29 Nov 2015

India- in one photo

Now back home after my journey through South India-my first trip to India for 15 years. A lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same.
Compared to 15 years ago-still amazingly friendly people.An appalling rubbish/litter problem.A big increase in the numbers of cars,buses and three wheeled autorickshaws means crazy,terrifying,suicidal driving on totally chaotic roads.Towns and cities incredibly untidy and dirty and plagued by inadequate and broked down infrastructure. Colour everywhere. Fewer beggars,many more middle class/affluent Indians,mobile phones everywhere but still so much poverty.
India has a unique culture with so many contradictions. Where else in the world can you see a cow foraging in heaps of litter outside a construction site for a stunning new Maserati car showroom? Or see a gang of men in loincloths working with pickaxes to dig a trench for a fibreoptic cable whilst a bullock drawn cart passes by? Or use very high speed wifi in a old city centre hotel which draws its water supply from a deep well in the courtyard?

The photo above nearly captures it all. Chaotic traffic in a small town. Riders without helmets. Women riding side saddle. Women in very colourful saris walking amongst the traffic. A dirt road in the middle of town. Motorcycles parked everywhere. A sign for computer education and in the LH corner a small, mysterious, bearded man wearing perhaps a loin cloth sitting on the ground. Only a wandering cow is missing.
The Indian Tourism authority has a slogan- Incredible India.That says it all.

I took 320 photos on the journey. It was a major effort to restrict myself to only taking photos worth taking. I tried to apply the old film camera discipline. I have edited them down to just 50 worth looking at.  I set myself an objective of coming back with a dozen good photos and I reckon that I have  suceeded. I will put the photos up in batches in the next few posts. I have not shot tourist sites and holiday snaps and I have not shot beggars and sleeping people. Most of my photos are of people and mostly they are happy people because that's how they were.
Photo by author in Udumalalpettai,Tamil Nadu,S India,Nov 2015 .

Footnote -for readers who are not aware the predominate religion in India is Hinduism which holds the cow as a sacred animal hence Hindus do not eat beef and cows are literally free to roam wherever they want and this includes amongst the traffic in the biggest cities.Yes, I know it sounds weird and it is.

27 Nov 2015

In transit

Shot in the gate lounge at Changi Airport,Singapore last Wednesday morning whilst I was waiting to board the flight to Sydney. I just had to shoot this colourful pair.I'm very cautious about taking these "candid" shots as nowadays I feel that much of so called street photography is just lazy and intrusive snapping but in this case I reckon that these two did not mind being noticed.Anyway that's what I told myself.

25 Nov 2015

Last tango in Laos

I'm away with my two digital Leicas. The last time I took a film camera with me on my overseas travels was to Laos in 2006 when I took my Leica M6 and a couple of lenses and a few cassettes of Fuji Velvia film.Even then film and processing was getting very expensive.The digital rout was almost complete.These are amongst the last slides I took with that beautiful camera.

20 Nov 2015

The Biker

Another photo from Chromefest 2015.A lady festooned with a great big top of the range Canon DSLR with a long zoom lens and flash unit obliged by asking Chenzi if she could take his photo.Whilst she was fiddling with the controls of her digital monster -too many choices-I snuck in with my little X1 and took the shot.Thanks lady Canon shooter and thanks Chenzi.I am pretty pleased with it.In fact so pleased that I am thinking about seeing if I can get some more biker shots at the local Harley dealer when their Harley Owners Group assembles for a ride.The irony of course is that I had six years when taking biker shots like this would have been so easy.
The photo was a DNG file converted to monochrome in Silver EFX.I am not a big fan of monochrome but it makes this photo.The colour version looks ho hum.

16 Nov 2015

On gearlever knobs

Just to emphasise the point made in the previous story about the recent major advances in technology in cameras and the processing software this photo of my 1971 911's gearshift knob was taken at 1/100th second at F1.7 at 6400 ISO in my garage.I used the Sony a7 with a 50mm Minolta lens.The Velvia film used in the Indian photos in the previous post was 50 ISO.
This gearlever knob is the original knob which was moved from the original gearlever to the Rennshift quickshift lever when I fitted the quickshifter .Why did I fit the quickshifter and detract from the originality of the car? Because I wanted to change gear without feeling that I was stirring a pudding full of golf balls.The quickshifter did significantly improve the gearshift quality but it is still a black art. One which I have not totally mastered after 6 years of use.
Gearlever knobs were the original go faster car accessory.In the UK there was a jazz musician and very accomplished racing driver called Les Leston who started a motor accessory business in the 1960s. It became very succesful and Les Leston made a lot of money which he was able to enjoy until the ripe old age of 91. Considering he had been a very succesful racing driver during the sport's most dangerous years and before that he had served as a gunner in Lancasters in RAF Bomber Command during the second world war and he had been married three times reaching that age was a very major achievement.
Les Leston pioneered fireproof race suits.He sold everything from gearlever knobs and keyfobs to steering wheels.There was even a Graham Hill F1 World Champion line of accessories which included neckties.Can you imagine a car accessory shop selling neckties today? Times have changed.
Les Leston had sales vans which went to all the UK race meetings and as well as selling through stores such as Halfords he had his own big retail shop in High Holborn, London opposite my favourite store as a young boy,Gamages.I used to go by train from my home in N Surrey upto London with a friend on a Saturday morning when I was just 12 and spend the whole day wandering around in looking at shops such as Les Leston's and watching the Horse Guards in Hyde Park.My parents seemed to have no concerns at all. No stranger danger then.That's where my wandering around in cities bug developed.

12 Nov 2015


I'll soon be in India.S India.I have been to India before so I know what to expect.Colour.Heat.Dust.Grinding poverty.Children playing cricket everywhere.Beggars.Sad sights.Amazing sights.Photo opportunities everywhere.I won't be photographing unfortunate people. I am not a photojournalist. My photography is for fun.
I last went to India in 2000.Then I used a Leica M6 film camera. On a trip which lasted nearly 3 weeks I used 4 cassettes of 35mm Fuji Velvia slide film.That's 144 photos.I bought one unused film back. Most photographers today would easily take that number of photos in a day or perhaps even in an hour.I keep hearing stories from friends that they have taken 3000 or even 5000 photos on an three week overseas trip.Then they cannot organise them yet alone edit them-they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of photos.
I knew how to make each frame count back then.It's a habit I am intent on relearning.On this trip I will take my X1 and X Vario Leicas. I will only use one camera on a day. There is nothing more confusing than having two cameras around your neck or even in your bag. My objective is to come back with a dozen good photos.Any more will be a bonus.

A selection of photos from my previous passage to India. These are scans made 15 years ago with an early Canon film scanner. My current Epson scanner would do much better but I don't have the time this week to rescan them.Scanning is monk's work.
I used to think that there was still something magical about film compared with digital but that no longer applies. Advances in the last 3 years in sensors,processing "engines" in the cameras and in particular in image processing software ( Lightroom 4 onwards) means that digital photos can now surpass film photos in quality.

8 Nov 2015

Rush hour

I'm off to India soon. I'm really looking forward to it. It will be my second visit to India. I love Asia.The people,the colour,the smell ,the buzz,the food and particularly the early morning light. I am lucky to have first experienced Asia years ago. My first visit to Asia was to Singapore in 1974. A very different place to the sophisticated city-state of today. Soon after I was in Hong Kong.That really was so different to today I just wish that I had taken more photos on those early travels.
I vividly remember being on a Qantas flight from Sydney to London in the early 1980s.In those days some flights made three stops on the long flight-today they make just one-and we landed in Bombay (now Mumbai) and before the plane had pulled upto the terminal I could smell India through the aircon system.It was exotic and distinctive.You knew before you alighted from the plane that you had arrived in somewhere very different.
Photo above rush hour in Siem Reap, Cambodia a few years ago.Taken on my early morning walk with my travelling camera at the time,a Canon G7.
Get out early and take your camera.The early riser catches the light.

6 Nov 2015

Stormy weather

It's been really stormy here the last few days. It is humid and very wet.The sudden downpours reminded me of the Le Mans Classics in 2012 and 2014 and two of my favourite shots from the LMC in 2012-these two characters in an unidentifable car - a special probably-who came screaming under the bridge  by Tertre Rouge to get out of a big thunderstorm.They had absolutely no weather protection not even mudguards on the car but they were still laughing.And as soon as it eased slightly they were off.

5 Nov 2015

Plain speaking

                                          Shop sign seen in a small town in Austria.

3 Nov 2015

Dog day afternoon

I had to go to the local post office early this afternoon.It has been pouring with rain here in Terrigal all day so I drove down and parked near this minibus. All the humans around were in Melbourne Cup parties and this dog had been left to mind the minibus. Photo opportunity. But no camera. Now I am fond of looking with disdain at people who keep taking out their phones and photographing everything from their morning coffee to sunrises but there was no alternative so I pulled out my iPhone 4s and took a few photos. And I am very surprised and impressed by the quality of the files. However before I get overexcited I need to remind myself that I did some massaging of the photo in Lightroom to get what you see above.
I don't think that this is the first phone photo on the blog but it is the first one taken by me. Perhaps I should forget the blog,sell all my cameras and just do Instagram with my phone.

A change of pace

Time for a break from hot rods and dressing up.A more tranquil scene-Wallace Lake in the Myall Lakes National Park,NSW in October 2015.Even in the height of summer these places are not really crowded but on an early spring day it is very quiet.We don't really have a distinct spring season-winter gradually transitions into the beginnings of summer.The days just start getting warmer and longer and then after a few more weeks shopping centres start putting up Christmas decorations and santa claus and his reindeers which looks really odd when it is blistering hot outside.I saw the first Christmas decorations in the second week of October this year.
Wallace Lake is renowned for its oysters.They are plump and well just delicious.And if you don't like oysters you really don't know what you are missing.
 Sony a7 photo.

29 Oct 2015

More Chromefest

More photos from Chromefest 2015.
See bottom photos.How about the patina on those trucks? Not so long ago any qualifying rusty barn or paddock find would have been restored to a better than new condition. Now it's all about the patina. Craig-bottom two photos-explained that his truck had spent 60 years in a paddock way out in the outback and in the very dry air the rust had developed as a beautiful patina across the whole body.The truck cab had been dropped onto a more modern chassis and running gear and hey presto a running and very usable patinated truck.
Now there are preservation classes at the world's most prestigous concours at Pebble Beach,USA, and all those owners who over the years have spent millions totally overrestoring old wrecks are crying into their beer.The days of overrestoration are over now it is "sympathetic light restoration" or "leave it as found".

25 Oct 2015

Chromefest -2015.Hot rods and rock and roll.

It was the annual Chromefest at The Entrance,NSW this weekend. The event gets bigger every year. The weather was great -hot but not too hot. Brilliant sunshine is not the photographer's friend but I should not complain.This year 1950s/60s fashions were everywhere - dressing the part seems to be really gaining momentum.
As The Entrance is only 25 mins drive from home I went on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Photographing just the hot rods can be boring and so same/same and the people interest me much more. It's easy to take a lot of junk photos at these events.  As always I used my technique of asking with a smile whether I could take a photograph and I did not get a single refusal. Such nice people. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. A fun way to spend a weekend.
My take on hot rods and rock and roll downunder.Photos LeicaX1 and XVario.More photos to follow.