . Saying that Kodak could have adapted and changed its business model is like saying that the Japanese should have fled to higher ground when they saw the tsunami coming .They didn't have time and neither did Kodak . It's sad,very sad.

5 Jan 2012


                                  Street artist at work,Rome ,2010.

3 Jan 2012


Back in 1992 some article piqued my interest to try some infra red photography . I bought an infra red filter for one of my Leica lenses and a 36 casssette of Kodak High Speed Infrared Film and then never used it.I found it last year. I cannot remember why I never used it - perhaps I just ran out of time or interest or was daunted by the handling instructions on the film box that stated that the film had to be handled in total darkness including opening the can and loading and unloading the camera .

Then in 2004 friend Roger Putnam mentioned that the Digilux 1 camera he had just sold me took good infra red photos .I tried the infra red filter I had purchased 12 years earlier and miracle of miracles it fitted the Digilux 1 but I still never got around to taking an infra red photo .
Most digital cameras have sensors which have built in filters to filter out infra red ( google it to read why)and so they are not really usable for infra red photography but for some reason the Digilux 1's sensor is different .
Anyway it does take infra red photos and I just took one ( at last) but I cannot  match the superb infra red shot below taken by Roger with the Digilux of the Amalfi coast in Italy .This has really spurred me on to try some infra red lanscapes/seascapes when I go to Tasmania next week .Watch this space -- hopefully .

2 Jan 2012


                                     Ford Falcon FPV. Early morning, today.Terrigal, NSW,Australia.
                               Photo by Leica Digilux 1.