29 Oct 2013

Up the coast

Just spent 5 days up the coast in Port Macquarie and hinterland.For non Aussie readers Port Macquarie is 420kms north of Sydney on the Pacific coast.It started out as a very harsh penal colony in1821 but now is a thriving tourist and regional centre with a population of approx 70,000.It is beautifully located with superb surf beaches stretching in both directions and an attractive harbour,river and mountainous hinterland.
 I tried to be very selective and took very few pictures and here are most of them.All from the Leica X1.

 An oyster farmer's shed on the Hastings River which flows into the sea at Port Macquarie.The industry grows over 15 million oysters per annum.This farmer's shed is now abandoned but a widow lived in it alone for 15 years from 1993 ,after her husband had died, until 2008 .It had no electricity and apparently she did not like oysters.Most of the farmers used to live in the sheds on their oyster leases but now they have moved onto dry land and the sheds are abandoned.

 A line of letterboxes beside a dirt road in the isolated hinterland.Plenty of narrow twisting rough dirt roads some with big drops on the side and not a hint of a guard rail.Many of the farms and small settlements are a long way from a metalled road.

Ellenborough Falls on the Bulga Plateau inland from Wauchope is the longest single drop waterfall in the southern hemisphere.Access is only via quite a few kms of rough dirt road so it is not exactly Niagara Falls in terms of visitor numbers-and all the better for it.We were the only visitors at the time we visited last Friday.As it had not seriously rained for many weeks the volume of water was pretty modest but them's the breaks. Sometimes a wider angle lens would be useful.

An abandoned Holden Commodore in a paddock up in the hills.Actually not that far from where the other Holden was spotted years ago-see earlier post. A rotting car in a paddock-an Aussie rural icon.
 A disused milk churn platform outside an isolated dairy farm in backcountry.Now the milk is collected by tanker.

                            A bodyboarder surveying the waves at dawn on Town Beach,Port Macquarie.A plaque by Town Beach claims that the town is the centre for bodyboarding in Australia.Not quite sure what that means but that there were plenty of bodyboarders and surfers in the sea -even at the crack of dawn.

                    A farmer at Wauchope markets with his seriously big beetroots.Wauchope is a thriving rural town about 25 kms inland from Port Macquarie.

Lighthouse Beach Port Macquarie at sunset.Yes -sometimes a wider angle lens would be useful .

28 Oct 2013

Those Royal photos

The media here in Australia have been in a lather last week about "gorgeous" baby George-aren't all babies gorgeous to someone?- and the royal christening photos and their informality.Apparently the photos were taken by a Hollywood celebrity photographer.To me they are as dull as ditchwater and totally predictable.As for informal they must be joking.I guess I should not blame the photographer.He was probably only shooting to the brief -as originally written by Queen Victoria in the 19th century.
What a contrast between the still so uptight British royals and the Danish crown prince and princess currently visiting Sydney.They were out yesterday in jeans visiting bushfire victims.I doubt if Prince Charles even knows what jeans are.But then the princess is Australian.They are thoroughly modern royals.I am opposed to the concept of royal families full stop but if you have to have one it's better that they are a modern one.Perhaps Australia could swap the British royals for the Danish royals.
Anyway I have given one of the christening photos a touch up in Silver Efx.It looks totally appropriate and in period now.

Aston Bling

Someone certainly believes in making a statement.A really shiny toy.Not sure how you keep it clean though.Aston Martin photographed on Market St San Francisco last weekend with an iPhone by Nick Mead.

24 Oct 2013

A hot Porsche day

Porsche Club NSW Concourse/Treffen at Newington Armoury,Sydney last Sunday.It's a big ,open,spacious site but very soulless-and was very hot and shadeless last Sunday.
I made a resolution to try and take just a few unusual photos on the day and not under any circumstances to take any photos of rows of tails or noses of 911s.Leica X1 photos

22 Oct 2013

Under an orange sun.

Terrigal Beach,NSW Monday 21st October 6.00am.A fitness class working out against the background of a thick orange/brown smoke haze out to sea.I am not sure whether this particular smoke is from the massive bushfires in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney or from the large fire at Lake Munmorah north of Terrigal.The haze blanketed Sydney yesterday causing extreme conditions for asthmatics although the weather was thankfully cooller and there was little wind so firefighting made some progress but catastrophic conditions-extreme heat and high winds are forecast for Wednesday which will be very challenging.Already over 200 homes have been lost and we are only a few weeks into summer.We desperately need rain-lots of rain.
Leica X1 photo.

21 Oct 2013

Aerial photography-2013 style. Part 2

See the story below.Rob Scheeren sent me two photos taken from the drone yesterday.Here's his accompanying text.

FYI, the image was a screen grab from the 1920 X 1080 HD video recorded on the GoPro 3. I ran the video full screen on my computer, stopped the video playing, clicked on Print screen, then created a new image in Photoshop, pasted and saved the image. Voila!

Considering that they are still frames from a tiny video camera the quality is extraordinary.

20 Oct 2013

Aerial Photography- 2013 style

It was the Porsche Club NSW Concours at Newington,Sydney today.Rob Sheeren was using his drone with GoPro camera attached for some aerial photography over the cars.The camera has a floating mount which ensures that it is is always stable and straight regardless of the movements and attitude of the drone.The camera has a wireless link to the ground so that Rob can see camera's vision on tablet sized screen attached to the radio control unit in his hands.Very impressive.A long way from the first ever aerial photography which was over Boston in the US in 1853-drawing below .
I used to live near Epsom Downs in the UK when I was very young in the 1950s and on a sunday they was a RC model aircraft club flying or trying to fly on the Downs.They used valve transmitters and receivers in the planes with big heavy high tension batteries.They had not invented transistors yet alone microchips at that time.The fliers spent most of the day trying to get the radio control to function.They did very little flying as usually by the time they had fixed the radios -which often did not happen-it was too windy or it was raining.Rob just plugged it all in and off it went.It's a different world.

18 Oct 2013

Too far gone

Patina is all the rage in car collecting circles nowadays but this one is too far gone for even the most avid Holden enthusiast.It was on the road when Holden- the local GM brand- had the lion's share of the Australian market.Those days are long gone.Holden still manufactures cars in Australia -that is actually makes them -but it is heavily subsidised by the Australian taxpayer and their main model ,the Commodore,is a very slow seller because it is of a type totally out of favour with local buyers.Australians are like car buyers across the world they want SUVs and small/medium cars.The Mazda 3 is the best selling car in Australia currently. Holden appear not to understand this and have recently launched the latest model of the Commodore.Only fools would go on investing in making big cars people do not want to buy.No government of either persuasion seems to have the will to cut off the life support system and jeopardise the livelyhoods of the car workers but the crunch may be coming.
There are two other local car manufacturers-Ford who are ceasing manufacturing in 2015 after years of making big cars people no longer  want to buy and massive losses and govt subsidies and Toyota who do make cars which sell at home and in export markets but who also also receive govt subsidies and who are apparently staying but will they be able to survive if Ford and Holden go and the local component manufacturing shuts down? Most likely not.

This old Holden was photographed by me near Mount Seaview in Northern NSW on Fuji Reala film on my Leica M6 with I suspect with a 28mm lens and probably a polarising filter.

17 Oct 2013

Hot as hell

The weather here is hell today.We have had 37ºc -that's 99º f-temps here today with gale force winds.We have had no rain for 6 weeks so everywhere is tinder dry.
We have massive bush fires all around Sydney and the air here is thick with the smell of smoke .Over 100 homes have already been lost in the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney but so far no casualties.Problem is that the wind is shorting the power lines and causing sparking and the winds are pushing the fires forward at a terrifying pace.In some places grass igniting by spontaneous combustion in other places embers carrying long distances.I have just heard on the news that there are over 100 fires burning in the state of NSW and 40 of these are not currently contained.
No danger here in Terrigal but atmosphere horrible .Not something you can easily capture with a camera but I have just tried -- moon at 19.25 through smoke haze.
Underlying is the issue that this is the 4th such day we have had with exceptionally high temperatures for October after the warmest winter on record.And yet still we have politicians and shock jocks who deny climate change and global warming.I guess we should count our blessings --at least we don't have the appalling US Tea Party and their loopy cohorts who seem quite prepared to totally trash what little is left of their country's international reputation and to bring the whole global economy to its knees just to prove a point -and they cannot even agree what the point is.
Yes, the fires may be bad but we don't have the Tea Party.It could be worse.

16 Oct 2013

"Rush"- the real deal.

I went to see RUSH the movie this morning.I had hoped for a wet day because I don't like going to the cinema when the sun is shining but dull days are in short supply around here nowadays and the movie won't be on for ever so I went.
I am not a big fan of motor racing movies although Senna was different as it was a documentary and I am not a fan of Steve McQueen's Le Mans -- great racing footage but spoilt by the almost total lack of a plot and the most appalling wooden dialogue-although as an owner of a 1971 silver Porsche 911 the opening sequence has to be my all time favourite movie sequence.
The movie Grand Prix was almost comic.It was from another era and best left in peace.
Rush is a different matter altogether.Even as a dyed in the wool F1 fan of that era I have to say that director Ron Howard and scriptwriter Peter Morgan have done a pretty remarkable job.The actors-Chris Hemsworth who plays James Hunt and Daniel Brühl who plays Nicki Lauda -really do resemble their characters.In the closing sequence the film uses archival footage of James Hunt and I had to do a double take to realise that it was the real James.See A beer with James
The cinematography is superb-very tight and in your face as is the way nowadays which I really like- and the attention to detail in the props and clothing is superb.I only spotted a couple of errors in the tiniest details but that's being very pedantic.Overall the effect is wonderful.The British do nostalgia so well.
The racing sequences are really very good - they mainly use real F1 cars of the era with facsimilies only used for some of the crash sequences.It was great to see F3 cars "racing" at one of my personal favourite circuits -the long defunct Crystal Palace circuit in South London.Howard and his team have done an excellent job of turning Blackbushe Aerodrome in the south of England into various circuits.They also did filming at Nurburgring,Donington,Brands Hatch,Snetterton and Cadwell Park in the UK.
It's not all sunshine and roses.There are a coupIe of cringe generating scenes early in the film when some technical aspects of F1 cars are spelt out in a pedestrian and naive manner I guess for the benefit of non racing enthusiast movie goers but really the scenes were not necessary and could have well been left out.
For me the only real jarring aspect of the film is that the whole basis of the storyline is that Hunt and Lauda seriously disliked each other and there was real friction between them when in fact apparently they were good mates with Lauda even bunking down in Hunt's flat when he was in London.But without the implied emnity the film would not work and at the end of the day it is entertainment not a documentary.

Rush.Go and see it - on a big screen.It is well worth the effort.Ron Howard and Peter Morgan and the cast have done something many others have failed to do -create a great motor racing movie.

There is a very sad postscript to the above story in that Sean Edwards who plays the part of his father Guy Edwards driving one of the F1 cars in the film was killed yesterday whilst giving driving tuition to a driver in a Porsche at Brisbane Raceway here in Australia.Sean was leading the European Porsche Supercup series.The saddest part is that Sean was only here on a working holiday -his first visit to Australia - and his family witnessed the accident.

14 Oct 2013


I know that there are followers of this blog who crave the latest in camera gear so I'm dedicating this photo to them.
It is of a Porsche 911 GT3 running in the GT1 class at the 2009 Le Mans 24 hour race.The photo was taken at 7.06 pm as a jpeg at 1/500th second at F4.8 at ISO 400 according to the metadata.It was taken from high up on the ferris wheel beside the Porsche curves and the car is just accelerating onto the straight so it is moving very quickly.
Now the remarkable thing about the photo is that it was taken by me with a Canon G7 compact camera-worth probably $150 at the most today.Something for the camera gearheads to reflect on.
Now I am not claiming that I have put it on the blog straight as it came out of the camera.It has been processed/adjusted in Lightroom 4 but only slightly.The white balance was fine-it has been slightly cropped - and the clarity,contrast and sharpness all turned up a little.Not bad for a little old cheapie nonetheless.

11 Oct 2013

Happy 100th Aston

Aston Martin is 100 years old this year.It's been an up and down 100 years -many good times but also more than a few bad times but they have made some sensational cars through both the good and bad times and they have not made too many dogs over the years .
Prince Charles had an 1994 Aston Virage Volante although it was modified to run on chicken poo methane or some other environmentally sustainable fuel -- which seems to be something of a contradiction to me.He's sold it now.Maybe the smell was too much.Or perhaps it kept fowling its plugs.I bet the new owner is running it on petrol.  
My personal favourites are the DBR1 because it was such a superb sports racing car.Purpose built,beautifully styled and very succesful.The DB4 Zagato because it is gorgeous and I saw Jim Clark racing one in the 1961 Goodwood TT and finally the 1.5 litre Ulster of which 30 were built and raced by the works team between 1928 and 1935.It is another purpose built sports racer and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame,lucky sod,owns three of them which he and his daughters race.If only my parents had let me have that drum kit !
Anyway an Ulster ( they all seem to be red ) pictured at the 2012 Le Mans Classic.Not one of Nick Mason's - this one is German registered and presumably owned.
Yes an Ulster would be a nice addition to the collection.Another brick in the wall so to speak.
Leica X1 photo.

More racing colours-Vic's helmet

In the paddock-Rennsport Australia 2013.Leica X1 photo.

9 Oct 2013

Racing Colours

In their place with the right subjects black and white photos are wonderful but the capturing the very colourful dummy grid for a Porsche Carrera Cup race at  2013 Australian Rennsport is not the place.Here the colour makes the photo.Leica X1

It was not always so.We used to just accept that most motor racing photos were black and white.But it was a less colourful spectacle in those days.The cars were in national racing colours,people's clothing was drab and of course there was no sponsorship decals.Photo below Pedro Rodriguez,BRM,British Grand Prix 1969 Brands Hatch.Photo by me Leica 3A F2.8 50mm Elmar lens.My only lens at the time.

7 Oct 2013

Not their day

These poor guys were having a horrible Le Mans Classic practice back in 2010 and the guy in the blue overalls certainly looks as if his blood pressure is way up.I don't know whether they made it to the race.If not a lot of effort and money would have been in vain.Sifting through photos like this has convinced me to change my plans for 2014 and to go to the Le Mans Classic and not the 24 hour race after all.At the Classic the cars and the people are accessible and for me that's a key part of the experience.Photo with my Canon G9.

The smile

I just came across this photo a couple of days ago in the Lightroom folder containing all the photos I had taken in Myanmar back in December last year.In my haste to process and publish all the colourful and appealing shots from that trip I had overlooked this gem
It was taken in a market in a village on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River in southern Myanmar on the Leica X1.The more I look at it the more I consider that it may be one of my favourite shots from the Myanmar trip.

5 Oct 2013

Tokyo 1979

Four more photos from that trip to Japan in 1979.I went in May it was cherry blossom time yet I took black and white film when colour should have been a given.And yet these shots really work for me.My favourite is  of the group of ladies chatting in the hotel lobby.Everyone so immaculately dressed including the little girl.
These photos were from the second film I took on that trip and looking at them they seem grainier and "sharper" than the first film-featured in the Japan post below.I suspect that they were developed in Agfa Rodinal which is a more grainy but higher acutance developer but I am not certain.I also particularly like the photo of the shrine.This looks like an ancient structure but in fact most of Tokyo was destroyed by incendiary bombs in the war so even apparently ancient structures are reconstructions.
The rowing boats are on the lake/moat around the Imperial Palace.All photos taken on Ilford HP5 film on my Olympus OM2 and three of them I believe were taken with my then just acquired 28mm lens.

4 Oct 2013



I thought that it was time I had some serious cat attitude after all those photos of Porsches and factories and even steam trains.Phoebe -this week.Leica X1 photo                               

2 Oct 2013

The Meeting

Another photo from that rediscovered box from my garage-see previous post.For me this is a wonderful evocative photo.It reminds me of so many negotiations with Japanese suppliers through the 70's and 80's.It was taken on that 1979 visit-see post below-in a meeting room at a major company's Head Office in Tokyo.
The meeting rooms were always tired and in need of a freshen up.There was always the mandatory flags on the table.The interpreter was always a young graduate in a very dark suit with the same haircut.He always arrrived just on time to pick you up at the hotel in the morning and delivered you back in the evening.We found out that this one lived over an hour out of the centre of Tokyo by train although he may have left us late in the evening but he turned up bright eyed and bushy tailed on time early the next morning.And the interpreters very rarely let their guard down.Even when just with the westerners over a few beers.They were always inscrutable.And they travelled with virtually nothing.Even when a trip to a distant factory and an overnight stay was involved they only brought along a very small briefcase.Japanese hotels usually provide toothbrushes and disposable razors in the rooms-what else do you need for an overnight stay? Well maybe the briefcase lived upto its name and just held a tightly rolled up pair of fresh underpants -- let's hope so.
Actually the company men never stayed in hotels they always went off to the company boarding hostel.
The furniture in the meeting rooms was always the same-heavy Japanese Imperial style.There was always the big circular ashtray placed in front of the head company man.And the head men always looked the same- bored and detached and dragging on a cigarette,hair Brylcreemed back in Japanese senior management haircut style .And always wearing the workwear boilersuit with a white shirt and tie and a few pens in the boilersuit breast pocket.
A pall of stale smoke hung over the meetings from those damn cigarettes.In summer it was much worse as Tokyo in summer is very hot and oppressive and the room's airconditioning was invairably confined to a small unit ineffectually throbbing away in one corner.
So evocative.I wonder if it's changed now.
Photo by me Olympus OM2 photo on Ilford HPS film.