28 Apr 2011


Down in Sydney on a decidedly autumnal day yesterday and had a coffee with a friend in the Deus cafe/shop in Camperdown see Deus motorcycle and clothing /gear business seems to be going from strength to strength with an expanding range and stockists in Europe , NZ and now the US as well as a dedicated store in Bali ,Indonesia .It's a great piece of brand building . Think retro motorcycle store meets hipster . I resisted the temptation to buy any clothing-not even a shirt- this time although ,as always ,I was tempted by the ex-US ,vintage leather cafe racer jackets - but when would I wear one ? The answer is never in Australia.


26 Apr 2011

LE MANS 2011?

Well actually Le Mans 2009.The victorious Peugeot team line up in formation coming out of Tetra Rouge and onto the Mulsanne Straight for their final lap .The Peugeot 908's  finished first and second with an Audi third .They missed out badly in 2010 when they had the pace but not the reliability .They will be very anxious to see the above scene repeated on June12th this year.Audi and Aston Martin will have other ideas .A Canon G7 photo.

25 Apr 2011


" I'm not the Easter bunny -- I'm Phoebe and I am a very friendly Himalayan  with attitude . And I hate being messed around to have my photo taken -- even if you do have a fancy new camera . So get on with it and I can get back to sleep ."

23 Apr 2011


I bought a Leica X1 in January . Not because I was unhappy with my wonderful Canon G7 and G9 but because I have been a Leica enthusiast since 1968 and because I wanted to enjoy DSLR standard images without the bulk of a DSLR . My camera has to fit in the glovebox of an early 911 which is already half full of papers and junk.My days of carrying a backpack full of photogear are over.

It is a very confusing camera which defies ready categorisation. It has a very high quality fixed (non zoom ,non interchangeable) 24mm F2.8 Leica Elmarit lens (equivalent to a 36mm lens on a full size 35mm camera) and a big APS-C sized sensor .It is capable of taking high end Digital SLR quality images .It has an excellent performance in low light . It has a compact ,magnesium alloy body and it has a rather silly pop up flash unit .Its controls are simple and very straightforward . Yet it does not behave like a modern feature loaded compact camera .It needs and invites a thoughtful /measured approach to photography .And it is expensive -like all things Leica.

 After an initial period of uncertainty and confusion when I really did not enjoy the camera and I seriously considered selling it on EBay I have come to terms with  the X1 and its fixed lens and unique feel and modus operandi and I am very pleased with the results . Here are some images I produced from my recent trip to Vietnam .

22 Apr 2011


With summer approaching in the N Hemisphere an image of what my perfect summer lunch would look like . Top of a hill in Tuscany , a friend's house , perfect July day , a dry white wine , local ham ,salad and melon , good company ,and a beautiful garden . Enough said .Thanks Roger and Trish .

19 Apr 2011


I used to fly back and forth across the Pacific regularly and I always made sure that I entered or exited via San Francisco so that I could catch up with friends Patrick and Karen and go for a run in their superb daily driver -a 1971 911T Sportomatic . These images were taken on a glorious run south to Peeble Beach and Carmel back in 2006 .I'll be catching up with them in a few weeks in their new home in Brussels and Patrick and I will be making our annual trip to Le Mans but alas it will not be in the 911T.
Photographers may be interested to know that these images were taken on a Leica Digilux 1 .It is a pretty odd camera which looks as if it had been styled in an East European country in the 1970s.It is large and brick like but has a great lens and  takes very good images . I moved on from it because of its bulk and limited functionality but in many surprising ways it was a very accomplished camera in its time.

18 Apr 2011


Wadi Rum , SW Jordan .A World Heritage area . I have just read that William and Kate are rumoured to be planning to spend their honeymoon in Jordan and visiting Wadi Rum .They will not be disappointed . It is one of the most extraordinary places I have ever visited and I was fortunate to visit it before the masses of tourists started visiting the area.
Remember to take your cameras William and Kate.
Photo taken on a Canon EOS 5 on Fuji Velvia slide film.

17 Apr 2011


Despite being a very keen enthusiast for over 40 years I've had a pretty jaded view of Formula One racing for the last ten years or so . I have found it  boring , over hyped and just basically a money making circus which seemed to have lost sight of the fact that it should be entertaining the fans.
The first race of the current season , the Australian Grand Prix , reinforced my views but the Malaysian Grand Prix provided more overtaking than we have seen for some time and today I have just watched the Chinese Grand Prix and it was great . An extremely close fought race with plenty of audacious overtaking and a brilliant drive into 3rd place ( from 18th on the grid) by Aussie, Mark Webber . The usually obnoxious Sebastian Vettel came second and was charming in the post race press conference so yes it had it all .I'd go as far as to say that it was one of the most , if not the most , closely fought Grand Prix of the last 20 years . The new rule changes and in particular the tyre arrangements, do seem to be working and making overtaking the rule rather than the exception. If this continues I'll be back watching the European Grand Prix in the middle of the Aussie night like old times . Yes , that's more like it .


Another Le Mans memory .This image is from the 1999 Le Mans 24 hour race . It shows one of the  Mercedes CLR GT1s followed by a 911 in the Porsche curves in the early evening .It was taken with a Canon EOS 5 SLR on fast slide film .
In practice Mark Webber suffered a frightening accident in one of these cars when it literally took off and flew at the end of the Mulsanne Straight .
Despite this Mercedes allowed the remaining team cars to race .As night fell on the saturday Peter Dumbreck had an identical and even more frightening accident in the number 5 car which also took off and then somersaulted over the barriers at the end of the Mulsanne Straight . He was extraordinarily lucky to survive relatively unscathed . There are many videos of the incidents on Youtube see for video of the Dumbreck accident.
Mercedes then withdraw the remaining car-the car pictured .The amazing things about this episode are that after what happened in practice and given Mercedes history at Le Mans they allowed the cars to start the race when it was glaringly obvious that they had an aerodynamic problem and secondly that both drivers walked away to tell the tale .They were obviously very strong flying cars and very lucky drivers.
The race was won by a BMW V12 LMR.

15 Apr 2011


Japan is having a tough time right now .Let's all hope that it manages a speedy recovery for their sakes and ours. We need a strong and vibrant Japan .They make so many good things in Japan and they make them well -usually very well as opposed to China where quality is so often a dirty word and so many of their products are second rate .We are the mugs for accepting them just because they are cheap .
I am extremely surprised at the rate unknown brands of Chinese cars and pickups are selling here in Australia .Consumers are being tempted in solely on price because there is no market place experience of how they perform in terms of durability and reliability. The quality is an unknown .I hope it does not end in tears for these early adopters but the portents are not good .The Chinese do not have a quality culture and they are experts at "quality creep" where quality starts "adequate" at product introduction but slowly slides as costs are cut in the product life cycle .

I am lucky that my last visit to Japan was in May last year and I managed to get some great street photos . Here are a few as a reminder of what a wonderful, interesting and unique place Japan is .

LE MANS 1988

With the 2011 race fast approaching an image from one of the great Le Mans races .
A peep into the Joest Racing Blaupunkt Porsche facility at the 1988 Le Mans, on Saturday race morning ,with one of the superb Porsche 962s being worked on.
In fact 1988 was not to be Porsche's year -a TWR Jaguar won ending Porsche's glorious winning streak .
I was fortunate to have a paddock pass -the shame was that I did not have lots more film .By today's standards the work areas were basic,very crowded and untidy and the security was non existent . Great memories.

13 Apr 2011


  Well HMAS Adelaide has been sunk . On a superb autumn morning in front of a big crowd ( it's the school holidays) it was sent to the bottom at 11.45am . It was not all plain sinking as a large pod of dolphins delayed the scuttling for 75 mins and the crowd were getting somewhat restless by the time they pressed the red button -- without any warning.
The anti sinking protestors got in the last word at the scheduled sinking time by skywriting "shame" twice over the ship .
In the end it only took a few seconds to disappear . Unfortunately the ship turned stern to the beach so it was difficult to photograph particularly as I was only using a little Canon G9.

12 Apr 2011


Decommissioned Australian navy ship , HMAS Adelaide , moored off Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast at sunrise this morning,April 12th .The ship was towed into position late Monday evening from Sydney Harbour. It is due to be scuttled tomorrow morning to form an artificial diving reef .
The sinking was originally planned for May last year but a local environment group managed to stop it a few days before much to the dismay of the thousands who had planned to come and see the show . Particularly dismayed were the local community groups who had organised fundraising events for the day .Thousands of dated souvenir t-shirts went to waste .The environment group seem to have exhausted all avenues for stopping it so it looks as if the scuttling will go ahead tomorrow .

11 Apr 2011


Great detailing on the radiator grille of a Peugeot 402 spotted at the St Saturnin Great British Welcome garden party, Le Mans 2009. Very French -red, white and blue lettering ,the brass bodybuilders nameplate rivetted on.
If you are going to the Le Mans 24 hours make sure that you go to the GBW party on the Friday before the race in St Saturnin which is a suburb of Le Mans. It is a wonderful ,friendly event full of great cars of all nationalities ,old and new .

9 Apr 2011


We have all been to boring museums . Fortunately they are a dying breed . Presentation standards and techniques have advanced and in many countries even once very boring museums have been transformed -become entertaining and informative . Except in Vietnam where really boring museums are alive and well . The Ho Chi Minh Museum in Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon) must be a front runner for the prize for the world's most boring museum . It cannot have changed for decades . I was unable to take any photos -- it was too dark and dilapidated .Outside there are two aircraft from the "American war " .One is the jet used by a dissident South Vietnamese Air Force officer to bomb the Presidential palace in 1963 . No effort has been made to preserve the aircraft .They are literally rotting away in the hot ,humid Saigon climate--see photo below .

Nearly as boring as the Ho Chi Minh Museum is the Presidential Palace --which was rebuilt after the 1963 bombing. Yes, it does have a special place in Vietnam's history as it was where the North Vietnamese tanks burst through the gates in an iconic moment of victory but the palace itself is just dreary and particularly the bombproof basement where the South Vietnamese President had his war rooms .I took two photos of the  exhibits .Perhaps it really was this drab but it really looks as if they have not even tried -- the phones stand on the desks without wires to a socket --there are no other touches of life- just these metal desks.

Vietnam needs to lift its game when it comes to its tourist attractions . Drab museums ,rotting aircraft and fast fading photos of US "atrocities" may have enthralled a previous generation but the world is moving on and there is another generation now who expect more involving exhibits. Vietnam knows how to present as the many new super smart brand name shops a few hundred metres from the museums show.It is a vibrant, rapidly changing country and fixing up its museums ( and its sad zoo) is a minor task compared with what they have already achieved .

7 Apr 2011



Only 10 weeks to the 2011 Le Mans 24 hour race . It will be another Peugeot diesel versus Audi diesel battle for the podium with plenty of interest in the new GTE categories . Aston Martin will be hoping that the diesels stumble and they can at least get a podium finish or even an outright win but the Peugeot and Audi teams are formidable operations at the top of their game. For the entry list see
The photo shows an Audi in the 2009 race .Taken with a Canon G9 compact from behind the wire in the spectator area .
Le Mans 24 hours is a must for every motor sport fan.It is a great spectacle .The track is superb and has real history.It is in France The cars generally look like cars not cruise missiles with wheels .Winning is a team effort so the drivers do not behave like prima donnas .And Bernie Ecclestone has nothing to do with it .I'll see you there.

5 Apr 2011


Nha Trang , a resort city on the south central Vietnamese coast is a favourite holiday destination for Russians escaping their winter .They arrrive at the weekend , immediately strip off and lie in the blazing sun on the beach or beside the pool . Sunscreen lotion must be in short supply in Russia in the winter because Nha Trang is sunburn central . Russians are big people and as you walk along the beach or through the hotel pool area the impression is of moving amongst giant  cooked lobsters .I shot this specimen greeting the early morning sun on a Tuesday morning and already showing the effect of a day or so's roasting .

3 Apr 2011


Some great street photography by friend Patrick Wheeler when he was on a business trip to Paris recently.Very freewheeling style using a little Canon S90 sometimes concealed under the edge of his jacket . Full of atmosphere .These images show what can be done with a keen eye with the latest compact cameras particularly under low light conditions .

2 Apr 2011


Just a small section of one of my garage walls . Some good stuff collected over many years here in just this little section.The number plates from my 1996 Targa Tasmania Mini Cooper S entry, a vintage Porsche calendar,Le Mans posters, giant Porsche posters from Grand Prix International -a wonderful magazine long gone .A bar drinks list from the Excelsior Hotel,Macau,1984 Macau Grand Prix, entry passes from events all over the world,amazing cutaway drawings (a fast disappearing art form), stickers,tools and lots more. And there's more on the other walls .It's a pity that over the years I threw so much away .It seemed commonplace or even just junk at the time . Now it is very collectable .Still on balance I did manage to keep some good stuff --but it could have been even better .