29 Sep 2014

Porsche Techniker Kindergarten Klasse

Porsche Technician Kindergarden class.Who needs toys when a socket set is around?
Otto-a good name for a Porsche technician-getting to grips with some real tools.He seems to know what to do with the tools without any instruction.Probably in his DNA.
Leica XVario photo

28 Sep 2014

Working the mullock heap

I'm very fortunate to have done an amazing amount of travelling over the years and particularly in the last two years so I have never been short of photo opportunities although nowadays I make a big effort to  restrict the number of photos I take.I am not a fan of"chimping"-reviewing a photo on the LCD screen on the camera immediately after it has been taken-and prefer to look at photos on a big screen before deciding their fate.

About two years ago I persuaded myself that the best way to handle the photos from a trip was to download them using Lightroom and then to sit down and vigorously cull them-deleting all the non star quality photos- in the week after a trip.I then put the starred photos up on the blog and into photobooks and perhaps enter one or two into photo competitions.
I quickly realised that this "take no prisoners" approach meant that I was permanently deleting photos which I may well have second thoughts about later.So now I cull all the obviously flawed photos and identify the obvious stars in the first review and come back to the folder a few weeks or months later and look at the photos again to see if any "gems" are there amongst the dross.It's a bit like fossickers who work through the mullock heaps (waste tailings) of gold mines looking for the tiny nuggets of gold that the miners missed.
Adopting this technique yesterday evening on the photos from my trip to Austria/Germany and Italy back in June threw up the four photos below which I had previously passed over.They are the sort of photos I take whilst walking around to keep my eye in and they look so much better in black and white.None of them will win a photo competition but they are just fun.
All taken with the Leica X1 and B&W conversion done in Silver EFX Pro.

26 Sep 2014

Vintage Panhard

I shot this 1960s scene at this year's Le Mans Classic and processed it to give it a 1960s vintage look but the effect is spoilt by the fact that he is using a mobile phone.I am not usually keen on this sort of processing but I think that it works this time.I was considering photoshopping out the phone but realised that his "phoneface" is also not 1960s so I let it be.Leica X1 photo.

24 Sep 2014

Targa you've come a long way

The latest iteration of the Porsche 911 Targa has been enthusiastically received.I saw it in the metal for the first time a few weeks ago and whilst I appreciate its family resemblance in terms of styling cues it is a long way from the original Targa concept in execution.Sadly there were too many lookers surrounding it for me to get a reasonable photo and the Porsche press photos are too good in that they make the car look quite compact.

Originally the 911 Targa was a light,frills free,open top sports car with a practical,manually stowable detachable roof.The latest model is spectacular but it is also a very big,heavy complex car.The electrically operated roof is a wonder of engineering but I look at the car and think "bling" and "monster" and "OTT". And the price is way over the top with a hefty premium over the coupe. And really how difficult is it to stop and take off a couple of roof panels as you do in the original Targa? In any case you have to stop the new Targa to stow the roof. No,the new Targa is excess in its purest form.
Such a contrast to the absolutely beautiful restored early 911Targa Porsche had on their display at this year's Le Mans Classic.
Leica X1 photo.

23 Sep 2014


Quite by chance this morning I did not take my faithful  "go -get" Leica X1 on my early morning walk but instead took a Sony a7 with a Leica 28-70mm Vario-Elmarit lens and I was rewarded with a very rare sight which needed a longer lens than the X1-an infant seal on the rocks at one end of Terrigal Beach.The seal is very young and looked distressed -there was no sign of its mother-but I am sure that a wildlife protection organisation would be called in if it stayed there too long.It certainly was drawing a sizeable crowd of admirers and iPhone photographers.

Since writing the above the seal has stayed around-its now two days later-and there are marine rescue and NSW Parks rangers watching it and apparently it is about 12 months old and is in good shape -just resting up at Terrigal after coming through some heavy seas.Which goes to show that I know little about seals. 

22 Sep 2014

Cable Beach Highway

If you are reading this after a long commute home on crowded roads take a look at the Cable Beach "Highway" photographed two weeks ago at sunrise.A 4WD heads up the beach for a day's fishing.Ahead of it are many kilometres of pristine white sand and not another soul in sight.It's wonderful that there are still places on the planet like this.

See earlier post for photos of Cable Beach from the air.The sand on the beach is so firm that even two wheel drive vehicles can drive on it-although the ramp back up to the road can be a bit challenging for them.When I was running on Cable Beach early one morning 16 years ago- I was a lot fitter and younger then- a rather battered old brown Volvo passed me and then stopped about 50 metres ahead of me and a man and a woman both in their late 60s or early 70s got out.They were extremely suntanned all over and beyond wrinkled.Like a pair of vintage prunes.And they were completely naked.Nude.In their birthday suits.Drooping best describes their physiques.They were certainly "hanging loose".They would not have been a pretty sight at any time but particularly so early in the morning.Anyway they were completely oblivious to my presence and they just walked down to the sea for an early morning swim-au naturel.
Leica XVario photo.

20 Sep 2014

Weird in Shanghai.

This has to go down as one of the weirdest scenes I have ever come across or photographed. Communal ballroom dancing at dawn on the Bund beside the river in the centre of Shanghai. I took this photo in 2004 but it's probably still going on now every morning weather permitting. And how about that pollution? It was bad then. Today it is much worse. Photographed with a Leica Digilux 1-a camera which produced nice colour but which by today's standards is very vintage. There is no detail in the shadows-just sensor noise. Leica were not convinced then that digital was going to totally eclipse film and I guess at the time you could understand their reservations however they had not factored in the rapid rate of improvement in digital cameras and the sensors in particular. If I took this photo today on my X1 or X Vario it would be a much better photo at least technically.
However despite the technical deficiency of the camera another shot I took that same morning was awarded a Mark of Excellence recently in an international i-shot-it photo competition.See Mark of Excellence
Which goes to show that the camera does not really matter.

18 Sep 2014

Happy hour

Planet Earth is not a happy place to be currently.The Ebola epidemic is killing thousands in West Africa and threatens to spread into all of Africa and beyond.A murderous mob of totally evil demented religous fanatics are running amok in Iraq/Syria.Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been displaced by the civil war in Syria.A very nasty spat is going on in Ukraine and a forgotten war in Sudan.The Palestinians of Gaza have had their homeland destroyed and thousands of innocent people have been killed.Yet again we have a total lunatic in the Kremlin desperate to revive the cold war and now boasting about his ability to turn the US into nuclear ash.
Even the usually jocular Pope is warning that world war 3 may have already started.It ain't looking good folks.And it seems that there is not much we little people can do about it.So I will have to resort to running a happy photo.And here it is.
 A group of happy monks enjoying "happy hour" as the golden light fades in the early evening at a temple in Yangon,Myanmar.
The photography experts rightly tell you that the golden hours immediately after daybreak and before sunset are the best for photography when the light is magical but in this case not only was the evening light golden from the setting sun but it was extra golden from bouncing off all the gold leaf adorning the temple.Truly a golden hour.
No need to say "cheese" to get this crew to smile -it came naturally to them.They may be monks with almost no personal possesions living in one of the poorest countries on the planet but to me they look much happier and above all content than most people.A good thing they haven't seen the TV news lately.
Leica X1 photo.

16 Sep 2014

Top End sea creatures

See previous story on the Top End.Some photos of encounters with some of the sea creatures of the Top End.I did see a pod of whales frollicking off Cable Beach,Broome but they were way too out for my modest lens to capture them.No sharks seen but two saltwater crocodiles seen in Willie Creek up from Cable Beach.Salties are like some of the people you encounter on internet forums-they trawl around looking for innocent victims and then they attack them in a very aggressive manner.The croc photo was taken with a 70mm lens and was as close as the skipper of the little tinnie boat was prepared to go and I had no problem with that.
Broome has been a major centre for pearl farming for over 100 years and the divers and workers associated with the pearl industry are responsible for Broome's strong Japanese and Chinese connections.Over the years the pearl industry has waxed and waned and nearly disappeared when pearl buttons were displaced by plastic buttons but today it is thriving with big floating pearl farms still employing some Japanese workers in seeding the oysters.The shot of the pearl in the oyster is sadly a set up.
The orange blob next to my sandals is a big jellyfish.There were hundreds of these marooned on Cable Beach each morning.These give you a nasty sting but it is not fatal.Leica XVario photos

11 Sep 2014

To the Top End

As most of the readers of the blog nowadays are from outside Australia I should explain that the Top End is the Australian term for the vast area at the top of Australia including the top of the state of Queensland,the Northern Territory and the top of the huge state of Western Australia.
It is an extraordinary area.Flying from Sydney to Darwin takes four and a half hours and after an hour flying over the farmland of New South Wales the rest of the flight is flying over uninhabited waterless desert.Sometimes you can see a solitary straight dirt track but for most of the flight it is totally empty.Hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of emptyness.

The Top End has two seasons.The wet season from approx late September to late May when it is very hot-over 40ºC and very wet- monsoonal like wet with big storms.Then there is the dry season from June to end of September when it is almost totally dry and warm/hot.

The Top End is sparsely populated.Darwin with a population of 127,000 is the only major city.The other towns in the Top End are really small and there are only a handful of them.The main highways with some exceptions are tarmac but all the other roads are dirt.If you live in the Top End you drive a 4WD.No alternative if you want to travel out of town.In the wet season the towns and small settlements are cut off by flood waters.Some for months on end.The rivers turn into raging torrents sometimes kilometres across.There is no mobile phone network outside the few towns.If you need a mobile phone you have to use a satellite phone.Forget about updating your Facebook page regularly or watching cats playing the piano on YouTube.Go fishing instead.
The distances are huge.Light aircraft and regional airlines are used extensively.Air North the local regional airline is excellent with very moden aircraft and a very professional operation.
The Flying Doctor Service provides medical services to remote outposts.

It is a very rugged,rough and extraordinarily beautiful area.The colours are spectacular-particularly at sunset.It is Kodachrome on steroids.The soil everywhere is red.All the vehicles are coated in red dust.There are vast ranges cut by deep and very spectacular gorges with waterfalls and billabongs.
The vegetation is very similar to African savannah-desert grass ,low scrub and boab trees with termite mounds everywhere and the ground littered with broken is harsh unforgiving country.and even at this time of the year( september) it is very hot.Break down with no drinking water in your vehicle out here and you are in trouble.Serious trouble.

The major industry of the Top End used to be cattle farming with many cattle stations bigger in area than some European countries.The stations are so big that the mustering is done by helicopter.
Now mining has overtaken cattle farming to be the major industry. LNG,coal ,iron ore,uranium,bauxite and diamonds are mined.
Tourism is also very important with backpackers,campers and caravan/RV campers and many retired Australians -so called grey nomads- drive the huge distance from the southern states to spend the Australian winter months in the Top End.If you live in the Top End you embrace the outdoor lifestyle totally.

Bird life is prolific.It is too hot for kangaroos but there are plenty of wallabies - a smaller species of kangaroo-venemous snakes and crocodiles.
Crocodiles are a protected species in Australia and they are a major problem in the Top End.The freshwater crocodiles are apparently benign but the saltwater crocs (salties) are very aggressive and dangerous.This year alone a number of people have been taken by crocodiles in the Top End and the salties swim hundreds of kilomteres up rivers so they can be in a lake or billabong a very long way from the sea.Not a comforting thought.

I have just spent ten days in the Top End.Two days in Darwin including a trip south to Litchfield National Park.One day in Kununurra with a light aircraft flight over the Bungle Bungle landform in Purnululu National Park as well as the Ord River irrigation area and the Argyle Diamond Mine.
Then three days deep in the Kimberleys at the Emma Gorge tented camp and then back to Kununurra and a flight to gorgeous Broome.
Here is a selection of my photos from the trip to give a taste of the amazing colours and scenery of the fantastic Top End.All Leica photos - either X1 or X Vario .
Termite mounds,Litchfield National Park,NT.These all mounds are aligned N-S
Giant termite mound,Litchfield NP
Wangi Falls,Litchfield NP

Early morning Lake Argyle ,Ord River nr Kununurra ,WA.
Bungle Bungles from the air.Purnululu National Park
Bungle Bungles.Shaped by wind erosion from wind blowing across flat Tanami desert
Bungle Bungles only "discovered " for tourism in early 1980's.

Boulders in pool at head of Emma Gorge

Pool  Emma Gorge

Sunset Emma Gorge

Chamberlain Gorge

Boulders,Chamberlain Gorge

Reflections,Chamberlain Gorge
Chamberlain Gorge,late afternoon.

Crossing the Pentacost River,In the wet this would be a wide raging torrent.Now at the end of the dry it is just a creek

Chamberlain Gorge

Next  four photos of sunset from a bluff on the Durack Range looking down the Pentacost River and the Chamberlain Gorge and over El Questro Station.

Wllie Creek -below-and the magnificent Cable Beach at Broome from a helicopter.Broome town is on the coast close to the horizon
Fishing Broome style.Drive your Toyota up the beach for a few kms.Find an empty spot- not difficult-erect the awning.Pull out a few cold beers and throw in a line.


10 Sep 2014

The Digital Photographer

See previous post.Whilst I was photographing the analogue photographer featured in the previous post he was photographing me on his vintage Rolleiflex.Since his photo appeared on the blog he has become aware of it and he has sent me the photo below of me shooting him!
It's a very small world.

9 Sep 2014

The analogue photographer

In July I met this photographer using his vintage Rolleiflex to take photos of the Arc De Triomphe. He's from Vietnam and he works at the Vietnam National Museum in Hanoi. He has a website devoted to analogue (film) photography. It can be found at Analog Photo. It showcases some very creative film photography and is well worth taking a look at.

8 Sep 2014

What a car park

For interesting car parks it's hard to go past the main car park at the Le Mans Classic.I took this photo at this year's Classic-you can tell from the colour of the sky- from where we parked our car. There's an eclectic mix of cars visible in this one random shot.The wing of an MGA ,part of an Alvis (you don't see too many Alvises around),the superb Fiat Multipla (as rare as an Alvis particularly in this condition),a Porsche 356 convertible, an Austin Healey, numerous MGBs (common as the proverbial at Le Mans)and mostly hidden from view a kermit green longnose 911.

7 Sep 2014

Aren't we all part -time pedestrians?

Seen in Hong Kong

It's a mad,mad world.

There is a Japanese garden attached to the local regional art gallery.It is not a national park-there are no gorges,or fast flowing rivers or waterless deserts or crocodiles.Or leaking nuclear power stations or unpatrolled surf beaches .No, just a small Japanese garden with the sort of things you expect to find in the standard Japanese garden like a shallow carp pond,some rocks,some stunted shrubs ,some concrete lanterns and some raked white stones.But look at the risks you need to be aware of.Common sense has left the building.No wonder Australian amateur motor sport along with many other activities is slowly drowning in a sea of risk minimisation strategies and high vis vests.

5 Sep 2014

Fast disappearing camera shops

Whilst I was in Paris a few weeks ago I went to the Bastille end of Boulevard Beaumarchais intending to visit the interesting camera shops which populate both sides of the boulevard. Well I should say used to populate both sides of the Boulevard because in the space of two years most have gone. Even the multi front store which incorporated Le Moyen Format (medium format) has consolidated down to just one shop incorporating a Leica shop and all the other formats.

The camera business is in retreat all over the world. Sadly smartphones rule for young users and the latest digital cameras have arguably become so good that most buyers cannot see the point of upgrading when there is no visible improvement in the quality of the photos from the new model.

Hong Kong used to be the place to go to buy new cameras at seriously keen prices. The world has changed and now Hong Kong retail prices of new cameras even after vigorous bargaining are not competitive with either the internet or retail stores in Australia/NZ/UK/USA and most of the Hong Kong camera shops have gone. Although oddly many of the very cheap deals on new cameras on eBay come from Hong Kong which seems nonsensical.
In Hong Kong just a few serious enthusiast shops remain as do some very specialist shops selling second hand film cameras and lenses and accessories. Most of these are tucked away in side streets and alleyways with hole in the wall shopfronts.They are crammed with gear- Alladin's caves for collectors- and they smell of decaying old cameras. The Hong Kong climate is not camera friendly. And their prices are outrageous by Australian standards. I will be surprised if many of them survive for more than a few more years.

4 Sep 2014

Catching the light-morning

I don't do lying in bed. I would love to wake up at 7.00am but my body clock just won't let me.Maybe it's the result of catching too many early morning flights or waking up in different time zones.I am not so good at the other end of the day. If I wake at 5.00am I struggle after 10.00pm. Mind you the early rising does mean that I can catch the light as these photos of Hobart Harbour,Tasmania at dawn,the solitary monk going off to morning prayers in Mandalay, Myanmar and the sunburnt Russian tourist on the beach at Na Trang,Vietnam -below show. Leica X1 photos.

I am currently in the Top End of Australia -as far away from Hobart as you can get in Australia -and hopefully catching the light in some pretty spectacular locations .