20 Nov 2017

Sugar thief

I cannot recollect whether I have put these two photos up previously. If so my apologies.
In many of the local cafes lorikeets have worked out how to pull the paper packets of sugar out of the jars on the tables to get at the sugar. Since these photos were taken the staff at this cafe put the sugar packets into glass jars with clip on lids. The lorikeets are not to be thwarted. They have worked out that two of them can push a glass jar across the table and over the edge.When it hits the ground and shatters they pull out the sugar. I have not yet seen them do this this hence no photos-yet.

17 Nov 2017

Another camera-Leica X2

Friend Wayne manages to find real camera bargains on eBay. A little while ago he found a Leica X2 at a bargain price. The X2 is a later version of my much loved Leica X1. It has a 16mp CMOS sensor instead of the 12mp CCD sensor on the X1. It has faster autofocus,a redesigned flash unit (completely useless-I have never used the flash on my X1 in 6 years and thousands of photos) and the control dials are stiffer-a useful improvement as the control dials on the X1 turn too easily. The lens remains the same -the fabulous f2.8 35mm Elmarit. A big improvement over the X1 is that it accepts an EVF (electronic viewfinder) which slots into the accessory shoe. The EVF from my X Vario slots in nicely although it is rather bulky and if I owned the X2 I am not sure that I would use the EVF. I have been happy with the little Voigtlander optical viewfinder on the X1.

Wayne seems happiest using cameras with lots of controls and fancy menus. He bought the X2 because of the quality of the photos I get from my X1 but he is having trouble gelling with the X2 and its barebones specification and relatively slow autofocus- it's a good thing that he did not buy an X1 as its autofocus is really slow-so he has asked me to use it for a few days to see what I could produce with it. Well I only picked it up over coffee yesterday morning so I have not had long to try it out but I have managed to take a few shots with it . I have set it to identical settings as my X1 and I have only taken jpeg files.The autofocus is definitely faster than the X1 but otherwise it really is the same camera although perhaps there is a marginal difference in the colour rendition.
Wayne is off to Cambodia in two weeks and is still not certain whether to take the X2 along.I don't know whether my photos will persuade him.
 The exercise has confirmed to me that the X1 and X2 are both superb cameras and they are already latter day classics. It would be nice to say that you can pick a used one up at a bargain price but that is not so.The last bargain was bought by Wayne.
All the photos above and below were taken by me with the X2 over the past 2 days.

14 Nov 2017

On the road again

I'm pushing on trying to improve my fitness.I went for a walk on the Coastal Track through the Wyrrabalong National Park this morning.It's only a fifteen minute drive from home and it really is a spectacular cliff top walk although it is far from flat. I did pretty well and really enjoyed a beautiful warm but not hot morning. The photo above was taken from the start of the track and is looking south over Forresters Beach and onto Wamberal and Terrigal beaches.
The pool at home is still too cold for swimming. I could put the solar heating on but it really needs a few warmer weeks to get it upto a swimming temperature.
Photo of the pool taken from the top balcony today.That is a rubber black snack positioned there to deter birds from using the pool as a bath.

12 Nov 2017

On the road -USA

It's a quiet time for me.This recovery is taking time and I don't feel up to long days such as going to the historic motor racing at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend. So the flow of new photos is just a trickle or less at the moment.
I am very fortunate that I did my New Orleans to Chicago road trip in May before I became ill. Falling that ill in the US would have been traumatic and the cost does not bear thinking about.
I have just been looking at the photos from the road trip and have found a few photos that I have not previously put on the blog.
They show the sort of sights I usually drive past but which are very typical of the cities/towns and country we passed through. Much of the passing scenery was mundane and it is difficult at the time to justify stopping to photograph the mundane. Afterwards on reflection you realise that mundane was,perhaps,worth photographing.
I know that I passed up a wonderful photo when I spotted a group of four old white haired african-americans most of whom were wearing denim bib and braces sitting on oil drums at a rundown gas station. I should have summoned all my nerve and stopped to take that one.
The drive beside the Mississippi on the River Road for much of the drive from New Orleans to Chicago is through farmland. You soon appreciate that the whole region has been depopulated as farm workers were displaced by machines
and farms were bought up and consolidated by corporations. Cotton pickers shacks are abandoned in ruins. Farmhouses are empty.
The towns and small settlements are run down with shuttered shops everywhere. Much of rural USA is an empty and sad place.

Some photos from the road.

5 Nov 2017

A modern 3 wheeler

I was driving up the Old Pacific Highway from Brooklyn to Cowan last wednesday to go to my monthly lunch meet at the Pie in the Sky cafe when coming down the hill at a fair pace was this three wheeler Morgan with a driver and passenger. A short time afterwards it pulled into the cafe car park.
I remember encountering a pair of original 1930s Morgans three wheelers driving at a very high speed along the Hogsback road near Guildford in Surrey,UK in 2004. By coincidence I was in my brother- in- law's Morgan Plus 4. See Understanding Morgans   We were going to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and so were they.They arrived well before us.
I can't really understand why you would buy a modern Morgan 3-wheeler particularly as the drive away price here in Australia is over $100,000. If I wanted that sort of motoring I would buy a Caterham but if your interest is piqued take a look at the Morgan Cars Australia website on Morgan Cars Australia

3 Nov 2017

Quiet moments

Nowadays there is so much haste everywhere. Lives are so crowded and days so busy and full. Smartphones have killed the arts of quiet contemplation and daydreaming. Go anywhere and people are looking at their phones-eager to stay engaged rather than letting their minds wander.
Here are two very recent photos of quiet moments.
Firstly Phoebe daydreaming at the door. Fortunately cats do not have smartphones and older cats in particular are very committed practicioners of the art of daydreaming.
Secondly a family taking time out to look at the fish and the pelican at The Entrance during last weekends Chromefest. Just a few metres away is the bustle of Chromefest.

28 Oct 2017

Chromefest 2017

It is Chromefest time again at The Entrance on the NSW Central Coast this weekend. I went out to the annual hot rod/rock and roll show this morning. More cars and more people turn out on Sunday but as the weather on the Saturday morning was beautiful I decided to take advantage of it.
The crowds on Saturday were big enough and there were plenty of hot rods so I made the right call.
It's one year since I bought my Leica Q with my winnings from my photo competition win so it was an anniversary trip out for the dazzling Q.
As usual I found the people more interesting photographically than the cars.           I followed my usual rule of asking permission to photograph before shooting and everyone I asked was willing to pose with a smile. Thank you.
I had a great couple of hours although by the time I left late morning it was getting too crowded for photography.
Here's my take on Chromefest 2017.

20 Oct 2017

Seven days in FNQ

We were supposed to spend most of September touring southern Portugal but my illness and subsequent operation put paid to that plan so we took a 7 day trip at the earliest opportunity to a less distant destination- Cairns in Far North Queeensland (FNQ) -for seven days in mid October
I last visited Cairns on holiday over 30 years ago and although I have been there on business a few times I really had not appreciated how much it has changed. Today it is tourist central but it still very much retains its Australian tropical city character.
If I was surprised at how much Cairns had changed nothing prepared me for the change in Port Douglas to the north. I spent time in Port Douglas in 1992. In the intervening 25 years it has changed out of all recognition.
As well as spending time in Cairns and Port Douglas we drove up to the Atherton Tablelands as well as travelling up to Kuranda on the spectacular Skyrail cable car and down on the Kuranda scenic railway- one of the great railway engineering feats of Australia.
On the drive up onto the tablelands I took the Gilles Highway up from Gordonvale. This must be one of the most spectaular and challenging driving roads in Australia. It is steep,winding and long and the surface is excellent. In other words a superb Porsche driving road. Sadly I was in an Avis Mitsubishi ASX SUV-a perfectly acceptable rental car but a poor substitute for a Porsche. Cairns is so far north there is little chance of many Porsche drivers making the journey there from the southern states which is a pity because in addition to the Gilles Highway there is the spectacular Captain Cook Highway from Cairns to Port Douglas. The tyranny of distance.
Whilst on the Atherton Tablelands I drove out to the small settlement of Herberton where there is a very quirky camera museum. I'll put up a story on this find later but suffice to say for now that Herberton is one of the last places you would expect to find such an interesting collection.
We were so lucky with the weather.Queensland along with much of the eastern side of the continent has been in drought for some time.The drought broke with a vengeance in S Queensland the week we were in Cairns but the heavy rain and flooding stayed to the south and we only experienced rain late on our last afternoon and the morning we were flying out.
As I was attempting to travel light I took just my much loved Leica X1 with me. I left the "tourist" photos to Val -who is now a Leica convert-and just took a few photos which to me convey the character of FNQ. Fellow photographers may be interested to know that I took only jpegs and in total including the photos in the camera museum I took just 41 pictures 11 of which are below.

Dawn patrol ,Cairns Esplanade. Even at 6.00am the Esplanade was crowded with serious exercisers and early morning walkers

Dawn, Cairns Esplanade.
Mango wine seller,Kuranda village. I did not try a sample.To me wine can only be made from grapes.Business was slow for this friendly lady the day we were there.
Port Douglas. The setting for Port Douglas is spectacular.
Port Douglas waterway.
Four Mile Beach,Port Douglas.
Swagman bushpoet Port Douglas markets. He looked like a swagman even down to his filthy swag (bedding roll) and he recited bush poetry but was he the real thing? I don't know.
Part of main street Herberton. Atherton Tablelands. Although it is a straight shot I believe it conveys the feel of a typical back country settlement.
Sugar cane mill,Mossman, N of Port Douglas. The narrow gauge cane railway runs across the main street in Mossman.  The cane railway lines criss cross the cane fields and main roads and you have to be alert for the cane trains in the May to Nov harvest season. Now the engines are diesels but they were steam once.
The Lagoon, Cairns waterfront.
Cairns Airport- waiting for our Virgin flight back to Sydney.