29 Apr 2013

On crash helmets

Across South East Asia ownership of small motorcycles has soared in the last few years.Now governments are making the wearing of crash helmets mandatory to try and reduce the accident rates.Vietnam went down this route a couple of years ago and it looks as if Myanmar has also gone the same way.
The problem is that the governments have not set any enforcable standards for the helmets so riders are riding around with what amount to plastic basins on their heads which offer absolutely no crash protection.And even if they did most riders don't fasten the chin straps so the helmets are loose anyway.Making helmets mandatory without serious product performance standards is a nonsense.
Anyway none of this seemed to worry this happy,laid back, roadside helmet vendor in a small town in Myanmar a few months back.For him business was booming.Caveat emptor-let the buyer beware.Leica X1 photo .

28 Apr 2013

Ground Control to Major Tom

                                                        In that wonderful tin toy museum,Yokohama,Japan.Canon G7 photo.

27 Apr 2013

Under serious lock and key

Obviously theft of the very popular large capacity scooters is a major problem in Paris given the size of the kit owners use to secure them.
The chains and locks are so heavy that the owners leave them secured to a railing or post overnight and return to the same spot the next day.Presumably they have a duplicate kit at home.Paris 2012.Leica X1.

25 Apr 2013

James Hunt the movie

The success of "Senna-the Movie' has encouraged moviemaker,Ron Howard, to make a movie of James Hunt's 1976 world championship year.It's called "Rush"and will be released later this year.Trailers are on YouTube see RUSH-trailer
Most motor racing movies are rubbish.Even the famed Le Mans featuring Steve McQueen and some great race footage and that wonderful opening few minutes is really ,if we are being totally honest, piss weak.No plot.Wooden acting.And I own a silver 71 911 so I should be a true believer.
The success of Senna was due to the fact that it was a documentary using real footage .
Apparently "Rush" uses real period correct formula1 cars for the action sequences.Let's hope it all works out fine.From the trailers it looks a bit stilted and wooden but I must not jump to premature judgements without seeing the film.I am not a troll after all.
James Hunt is an obvious subject for a motor racing movie.I met him a number of times downunder and had a few beers with him over the years-the first time being at Winton in 1978 when he raced an Elfin Formula 5000 in the Rose City 10000.Pictured below is me holding James' beer (going by his complexion he has already sunk a few that day) at a function at the 1985 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide.Oh that JH was still around.He'd have something to say about that little plonker Vettel.
Wikapedia has a pretty comprehensive and entertaining biography of JH -warts and all -on James Hunt

Anzac Day -2013

It's April 25th Anzac day.Australia and New Zealand's day for remembering the landings at Gallipoli in WW1 and those who died in all wars.A special day in both Australia and New Zealand.Huge numbers of people turned out for the dawn service here in Terrigal on a beautiful morning.
A difficult subject to photograph but hopefully this one captures the spirit- taken after the service and wreath laying  -two children in front of the war memorial wearing presumably their grandfather's or great grandfather's medals with the sun rising over the sea.Leica X1 photo.

24 Apr 2013

OMG-a suede Porsche !

Spotted on a street in Soho London a few weeks ago -- yes that is snow on the roof-a Porsche covered in suede! Yuk.There should be a law against it.I thought that a matte black paint job was as bad as it could get but this is worse.It is almost sacrilege.But there's no accounting for taste and as I keep telling myself -each to his own.
Presumably the adhesive used to attach the suede totally destroys the paintwork so when the owner comes to his senses ,or wants to sell the car,a complete respray is required.

April 28th Note -since the original post above I have been told  via a comment that the statement re the paintwork is"rubbish" ( aside -why are so many people so aggressive on the internet? Although to be fair this respondent was decent enough to give his name and not hide behind"anon" as so many do).Anyway I do stand corrected as it is apparently possible to cover your car in a "wrap" and not harm its paintwork.I will resist the temptation.The same respondent advised me that this particular car is owned by a wealthy individual.Probably a statement of the bleeding obvious but there I have posted it.

22 Apr 2013

Brands Hatch 1965-Lotus 23 and Formula Juniors

It was raining heavily last Saturday so an enforced stay indoors gave me an opportunity to dig into the unsorted negatives and I found these two photos which I reckon are worth putting on the blog. Both from a Brands Hatch meeting in 1965 and taken on an Olympus half frame camera.
The half frame format was pioneered by Olympus and gave 72 exposures on a standard 36 exposure length 35mm film which had considerable appeal as film was not cheap.However the camera had to be held "sideways" most of the time as the photos were portrait/upright format with the camera held normally.Also the negatives were tiny and very susceptible to dust and marks .At that time I was processing my own film and I took these shots on Kodak Plus-X film-and I processed them in  a developer which gave the highest acutance/sharpness although inevitably the negatives are grainy.I touched these shots up in Lightroom but have left all the dust spots on them -photographic patina.They are surprisingly sharp given that the camera was a cheap, basic device and the negatives are so small.
The top shot shows the grid for a Formula Junior race being assembled in the paddock.Formula Junior was about to be displaced by Formula Ford as the "entry level" open wheeler racing category.How about the paddock marshal with his coat,jacket,collar and tie and flat cap?Those were the days.Difficult to envisage now.
The bottom shot shows a Lotus 23 which my Lotus and Jaguar expert, Roger Putnam, reckons belongs to John Hine Racing .In the background is an old Bedford coach used as a race car transporter by Gerard Racing. Also it there is another old Bedford beside the Lotus.Very 1960's.Those old coaches were used by many racing teams and they were pre-war or wartime build and they were really slow.A team from the UK midlands or the north would pack up after the racing and then face a very long and slow drive home as there were no motorways in those days.
I like these photos because they show the wonderful casual,laid back and friendly non commercial atmosphere of motor racing in that era.I count myself very fortunate to have experienced it first hand.

Head on

What a great expressive,and friendly face.And not difficult to photograph.All I had to do was to summon up the courage and ask.
Now I know portraits are supposed to be soft and flattering but this is one that just cried out to be hard and sharp.
It was taken as a DNG file on the Leica X1 then converted in
to B&W in SilverEFX as a "Tri-X" film emulation and then tweaked in Lightroom 4.

19 Apr 2013

American Iron

 I know that I have raved about it before and it is not exactly a well travelled tourist destination but the Tin Toys Club Museum in Yokohama is wonderful.Some American Iron ( tin?) at the museum.

Full size American Iron in the shape of a Corvette at the 2011 Le Mans 24 hour race.American racers love Le Mans and the Corvettes have been very succesful participants for most of the years I have been going-which is long time.And what could be more American than a Corvette sponsored by McDonalds?
Canon G9 photo taken with a Canon lens tele-extender.A pretty cheap,compact outfit which produces surprisingly good results.The only issue is that you have to use the tele-extender with the LCD screen -as the optical viewfinder does not work with the extender and it is difficult to hold the camera steady.

Oh to be a cloud......

Big fluffy cumulonimbus clouds are not the default clouds here at Terrigal on the Central Coast of NSW particularly during the day.The clouds we do see are usually pretty boring stuff but last week one afternoon I saw these magnificent examples out over the sea and I thought that they were worth a photo.Mountains of cotton wool.


18 Apr 2013

Chartres,Porsche and the Le Mans 24 hours

Chartres Cathedral is one of the most magnificent buildings in the world and one of the most fascinating glimpses of it is when you drive back to Chartres from Le Mans on the back road -not the autoroute-and you suddenly see it almost popping out of a field of wheat as you approach Chartres.
I love Chartres and have stayed there many times en route to and from Le Mans.It's a good stop over location as it's half way between Le Mans and Paris and is pleasantly quiet in the evenings after all the day trippers have departed back to Paris.I particularly like to stay there on the Sunday night after the race and have a very welcome shower,a few cold beers,dinner and an early night and head into Paris the next morning --totally happy with the world.Maybe in 2014 when the Porsche factory team return to the fray it will be even better.Perhaps despite all the denials Mark Webber will be driving for them.It would be a lot more fun than being the team mate of that obnoxious little s..t Vettel.Here's hoping.
Panorama stitched with PS - Canon G7.

16 Apr 2013

Six String Brewing Company

Microbreweries have come late to Australia-which is a big pity because much of our mass produced beer is woeful.Now they are springing up all over and even the big liquor retailers are selling the products of microbreweries.Let's hope that they all survive because they have changed the local beer drinking landscape for the better in a big way.
We even have a local microbrewery up here on the Central Coast of NSW at Erina Heights-the Six String Brewing Company .It opened in an industrial unit early in January and it has a small bar area and sells take away beer in reusable "squealers"-1 litre and "growlers"-2 litre-glass bottles and is hoping to sell draught beer to local hotels,restaurants and bars.
The beer is great particularly the very flavoursome IPA and the easy drinking"Saison" -4 styles are brewed- and the brewery looks very professional.
To celebrate "handmade" craft beer I thought I would use some old-style craft and took some film photos using the Hasselblad and Kodak Portra 400 colour negative film.The light was very low and I had to handhold the camera-I do not like using a tripod -and have the lens wide open.  Nowadays with digital cameras with their small sensors and short lenses depth of field is invairably not a problem but with a medium format camera with a long lens wide open at close range the depth of field is very shallow.Exact focussing is a must.
The Portra film converts to black and white very nicely in SilverEFX and I used this for the final shots.
Cheers to Six String Brewery being a long lasting success.

15 Apr 2013

Bland McLarens spotted.

Whilst we were running the 911S at Sydney Motorsport Park last week -see below- a film crew was shooting some video of the McLaren P4-12C using a very leggy young lady as a presenter.Sadly they had gone by the time I got round to taking these photos.
I am sure that I would be very impressed if I had a good drive in a P4 but I find the styling very "supercar formula/Ferrari" like.I know that it looks better in stronger colours.Fancy paying all that money for a white or even silver supercar.Each to his own I guess.

12 Apr 2013

911S shakedown

Drove down to Sydney Motorsport Park ( previously Eastern Creek Raceway) in my 2.7 yesterday to see Craig's superb 911S have its first run on a race track at an ARDC trackday session.
Now this car has had a 4 year rebuild and literally no expense has been spared to create an absolutely superb car which looks almost stock but which is a real wolf in sheep's clothing.
I will be posting a full set of photos of the car in detail later but here are some monochromes I have made from yesterday's session as appetisers.
As an aside I forgot to charge the battery for my Leica and so took these on the good 'ol Canon G9 compact.They seem none the worse for it thanks perhaps to Lightroom and Nik software.
The car performed very well considering that the driver was only into his second ever track driving session and the car had only done a few hundred kilometres and it was running on P6 road tyres.In the three sessions I saw Craig was gradually speeding it up and getting used to the handling.Not a single drip of fluid from the car and not a spanner laid on it.It was as tight as a drum and looked beautiful.
I was very impressed with the work done at the Sydney Motorsport Park.I had heard about the name change and the creation of an second track layout but had not appreciated that the whole facility has had a superb makeover.What was a very tired and rundown race track has been transformed into a world class facility and the changes are very significant.The graphics and design around the place are superb.Serious money has been spent and it is very succesful.
It was a beautiful day and I wished that I had taken my 2.2 car down and given it a run on the track as there were only a few cars on the track sessions and Craig found it a good environment for a shakeout of the car.
I left at 3.30 and was not looking forward to the 105 km run home through some of Sydney's worst traffic clogged arteries but although the traffic was very heavy and full of heavy trucks heading north it all kept moving very rapidly.Every usual bottleneck was smooth and I made it back to Terrigal in a surprisingly quick time and the Porsche just purred along.There are not many 36 year old cars which you can drive at a modern car pace confidentally in such conditions.A perfect day.

11 Apr 2013

Eurozone crisis hits home

Sitting down here in sunny, prosperous Australia with our low unemployment and relatively strong economy it's easy to forget that many in the Eurozone are doing it tough.Even in Germany the strongest economy in the EU some retirees can no longer afford to stay in expensive hotels and have been forced to go camping...........

Photo from an unknown source.Thank you whoever you are.

10 Apr 2013

Mustang hideway

I travelled to the Phillip Island historics a few years ago with some Porsche mates and one of the participants was an vintage aircraft expert who knew a "man with a plane".So we made a diversion to a dusty deserted airfield in either Moe or Sale -- I cannot remember.You know the sort of place.Pretentious direction sign on the highway-"Municipal Airport" and then you travel down a very minor road  which leads to a single storey building-the "terminal"- deserted because it only comes to life an hour before the three times a week commuter flight -and a few locked hangars and a very scruffy and unloved old Cessna under a tarp with grass upto the belly of the fuselage and no obvious signs of life.
But this time it was different.All of the above applied but we were admitted into an aircraft enthusiast's equivalent of Santa's workshop inside a hangar and there was a superb WW2 Mustang P51 being readied to fly at the Avalon Air Show the following day and an Australian built trainer plane with a funny name which I have forgotten.A Winjeel?
The workshop had wonderful artefacts scattered around it -look at that Sabre jet's tail on the wall-and the workbench was a classic.
I did not take a straight shot of the P51 as I thought that it would be "ordinary" -- I took the one below which I have just processed in HDR.
I just wish that I had got some more light onto the instruments.

Lunch with the Iron Lady

News of the demise of Margaret Thatcher reminded me of an extraordinary lunch I had with her in Sydney back in 1994.It was in a boardroom.There were about six guests and MT and her minder.I did not live in the UK through the Thatcher era so I have no opinions on her policies or her impact on the UK.However at this lunch which was a few years after she had stepped down as PM she was imperious,hectoring,lecturing,dogmatic and very bitter about having been deposed by her own party.She said that those who had deposed her were "spineless" and that the British people"needed her".Note that-"needed her" -no question of whether they wanted her or not.
I heard the former British PM John Major who served in Thatcher's Cabinet for many years say on TV last night that she was reasonable in Cabinet discussions and listened to contrary points of view.This was not apparent at that lunch.It was her way or the highway.She kept wagging her finger at people to make her point.Every question to her provided an opening for another exposition.
It was a remarkable hour and a half and I can remember it so clearly still 18 years later.

                                               And she wasn't past giving advice on racing car design even to Colin Chapman!

7 Apr 2013


              Ready for wet or dry.Martini Porsche 936 - Le Mans Classic 2010.It's an expensive weekend but I guess if you can afford to race a car as valuable as this at Le Mans then a few sets of tyres are just very small change.

6 Apr 2013

Preserved ?-Well maybe not.

The Pont Du Gard - the Roman aqueduct near Avignon in southern France.It was built in 19 AD - and is a classic example of civil engineering and longevity.The photo was taken in 1959 by Roger Putnam with an entry level Agfa Silette on Kodachrome 64 film.The slide is in great condition a tribute to Kodachrome's stability and longevity.It is also very sharp which shows how good even relatively cheap German lenses used to be.

With today's digital photography there is a real possibility that very few of our photos such as this will be preserved for future generations.
We really do not know how photos saved on hard drives are going to last.If we send our photos to the "cloud" will the servers still be there in 50,or even 5,years time and if so how will future generations find the worthwhile photos? At what point will Flickr start discarding old photos? Indeed will Flickr stay in business for the very long haul or one day will it be "curtains" and "au revoir" to 4 billion photos? After all we are talking about public companies who run these clouds and presumably they are not doing it for charity.Look what happened to My Space or even Kodak .

If you have time take a look at Found in an antique shop .What a great story and one which will not be repeated with today's photos in 100 years time.

As well as the great quality of this 54 year old slide reflect on how occupational health and safety has changed visits to monuments such as Pont Du Gard .Back in 1959 there was no restriction on walking across the top level with its broken flagstones and total lack of handrails.On my recent visit to Myanmar I had a flashback to the pre OH&S era with steep, dangerous climbs up the sides of pogadas with no handrails but that is very much the exception-now overcaution is the rule.
Although not everyone was happy that day walking across the top level of the aqueduct even in 1959.Take a look at the top level on the right-magnified below.Someone is not enjoying the view .

Thanks to John Maries for spotting this little gem in the big picture.

5 Apr 2013

Lunch in NYC

 New York is my photographic heaven along with Paris.
Two New York ladies grabbing an Apple for lunch in Chelsea Markets.And what on earth has the lady on the right just read?
September 2012.Leica X1.

4 Apr 2013

As found

          Seen at a Deus day last year in Sydney. It must have been a barn find.Surely well past the point of no return but a beautiful piece of patina and well worth keeping as it is.Leica X1 photo.

This is my personal find-and definitely well worth restoring.My 1971 2.2 911T's engine bay after I took off the cover under which the car had been stored in an inner city Melbourne garden for 5 years.Now I wish that I had taken more photos but at the time I was very anxious to check out the car and do the deal to secure it.I had no idea of the internal condition of the engine and gearbox-it could have been locked solid.I took a big chance and it worked out.
Six days later -including a weekend- the car was running in Cavaco Motors Sydney thanks to a superb effort by Carlos who just loves the early cars.
That engine bay is a lot different today.

3 Apr 2013

Big Cats

Some bigger cats than usual.I'm posting these two photos as inspiration for friend John C who is heading off to Africa soon.He hasn't been too well recently but says that he is now fully recovered for the big trip.
I took these in Botswana on a Canon EOS 5 with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens and a Canon 2X converter.A brilliant combination but not exactly lightweight.They were taken on beautiful Fuji Velvia slide film.
John uses a Canon S95 - a great little camera but he'll be hard presssed to get this close to the big cats with it.Well he could get this close but we might not recognise him afterwards.Not to worry- have a great trip anyway John.

2 Apr 2013

East Brookfield Garage

                            On a backroad in Vermont,USA.All that it needs to make it complete is an early 911 parked under the Texaco sign.