Sunday, 31 March 2013

Sunset at Paul Ricard

The last day of testing for the FIA World Endurance Championship started off very foggy but ended with a spectacular sunset as the high winds brought some very changable weather.
This shot was taken from the top of the main building at the Paul Ricard towards the hills of St Baume to the west of the famous race circuit.  The sun was setting behind broken clouds and the result was spectacular sunset over the track to end my six days at the track.  I will be back at the Paul Ricard in September for the finale of the 2013 European Le Mans Series.



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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Large Crowd at FIA WEC Test

The sunshine in the south of France brought over 5000 people out to attend the FIA World Endurance Championship test at Paul Ricard.  Not only did they get to see the cars that will compete in the 2013 world championship and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, they also enjoyed unrivalled pitlane access when they were invited into several of the team garages during the lunch time pit walk.








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Friday, 29 March 2013

Picture of the Week: FIA WEC Group Shot

This was taken this evening at the Circuit Paul Ricard.  We organised a group shot with ten cars with my photographer, Jean-Michel Le Meur from DPPI, up a ladder taking a high shot of the cars.  I decided to get low and take a wide angle image using the 17-35mm and a Lee 0.9 ND Grad to darken the sky.


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Thursday, 28 March 2013

An Early Morning Jaunt into the Mountains

I have worked at the Paul Ricard circuit on many occassions over the years I have been a media delegate for various championships but I have never had the opportunity to visit the area to take photographs.  So this morning I decided to get up early and head up into the hills that surround this part of the South of France.
After two days of dry and sometimes sunny weather, this morning was cloudy with rain showers.  However this did make for some atmospheric images on the windy and mountainous roads.




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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Mono Images with Impact

As a long time user of Nik Color Efex Pro 4 software, which is a plug in filter system for Photoshop and Lightroom, I had a nice surprise in my email inbox when I was offered the full Nik software suite for free, which included the Silver Efex Pro 2 package.  I tested this software last year and it converts colour images from colour to black and white, with several creative effects quickly available. 
Being a traditional photographer who started his career producing black and white images in the darkroom, I like using photoshop in the traditional way by dodging and burning manually.  The Silver Efex package is very good but I couldn't justify spending £160 on the software.  However as I now have it for free I can now produce mono images a lot faster and easier using Silver Efex.

Here are some examples of how I use Silver Efex, the first shot is the converted mono image and the second is the original colour image.






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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Sun is Shining in the South of France

While the UK is still in the deep freeze of winter I have come down to the South of France for one week for the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) and FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) official tests at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.  With the sun shining, and not a cloud in the deep blue sky, it was a very different scene to the one I left in Grantham yesterday morning.



Today was the first day of two days of testing for the ELMS and I decided to go out around the track to have a closer look at this fantastic circuit.  I have been to Paul Ricard for tests and for races but I have never been trackside with my camera as my media delegate duties normally don't allow me the me the time.  However with only sixty media on site I was able to go out with Jean-Michel Le Meur, my lead photographer from DPPI, the sports agency I employ for the ELMS and FIA WEC.
I was also interested to see how the Nikon D800 handled as a sports camera.  With only 4 frames per second and a massive 36mp sensor it has been said in the reviews that the D800 is not the best tool for sport photography.  I would tend to agree, but only to a point.  It certainly produces the goods photographically and you have to think about how you use the camera more.  I also tried it in DX mode, which still gave me 16mp on the DX crop and this had the advantage that the frame rate improved to 6fps.  This worked very well and improved the camera as a tool for sport photography.
Anyway I decided to try some creative / arty images around the track and capture a different side to the test session.
Here are some of the images I took with the D800 and the Fuji X100 around the paddock.








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Monday, 25 March 2013

Ice Time

This morning I will be flying south to Marseilles for seven days at the Paul Ricard track for European Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship testing and a special event on Thursday when Porsche will be unveiling their FIA WEC works challenger to the media.

The temperature in Marseilles is currently a balmy 17 degrees centigrade compared to the freezing conditions here in the UK.  After 24 hours of snowfall the sun finally came out this evening and I grabbed the camera to get some shots of icicles back lit by the setting sun.

Nikon D800 - Nikon 105mm f2.8G micro - 1/1600 @ f8 - ISO800

Nikon D800 - Nikon 105mm f2.8G micro - 1/80 @ f5.6 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - Nikon 105mm f2.8G micro - 1/200 @ f4.3 - ISO800
I am looking forward to leaving the freezing conditions behind and I hope that spring finally arrives in the UK while I'm away.


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Sunday, 24 March 2013

A White Rose

More bad weather today meant no outdoor photography so it was back to the simple desk top studio set up.  On the Digital SLR Photography Magazine CC group page on Facebook we have a weekly challenge and this week's subject is 'flora', which provided me with the perfect subject for my desktop studio.

Nikon D800 - Nikon 105mm f2.8G micro - 1/3 @ f9 - ISO100
 
A black cloth provided the back drop to the low key set up with a white rose as the subject.  The light was provided in the main from my office window, with a small desktop lamp providing some additional lighting when needed.


Using the Nikon D800 and a Nikon 105mm f2.8G micro lens, I set about trying different settings and lighting to see what I could get from the set up.  The first shot is very basic, with the rose placed to the left and leaning into the picture. The black space to the right can be used to put text for either a card or a magazine page.  It is always useful to provide some 'breathing space' around the subject and with the 36mp files on the D800 it is easy to crop in if necessary.


Nikon D800 - Nikon 105mm f2.8G micro - 1/5 @ f11 - ISO100
The second shot was similar to the first shot but taken in a portrait frame so as to include more of the stem.  A shallower depth of field meant the stem was darker and slightly out of focus.

Nikon D800 - Nikon 105mm f2.8G micro - 1/13 @ f7.1 - ISO100
 
The third and final shot was taken a lot closer on the macro lens and  with an aperture of just f7.1 the depth of field is extremely shallow with only parts of the petals actually in focus.  This gives the image a softer, dreamy feel.



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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Race Car and the London Club

Fuji X100 - 19mm f2 - 1/55 @ f2 - ISO1000
This shot was taken on Thursday evening of the Toyota TS030 Hybrid Le Mans Prototype that competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship.  The car is in the opulent surroundings of the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, London and was on display in the Rotunda as part of the media launch for the 6 Hours of Silverstone and the Tourist Trophy which I had organised in my role as the FIA Media Delegate for the Championship.

To get the car into the Rotunda was a feat of precision by the Royal Automobile Club and the guys from Toyota as the car had to be put on its side and squeezed between two pillars.  It did fit, but by just 1.5cm.  However the result certainly attracted a lot of attention by the members and visitors to the Royal Automobile Club during the week it was on display.

The 6 Hours of Silverstone is the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship and will take place on the 12-14 April.  First we have four days of testing next week at the Paul Ricard circuit in the South of France and I will be flying to Marseilles on Monday morning.


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Friday, 22 March 2013

London in Mono (well almost)

A quick walk to Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly netted some more images for the MacLean Photographic London gallery.

First stop was Trafalgar Square where I stopped to get some shots of the tourists enjoying one of London's most famous landmarks.  However it was the fountains and the statues that drew my photographic eye and with the Fuji X100 resting on the wall of the pool I took this long exposure shot.

Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 - 0.7s @ f16 - ISO200
Next stop was Piccadilly Circus and the colourful lights of the bill boards and the hoards of tourists surround the statue of Eros.  Again looking for something a bit different my eye was drawn to the London Underground signs that were brightly lit as the evening started to draw in.  I was going to do this shot totally in black and white but, like the image I took near St Paul's Cathedral last week, the red, white and blue colours deserved to be highlighted, so I left them in and just turned the rest of the image into a mono.

Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 - 1/180 @ f2 - ISO200
Walking down Piccadilly I came across the Piccadilly Arcade, a row of beautiful shops under cover and lit.  The symmetry was perfect so I waited until there were no members of the public walking through and got my shot.

Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 - 1/60s @ f2 - ISO640
The final shot of my whistle stop tour was of a statue of Beau Brummell which stands at the south end of the arcade in Jermyn Street. Brummell a great member of the fashion fraternity, who really sums up everything that the great cloth industry in Jermyn Street has always stood for and still does today. 


Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 - 1/60s @ f2 - ISO2500



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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Picture of the Week - Old Man Thames

Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 304s @ f16 - ISO200 - Tripod - Lee Big Stopper ND filter
This is one of the very long exposure shots I did on last week's trip to London.  This shot was a 304 second (that's five minutes) exposure, using a Lee 'Big Stopper' 10x ND filter. The result is a perfectly smooth River Thames and a sky that has a washed out feel due to the clouds moving in the wind.  

On the Millennium Bridge most of the people have not registered but some decided to stay relatively still taking pictures of the scene towards London Bridge and have been recorded on the image.  I think this adds to the dynamic nature of the image and I like the result.


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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Golden Hinde in Dock

Nikon D800 - Nikon 17-35mm f2,8 - 10s @ f8 - ISO400
Located in St Mary Overie Dock, on the south bank of the Thames between London and Southwark Bridges, the Golden Hinde II is an authentic, full-size reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s Tudor galleon. It gives visitors a chance to explore the vessel, offering a unique insight into Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe from 1577 - 1580.

We were walking back towards London Bridge when we passed the dock where the Golden Hinde II is berthed.  The reflections in the water from the lights and the ship made me stop to check out the possibilities.  A wide angle shot on the 17mm end of the 17-35mm f2.8 Nikkor gave me just enough angle to shoot between the railings with the D800 strapped to the tripod.

The result was this shot of 10 seconds with the lighting showing off the proud lines of the Golden Hinde II.

St Mary Overie Dock is in Cathedral Street, London, SE1 9DE and more information about the Golden Hinde II can be found on the official website.


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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Shiny New Buildings in More London Place

A couple of days ago I posted some pictures of The Shard, the tallest building in the European Union and the second tallest in Europe.  There is a lot of new buildings going up in around the London Bridge / Tower Bridge area with a group of shiny new offices in what is now called More London Place.

Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 - 1/1250 @ f4 - ISO400
More London Place is new the Greater London Council offices and near to Tower Bridge and consists of office buildings, apartments, cafes and shops.  The glass sides and strange architecture provided plenty of photo opportunities.

Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 - 1/200 @ f8 - ISO400

Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 - 1/170 @ f5.6 - ISO200

Nikon D800 - Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/160 @ f5.6 - ISO200


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Monday, 18 March 2013

Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast

HMS Westminster, HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge - Nikon D800 - 105mm f2.8G AF-S micro - 20s @ f11 - ISO100
Tower Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in London and also one of the most photographed. 

HISTORY OF TOWER BRIDGE
For many centuries London Bridge was the only bridge across the Thames but as the population of London grew more were added, but always to the west of London Bridge so as to not disrupt the river traffic that was so vital to the commerce of England's capital.  However the population of East London grew as well and in the late 1870s the decision was taken to build a bridge to the east of London Bridge. 

A huge challenge faced the City of London Corporation - how to build a bridge downstream from London Bridge without disrupting river traffic activities. To generate ideas, the "Special Bridge or Subway Committee" was formed in 1876, and opened the design for the new crossing to public competition.

Over 50 designs were submitted for consideration, some of which are on display at Tower Bridge Exhibition. It wasn't until October 1884 however, that Horace Jones, the City Architect, in collaboration with John Wolfe Barry, offered the chosen design for Tower Bridge as a solution.

Construction began in 1886 and was completed eight years later in 1894 and took it's name from the proximity to the Tower of London, which sits on the north bank of the Thames. 

The bridge consists of two towers tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. 

The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. 

The bridge's present colour scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee. Originally it was painted a mid greenish-blue colour.

HMS BELFAST
In this picture is the WWII light cruiser HMS Belfast which is permanently moored by Tower Bridge and is a museum run by the Imperial War Museum.  Construction of HMS Belfast, the first Royal Navy ship to be named after the capital city of Northern Ireland and one of ten Town-class cruisers, began in December 1936. She was launched on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1938, 75 years ago.

HMS Westminster, HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge - Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S - 1/800 @ f5.6 - ISO400
To help celebrate her 75th birthday, HMS Westminster, a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, was moored alongside her, as seen in the pictures above.

HMS Belfast - Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S - 1/200 @ f6.3 - ISO200


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Sunday, 17 March 2013

St Paul's Cathedral in Black and White

On Friday I posted my favourite shot from an evening in London, which was a night shot of St Paul's Cathedral as seen from the south side of the Millennium Bridge.  This is one shot I've wanted to take for a long time as I love taking images of Sir Christopher Wren's most famous creation. 

Fujifilm X100 - 19mm f2 (WCL-X100) - 1/350th @ f5.6 - ISO200
I decided to spend the last part of the day in and around the area taking images of the skyline with St Paul's in shot.  The images were very monochromatic, so this is how I chose to post process in PSE11.

Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/250th @ f5.6 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/160th @ f5.6 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/50th @ f5.6 - ISO400

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Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Shard - Evening and Night

Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/500 @ f8 - ISO400

One of the newest additions to the London skyline is The Shard - so named because it is shaped like a shard of glass - which at 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high, it is the tallest building in the European Union, and the second-tallest in Europe, after the Mercury City Tower in Moscow. 

Construction began on The Shard in March 2009, was inaugurated three years later on 5 July 2012 and was opened to the public on 1 February 2013.  Work continues on the interior with a hotel opening on the 34th to 52nd floors later this year.

The Shard will also contain offices on its first 28 floors, restuarants above that, apartments with stunning views on the 53rd to 65th floors and the viewing platforms will be at the very top from floors 68 to 72.

The Shard dominates the south bank of the Thames from the Millennium Bridge to Tower Bridge so we set about trying to capture images of this massive structure, trying to give perspective by photographing it with some of the other buildings that surround it, both new and old, and using the last hour of the day and the first hour of darkness.

For more information on The Shard CLICK HERE


Fuji X100 - 19mm f2 (WCL-X100 fitted) - 1/1600 @ f4 - ISO400

Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/500 @ f9 - ISO400
Four Image stitched panoramic - Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/80 @ f5.6 - ISO400 - Tripod



Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/30 @ f16 - ISO100 - Tripod

Nikon D800 - 17-35mm f2.8 - 1/30 @ f11 - ISO100 - Tripod

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