Monday, 30 April 2012

On the Beat - NYPD, Times Square, New York

nypd car in times square
I'd love to have known the story behind this. Again, this shot was taken in Times Square around 10pm, on our first ever visit to New York. Everything still felt like a film set to me (like being in the middle of a Kojak, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue etc episode), and I saw this little scene going on. Probably all very innocent...After post-processing the shot in Elements, I've added a frame, and a 1970's filter, to give it the full Telly Savalas effect.

Timeless - Eze Village, Cote D' Azur, South of France

eze village cote' azur south of france
One of the many cobbled streets in the timeless hilltop village of Eze, situated in the Cote D' Azur between Nice and Monaco. The hike up the hill is not for the faint hearted, especially on a roasting hot summers day, but the spectacular views along the coastline to Cap Ferrat are well worth it.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Blarney Rock, 137 West 33rd Street New York

blarney rock bar new york
The first New York bar I ever sampled, on our first ever trip to the Big Apple in 2000, and I have visited it again on every trip since. Just what I expected of an Irish bar in Manhattan, and full of character. Oddly enough, I was watching a recent episode of Law & Order, and immediately recognised the interior in one scene - a quick bit of Googling confirmed that the bar was shut for an afternoon to film the scenes.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Vegas Baby - View of Las Vegas from The Mirage

view of las vegas from mirage hotel
A view from The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, circa 2006, towards The Venetian & Wynn hotels. I took this from my room, through heavily (gold!) tinted windows, so am very pleased with the way it came out. I did some post processing in Elements, actually creating the image from two seperate shots, and added a high contrast black & white filter via CameraBag. I used my Canon EOS D30 for the shots, F/9, 1/400 sec at 28mm.

Death stalks the streets of Barcelona

street performer ramblas barcelona
One of the street performers in The Ramblas, Barcelona - I'm not sure whether he was meaning to be "Death" or "Darth Maul" from Star Wars (there's maybe even a smattering of Peter Gabriel/Fish in there too!), but he had an impressive set of wings on as well.
He was'nt as scary as he looks in the photo, he was posing for me as I'd thrown a few Euros in his hat. Canon EOS D30, f/4.5, 1/60 sec at 32mm.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Busy day at the office - Arrows F1 team, Silverstone 2002

arrows formula one team in garage
A busy day at the office for the Arrows F1 team, preparing Heinz Harald Frentzen's car for qualifying at the 2002 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. A year of turmoil for Arrows, as they were being sued left, right and centre by drivers for breach of contract, failure to pay salary etc. Unfortunately this culminated in the team running out of money mid season, failing to appear at most of the races in the second half of the season, and eventually going into liquidation at the end of the season. This was photo was taken with a Canon EOS D30, f/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO 400 at 100mm.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Culture in Sin City - The Venetian, Las Vegas

venetian hotel las vegas
A panoramic view of the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. A weird place Vegas, but somewhere everyone should visit at least once in their life. An interesting fact is that the Venetian is built on the footprint of the old Sands hotel, the famous "Rat Pack" haunt. The Venetian was opened in 1999, and at a cost of $1.5 billion, making it the most expensive resort of its kind built at the time. This image was comprised of two Canon EOS D60 images blended together in Elements.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Rock Of Ages - KISS at the SEEC, Glasgow 2010

kiss at the secc in glasgow 2010
Ah, there's nothing like growing old gracefully...and these guys are not about to do that.
A shot I took at a blistering concert by KISS at the SECC in Glasgow, in 2010. My trusty little pocket Panasonic Lumix TZ7 once again comes up trumps, an incredible camera.

The tree of life

old tree
I've noticed this tree several times, on the walk from Beaulieu sur Mer to St Jean in Cap Ferrat, just past David Niven's old house (previously owned by Charlie Chaplin). It's in quite a shaded spot, which rarely gets the sun, so it can be tricky to capture the full textures and colours of its withered old bark on camera, but this shot is not too bad. I often wonder how old it is, and who has walked past it over the years.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

New boots, never worn, one careful owner...

formula one tyres
The pile of Formula One tyres belonging to Ralf Schumacher, all stacked up at the rear of the Williams garage, ready and waiting to be used in the following days Grand Prix at Monaco, 2002.

Mark Webber in his Minardi, US Grand Prix at Indianapolis 2002

mark webber in his minardi at indianapolis usa grand prix
An early shot of Mark Webber, when he was driving for Minardi back in 2002, taken at the US Grand Prix, Indianapolis 2002. I only ever visited the US Grand Prix once, and was bemused as to why it was pulled from the calendar a few years later - the fans I met were every bit as passionate about their F1 as a typical Silverstone crowd, and the stands were packed all three days. Thankfully, things are looking up, with two new circuits scheduled to host F1 in the US soon. This shot was taken with my trusty old Canon EOS D30, f/8, 1/750 sec, ISO 200, at 500mm with my Sigma telephoto.

Phew...thank god for that

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A quiet corner - courtyard in Villefranche

old courtyard villefranche cote d' azur
A lovely quiet courtyard I stumbled across, in the old town of Villefranche, which is situated between Nice and Monaco. If you ever visit the Cote D' Azur, and like most people, stay in Nice, do yourself a favour and use the excellent local buses and trains to seek out some of the hidden gems in this area. Villefrance is only 10 minutes away from Nice on a train, and about 15 minutes on a bus. This was just a quick snap with my iPhone, so its not as sharp as I would like, I must reshoot it with my SLR when I'm back in this area.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Connecting the mainland - the Skye Bridge

The Skye Bridge, connecting the mainland of Scotland to the Isle of Skye, with the Cuillins of Skye in the background. A ferry bridged this gap from around 1600, initially run by locals and then Caledonian MacBrayne.  Construction began on the bridge in 1992, and it was opened amid much controversy in 1995, with tolls being charged - these were eventually abolished when the Scottish Executive purchased the bridge in 2004.

In the McLaren F1 garage, with Coulthard, Prost & Dennis

mclaren pit, david coulthard, ron dennis, alain prost
This is a shot I took at the 1996 French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. Believe it or not, this was taken on my honeymoon, as we scheduled in a Grand Prix during the fortnight we were in France (yes, my wife is a big F1 fan as well!). Ron Dennis was kind enough to be invite us to spend qualifying day as guests of McLaren. As you can see, David Coulthard is in-between one of his qualifying runs, watching the split times on screen with Ron Dennis and Alain Prost. This was a day I won't forget in a hurry, and I will post more photos from it, up on the blog, when I get time.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Beadnell Harbour, Northumberland

Beadnell Harbour in Northumberland

A panoramic image of Beadnell Harbour created from three separate images, which were then blended together. Beadnell is situated on the north east coast of England, near the border with Scotland. The harbour was constructed in the eighteenth century, as were the lime kilns in the photo, which are now under the protection of the National Trust.
The three images used to create this panorama were taken with a Canon D30, at f/6.7, ISO 100, 1/25th sec at 40mm.

Sometimes it's the simple things...

deuchars beer tap in bar
...that keep us focussed on the end of the working week. You will not find a finer pint of Deuchars IPA than the ones poured in Bennets, Leven Street, Edinburgh.

Flower arrangement in Nice Cours Saleya Flower Market

A flower arrangement on one of the many stalls scattered around Nice's Cours Saleya Flower Market, which is run almost every morning. The stall holders start setting up around 6am, so a good time to go is round 8-9am, when it is still fairly quiet. There are plenty cafe's surrounding the market square, so its a great place for sitting with your expresso and people watching.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Taste Of The Orient In Barcelona

Chinese street entertainer in the Rambles Barcelona
This is one of the many street entertainers that you find up and down The Ramblas in Barcelona. They are usually quite happy for you to take a photograph, as long as you throw a few coins in their direction. I thought it might be quite fun, due to the incredibly colourful costume, to isolate the performer in Adobe Elements, and turn the background black & white, just to give the shot a bit more impact. Hopefully you agree, it has worked pretty well.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Eddie Irvine in his Jaguar, Spanish Grand Prix 2002

eddie irvine in his jaguar spanish grand prix
Eddie Irvine at full pelt in his Jaguar, during the Spanish Grand Prix of 2002. I used to really enjoy watching Eddie, not just his driving, but also in the pre and post race interviews - he never held back on his opinions, even if what he said was directly criticising his own team, boss, teammate, fellow drivers etc. A refreshing honesty compared to the "groomed replies" from most drivers these days. The Spanish Grand Prix is a great one to visit, and used to be one of the cheapest. The circuit has loads of open access viewing areas around the in-field, and the close proximity to Barcelona means you can combine it with a great city break as well. This image was taken with my Canon D30, f/11, 1/500 sec at ISO 400, and I used my Sigma telephoto at 500mm.

It's not all glamour in F1 you know

luca badoer ferrari silverstone
Luca Badoer gets pushed back into the Ferrari garage, during a wet & windy test session at Silverstone in 2002. I attended this test session as a guest of McLaren, and although these sessions lacked the atmosphere of a full grand prix weekend, they were a great way of seeing some of the drivers and cars up close and personal. It's a shame that in-season testing is all but banned now, as you used to be able to turn up at Silverstone and watch these sessions from certain grandstands completely free. This shot was taken with my Canon D30, f/8, 1/750 sec, ISO 400 at 70mm.

Eilean Donan Castle, on a crisp, winter morning

Eilean Donan Castle, on the road to Skye in Scotland, on a crisp, sunny but chilly, March morning. This panoramic image was created by stitching two photos together in Adobe Elements.  If you have never travelled around the highlands and west coast of Scotland, you really have to visit at least once in your lifetime. It's true what they say about photographers enjoying "the special light", just watch out for the infamous midges between April and September! You can find out more about Eilean Donan by clicking here.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Spice of Life

Various spices in boxes
A very eye catching display of spices, on display at a Sunday market in Nice, France. The array of colours grabbed my attention as we were strolling by, and the stall was really busy...well, the French are renowned for their cooking.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Photoshop v's Elements...the great debate

There is an excellent article HERE around the whole "is Adobe Photoshop better than Adobe Elements?" debate. An interesting read for those photographers considering buying a new piece of image editing software. Myself, I've used both for a number of years, but have to admit that Photoshop is getting fired up less and less, and my go-to piece of software nowadays is does everything I need it to do.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Monaco Train Station - Close Encounters

I seem to have developed a bit of an obsession recently with taking moody black & white shots in train stations, and you will have to go a long way to find a more photogenic train station than Monaco, I just love the lighting.
Incidentally, this shot was taken on my iPhone, a device I find I am reaching for more and more these days, when I just want to take a quick snap. I'm constantly being surprised by the quality of images it captures, and the there is a great selection of decent photo editing and sharing apps available. I used "Camera+" for this one, which allowed me to convert to black & white and add the frame in seconds.

Off sledging...

Even though we have just had a fall of snow where I live this week, I truly hope these days are behind us again for a a good few months, and we can look forward to a decent summer this year. This image was taken in December 2010, during the first heavy fall of snow of the winter...little did we know that this was the start of one of the worst winters the UK had seen for a few decades.
The novelty wore of very quickly, and we were all sick of the sight of snow within days of this photo being taken.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Lighthouse at Cap Ferrat, Cote D' Azur

lighthouse at st jean cap ferrat
This is without doubt my favourite spot in the world, the village of St Jean which is situated on the peninsula on Cap Ferrat, in the Cote D' Azur, South of France. My wife and I holiday frequently in this area, ever since we spent part of our honeymoon here, and fell in love with the area.
I took this photo on our first ever visit to St Jean, and we saw the lighthouse at the far end of the harbour, whilst we were sitting having a morning coffee. I'm so glad we took the time to walk out to it, as it is so photogenic out there. When I looked at this photo on my computer screen when I got home, I was initially a litte disappointed that my little Panasonic TZ7 (an incredible pocket camera, with a bright Leica lens) had been foxed by the depth of field, and blurred the flowers....but on reflection, I kind of prefer the effect.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

David Coulthard - British Grand Prix at Silverstone 2006

david coulthard red bull silverstone british grand prix
David Coulthard, in his Red Bull, taken during the 2006 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, on the approach up to Abbey chicane, which is now the start-finish straight under the new design. I've met DC a few times, mostly at the Supporter's Club events his sister used to organise during British Grand Prix weekend - he was always great company, very candid when away from the TV cameras, and happy to spend hours chatting to fans and signing autographs...I remember one particular year when he brought along Alan McNish as well (when he was driving for Toyota), so two F1 drivers for the price of one. This shot was taken with a Canon D30, F6.7, ISO 100, 1/350th sec, at 280mm.

Kimi Raikkonen - British Grand Prix, Silverstone 2002

kimi raikkonen mclaren silverstone british grand prix
Kimi Raikkonen, at full tilt through the old Abbey chicane (before they changed the layout of the circuit), during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2002. I spent my first ever trip to the British Grand Prix in 1996 at Abbey, and it was a must visit every year after, not just because it was a great viewing spot, where you could see the cars really close, but also becuase it was perfect for my love of F1 photography - because the open tiered seating was high enough at the back to shoot over the catch-fencing (with  a decent telephoto), and the cars had to "slow down" (I use the term loosely!), it was possible with a steady hand, and correct panning techniques, to get shots like this.
My kit used in this shot was a Canon D30 digital SLR, Sigma 100-500mm telephoto, and a Manfroto monopod, and the shot was taken at F8, ISO 200, at 500mm with the Sigma.
So good to see Kimi back in F1 this year...we need characters like him.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Dario Franchitti drives Jim Clark's Lotus 38

Thanks to my friend Murray for making me aware of this video. I knew Dario had realised the dream of a lifetime, by getting to drive Jim Clark's Indy winning Lotus 38, and I had previously seen photos of this event, but I was not aware there was this very nice video available. It's such an iconic car, and as Dario says himself, "almost perfection" to look at.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The best place to be - In at the Inn

Cluanie Inn, situated in the remote Glen Shiel
This was taken at the Cluanie Inn, situated in the remote Glen Shiel, on the road to Skye.
My wife and I had gone up to stay in the Kyle of Lochalsh for a few days, during you can see, it was still pretty cold, however the weather would change almost hourly, alternating between bright and sunny with stunning clear blue skies, and then within 60 minutes, heavy snow.
We were literally the only customers in the Cluanie Inn when we stopped for lunch this day, but it sure as hell felt like the right place to be at this precise moment. Visit the Cluanie Inn's website here

Frosty relations...with a happy ending

Couple sitting by the bay, Villefranche
I took this shot during our recent holiday in the Cote' D Azur, whilst we were having a nice cold beer in Villefranche, waiting for the next train back to Beaulieu Sur Mer. I'm never the most observant person, but my wife being a keen "people watcher" noticed this couple across the road, and commented "oh dear, it looks like he is in the bad books, they are arguing". The good news is, after a lot of hand gesturing (and a certain amount of conciliation on the blokes part), they walked off hand-in-hand ten minutes later...a happy ending.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Michael Schumacher on his way to a win at the Monaco Grand Prix 2001

michael schumacher la rascasse monaco ferrari
I had to make this photo my first proper blog post, it's my favourite Formula One shot I've taken over the years. In 2001, my wife and I visited the Monaco Grand Prix for all three days, and this shot was taken during the race, from the small grandstand on the outside of the track just after La Rascasse - Michael went on to win the race, which makes this photo especially memorable for me. The grandstand (and I use that term loosely) was more like a bit of scaffolding bolted together, with a platform for ticket holders to stand on, there were no seats. I reckon a health & safety check would have allowed a maximum of 40 people in was more like 100 on race day. Incredibly cramped and difficult to get a decent view. That is until I realised that if you climbed down the back, you could sneak round the side, where there was a narrow alley between the platform and the catch fencing.

What is interesting about this photo, is that is from my "pre digital SLR" days - I took it with an Olympus C2040Z with an EagleEye 5X telephoto lens bolted on. The catch fencing mentioned above had big enough holes for me to poke the EagleEye through, but there was no way you could get a standard SLR lens through them. I stood there for most of the second half of the race, carefully panning handheld as best I could, anticipating when the drivers would come round La Rascasse, and ended up with some great shots from the day.
You can read more about the EagleEye here and will see that this combination actually produced a prize winning photo for me! The photo competition was run by McLaren, for readers of their fan club magazine Racing Line, and I won first prize of a Canon EOS D30 digital camera (RRP £1600.00 at the time) as well as a  Canon 24-70mm F2.8 lens to go with it, for a photo of David Coulthard in the rain during a British Grand Prix at Silverstone...again, taken with the Olympus C2040Z/EagleEye combo.

The Olympus C2040Z was a great little camera (I still have it) with an Extremely bright F1.8-2.6 lens, with a 3X optical zoom, and 2 megapixel sensor (hey, it was 2001!), but winning the Canon gear took my photography to a whole new level

Jim Clark - one of my obsessions

Jim Clark in his Lotus
I'm a bit of a Jim Clark fan, no surprise really as I love Formula One, am Scottish, and my family has close ties with the Scottish Borders, where Jim Clark & his family lived. In fact, Jim's father was a regular customer of my grandfather, who sold agricultural machinery for a living, and my Aunt was good friends (and still is) with one of Jim's sisters. I do have a few Jim Clark related photos to add to the blog in good time, as well as posting other people's Clark images that capture my imagination.
I'm afraid I don't know who created the above image, so can not credit them, but whoever you are...well done, its one of my favourites.
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