31 Aug 2014

The Lake

The Central Coast of NSW is fringed by a series of freshwater lakes and lagoons. Avoca Lake at Avoca is one of the smaller lakes. In the nineteenth century there was a major timber industry in the area and hardwoods were extracted and put on boats and taken to nearby Terrigal Haven where it was loaded onto ships and transported to Sydney. As the timber was extracted and the area was cleared erosion increased and the lake silted up and could no longer be used by boats so the timber had to be taken by a tramway system to the neighbouring Terrigal Haven. Hardwoods extracted from the Avoca area were used in the piling for the wharves in London Docks and the Suez Canal.
Now all that remains of the timber industry is Tramway Road which follows the route of the long gone tramway.

Gum trees have grown up to replace the hardwoods but the lake now is very shallow.In two of the photos below you can see a rope hanging from a tree where boys used to swing out over the lake and jump into presumably reasonably deep water .Today the lake is used by kayakers and people fishing in very shallow draught boats and herons and pelicans.The lake opens onto a beautiful surf beach. It is the stuff of tourist brochures and it is just 5 mins drive from my house -over a very steep hill so it's a pretty arduous walk.

In the past 12 months I have been making occasional trips to the lake in the afternoon with my Hasselblad and a tripod to try to capture the changing moods of the lake on film.The results are below. It's a totally different sort of photography to my usual style but I am very pleased with the results.Film has magical properties.I don't usually like using a tripod but it is necessary when using a Blad for this sort of shooting otherwise focussing on that dim little screen and camera shake are big problems.
Photos taken on Kodak Portra 400 film on a Hasselblad 500 with Zeiss 50mm,80mm and 150mm lenses.

27 Aug 2014

Moto TT Classic Gedinne-2014

Patrick was at the wonderful Moto TT Classic in Belgium last weekend. This is an extraordinary event-see the story on it last year at
 Moto TT Classic .

It's like motor racing was 40-50 years ago. I understand that there are still similar events in New Zealand where there is a very different perspective on public liability to many countries and where they still enjoy their motor sport relaxed and close up.
How about those straw bales and the tape restraining the spectators and that wonderful paddock full of tents? I can almost smell the two strokes and the barbecue fires from here.
Sony RX100 photos.

25 Aug 2014

Through the roof.

Phil who was in California for the Porsche Werks Reunion event at Pebble Beach tells me that a 1972 911S sold there at auction for $250k.That's right a quarter of a million dollars.Not quite in the same league as the Ferrari 250GTO which went for $38million but pretty good for a 911.Early 911s are doing better than most other forms of investment currently but you still see them in Paris being used as daily drivers.This 2.4T was spotted four weeks ago parked on the street a couple of blocks from my hotel.Apart from being LHD and a 2.4 and having a sunroof it could be a doppelganger for my 2.2T.Leica X1 photo.

23 Aug 2014

From the archives - Lorenzo Bandini

Another great photo from my brother's archives-see Bob below.This time of Ferrari F1 driver Lorenzo Bandini at the 1967 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch.Lorenzo finished second to Dan Gurney in the final of this three heat event.In those days there were non championship F1 races as well as the F1 world championship grand prix.But of course in those days Bernie wasn't running F1 and there was consideration for the fans and of course they did not have grand prix in places where people are not interested in F1 as they do today.

Sadly just weeks after this photo was taken Lorenzo had a horrific accident in the Monaco Grand Prix and died from his injuries three days later.His rescue from his burning Ferrari was seriously flawed and really he should not have died.Very sad but it was a different time.

Unlike the earlier Jim Clark photo my brother has not specified what film he used but as it has faded badly so I would guess that it was taken on Ektachrome and not Kodachrome.He used an Olympus Pen S half frame camera.I have tried to correct the fading/discolouration and I have managed to eliminate some of the strong magenta cast on the slide but I cannot improve the Ferrari red.I am always in a quandry as to whether I should try and correct these old slides or leave them as found.For this one I have just done some light restoration.

What a difference to today.There are no non championship F1 races now.Access to the F1 paddock area now is strictly limited to FOB- Friends of Bernie.The cars are not in the paddock they are closeted away in little pit boxes guarded by hordes of minders.The chances of a seventeen year old sticking a camera in front of a Ferrari driver today? Less than the chance of Middle East peace.

I recently read a story amongst the tributes to Jack Brabham that Jack turned up at the F1 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2010 and wanted to go into the Paddock Club but he was refused entry.Here was an old man who was arguably one of the great F1 drivers of all time, a three times F1 Champion who had built a very succesful F1 team himself with a car he had engineered himself and who had sold that team to Bernie Ecclestone-( Bernie the man who writes $100m cheques to fix inconvenient issues)- and yet who was refused entry to the paddock at a F1 race.If Jack had been an Arab prince or a Russian oligarch he would have been welcomed with open arms.What a total disgrace.What a grubby spectacle F1 has become.

21 Aug 2014

Making a statement....

Wedding car waiting outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel,Terrigal,NSW this afternoon.The weather may not have been what the happy couple had ordered but they certainly got the longest "stretch"in town by far.
I was tempted to play with this with some art filters but I thought it will end up looking like I took it on my iPhone with Instagram ..which I didn't.

20 Aug 2014

Stormy weather

After months of very dry weather on the east coast of NSW the last few days have been a real contrast.Sydney received August's average rainfall in three days and up here in Terrigal it has been the same story-torrential rain and strong winds.The rainwater tanks are full and the garden is green again.Time for the rain to take time out.
The strong winds have whipped up big seas and the more daring surfers were in at Avoca Beach Tuesday afternoon.I took an unusual camera outfit down to try and capture some of the action-a Sony a7 fitted with the 150mm Zeiss Sonnar from my Hasselblad via an adapter.
The Zeiss lens is normally superb on the Blad but the quality of the images from the Sony-at least this afternoon -are a bit underwhelming to my mind.The light was very low and flat which did not help and there was rain and moisture in the air which made it even flatter.
As you can see the waves were huge.That's a female surfer really showing the local lads how it is done in the last shot and that white object just off the headland in the distance is a wave.As I said-huge.

17 Aug 2014

One man's trash is another man's treasure...

This collection of very badly corroded racing car parts-with quite a few of the important transmission parts missing was once a Felday 4-BRM 4WD sports car.It was sold at Bonham's Goodwood Festival of Speed auction back in June for an extraordinary 14950 pounds(A$26767/US$24954).

Built by Peter Westbury the Felday won on its first ever outing at the Brands Hatch Boxing Day Meeting in December 1965.Its true moment of fame came a few months later in the 1966 Guards Trophy in May at Brands Hatch where Jim Clark drove it.Jim won the under 2 litre class in the first heat but mechanical problems intervened in the second heat.
For those reading this blog who are unaware of Jim Clark's pedigree he was a Scottish racing driver who won the F1 World Championship twice (1963 and 1965).Jim was superfast,supersmooth ,very versatile and a real gentleman.He was the antithesis of today's pampered prima donnas the F1 one trick ponies.He raced at Indy,in sports cars,saloon cars and F2 as well as F1.Often he raced different categories of cars at the same meeting.Imagine Sebastian Vettel racing and winning in a saloon car an hour or so before jumping into his F1 car.
Sadly Jim Clark was killed in a minor F2 race at Hockenheim in Germany in 1968.

Through the mid-late 1950s when I first became interested in motor racing Stirling Moss was my hero driver but after his enforced retirement following his crash at Goodwood in 1962 Jim Clark replaced him as my hero and I can still remember the moment when I heard on the news that Jim had been killed.I was actually studying for my final university exams at home listening to the commentary of the BOAC 500 sportscar race at Brands Hatch where Jim Clark should have been racing when the announcement came.They have never established why he crashed that day .
My brother,Bob ,was at the 1966 Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch when the Felday 4 raced and he used his Olympus Pen S half frame camera loaded with Kodachrome 2 to get this absolutely classic shot of Jim Clark in the Felday.

As for the pile of badly corroded parts which is all that now remains of the Felday I cannot imagine what the buyer is going to do with them.They are way too far gone to be used in a restoration or even a reconstruction and anyway so many unique parts are missing.And whilst the Felday was an interesting car it wasn't that special.Hopefully we will find out what happens to them.I hope that the buyer did not get carried away in the heady atmosphere of the Festival of Speed auction and is now suffering a serious bout of buyer's remorse.

After receiving this photo from my brother ,who lives in the UK,I asked him to look into his archive and he has sent me another very poignant slide which I will post soon.I had no idea that Bob has these photos.Hopefully it is a deep slide box which neatly segues into a link with another very recently found slide archive on the blog of American photographer John Oliver see Lost archive.This looks like being a very interesting blog for motor racing/photographers to follow.

Meanwhile my brother has moved on a long way from motor racing and is a respected authority on classical music and has one of the best known blogs on the subject at An Overgrown Path however motor sport must be deeply embedded in the family genes as his son James is technical director of one of the premier motor sport technology suppliers.James is getting married next week so best wishes James .

16 Aug 2014

On your bike -Loire Valley

A total change of pace from the Demon-Drome Wall of Death in the previous post although we are still on two wheels.
 After my Chinese bike ride earlier in the year see On your bike-China a ride through the French countryside and along the banks of the Loire a few weeks ago was another great ride-this time without the town traffic experience at the start.In fact on this ride we only saw a few cars all day.

Friend Patrick and I hired a couple of far from lightweight bikes from a bike shop in the main street in Azay-Le -Rideau .The actual trail we followed was recommended by le Patron in the bar we frequented.The whole area is bike friendly with clearly marked trails and bike tourism is big business .We saw groups of cyclists of all ages-from teenagers in hi-vis vests to a group of Dutch racing bike riding seniors-wearing lycra -not a good look.

The countryside is beautiful and the ride on the levee alongside the Loire was easy cycling.The small village of Le Chappele aux Naux  where we stopped for lunch on a terrace right beside the river was charming with a civic bike station-see photo below-where you could wash your bike and pump up the tyres and take a comfort stop in the modern pissoir.
It was warm-well into the 30s- and we covered 36kms and made it back into the bar mid afternoon where I downed a few beers and negated all the calorie burning benefits of the ride.

The number of abandoned houses in rural France never ceases to surprise me.In south western France last year I saw whole villages where most of the houses were boarded up and even in the very popular Loire Valley on the ride we passed abandoned farmhouses and even big houses just mouldering away.There are still plenty of French rural properties waiting to be resurrected by retiring British bankers.
Leica X1 photos.

13 Aug 2014

The wonderful Demon Drome-Wall of Death

The wonderful Demon Drome team were at the Le Mans Classic again as promised see DEMON DROME and their show was better than ever and this year they were attracting big crowds.

The light inside the drome is poor and strongly red/orange from the canvas top and is very difficult to correct so I have made these shots black and white as a workaround.Leica X1 and Sony a7 photos.It's not an easy subject to photograph.I tried manual focus but the light is so low that you need a wide aperture and the bikes move so quickly that it is very difficult to get them in the very narrow focus zone.Both these action shots were taken on rapid sequence drive  using autofocus-and they are really the only sharp ones out of more than a few.I put these two down to luck -not skill.

If you get a chance to see the Demon Drome don't miss it.It's a real old fashioned thriller.

10 Aug 2014

Bikes up the Creek

I went down to Sydney Motor Sport Park yesterday- that's its new upmarket name but I can't help but still call it Eastern Creek .It was a foggy drive on the way down which is pretty unusual here and I actually had the heater turned up high in the Porsche as by our standards it was really quite cold.After 12 years of ownership I have rarely used the heater on the car and still do not understand how the controls operate.I was once told that some German universities once offered 3 year BSc degrees in understanding the heating and ventilation controls on the early 911.
There was a Porsche Club motorcross on the skidpan and motorcycle racing on the long circuit.My mission was to take some photos of the motorcycles.I am not a fan of motorkhanas.I can never remember the courses.
I have a new toy.A quite amazing toy-a Leica X Vario.The zoom lens version of the X 1 Leica I have so enthusiastically used for the past 4 years.I will blog more about the camera later but suffice to say that the image quality is breathtaking.The lens is quite extraordinary.I find it difficult to moderate my enthusiasm for the new camera-it is just superb.
For those who are interested in the tech details all the photos are jpegs with just minor -very minor- tweaking or cropping -on a few -otherwise straight from the camera.
Here is a portfolio of the photos I took of what was a very laid back day of racing.I love the smell of revving two strokes.Just don't tell the greenies.
Einstein once described insanity as doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result each time.I would define insanity as being a passenger on a racing motorcycle sidecar outfit.Photos of insane people and their feet follow.