Sunday, November 23, 2014

El Maestro

"We had everything here, everything here inside.
All of our kit was here. Look – inside this women’s hat box was everything:  Goggles, leather gloves, t-shirt, and helmet – all here. You see?”
Juan Manuel Fangio

In the first decade of Formula One racing, before races were filmed or televised, Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio won five World Driver's Championships - a record that stood for 46 years.  In the 1950s drivers wore minimal protective equipment, racing with no harness and often on circuits with no safety features.  In the clip below (from a 1980s documentary film), Fangio is in his sixties driving a Lancia-Ferrari D50 around a "temporarily closed" Monaco street circuit.  The car's fuel tanks were housed in the side fenders (between the front and rear wheels), just in case sliding sideways around a corner wasn't spicy enough in a vintage racing car wearing just a t-shirt and open face helmet.

"When a car goes well, and the engine note is harmonious, the noise makes a form of music; the driver is like a conductor…”

And what a conductor.  I guess that's why he was nicknamed "El Maestro".

Top image taken at the 2014 Goodwood Revival event.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Turkish Delight

The Blue Mosque at dawn.

Every holiday is a bit of a busman's holiday if you earn your living (or at least part of it) with a camera pushed up against your face, and I absolutely love that.  Documenting trips is how I learnt to make photographs and I still enjoy playing the tourist and the challenge of trying to capture the essence of a place in a few frames over the course of a few days.  

Because it's not "work", I like to set myself little challenges and mini-projects when I go away to make sure that I don't just go through the same motions as when I'm shooting back home; it's how I learn and develop.  When Kate and I travelled to Istanbul in the summer (we were hoping to travel on trains tracing the last leg of the Orient Express route but relentless engineering works forced us onto overnight buses instead) I limited my kit to a 35mm camera with a 50mm prime lens, a forty year old 35mm point-and-shoot compact camera and a few rolls of film.  I wanted to see how losing the ability to zoom in and out would affect how I composed my images and documented what I saw.  Inevitably there were moments when I found myself frustrated by the restrictions that I had placed on myself and there were shots that I knew could have been better when I pushed the shutter button, but I turned off my internal auto-pilot, found some work-arounds and moved my feet more.  Below is a selection of my favourites from a few rolls spent wandering this incredibly interesting and culturally rich city.

No genies.  I checked.

Power cubes for city strolling.

Aya Sofia (which faces the Blue mosque) at sun rise.

The incredible marble walls inside the Aya Sofia.

Arabian lanterns in the Grand Bazarre.

Carpets for sale.

A beautiful public fountain on the Hippodrome.


Dried fruits inside the Spice Bazaar.

And mountains of Turkish Delight.

There are millions of street cats in Istanbul.  This little guy had got himself stuck halfway up the stepladder outside a book stall in the market.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

3x Warmth

Storing, splitting and burning; if you find yourself heating your home with an open fire or wood burning stove this winter then you're pretty much guaranteed to get warm at least twice before you even place a log on the grate.  

There's something incredibly satisfying about having a full load of logs dumped outside your home and carrying and stacking them like a grown-up game of tetris in a log-store, leaving you looking upon a winter's worth of warmth in physical form at the end of the garden.  Splitting logs then becomes one of those pleasant daily chores; heading out with a log basket and knocking rounds down into sections small enough to burn well, and selecting the straight-grained lengths for splitting down further into kindling.  The axe is the oldest tool known to humankind, and using one on a daily basis through the cold months of winter is a pleasant reconnection to physical work that so many people lack in their daily routines.  And then, after all that, you get to build a fire and cosy down in it's flickering orange glow.  

I'm not actually all that disappointed that the temperature's dropped over the last few days and winter has started to make it's imminence felt.  For one thing it has given me a good winter project to be getting on with, as I didn't own a small hatchet for splitting down kindling (the felling axe pictured above is for splitting logs and, as the name implies, dropping trees) until I found a couple of really "well used" old examples in a local charity shop for a few pounds each.  They are in need of some restoration though, so at some point soon I hope to be able to post a "how-to" article if I do a worthy job and they turn out well.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Transylvanian Tales

The weekend of All Hallows' Eve seems like the appropriate time to share some photographs from a trip that I took to Transylvania over the summer.  Scroll down for all manner of spooky scenery, snarling animals, scythes and castles, but don't be totally fooled; Transylvania in summer is a wonderful destination for hiking and for every day of mist and rain that we endured we also enjoyed two of summer sunshine strolling in high alpine meadows.  Despite failing my usual primary criteria by not being next to the ocean, I can attest that it's well worth a visit.  

The cross on the mountain top above the town of Busteni is enormous, although it doesn't look it in the top left of this image.

Is Vlad a pig?

Sodden sheep dogs doing their best impressions of hell hounds.

Bram Castle: home of Vlad the Impaler and the inspiration for Dracula's Castle.

The Carpathian Mountains offer some stunning scenery.

Yup, scythes.  Less Grim Reaper and more hay harvest in this case.

Bram Castle.

Carpathian Bears.

Shifting sheep, come rain or shine.

Brasov.  They put a big sign on top of the hill overlooking the town in case you forget.

Transylvanian tracks and trails.