31 Jul 2015

Street Iron







Some American Iron in Terrigal at an impromptu coffee and cars a few weeks ago.I don't usually like HDR and fancy art filter software (Nik Collection) but it's there on the computer and it does sometimes suit some subjects so I gave it a whirl so the photos now look like all those other Instagram car shots.Very unoriginal.No much point in using a Leica for these sort of photos.I'll check out the price of Lomos and Holgas.

29 Jul 2015

Time I have wasted

This photo has nothing to do with the story which follows.
I read in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, in a story which I think was syndicated from the Washington Post, that Performance Reviews-those tedious appraisals of employee performance- are rapidly falling out of favour and many companies have abandoned them.Surprise,surprise -they have been found to have no impact on employee performance.How many billions of hours have been wasted on this tedious management fad and how many lives have been adversely changed by them?
Jack Welsh's enthusiastic endorsement ,whilst CEO of GE, made the Performance Review the management fad that swept the world.How many hours did I waste preparing those damn reviews? It was like the Emperor's suit.I hated them and knew that they were ineffective yet I went along with the charade.I had no choice.You could not swim against that tide.

Mind you it wasn't just Performance Reviews as anyone who had worked in the corporate world over the past 40 years has had to endure wave after wave of mangement fads and buzz words.Mission statements,TQM,MBO,synergies, the list goes on.Imagine flying half way around the world to a senior management meeting to spend two days hammering out some stupid and utterly irrelevant mission statement and arguing for hours about some point of syntax in a session moderated by an obscenely highly paid consultant whilst the business was in desperate trouble.Yes it happened to me.This was fiddling whilst Rome burnt on an industrial scale.

And it's still happening-although not to me fortunately.The fads still keep coming.Fad du jour is social media.Every company worth its salt is "engaged" with social media.I am not making this up-but the bag which contains the cat litter for our cats' litter tray says "follow us on Facebook".Neither of my cats has a Facebook account- well not that I know about- and I don't personally use cat litter as we have a conventional toilet in our house.So who exactly do they expect to follow their Facebook account and why on earth would you follow the Facebook account of a cat litter bagging company?

Millions of manhours at enormous cost are being directed by business at "customer engagement " through social media.Most of it is complete drivel.You only have to see the comments written even on serious media sites to realise that social media is hardly a communication channel which is brimming with well articulated thoughts and ideas advanced by well informed and reasonable people.It can only be a matter of time before companies wake up to the fact that a very high percentage of social media interaction is a wagonload of bovine manure.
The same goes for all those online surveys and review requests you receive every time you enter into any sort of transaction.Last week I renewed the insurance for one of my cars online.It took about three minutes-a few clicks,a few numbers and it was done.Then I received a 10 question online survey about the "experience".What can I say?

I now do not review any hotels,restaurants,airlines,rental car operators or any other service providers I use when I travel.The wisdom of this stance came for me a few weeks ago when I was looking at restaurants in Seattle on the app "Open Table".The top listing was for an expensive restaurant-we are talking $45 main course dishes- and I happened to glance at the first line of the first customer review.It read "The fries are delicious......" Really what does that say about that person and the value of the customer reviews? The fries are actually not half bad at McDonalds.That idiot thinks that his stupid opinion about the fries in a very expensive restaurant is worth sharing.Give me strength.



27 Jul 2015

Len's Garage

Len lives just down the street.His garage is an ever changing scene.When he first moved in a few years ago he had an everyday car which was so forgettable that I cannot remember what it was plus a real oddity-a Brazilian made VW beetle powered MGTF replica.Yes really.MG enthusiasts must have been horrified.He also had a motorcycle.
Every so often Len heads out into the bush,camping and prospecting with his metal detector.He often does this on a motorbike but to make life more luxurious he sold the weird TF like machine and he bought a VW Kombi campervan powered by a Leyland P76 V8 4.2 litre motor.It had a Porsche 911 gearbox.The conversion had been reasonably well executed -it was a serious piece of shoehorning-but it did have some major shortcomings and the transmission was its weakest link.Len bought it from a guy in Bondi who had kept the van on the street.Len bought it for a good price and cleaned it up and covered a lot of kms in it but it was far from troublefree and I often passed his garage and saw his feet sticking out from under the rear end of the Kombi as he worked on the clutch or the gearbox or the exhaust system or the driveshafts or the waterpump or the whatever.
During the Kombi's tenure Len bought and sold a bewildering number of big motorbikes.He seems to have a knack of finding mint bikes with great specs at bargain prices.
At the end of last year he sold the Kombi for a very good price-I hope the buyer is mechanically minded-and started looking for a "special' BMW.
A couple of weeks ago he found a 1985 M5 3.5i up in Queensland at a good price.Len will travel across Australia for a good buy.He'd previously been about to jump on a plane to Perth to look at a BMW.This model M5 was never officially imported into Australia as the duty on cars at that time was 57.5% and the retail price would have been exorbitant.Len's is an ex-UK car.It still has the BMW-Holland Park sticker on the rear window.Again he seems to have found himself a bargain and he is now flat out sorting out a few things which need rectifying and polishing up the rather tired paint.The BMW currently shares the garage with his everyday Subaru and a Harley Davidson but that may well be gone next week and replaced by another mint bargain bike.Life goes on......
Len smiling at the thought of another great buy.

The M5

M5 and Harley.When I took this photo Len was working on the Harley and the BMW and fixing the tap on his shower.-moving between the three tasks.

24 Jul 2015

Magical film


 I have owned my Hasselblad for just over 3 years but I have taken very few photos with it.
Turn the clock back 20 years and I really wanted to own a Blad-the king of cameras-but the prices of both used and new Blads were way out of my price range.Now of course it is a very different story as used Blad prices are rock bottom and wonderful outfits can be purchased for modest sums.So three years ago encouraged by friend Roger in the UK who had just bought a Blad outfit for the same reasons I acquired a vgc 500C camera body,a film back and two superb lenses for A$500 locally and then picked up a few more bargain lenses and accessories along the way.

Owning a Blad and using a Blad are two different things - which may explain why my vintage model is in such great condition.The camera and lenses are very heavy.The camera really shakes when you fire the shutter(s) so best results are from high shutter speeds or from using a tripod and I really dislike using a tripod.Loading the film is a science and nowadays buying film and getting it processed is neither cheap nor convenient.So my Blad has not had much use but two weeks ago I dusted it down and took it out and ran three films through it.Out of 36 shots I ended up with two which I am really pleased with -a ratio which I consider acceptable.
 I am using Kodak Portra 400 colour negative film.It is a beautiful film.The colour rendition is wonderful and the film has a unique "look".I wish that it had been available 20 years earlier.Film still is magical.

The first photo is heavily cropped as the horizontal format suits the subject and it shows an abandoned oyster farmer's shed at Bensville on Brisbane Waters on the Central Coast of NSW in late afternoon.
The second shot was at dusk on the rocks at Terrigal Haven also on the Central Coast of NSW.
The oyster shed was taken with a 150mm Zeiss Sonnar lens and the seascape with the 80mm Zeiss Planar-the so called Hasselblad standard lens.Both are beautiful lenses but the 150mm is big and heavy.Not something you would even consider taking on an overseas trip-unless you had a porter with you.

Both shots were scanned in using an Epson flatbed scanner.I had to do some retouching-dust is a problem and I am not happy about the cleanliness of the processing -but I have not changed the colour renditions at all.
It may seem to rather defeat the point of shooting on film to then scan the photos into the computer-hybrid photography-part analogue-part digital-but in practice the scanner and the computer can pick up all the info -particularly the shadow details- on a negative or a slide much better than traditional printing.
Encouraged by these results I have decided to give the Blad more regular exercise in future despite all the hassle.







23 Jul 2015

Up front

In the 1930s a hood/bonnet ornament was a must have styling feature or accessory for prestige car owners.And if you wanted to go over the top you could always fit a French Lalique glass hood ornament-expensive in their day and extremely valuable and prized today.
Hood ornaments have almost been legislated out of existence because of pedestrian safety concerns although Rolls Royce still have their silver lady who retracts as the car moves.
Some classic hood ornaments from America's Car Museum in Tacoma.


















21 Jul 2015

America's Car Museum.

America's Car Museum opened in 2012 in Tacoma,south of Seattle Washington State.It houses the amazing car collection of the late Henry LeMay who made his fortune out of collecting and recycling garbage in the Tacoma region.One man's garbage is another man's car museum.
It is really is well worth a visit.
Firstly two general shots of the very big museum and then two photos and description of an amazing street rod/custom car-the Ferrambo- which really appealled to me but which also had me asking "why?"






20 Jul 2015

Stormy weather-part 2.

The previous story with the Stormy Weather photo has probably created more emails than any other story on the blog.
Rather than answering the questions individually I thought that I would write a postscript to the previous post explaining the background.

I should explain that I did not take the photo for the blog.The Sydney Morning Herald has an online photo group-Clique-which has a monthly competition and the July challenge is "Landscape and weather".
Entries have to be taken within the last 4 weeks so I had to shoot specifically for the competition.
I had visualised the shot I wanted -although I am still not certain whether my seascape qualifies as a landscape.The location is literally five minutes drive from home.All I needed was the right combination of wind-to generate a heavy sea-and the right clouds and light.I drove to the location late on thursday afternoon and the sea was up but it was just too sunny and the clouds lacked drama.I watched the weather on friday morning but it was too overcast however all the elements came together really well late on friday afternoon.I was very lucky -particularly with the threatening clouds and the rain squalls out at sea.

I had decided I wanted a black and white shot for drama.I planned to use a 20mm lens to get the widest possible field of view on the rock formation and this dictated that I used the Sony a7.I would have liked to have used a Leica but the 28mm lens on the X Vario was just too narrow.
I wanted to freeze the waves so I needed to use a fast shutter speed but I also wanted a small aperture to give me a good depth of field.I did not want to use too high an ISO as this would have given me too much "noise" on the file so I decided that 1/640th sec at f11 at 1600 ISO was the best compromise.

I took just 12 shots at the location-all on the same settings.I was just waiting for the right wave formations.After 12 photos I reviewed them in the electronic viewfinder and decided that I had struck lucky and that two looked promising.This decision was hastened by the very strong,cold wind and some heavy spots of rain.

When I arrived home I downloaded the all shots into my computer and this confirmed that two looked likely candidates.I then processed them in Lightroom.I did a one click black and white conversion on both and decided that black and white did not work for this shot and that colour was the way to go.I then set about "fixing them up" them in Lightroom and Color Efex. This took about 30 mins.

I compared the two shots and decided that one was the better of the two because the water flowing over the rocks looked so good and the sky was bigger and looked more dramatic.The rejected photo is shown below.


17 Jul 2015

Stormy weather


It has been cold here this week.Although we are in the middle of winter it's unusual for the daytime temperatures here on the coast of NSW to be in the low teens.Combine this with a strong wind and it feels like 7º or 8ºC.There has been a good dump of snow on the Australian Alps and light snowfalls on high ground even up into southern Queensland which is very unusual.
I went out late this afternoon to photograph the sea breaking over the rocks at North Avoca just over the hill from home.
It was taken on the Sony a7 with a Canon 20-35mm L lens at 20mm mounted on a Metabones adapter at 1/640th sec at F11 at ISO 1600.RAW file processed in LR5 and Color Efex Pro 4.


16 Jul 2015

Sports car story



The Porsche 911 has put on a lot of weight over the years.The original back in 1963 was a svelte sports car but over the years legislative demands in terms of crash performance and emissions control plus market demands for more comfort and related equipment means that today's 911 is a bigger and much heavier car than its predecessor.But at least today's 911 is an attractive car which has a strong family resemblance to its forebears.
The Datsun 240 Z when it was launched in 1969 was a compact and very attractive sports car which was a massive sales success and which pulled the rug from under British sports car sales in the US.The 240Z rapidly morphed into the 260Z which was still a great car but then Datsun totally lost the plot and the 260Z was replaced by the,to my eye,ugly 280ZX and finally the even worse 300ZX in 1983.In 14 years Nissan/Datsun turned a really great sports car into an ugly caricature of a sports car.

Seen on the street in Portland a few weeks ago two sides of the sports car story.On one side of the street a late model 911 and on the other a 280ZX .

15 Jul 2015

Celebration



As it is my birthday today I thought that I would put up celebratory photos of a treat and some floral colour.Above some much revered local ice cream in an old style ice cream parlour in Port Townsend,Olympic Peninsula,Washington State.It tasted as good as it looks.
Below the snowcapped Mt Hood in Oregon photographed across a garden near Hood River.Both photos taken with the Leica X Vario.


12 Jul 2015

Piston broke



Warren's Porsche 911 Targa pictured above has been his daily driver since he bought it 6 years ago.
He has really racked up the kilometres in the intervening years and it has generally been very reliable.But all good things come to an end and a few weeks ago a piston-pictured- threw in the towel.So the car is off the road with the engine and gearbox in for a total rebuild at the hands of Simon at Autowerks,Charmhaven.
Warren is taking the opportunity to totally refresh the car and has the body at home where he is cutting out the rust on the doors and repainting them,refurbishing the interior-the seats are at a retrimmers and the genuine BBS wheels are being polished at a wheel specialist.
He is adding his personal touches along the way.He hopes to have it back on the road by late October.It certainly is full speed ahead with every weekend full on with the project and the engine/gearbox work is in hand at Autowerks so this is not going to be one of those "I'll finish it soon" projects we all know about.
One unknown variable will be how quickly Warren recovers from the operation to remove one his kidneys which he is selling in India to pay for the project.
I'll post regular updates on the project and Warren's recovery.

Warren,artisan,at work

The culprit-amazing that the engine still ran

Active tinworm

Simon examines the crankcase at Autowerks

Tin worm killer
Serious polishing

WIP but a great improvement already



10 Jul 2015

On Portland tats

Some offer the tattoo artist a broad canvas
More from my recent travels in the Pacific Northwest of the US.
In Portland,Oregon there is one tattoo parlour for every 10,000 people.This means there are a lot of people with tattoos in Portland.Why Portland? The local explanation is that it comes from Portland's maritime past.I am not at all convinced as it seems to be a more recent fashion.Let's hope there are no regrets later in life otherwise Portland is going to be the regretful capital of the world.Leica X1 photos.June 2015

A tat for a summer's day

7 Jul 2015

Sweet on the street


In maybe 30 years time,perhaps even sooner,most of the internal combustion engine powered cars will be gone.Electric cars will rule the roost.Perhaps they will all be Google driverless cars forever suggesting shops we should visit and places where we can eat as they drive us along and automatically telling Google Circles where we are travelling so that all our "friends" can "share" our drive.Banish the thought.

What a sad place the world will be.No more engines to tune,to tinker with,to maintain,to repair,to listen to,to discuss,to curse and of course to love.All gone.Replaced by soulless electric motors,electronic control units and battery packs.Let's love those IC engines whilst we can.

Two sweet sights on the street.Opposite ends of the automotive spectrum.Top-a quite beautiful Alfa convertible parked casually on a street corner outside a cafe in Paris a few weeks ago.What a beautiful car and so suitable for cruising around Paris-the right companion would just set it off.....magnifique.
Bottom -an old Volvo wagon on a street in Portland Oregon a few weeks ago.The owner has had it resprayed in a very attractive gunmetal colour,lowered the ride height,fitted bigger wheels and tyres and blacked out the chrome.Complete with bike carrier it is a very cool wagon which costs a lot less and carries a lot more than a contemporary SUV.A silk purse from a sow's ear although that's a little unfair as these old Volvos have a lot going for them -they were just underappreciated by non Volvo owners in their day.I am told these Volvo wagon revivals are becoming very fashionable in Europe.Every dog has its day...
Alfa photo by David Young.Volvo photo by the Rolling Road

5 Jul 2015

The gum wall-totally revolting.

This post is revolting.If you visit Seattle all the tourist guides tell you that one of the top tourist sights is Pike Place Market.That is nonsense.It is a tatty,tourist trap.Not a real market.A few theatrical fish stalls selling overpriced salmon,a few florists selling flowers which do not last probably due to the way they have been stored-we know we bought some-and lots of tourist tat shops and overpriced and frantically busy restaurants.And then of course there is the original Starbucks shop-I'll come back to that another day-and then there is the gum wall.
The gum wall is located in Post Alley which comes up to the market from the south.It is actually two walls on both sides of the alley where thousands of people have deposited their chewed chewing and bubblegum.Can you think of anything more revolting?
I came across the gum walls by chance as I was walking up the alley from the waterfront.I could not believe my eyes.And there were tourists-all young- depositing their gum on the wall.Totally vile.I could not get out of there fast enough-after a few photos for the blog that is.It turned my stomach typing this and as for those two girls with the selfie stick touching the wall words fail me.....I am sure that the blog followers from Singapore where gum is illegal are probably retching by now.Enough....





4 Jul 2015

On classic car prices and Le Mans

The recent post see Classic Porsche prices on escalating early Porsche prices drew a few emails.
One reader reminded me that some extremely valuable Porsches and Ferraris -we are talking cars valued in millions and even tens of millions of dollars-are still being risked on the race track so all is not yet lost.Agreed.Here's two photos of very valuable cars - a Porsche 917 and a Ferrari 275GT being campaigned hard at the Le Mans Classic 2014.
Photos taken at Tertre Rouge at the start of the Mulsanne Straight.
A very recent story on the Macfilos blog see Macfilos-Le Mans  lamented the difficulties of taking action photos at this year's Le Mans 24 hours due to the catch fencing.
As these two photos show you can avoid most of the bad effect of the catch fencing if you go to the right place.At Tertre Rouge there is a big spectator embankment on the inside of the corner and from the top you are looking down on the cars and the catch fencing is in the lower part of the photo.Also by panning at a lower shutter speed you can blur out the wire and posts as well.The Porsche at full tilt was taken at 1/100th second and the Ferrari at 1/60th.Both these photos were taken with a 28-70mm zoom lens and cropped.I could have done a lot better if I had a much longer lens with me.