Friday, 29 June 2012

Bad weather

Last year I wrote that there wasn't such a thing as bad weather, just different photo opportunities.  Well yesterday a huge storm hit the centre and north of England with high winds, hail stones the size of golf balls and rain, lots of rain.  This was certainly NOT the type of weather to be running around with a camera but I did manage to get some record shots of the storm from Grantham station, where I had just arrived from a warm and sunny London.


This shot from Grantham cemetery was taken as a second storm front approached and the dark clouds make this a perfect black and white image - almost apocalyptic.


Grantham Cemetery just before the second storm front came through at 3pm
Grantham railway station at 2:30pm (in the afternoon and this is June)
Grantham Railway station at 2:30pm 28 June 2012 
Another downpour had us running for cover at 3:30pm


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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Patterns and Shapes

I love taking shots of architecture or mother nature that display regular or unusual patterns.  This shot was taken earlier at Kings Cross Station in London and is the roof of the new departures hall.  I've been through Kings Cross a few times in the past couple of months so today I grabbed my camera and took a few shots looking straight up into the roof. The effect of the steel lattice work is quite pleasing, I hope you agree.





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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Picture of the Week: Mirror Image



This was the scene recently on the Isle of Skye.  we were travelling back to the mainland on the B8083 around Loch Slapin when I noticed the perfect reflection in the completely still water.  A quick stop to grab some pictures resulted in this mirror image of the Cuillins in the the loch.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Secret Door

There is something very interesting about old things that we photographers can't stop taking pictures of.  While staying at the house in Le Mans there was an old door in the garden that actually didn't lead anywhere but the flaking paint and rusty hinges had me reaching for my camera.  






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Saturday, 23 June 2012

Loch Lomond

On the way to Skye earlier this month we stopped in Dumbarton for the night which is located very near to Loch Lomond.  While this area is beautiful, I'm not a great fan of this Loch as it is a bit of a tourist trap, with coaches and cars everywhere. Also there are a lot of much more scenic lochs further up the West Coast so I think Loch Lomond owes its status due to it's proximity to Glasgow and easy access.


It was a beautiful evening so after dinner we headed up to the Loch to watch the sun go down.  






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Friday, 22 June 2012

The Lee 'Big Stopper'

In photography there are a few pieces of equipment or brands that attain legendary status and the Lee Filters 10x Neutral Density filter is one of them.  Known as the 'Big Stopper' this filter is almost opaque and, when fitted to the camera lens, reduces the exposure time by 10 times.  For example a 1/15 second shutter speed without the filter becomes 1 minute and 1 second becomes 16 minutes.  


Why would you want to do that I hear you ask? Well when photographing moving water or moving clouds a scene can suddenly take on a different look as the long exposure makes water 'creamy' and clouds 'streak' across the sky.


Here is an example taken at Elgol on the Isle of Skye, the first shot is taken without the filter and the second is with the 'Big Stopper' fitted to the camera.

NO FILTER - 1/4s @ f16 - Nikon D300s - Sigma 10-20mm - ISO 100 
BIG STOPPER - 2 minutes @ f8 - Nikon D300s - Sigma 10-20mm - ISO 100    
 Obviously with long exposures a sturdy tripod is a necessity and a lot of patience because it takes 2 minutes to take the shot and another 2 minutes for the camera to process the image but the results are very dramatic. With long exposures the colour of the image tends to shift to the blue end of the spectrum but this is easily corrected in post processing.




Like all things in photography you shouldn't overdo things but having a Lee Big Stopper in my camera bag gives another creative option to use when the situation allows.


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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Horse Fly and Flag Iris

After 10 days working at Le Mans, including 40 hours on race day with just 2 hours sleep, I decided to give myself an afternoon off and head to the Vale of Belvoir with the camera for some relaxation.  While photographing the Grantham Canal near Redmile I saw some yellow Flag Iris growing on the bank of the canal and set up the camera with a wide angle lens to take the scene.  


While waiting for the sun to come out from behind the clouds I saw this Horse Fly sitting inside the flower so I took my D300s fitted with a Nikon 60mm micro lens and took three shots before it flew off.  In this shot the fly appears to be drinking from a bubble of water.



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Monday, 18 June 2012

Arty Le Mans

I've just arrived back from Le Mans.  It was a great event, if a little tiring, but congratulations to the nr1 Audi R18 of Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer on their second consecutive victory.  Also congratulations to the other class winners, Starworks Motorsport (LMP2), AF Corse (LMGTE Pro) and Labre Competition (LMGTE Am).

I'm off for a long sleep  to try and catch up on what I missed over the weekend (I'm not as young as I used to be) but I thought I would post a couple of my favourite 'arty' shots from the event.

Hitting the Apex
The first is a shot I saw while working trackside and instead of focusing on the car as it approached the corner I focused on the kerb, which is where the drivers look.  I then had to wait until a car positioned itself in the frame perfectly, as the nr99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 did in this shot.

Corvette Flash
The second shot is a very slow shutter speed shot taken at the Dunlop curve using the Nikon Speedlight (SB600) on rear curtain sync so the flash fires at the end of the exposure instead of the start.


Car Chase
The third shot is of the Corvette and Porsche battling for track position with once again the focus on the apex of the corner rather than a straight shot of the cars.

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Le Mans 2012 - The End

After a classic race at Le Mans it was an Audi 1-2-3 on the podium with Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler retaining their Le Mans crown and making history for scoring the first win for a hybrid LMP1 car at Le Mans.  The weather stayed dry for the entire 24 hour race.  These shots were taken during the overall podium celebrations and the press conferences.

Audi Sport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer 



Andre Lotterer
Marcel Fassler
Olly Jarvis (3rd)
LMP2 Winners - Starworks Motorsport
Tom Kimber-Smith
LMGTE Pro Winner - Toni Vilander (AF Corse)
LMGTE Am Winner - Pedro Lamy (Larbre Competition)
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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Le Mans 2012 - Race Day

Today is the day of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.  The build up for this event has been fantastic but nothing compares to the atmosphere in the hours leading up to the start, it is electric.

The warm up was followed by two support races before the drivers gathered on the grid for the traditional group photograph. Meanwhile the cars are placed on the grid in 'Le Mans Style' start formation before all the countries represented on the grid have their national anthems played.  With all the patriotic fans in the grandstands plenty of singing and cheering are heard during this part of the build up.

With the grid cleared the race procedure can begin in earnest.  First the drivers take part in a dummy Le Mans start and they come back round the 14km circuit to form up on the grid in 2x2 formation.  They then head off on their formation lap and as the Rolex clock hits 3pm the race begins to the roar of 56 engines and the thousands of people watching in the packed grandstands.

Drivers photo with ACO and FIA VIPs

Presentation of the flags and national anthems

Gerard Larouse and the Matra
JRM Pitstop
Le Mans Pitlane
The final corner at Le Mans at night


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Friday, 15 June 2012

Le Mans 2012 - Day Six

Friday at Le Mans and it is now less than 24 Hours to the start of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.  Today was a quiet day with no track action.  The drivers had autograph sessions in the pitlane before heading off the Le Mans city centre for the drivers parade, but I decided to give it a miss due to commitments at the track.

I only took one shot today for the website and this was of a Michelin tyre for an article on Michelin.  The shot was taken on the D300s and 50mm f1.4 lens and the shot clearly demonstrates what a stunning lens the 50mm is.

  
Tomorrow is race day and it begins early with a photo briefing at 8:30am, warm up at 9am and then the race itself gets underway at 3pm.

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Le Mans 2012 - Day Five

Qualifying at Le Mans and the crowds just get larger.  Attended a few driver meetings, including 'Meet the Driver' at Audi which allowed me to test my newly purchased 50mm f1.4 on a FX D700 that I borrowed from Nikon Professional Services who are at Le Mans.  Using the lens wide open the effect is even more dramatic than the 50mm produces on my D300s, where, with the 1.5x crop factor, it is a 75mm f1.4.

Audi driver Loic Duval (Nikon D700 - 50mm f1.4)
Allan McNish
For the final session from 10pm until midnight I wandered up to the Dunlop Chicane to get some night shots.







For more information visit www.fiawec.com or www.lemans.org


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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Le Mans 2012 - Day Four

Day four saw the first track action of the week with Free Practice and the first Qualifying Practice sessions and it was the hybrid Audis leading the time sheets at midnight.

In my role at this event as the Photo Delegate I took the opportunity to travel out to the far end of the circuit to have a look at the problems the photographers face in getting around this massive 14km track.  A lot of the areas are on public roads and you need to travel on public roads to get to the various parts of the track.  Logistically it is more like a rally than a circuit when trying to get around to the various photo positions.

I also borrowed a Nikon 600mm f4 and shot some images on my D300s during the Free Practice session.  Here are some of the results from yesterday using this lens and the others I brought with me.











For more information visit www.fiawec.com or www.lemans.org


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