23 Feb 2018

Race strategy

Fifty years ago in F1 races and sports car races teams the driver's wives and/or girlfriends kept lap charts and did the timimg with mechanical stop watches. In the long distance races things were a little more formal for the top teams with designated timekeepers.
Electronic timing and lap scoring with the cars fitted with transponders changed the game about 30 years ago and now teams have access to massive amounts of data during the race. Lap scoring and timing for every car is available in real time.
This has changed the way race strategy is formulated for the teams. In the past the team manager made the call for fuel, tyre and driver change pit stops. They did this based on experience and a limited amount of data. Now teams have full time race strategists who use the available data and scenario prediction algorithms to determine the pit stop strategy. Unfortunately the best strategist in the world cannot predict safety car deployment and so at a race such as the Bathurst 12 hours race strategy is still a mix of science and luck.
Picture above the Objective Racing Mclaren's pit during the 2018 race.

21 Feb 2018

Top shot

Over the years I've taken a few photos of the five grandchildren. Nowadays I only keep the photos which I consider are really good and this one is definitely a keeper. For me it's one of my top grandchildren shots. Taken last Sunday it shows Otto intently watching his dad put together a solar powered robot. For me there are many things to like about the photo including the colour rendering and the skin tones
The photo was taken on the Leica Q as a jpeg with the camera set on low saturation and contrast and with the lens wide open at F1.7.

17 Feb 2018

Bathurst 12 hour action

More action photos from this year's Bathurst 12 hour race. The great thing about the Mount Panorama circuit is that there are so many great viewing points. For Warren and I this our fourth year at the 12 hour race and we now have a pattern for our spectating. We start at the topside of the last corner and watch the start in the dark and then we migrate on the inside of the track to what was known as Caltex Chase on Conrod straight for an hour or so. Then down to the food area in the paddock for a bacon and egg roll and a coffee.
This year we then watched the race from inside the first corner for a while before driving up the mountain. Whilst at the first corner an Audi went straight on after the pit straight at the very second I was putting the camera into my bag. It hit the wall hard and made a big mess-another safety car . I missed it all. By the time I looked up the dust was just settling-literally.
We spent a few hours walking and watching from the top of the mountain then back down again and into the paddock for food area for some refereshment and a look at the action in the pits before watching the last hour or so from the first corner.
It's a big day out and it involves a fair bit of walking but it's much more fun than staying at home and watching the race live on Channel 7 and there was live timing on my phone on the 12 hour race website which gave all the race positions in real time.

15 Feb 2018

Too hot, too long...

Too hot for me

Some people are never satisfied. We hate the mild Australian winter because it is too cold and now when summer comes we're whinging again. But I reckon that we have some justification this year. It's hot and humid here on the Central Coast in summer-that's a fact. But not usually so hot for so long and with such day after day high humidity. Yesterday according to my electronic weather station it was 27ºC at 6.30am with  92% humidity. The water temperature in the pool at midday was 30ºC-hardly refreshing and the temperature in the shade was 35ºC
This couple were on the beach at Terrigal on Tuesday mid morning. It was so hot on the sand whilst I was taking the photo that I could feel the heat through the thick rubber soles of my sandals.
A cool change came through last night and it has lowered the temperature somewhat but it was only a very short respite and the temperature and humidity are already climbing this morning.
Our poor very old Himalayan cats are really suffering. I try to put the fan on them as much as possible but Phoebe who really has a thick coat is a very unhappy lady. Some people give their Himalayans so called Lion cuts in summer but ours just would not cooperate and they would be so stressed we would not attempt it.
I am almost tempted to say roll on winter.

Too hot for Phoebe

13 Feb 2018

On yer bike....

Most early mornings nowadays I see Riley, the unicycle rider, pedalling along the Terrigal seafront. A month or so ago he bought an all terrain unicycle so now he can venture off road. He tells me he has been unicycling for over ten years and that it is difficult to learn-a statement of the obvious-particularly getting on.
The sodium street lights put out a very pervasive yellow colour cast which I cannot fix in Lightroom so in a break with my usual practice I have converted the shots to black and white.

11 Feb 2018

Morning has broken....

Even more spectacular sunrise than usual at Terrigal, Central Coast of NSW, Australia today, 11th February. The watchers are not dangling on the cliff edge. It is above a lower ledge and quite safe. 
Photo taken with my LeicaX1. The perfect camera for an early morning walk.

8 Feb 2018

Safety car blues

A sight seen too often in the 2018 Bathurst 12 hours-the safety car board and a yellow flag.

One of the disappointments of last weekend Bathurst 12 hour GT race was the number of safety car deployments particularly in the first 6 hours of the race. Some of the deployments were to recover cars which had stopped out on the circuit due to mechanical failure but most were for accidents. The mixture of widely varying levels of driver experience, car speed differentials and the very demanding and unforgiving track leads to many accidents.
Going back 20 years or more they did not have the safety car system at Bathurst and when an ambulance or a tow truck was out on the track the drivers merely had to slow down on the yellow flags around the incident and as they passed the ambulance or tow truck. It was a very dangerous system.
Now as soon as an incident occurs the safety car goes out and picks up the leader and then leads the field around at a reduced pace until the incident is cleared. The disadvantage of the safety car system is that it bunches up the field so in an endurance race a driver can work up a decent lead and it immediately evaporates when the safety car comes out. Secondly the safety car introduces an element of chance in the timing of pit stops. A team can make a pit stop for a driver change fuel and tyres and next lap the safety car comes out and a rival team can pit under the safety car and lose much less track time.
I cannot see any alternative to the safety car system imperfect though it is. It has made the racing much safer. My only real whinge with the safety car process on Sunday was that sometimes it looked as if the safety car should have come off a lap earlier.

A very bad day at the Mountain.
The driver of this Marc sports car - an Australian special-had a really bad 12 hour. In fact he did not make the first lap ! He hit the wall up the top of the Mountain right after the start so we had the safety car out for the first racing lap. Imagine the atmosphere in this team's pit. All that effort and money to get the car into the race and this happens. Of course it may well not have been the driver's fault. He could have been nudged but that would not have eased the pain. But at least their Adelaide Panel Repair sponsor will come in useful - although I suspect the damage may well be beyond repair

5 Feb 2018

A great weekend

Just back from a really great weekend at Mount Panorama, Bathurst for the 12hour GT race yesterday. I had a really good time. The weather was kind this time unlike last year when we fried. It was cold first thing Sunday morning-see photo bottom-but warmed upto a very warm but not too hot day. The race was good although too many safety car deployments in the first half were frustrating.  We were eagery anticipating a dash to the wire at the end when 3 cars had a massive accident up the mountain and the race was stopped with 15 mins to run. It could easily have been a Porsche victory but when the race was declared the winner was an Audi R8 followed by a Mercedes AMG GT3 and two Porsche 911s. A good day for the Germans.
It was great to catch up with so many old friends and to make some new ones. Thanks to Justin Reed and Warren Starr-pictured below-for being such good company. As I was lying in the Royal North Shore Hospital last August barely able to walk after my major operation I would never have thought that 5 months later I would be walking all over Mount Panorama watching the 12 hours for all 12 hours and loving it. Thanks to every one who helped me recover so well.

I tried out a Lumix FZ1000 a-a camera apparently well suited to action photography. I did not take a Leica but I wished that I had. I came back with some good photos from the Lumix but as last year's photos show- see header photo for example- I would have done better with a Leica.

31 Jan 2018

Darkest Hour

I went to see the movie, Darkest Hour, at the cinema this morning. It is superb. Highly recommended.
The cinematography is stunning and so are the settings. You almost think that you are inside the palace in the Buck House scenes. Gary Oldman is quite extraordinary as Churchill. I felt that I was actually watching Churchill himself in a wartime newsreel. Surely an Oscar winning performance.
To me it was weird seeing the scenes and thinking how all this happened only 6 years before I was born.
When I first went to primary school in Putney in south London the school was brand new as the old school had been bombed and the area around the school was populated by prefabricated homes -prefabs as they were known-and bomb sites. I remember that even in 1955 they were still grim times but I did not appreciate the deprivation and terror my mother who stayed in Putney through the blitz had been through.
I had my personal encounter with Churchill or at least his coffin in January 1965. During my gap year between leaving school and going to university I was working at Barclays Bank Borough High Street branch in Southwark just over London Bridge. I had to work on the Saturday morning of Churchill's funeral and I was on London Bridge when his coffin was loaded onto a boat at the Tower of London and came down the river to Waterloo. See the photo below. I had bought a half frame camera to work that day. I think it belonged to my brother. I cannot remember the brand but I suspect it was either an Olympus or a Ricoh. Half frame gave 72 photos on a 36 exposure roll of 35mm film. I was using Kodak Plus-X film I can see from the negatives. It was probably in the camera when I borrowed it. Being London in January it was pretty gloomy and I force processed the film to push up the ISO or ASA as it was then known.
The slow passage of the boat carrying the coffin was a most impressive sight and all the dockside cranes had their jibs lowered as a mark of respect.
Now all the docks have moved way down the river so it is a scene which will never be repeated.
A few seconds after I took this photo a V formation of RAF English Electric Lightning jet fighters flew overhead and I took a photo of them over the flotilla. It is a great photo but I put the negative in a safe file and I have mislaid it!

My journey home that day took me my usual route by foot to London Bridge Station where I caught a train to Waterloo Station on a little back line. I then caught a train home to Ewell in Surrey where I then lived.
When I came onto the concourse at Waterloo I was surprised to find that my suburban train was on the next platform to the train which was carrying Chuchill's coffin and the funeral party to Oxfordshire where he was going to be buried in the churchyard at Bladon.
The funeral train departed just ahead of mine but we soon passed it and I took the photos below of the engine and also the wagon carrying the flag draped coffin which is just visible. Spectators are on the balconies of the public housing block behind the train.
So that's my personal connection to the Darkest Hour. The quality of the photos leaves a lot to be desired but they had a difficult birth and like most of us they are showing their age.

Photos are the IP of the author and may not be used in any media without approval.

30 Jan 2018


Dawn at Terrigal Beach this morning 30th Jan. Another sizzling hot,steamy day coming up. Relief is forecast for tonight after a very long hot and humid spell which started so long ago that I have forgotten when.
We and the cats need a break. Lawns are brown, plants and people are wilting.
I am off to Bathurst for the 12 hour race this weekend. The great news is that the Bathurst weather for Sunday is forecast to be just 24ºC and sunny. A great relief after the last two weeks and the 40ºC+ temps we experienced there last year.

28 Jan 2018

The Pavlova makers

Granddaughters, Poppy and Scarlett, assembling our Australia Day pavlova on Australia Day -26th January. Pavlova is a traditional NZ and Australian dessert named after a Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who toured the two countries in the 1920s. It was invented in New Zealand but has been adopted by both countries. It consists of a meringue base layered with whipped cream and topped with a sauce and strawberries or as it is now out of the strawberry season raspberries and blueberries.
Here's Poppy below with the finished pavlova she helped assemble on Christmas Day.