4 Sep 2015

Little Vietnam

After the Vietnam war ended in 1973 Australia took in tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees-a markedly different story to the situation today where the xenophobic Liberal (by name but not by nature) government has an appallingly harsh policy towards refugees. As so often happens with these migrations they settled in clusters in the big cities and in particular many settled in one suburb in western Sydney,Cabramatta.
During the eighties and nineties Cabramatta gained a deservedly unsavoury reputation for drugs and gang crime but then the police and the Vietnamese community made a major effort to clean it up and the transformation has been remarkable.
In so many of these initial settlement clusters around the world the migrants gradually move out and the areas lose their unique cultural identity.Many Chinatowns and little Italies across the world are shadows of their former selves.Not Cabramatta however.It has become even more Vietnamese as the years have passed so that today the main shopping streets in the centre of town are totally lined with Vietnamese shops apart from a few Australian banks,health insurers and telcos.The predominant language is Vietnamese and it is a sea of Vietnamese faces.When I visited this week there were very few European faces.It was like being in Ho Chi Minh City -I really should say Saigon because I am sure no Vietnamese in Cabramatta uses its new name- without the motorcycles parked everywhere.It is not a tourist destination,it is a working Vietnamese suburb in a big city.
I had my camera with me and I here are a few glimpses of little Vietnam.It's a very colourful place so I have chosen black and white as I felt that in these shots the colour is a distraction.
The last two photos were taken in a restaurant serving Chinese food.Those are ducks being prepared and the menu above the girl contains some special delights including "Spicy Pig uterus" - yes,really I passed on that one-and "Jelly Fish and Pig's trotter".Not your standard Aussie fare then.






2 Sep 2015

Slow speed for action

Further to the previous story Peter de Rousset-Hall has sent me this photo taken at last month's Silverstone Classic in the UK.He was obviously in a great position but even with his long lens he has had to crop the photo to give an effect equivalent to using a 2000mm lens.The interesting feature of the shot is that it was taken at 1/80th second which has just frozen the front car as it accelerates out of the corner but the cars behind are blurred.A superb action shot Peter.Well worth lugging all that gear around for.


31 Aug 2015

Two routes on motor sport photography

Two routes to great motor sport photos.Firstly Peter de Rousset-Hall's approach. Peter has top of the range gear,an ability to get into the best position to catch the action and excellent timing. A typical photo by Peter is below-a strong sense of action,razor sharp and very tightly framed.
Peter's approach needs access to the right places and you need all that heavy and very expensive gear - and you need to know how to use it.


The second approach is to have a well tuned eye and a well developed personal and consistent photographic style which spots the little vignettes of motor sport. Now I have been trying to do this for the past few years but a local pro photographer,Matt Hart,really has suceeded in doing so consistently.
See Matt's automotive photography at The Escape Road. He also has an Instagram account of the same name.
For me Matt's work ticks all the boxes--he has a great eye,he has a consistent style and a strong personal point of view and,of course,interesting subject matter.Most importantly this approach does not need the special access and the special gear.

As well as turning out interesting photos Matt knows how to put a car around a race circuit. He used to sprint an early 911 and he was quick in it. In the photo below Matt is on the right with his green 911 with me and my silver 911 in the centre and Rob Arnett on the left at a Porsche Club sprint meeting at Eastern Creek Raceway Sydney a few years ago. Matt was off and over the horizon on the track that day.Only a heavy downpour saved Rob's and my pride.
Recently Matt has built a 1966 Series One 66 Plymouth Barracuda with 480hp 273 motor to compete with.It will be at the Muscle Car Masters at SMSP this coming weekend.


30 Aug 2015

Summer is coming


If you are reading this from the N hemisphere I know you think that we are wimps complaining about our winter but all that heat has thinned our blood. We feel the cold even if you would not call it cold. Anyway winter is starting to retreat. Summer is some way off but we can see the signs.The nights are still cold but the days are warming up.
Dawn breaking at Terrigal,NSW,this morning 30th August. Leica X1 photo.

29 Aug 2015

Richcralt Special


At the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville,Oregon -see previous story-is a corner with Bonneville Salt Flats hot rods.Featured is a hot rod built into a WW2 bomber fuel drop tank .Behind the drop tank special is this wonderful device -the Richcralt Special. I don't know anything about the car but I just love its looks with all those louvres and the fact that it -like the drop tank special- has not been fully restored.
I have now found out that the car is part poseur.Apparently it is 1930 Dodge coupe hot rod built by some 20year olds in Cincinnati in 2007. They built it to have as a driver when they went to Bonneville.Nice one.

27 Aug 2015

World of Speed Museum

Wilsonville,Oregon about 20 mins drive on the freeway south of the Portland CBD is definitely not on the tourist trail but a motor sport museum,the World of Speed, opened there earlier this year.See World of Speed
It's in a former large Chrysler dealership on an industrial estate and showcases the personal collection of a local couple-the Banys- augmented by some very interesting cars on loan including a number of Mickey Thompson's world speed record Challengers. The emphasis is on hot rods,NASCARS,world speed record cars and local motor racing.
I heard about the museum quite by chance whilst staying in Portland earlier this year and I soon found time to drive down there. I must have been their first Australian visitor.
The facility is great and the staff are very helpful.I had a personal tour with one of the knowledgeable volunteeer guides,Peter Linsky,who happens by coincidence to be a writer for the American Porsche magazine,Excellence.
I have mixed feelings about car museums and particularly motor sport museums as I prefer my cars running and live but I did enjoy this one.
My soft spot for hot rods and dragsters comes from me reading Hot Rod magazine from the US in the early 1960s. I particularly remember an article on a bugeye Austin Healey Sprite into which a hot rodder had shoehorned a 7 litre Cadillac V8. I had not seen Hot Rod for years but came across a mouldering pile of 1960s copies for sale in a secondhand shop in Oregon on this trip. I took a look at one and I quickly realised how much magazines and magazine design have advanced over the years. Did I really once enjoy reading that tiny type and looking at those small fuzzy photos?
Just a few photos to give an impression of the museum.






25 Aug 2015

Rain,thanks.Now move on.

The local rain/sunshine ratio has been rebalanced.After 4 weeks without a drop of rain we've just had plenty and it seems there is more to come.The garden is lush and the rainwater tanks are full.So time for the rain to move on.
I don't have a local rain shot to use but I do have this shot taken during my very wet week in Paris last year.The City of Light was not that light that week.Leica X1 photo.


24 Aug 2015

I'm not right in the head

Well it has been raining for two days so far and I am stuck indoors-which I really do not enjoy - but I have taken the opportunity to have a mammoth clean out of my office/study.I have tried to be ruthless -things which seemed worth keeping even a couple of years ago have gone into the garbage.
I need to take a very deep breath and dispose of some books.I have given a few away lately but I need to do better.But at least I do not keep magazines.

There are so many negatives.prints and slides in boxes.So many "gems" waiting to be discovered or rediscovered but the reality is that they will never see the light of day again.This set me reflecting on how much time and money I have spent on photography over the past 50 odd years and what I have achieved.I certainly did not do it for financial reward because it has been a serious money hole-perhaps not as bad as a boat or smoking or gambling or motor racing but a big hole nonetheless.
I have won a few competitions and had photos and photo stories published over the years but the reward to effort ratio is very poor.So why do I do it? I guess that I do it because it is an engaging activity.It certainly gives me a different point of view-I see the world in a different way as I constantly look for photo opportunities.But maybe beyond this justification it is because I'm not right in the head.This thought was triggered by an interesting and very well written blog I recently read where the author asks that question see IS RELEVANCE RELEVANT?

 In an effort to prove the proposition that I'm also not right in the head whilst on my clean up I sought out an example of my photographic eccentricity where I expended effort and money on a totally pointless photographic exercise- and I decided that Scala film is a very good example.
Now Scala was a black and white slide film made by the German Agfa company.Production seems to have stopped about 9 years ago.It had to be processed by specialist labs so even if there is some still around in freezers processing would be an issue.The film was very fine grain and had great tonality but so what.Imagine being invited to a black and white slide evening.
Whoever needed black and white slides? Well certainly not me but that did not stop me out of curiosity running a 36 exposure film through my Leica back in 1998.I have mislaid or more probably thrown out most of the slides but here are two examples to prove that I am not right in the head.
Note - Since typing the above I have been told that there is a lab in Denver still processing Scala film.





22 Aug 2015

The cost of motor sport



I was planning to be posting action photos of the local round of the Australian GT Championship today.I was all ready to head off down to Sydney Motorsport Park for a big race meeting.I had my backpack packed with the Sony and a couple of long lenses and my lunch cut and ready.
The weather forecast was glorious and last night I checked the event timetable online and whilst I was there I looked at the ticket prices for the event.Holy smoke.It's cheaper to get a general admission ticket for the Le Mans 24 hour race than it is for me to watch the racing today.And I don't like the V8 supercars so I was only going for the two sports car races.
The problem is that the V8 Supercar series is owned 100% by private equity and the owners don't really care a fig about the fans who come to the races.They just want to make money from the TV rights.Sounds just like F1 and it is.Same story - private equity owners and teams with skyhigh expenses and no real appetite for doing anything about it.Those on the gravy train don't want it to stop and those not on the gravy train are powerless to stop it.
With a paddock ticket - which is not that much use nowadays as they keep you away from the cars-and general admission and the motorway tolls and the petrol - it would cost me well over $150 to watch a few short races not to mention 4 hours driving.So I stayed at home and did some gardening so today's motor sport photo is not hot off the SD card but from my archive-the Spa round of the World Endurance Championship for Group C Sports Cars in 1989.Jaguar leading what I think is an Aston Martin up the hill.Great racing on one of the world's best circuits-where this weekend's round of the F1 world championship is being run.

Group C was very succesful.So succesful that the governing body FIA killed it at the behest of Bernie so that it would not impinge on F1 and in particular attract sponsors and manufacturers who otherwise would be in F1.The same the could theoretically happen again today but arguably F1 is too far gone to save anyway.
Sportscars and GT racing is again really gaining momentum and attracting both manufacturer participation and big spectator numbers.If you want to see great racing nowadays Sportscar and GT races are the best place to see it.

The picture was taken on my Leica but I should have used a faster shutter speed to freeze the cars.Maybe there just was not enough light and the cars are really flying at that point.Today with the super sensitive sensors in digital cameras it would not be an issue but with the low afternoon light and a ISO100 colour film it was a different situation.There certainly would not have been a problem shooting action today -it was brilliant sunshine.
And as a counterpoint here's a photo of my front garden taken this morning when I was gardening when I would have been at the racing.We have not had a drop of rain here for four weeks so the rainwater tanks are empty and the garden is bone dry so I am watering it with town water every few days.However heavy rain is forecast for the next four days.Let's hope it arrives.
Spa photo taken on Leica M6 with 28mm Elmarit lens.House photo taken with Sony a7 and 20mm Canon lens and Metabones adaptor.

19 Aug 2015

Shannons Classic 2015-Part 2



More photos from last weekend's Shannons Classic at SMSP including photos of one of my personal favourites on the day the Alfa Giulietta SS and the biggest crowd puller at the event the extraordinary SHRDLU 6.Read on below.















17 Aug 2015

Shannons Classic 2015

Warren and I drove down to Sydney Motorsport Park yesterday in my 2.2 for the Shannons Classic Car Club day.This is a big event and it seems to get bigger each year.The extraordinary range of clubs and cars on display is what makes it such a good event.There are cars there that people love and cherish which leave me shaking my head in disbelief but each to their own.
In past years the local Porsche Club has been well represented with a good turnout but sadly this year the organisation of the club's entry for the event was chaotic.Fortunately I had anticipated this and signed on to join the well organised turnout from the 356 Register- thank you David.
For me there were three standout cars at the event-well four because there were two examples of one of them.The absolute standout has to be Graham Lawrence's Hispano Suiza aero engined Delage.The car is huge in every way.Each cylinder of the 18.5 litre V8 engine has the capacity of a Toyota Corolla engine.The noise as Graham drove it out of the paddock was superb.How he manages to drive it in Sydney traffic is a mystery to me.Brave man.
After the Delage the other standouts were the two Alfa Romeo Giullietta Sprint Speciales and the extraordinary SHRDLU 6.Photos of this car and the Alfa in the next post.
I should also mention the 1935 Willys 77 -second photo below.The 77 was Willy's cheap car response to the weak market conditions of the depression years and the example shown was assembled in Australia by Holden coachbuilders who were then an independent company.The car was a "barn" find and has a wondeful patina.
I've tried to take photos which show the atmosphere of the event and the characters there rather than vanilla photos of the cars and motorcycles.
All photos taken with the Leica X Vario.