Monday, 31 December 2012

Looking Forward to 2013: Happy New Year to you All

Well that was 2012, a very successful year for us.  We've now looking forward to 2013 with plenty of places on the itinerary.  Starting in January we will be back to France for the launch of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Paris.  

The Vale of Belvoir near Redmile
April will see the first of twelve events, this one is close to home with Round 1 of the WEC and European Le Mans Series (ELMS) at Silverstone.  Further event on the 2013 calendar will include Spa (Belgium), Le Mans (France), Imola (Italy), Budapest (Hungary), Red Bull Ring (Austria), Paul Ricard (France), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Austin (USA), Fuji (Japan), Shanghai (China) and Bahrain.

Eiffel Tower - Paris
In addition there will be business trips to Paris and Le Mans throughout the year plus family trips to Mull (May), Northumberland and Southern Scotland. We will also hopefully be visiting our friends on Skye and the Lake District at some point.  I will also be continuing my personal project on the Vale of Belvoir with a new website in the pipeline to highlight this beautiful part of the UK (more on this soon).

The FIA World Endurance Championship
Morocco


All in all a busy year in prospect for the next 12 months.  

I'd like to take the opportunity to wish each and everyone of you a very happy and prosperous 2013 and I hope you will continue to visit this blog.

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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: December

Well I was holding back on posting something for December in my 2012 review because I was hoping for a typically Christmas landscape to post, but the weather didn't play ball and the snow once again failed to materialise.

However we did have a pre Christmas cold snap so I took some macro shots of the ice on the leaves in the garden.

Nikon D700 - Nikon 60mm f2.8 micro

Nikon D700 - Nikon 60mm f2.8 micro


Hopefully we'll get some snow in early 2013.

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Saturday, 29 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: November

After overseas trips to Japan and China we managed to get a weekend family break at the start of November in Berwick on Tweed.  This was the third of three trips to Northumberland this year and a biting wind was coming off the North Seas.  However the changeable weather produced a glorious sunrise over the pier at the mouth of the River Tweed.

While I was shooting long 120 second exposures on the Nikon, I was using my newly purchased Fuji X100 to capture details on the beach.  This lobster pot was lying nearby and gave me the perfect foreground to capture the sunrise over the North Sea and the pier.

Fujifilm X100, 23mm f2, 1/90 @f8, ISO400

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Friday, 28 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: October

Autumn in the UK is one of my favourite times for photography.  The colours of the trees as the leaves turn to yellow, brown and gold, with berries in bushes and fungi in the woods, there are plenty of things to point the camera lens at.

This shot was taken in the woods near Grantham, with the soft light filtering through the leafy canopy giving me the perfect conditions for this shot of these mushrooms / toadstools.

Nikon D700, Nikon 28-105, 1/125 @ f6.3, ISO2000



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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: September

Despite travelling to Sao Paulo and Bahrain in September, the image I have chosen was taken a little closer to home. Belton House is a National Trust property situated on the outskirts of Grantham, where we live.  

As we are NT members we tend to go for walks in the gardens on nice days and this particular day the autumn sunshine was just perfect.  This image was taken from the gardens of the property and I visualised it a mono image when I pressed the shutter release.

Belton House - Nikon D700, Nikon 50mm f1.4, 1/400s @ f8, ISO200 

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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: August

With no FIA World Endurance Championship events for six weeks after Le Mans it gave us the opportunity to take a much needed family holiday.  We decided to visit the beautiful Tuscany region of Italy, staying at an agriturismo we found on the internet.  Due Piani is a converted farm house on a working farm / vine yard and we had an apartment with a stunning view across the valley to the small hamlet of Tignano.

This image was taken in the morning just as the sun was rising above Tignano.  A 200mm telephoto lens isolated the church and buildings while an exposure of 1/4000s at f11 ensured the building came out as a silhouette against the fiery sky.

Sunrise over Tignano, Tuscany.  Nikon D700, Nikon 80-200 f2.8, 1/4000s @ f11, ISO400


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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: July

A family weekend in London at the start of July gave me plenty of opportunity to test my newly purchased Nikon D700, a full frame professional DSLR.  We visited the Tate Modern gallery on the South Bank of the Thames and I set about capturing a set of images featuring the Millennium foot bridge and St Paul's Cathedral on the north side of the river.

Millennium Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral - Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35 f2.8, 1/640 @ f8, ISO200 
Merry Christmas to all the followers and viewers of this blog.  
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Monday, 24 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: June

June was dominated by the 24 Hours of Le Mans but we also managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the Isle of Skye, our third trip to Scotland in 2012.  This was a special event as it was the wedding of some close friends who had also asked me to be the official photographer for the day.

The wedding took place at Elgol, which is a little harbour on the south west side of the island.  The scenery is stunning and the weather was kind so I made the most of the scenery to give Tom and Beccii a set of photographs that they will hopefully remind them of the happy day for years to come.

This shot was taken on the beach looking across the bay towards the Cuillin mountains.  The clouds were starting to form across the mountain top and a long exposure has blurred the sea, giving a dramatic scene.

Across the sea to Skye - Nikon D300s, Sigma 10-20, 25s @ f11, ISO400, 10x ND Filter



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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: May

In May we had our first of three visits to Northumberland, England's most northern county.  Beautiful beaches, quaint towns and villages and historic castles are the hallmark of this fantastic place.

This image was taken from the beach at Low Newton by the Sea and across the bay to the south you can see the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.

Low Newton, Northumberland.  Nikon D300s, Sigma 10-20, 1/125 @ f11, ISO200

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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: April

April saw us visiting Mull for the second time in four months, we just love the place.  This image of Lismore Lighthouse in the Sound of Mull was taken from the Oban to Craignure ferry on our way back from a shopping trip into Oban.

Lismore Lighthouse - Nikon D300s, Sigma 18-50 f2.8, 1/200 @ f8, ISO200


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Friday, 21 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: March

March saw the first of eight FIA World Endurance Championship events around the globe, with the first taking place at Sebring in Florida.  Flying from Miami airport at the end of the eight day stay gave me the opportunity to visit Key Biscayne and Miami Beach, with its famous art deco architecture.

This image is of the Beach Patrol Headquarters building just behind South Beach and is typical of the period architecture of this part of the world.

Beach Patrol HQ - Nikon D300s, Sigma 10-20, 1/800 @ f11, ISO400
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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: February

One of the advantages with my day job is working for a French company.  This means I have to travel to Paris and Le Mans for meetings which gives me ample opportunity to take the camera for a walk.  This shot was taken during the first of five visits to Paris this year.

The River Seine at Night - Nikon D300s - Sigma 18-50 f2.8 - 15s @ f8 - ISO100

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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012: January

2012 has been an interesting year with more opportunity to travel due to my work on the FIA World Endurance Championship and also family trips.  Over the next twelve days I will choose one image from each month, starting with this picture of a waterfall near Loch na Keal on the Isle of Mull from our visit to the island for Hogmanay (New Year).

Waterfall near Loch na Keal - Nikon D90, Sigma 10-20, 8s @ f14 - ISO200

This year we have visited -

  • Shanghai, China
  • Fuji, Japan
  • Bahrain
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Florida, USA
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Le Mans, France
  • Paris, France
  • Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
  • Tuscany, Italy


In the UK we have visited:

  • Isle of Mull, Scotland
  • Isle of Skye, Scotland
  • London, England
  • Berwick on Tweed, England
  • Alnmouth / Alnwick, England
  • Farne Islands, England
  • Leeds, England 
  • Southwell, England
  • Vale of Belvoir, England
 I will post an image from February tomorrow morning.
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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

O Tannenbaum

With just one week to Christmas I thought I would post some shots of lights and decorations from the Carter family tree, which was decorated last Sunday.


So where did the tradition for Christmas Trees come from? Germany would be the answer but the story goes back 1400 years.


 In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia.

Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.



The first decorated tree was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night.

In the mid 16th century, Christmas markets were set up in German towns, to provide everything from Christmas presents, food and more practical things such as a knife grinder to sharpen the knife to carve the Christmas Goose! At these fairs, bakers made shaped gingerbreads and wax ornaments for people to buy as souvenirs of the fair, and take home to hang on their Christmas Trees.

The best record we have is that of a visitor to Strasbourg in 1601. He records a tree decorated with "wafers and golden sugar-twists (Barleysugar) and paper flowers of all colours". The early trees were biblically symbolic of the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden. The many food items were symbols of Plenty, the flowers, originally only red (for Knowledge) and White (for Innocence).


The Christmas Tree first came to England with the Georgian Kings who came from Germany. At this time also, German Merchants living in England decorated their homes with a Christmas Tree. The British public were not fond of the German Monarchy, so did not copy the fashions at Court, which is why the Christmas Tree did not establish in Britain at that time. A few families did have Christmas trees however, probably more from the influence of their German neighbours than from the Royal Court.

In 1846, the popular Royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were illustrated in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas Tree. Unlike the previous Royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at Court immediately became fashionable - not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The English Christmas Tree had arrived!

The history of the Christmas Tree from www.christmasarchives.com. For more on the story of the Christmas Tree CLICK HERE




All images taken on a Fujifilm Finepix X100
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Monday, 17 December 2012

'Le Tiger'



While I was in Paris at the weekend for the WEC Awards Gala I did get the oportunity to walk up the Champs Elysees while changing hotels on Saturday morning.

This impressive bronze statue of Clemenceau, by the French sculptor François Cogné, caught my eye. The statue was erected in 1932 in front of the Petit Palais, Place Clemenceau. Georges Clemenceau is standing on a big rock, wearing a long army coat and a wind-blown scarf as well as tall army boots and helmet. A cane is resting on his right forearm and he is standing in a walking position.

Georges Benjamin Clemenceau (1841 – 1929) was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1908, and again from 1916 to 1920. He is commonly nicknamed "Le Tigre" (The Tiger) and "Père-la-Victoire" (Father Victory) for his determination as a leader during World War I.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Typical Travel Brochure Shot?

Sometimes I see an image within an image and this shot is a typical example of this.  Sitting on the balcony of the Sofitel in Bahrain on the morning we were leaving for the airport I was looking out over the hotel pool towards the sea when I saw potential in this part of the pool area. 
 
The striking blue of the water against the bleached whites of the stone were set off by the green of palm tree and plants in the foreground.  This looks like one of those typical travel brochure shots and it could have been taken anywhere in the world. Well anywhere that is tropical - definately not the UK.



The other thing about this shot that works for me is the lack of people in the image, which keeps the picture clean and simple.

The image was taken on a Nikon D700 with a 80-200 f2.8 AF-D lens.  Exposure was 1/1250 @ f8 ISO 400 and the finished image was cropped to a square image. 



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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Room With A View

As we approach the end of the 2012 I have been looking back at the places I've visited this year, either with my work on the FIA World Endurance Championship or with my family.  I've stayed in a lot of hotel rooms and this got me thinking about the views from these rooms.  Some have been looking out over car parks or boring courtyards, but the views from others have been nothing short of spectacular. 
 
Here are my favourite views from the places we've stayed in 2012.

The view from the apartment balcony at Due Piani in Tuscany, Italy

The view from my hotel room at the Sofitel in Bahrain

The view over Tobermory Bay from the cottage on the Isle of Mull, Scotland

The view from the balcony at the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul - looking out over the Bosphorus

View out of the hotel bedroom window in Japan - that's Mount Fuji!

The view from my bedroom window at the house we rented in Le Mans

The Sofitel in Marrakech - those are the Atlas Mountains in the distance

The sunrise from our Tuscan apartment balcony. Breakfast 'Al Fresco' was perfect with a view like this.
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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Picture of the Week: Trophy

This is one of my favourite shots from last Friday's FIA Awards Gala in Istanbul.  It is a close up of Tom Kristensen's FIA WEC runners up trophy which features a blue glass globe inside two metal sweeps.  The stage lighting inside the ballroom produced some amazing colours are it was reflected off the metal parts of the trophy.


This was taken on the Fujifilm X100 on macro mode with the lens aperture set at f2 to produce a very shallow depth of field.



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Monday, 10 December 2012

Ciragan Palace Kempinski - Istanbul

The 2012 FIA Awards Gala were held on Friday 7 December in the opulant surroundings of the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul.  A beautiful former palace that has been completely restored to former glories, it was the perfect venue to honour the motorsport world champions from F1, WRC, WTCC, GT1 and, of course, the World Endurance Championship - which was the reason I was there.
 
After the ceremony and dinner I had a quick look around the foyer and took the following images of the beautiful fixtures and fittings.

The staircase

The ceiling and chandolier

The chandolier




Istanbul
All images taken on a Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 (WCL-X100 wide angle converter fitted)

More on the Ciragan Palace Kempinski HERE

More images from the FIA Awards Gala and the winners of the FIA World Endurance Championship visit the WEC Facebook gallery HERE 

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Champs-Elysees at Night

I have just booked my flight for my final visit to Paris on the 14/15/16 December for meetings at the FIA and the FIA WEC Awards Evening.  This is one of my favourite images from my first trip to Paris in 2012, back in February.




The shot was taken from the Place de la Concorde looking up towards the Arc de Triomphe.  A long shutter speed has blurred the lights of the cars and caused the street lamps to give off a 'star burst' halo effect. 

I have been to Paris five times in 2012 and I've enjoyed every visit to the City of Light.  More trips will undoubtedly take place in 2013.


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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Take a Winter Sunshine Stroll to Recharge Your Batteries

With life being so full on these days sometimes you just have to switch off and recharge your batteries. My favourite way of recharging is going for a walk with my camera to see what I can spot.  Today was one of those days when the winter sun was shining, so wrapping up warm I grabbed the camera bag and headed out into the Vale of Belvoir for a couple of hours of photography.


Phragmites (Common Reed) - Fujifilm X100


The low sun was producing some strong shadows and I decided to use this to my advantage and concentrate on subjects that would suit strong back lighting.

First stop was the Phragmites, or Common Reed, that were growing by the side of the Grantham Canal and with the strong sun through the stalks they provided good subject matter.

Phragmites (Common Reed) - Nikon D700 / 80-200 f2.8

Phragmites (Common Reed) - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Phragmites (Common Reed) - Nikon D700 / 80-200 f2.8

Phragmites (Common Reed) - Nikon D700 / 60mm f2.8 micro

Phragmites (Common Reed) - Fujifilm X100

The canal was frozen in places where the sun hadn't quite managed to reach and there were several swans feathers stuck in the ice.

Mute Swan feather stuck in the ice - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Mute Swan feather stuck in the ice - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500


There were also several feathers in the hedge, which were dew covered and provided a good subject for the macro lens of the Fuji X100 and the 60mm f2.8 micro on the Nikon D700.

Mute Swan feather - Fujifilm X100

Mute Swan feather - Nikon D700 / 60mm f2.8 micro

Walking a few miles further along the canal we found several Mute Swans on the water.  The strong lighting, coupled with the white plumage, provided some great contrasting images with the swans standing out from the dark background of the canal bank.

Mute Swan - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Mute Swan - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Mute Swan - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Mute Swan - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Mute Swan - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Mute Swan - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

The walk back to the car also provided me with the opportunity to get some landscape images of the Grantham Canal.

Grantham Canal - Fujifilm X100

Winter tree - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

Grantham Canal - Fujifilm X100

Grantham Canal - Fujifilm X100

As well as grabbing some further shots of the flora and fauna


Rose Hips - Fujifilm X100

Buzzard - Nikon D700 / Sigma 50-500

I was certainly ready to head back to the office and face my computer screen after fully recharging my batteries.


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