Olympus Tripped.

When the meter finally goes….

Trippy.  Meter no more
Meter no more

The inherent risk of bringing your 40 year old film camera on holiday is of course that it decides to call it a day.  Before loading the Trip, I always give it a quick check to ensure that it responds reasonably appropriately to light – particularly that the wee red underexposed marker appears in the viewfinder.  Day 2 of a trip to Tokyo and before the Fomapan was loaded, it was clear that the Trip meter had finally given up the ghost.  However, before putting it back in the suitcase and relying on the Nikon F60, I remembered the manual aperture settings – a quick check showed these to be responding.

So, a pretty useless 1/40th constant shutter speed in a bright summer Tokyo day and it was Sunny 22 to see how the Trip would go on manual only.  F22 for the bright outdoors and guess for the shade and indoors.

And…  it went ok.  Fomapan 100 is pretty forgiving anyway and with the bright harsh sunlight and deep shadows, I couldn’t really complain with the results from a 40 year old malfunctioning compact and a £3.50 roll of budget Czech film.

asakusa girls1
Kimonos, Asakusa – a great range of detail captured by the Trippy

It would have been a challenge getting any sort of shadow detail here given the contrast between the umbrella and background.

asakusa posing
Posing

Of course, with an aperture setting now to consider on the Trip,  there was the added risk to forget about adjusting the zone focussing from “mountains” to “2 blokes“.

tokyo books
Bookstore.  Blur unintentional..
orange street
Orange Street. In black and white
asakusa incense
Incense

 

asakusa lady
Simultaneously shot on her own phone and my dodgy Trippy

The Trip of course, is a great street camera, all you have to remember is to set the zone focus.  My immediate reaction when the meter went was to retire the Trip and have a look on The Bay for a replacement.  But doing a quick Sunny 16 setting of the Aperture is no problem, and you can learn to live with the constant 1/40th shutter.  The lens is as sharp as ever (after remembering to check the focus) and frankly there is no better looking 35mm compact out there.  My meter-less Trip hasn’t had its last holiday just yet.

More Trip/Foma100 photos on the Flickr.

Me and Tennessee

Then that ol’ song comes on…  Together we’re singin’..

Any trip to the USA should include a visit to the music heartlands of Tennessee – Memphis and Nashville.

For taking photographs in the middle of summer however, it gets hot  – 100F hot – and has the harshest of harsh sunlight, so glare and shadow are going to be a problem.  I’d the trusty bog standard Olympus E450 with it’s 2 kit zooms which were fine as with the extreme brightness, wide open apertures weren’t going to be much use. And with a lot of colour being washed out with the bright light, black and white was the way to go.
So – a tale of two cities.

Music City

nashville_tubb
Ernest Tubb’s record shop, South Broadway, Nashville

Nashville’s South Broadway is exactly as you would imagine it  – all guitars, boots and beer, and it doesn’t disappoint.  Everywhere you look there’s neon signs offering all you can eat and drink to the soundtrack of country music.  It’s a friendly city, accessible and has a laid back charm.  There’s a lot more downtown than SoBo – there’s loads of walks by the river, countless music venues, Tennesse State Museum and many country music museums.  However you’ll invariably end up back on Broadway with a beer in your hand and wearing a new hat.

nashville_Tequilla
Tequila Cowboy, South Broadway
nashville_layla
Layla’s
nashville_htc
Honky Tonk Central, South Broadway
nashville_bootcountry
Boots – one of many offers
nashville_bootsmore
more than boots
nashville_joe
Joe
nashville_buffet
Wasted away again in….

For the big music venues, there’s the Bridgestone Arena on South Broadway but for the ultimate in country experience, there’s the Opry – a few miles out of town, and for $35 you can get an unforgettable country music experience.

nashville_opry
The wonderful Grand Ole Opry
nashville_bridhestone
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

For sports, there’s the NFL (Tennessee Titans) , AAA Baseball (Nashville Sounds) or the Nashville Speedway – it’s about $10 for an evening’s racing.

nashville_cars2
When you’ve had enough music, there’s cars

Memphis

About three hours away, Memphis is a very different experience.  Where Nashville has a folksy touristy charm, Memphis has a wee bit of an atmosphere – a bit more tense, a much harder rock, blues and soul soundtrack and its central attraction Beale Street has an edge that’s great to experience but with a completely different feel.  Still it’s well worth a visit – there’s Gibson Guitars, Rock n Soul and Stax Museums, loads of music venues and in like Nashville you’ll not go hungry or thirsty.

memphis_gibson
Gibson Guitars – a great visit and you get to play some
memphis__liquor
street bar, Beale Street
Memphis_hrc
Beale Street, Hard Rock Cafe
memphis_beale3_guns
Reassuring – no guns in this bar..
Memphis_buskers
Blues singer, Beale Street
Memphis_police
Sullivan’s Bar, Beale Street

Out of the cities, there’s a lot of Irish Heritage sites – this was the Rogan family homestead, 19th Century immigrants from Co Down.

rogan2rogan1

Finally, no matter where you go you’ll be in the presence of Elvis Presley.  Just don’t stand on the King.

nashville_elvis

More Tennesse pics on the Flickr  https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1FiUpC

Chiang Rai Utd v Big Bang Chula FC

When you’re travelling around the world, you often experience things that are so different from your normal day to day life  – food, language, culture and customs – while other things are pretty much universal.  Football, with its globally consistent rules and multinational structures, transcends location and culture.
Turn up at a match and you could be anywhere.

front

Chiang Rai is the northernmost city in Thailand – a delightful, quirky place about 16 hours by train/bus from Bangkok – and hosts a top division league side – Chiang Rai United.  The Thai T1 league has 18 sides from around the country and all have badges, logos and designations in English as opposed to Thai, with many “Uniteds” and “FC’s”.  The opposition on this hot July evening was the splendidly named Big Bang Chula FC.

front1

The Singha Stadium is beside the airport about 15 minutes drive from the city centre (taxi is the best way to get there – and make sure you book one for after the match..) and it’s a fine modern stadium.  Outside there are the usual hordes of fans in replica kits and a number of stalls selling them – naturally I bought one.

Food is one big difference from the Irish or English leagues. In the absence of cheesey chips, there’s an array of spicy kebabs from 10 baht (0.20 GBP) each.

food
no manky pies or Bovril
drinks
cold drinks are essential in the 30 plus temperatures
girlfans1
fans

Inside it’s open, largely uncovered and all-seater with the stands tight to the pitch.

stand

Before kick-off there was the formality of the Thai National Anthem.  This seems to have largely disappeared from European sporting events (excepting internationals) but like the States, where the anthem is sung everywhere from MLB and NFL down to local Friday night speedways, in Thailand they like to do the anthem at most public gatherings.  And as is common, it’s accompanied by a royal video clip.

anthem
be upstanding and screen-facing, for the National Anthem

 

manu_beer
5000 miles from the UK and there’s always a Man United fan..
drums
the Chiang Rai United rhythm section

On the pitch, there was a mix of players from Thailand and around the world including a few Brazilians.  A home team ex-pat favourite is Mark Bridge, an Australian and leading goalscorer.  The match itself was exciting affair resulting in a 2-2 draw, the crowd was noisy, the food was good and our taxi turned up on time after the match.  A perfect evening.

Mark Bridge 21
He makes it 1-0
mark bridge
Mark Bridge, Chiang Rai United
final score
Final score 2 – 2.

Kit:
Canon 5D, 70-300 and 50mm lenses;
iPod (6th gen)

more Thai footie photos on the Flickr https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1qvnR9

Grand Prix. On Poundland 200.

I’ve been to a number of Grand Prix over the years – in Spain and Germany – and normally turn up with full frame DSLR, and a backpack of lenses, headed up by a monopodded 150-500 zoom.  However, for the 2017 trip to the Barcelona circuit, I decided to travel light.

F1kit

The Mju was a £3 purchase off the eBay a few years back before the current over-inflated prices appeared and the Praktica was a rebadged MTL3 bought from Argos in the mid-80s.  Both filled with Poundland 200 (in an Agfa box).

When armed with the digital setup on my previous visits, it ended up being an ongoing search for the sharpest panning shot for the weekend.  Pan-click-chimp-repeat.  And getting hundreds of panned racing car shots  that never saw the light of day.

So this year it was to be film only ( bar the phone) and shooting around the F1 village, the stands – but with the odd panning shot – see if an creaky manual Praktica and an old Vivitar zoom lens out of Boots could cut it.

tower
Barcelona circuit tower.  Praktica Nova II

And this was a liberating experience – I had a weekend to enjoy the racing and soak in the atmosphere, with no heavy gear to lug about and chimp-free snapping.

It was also interesting to watch the guys in the stands with the monopods and DSLR/big zoom kit and reflecting that despite all this gear, you were still just a punter in the stands.  I’ve shot some low level motorsport events and had press-photo access to Irish League football and to get the sort of shots that type of access allows, you really need exactly that  – access.  And when you’re a punter – it’s easier to take punter shots.

The kit itself?  Well the Mju is a wee delight.  Totally auto, good sharp autofocus (most of the time) and it’s a genuine pocket camera, quick and easy to snap and it’s easily one of the best point & shoots I’ve used. The flash is on by default, so you’ve to remember to knock it off if you don’t want flash. Apart from that, it’s quick and accurate.

team Max
Team Verstappen
rolex
Timing by Rolex
Williams
Williams F1 truck
senna store
Setting up the Ayrton Senna store
trackview
The view from stand C

As for the Praktica, there’s no doubt it slows you down.  This particular one (of my many Prakticas) had a bit of a dirty viewfinder and together with manually focussing at 200mm, those panning shots were going to be a challenge.

This one of Daniel Ricciardo was only one of very view panning shots taken, as there were other uses for the long lens.

daniel ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo.  Legend.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen in the Red Bull pit

 

Spectator
Stylish Spectator
2 Fans
Stand G – seats remaining

So some nice snaps to take home from a great weekend.  I’d a lot more time to enjoy the event, no worries about batteries needing charged and the £1 film rolls held up well.  If I’m in the press area for a County Down Racing club meet or pitchside at Crusaders v Glentoran in the Irish League, then it’s full digital and the big lens.  Otherwise, I’ll enjoy being a punter with some old gear.

Films developed at photo-express.co.uk
Scanned on Epson V370

Ho Chi Minh City

me and students
One of these Vietnamese students is a bald middle aged Irish bloke. Can you spot him?

6 days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Or Saigon as everyone still seems to call it.
And it’s shorter to say.  And type.
It was my first visit to Vietnam and won’t be my last.  Very friendly people, great food and yoga and fitness in the public parks with pensioners at 6am.   It’s hot, noisy but fun.  And a delight to photograph.

Kit:  Canon 5D, 50mm 85mm and 70-300mm lenses

Markets

hatgirl
This girl was intent on selling me a hat.  She succeeded.
fvseller4
Market seller, Mekong river
fihheads
Fish Heads.

Traffic
Definite motorcycle culture here. When crossing the road it should be noted that traffic never stops,  it just seems to avoid hitting you. There is a definite knack to crossing roads – I just always got close to a local. Seemed to work.

trafficchaos
Lights, lanes and yellow boxes seem so… European
mcyclegirl1
The last parking space in Saigon
vespa
More Motorcycles
3onabike
Family Moped

Messin’ on the Mekong

boatman1
The Lonesome Boatman
boatwanman2
My boat lady
manonboat2
View from the river

Nice Vietnamese People

marketsmiley
A Quality Smile
music1
Folk Musician
seller nice
Buy some food and ask nicely for a photo
sad alien
Coffee Shop Sad Alien

 

Also – when in Asia, take a selfie.
selfie

More photos on the Flickr.

Jim Beam. Bourbon, not Whisky.

There ain’t a thing that I can do, That’s the difference between whisky and you

Jim Beam Old Storehouse
Jim Beam, Clermont KY

A few years back on a trip to the USA, I got to visit behind the scenes at the Jim Beam distillery at Clermont, Kentucky taking stills (pun intended) during a video shoot.  Our host was the delightful and infinitely patient Jim Beam Noe, distillery manager.  In a temperature of 37°C and in an environment with a delightful overpowering aroma of whiskey (bourbon…) it’s as well I had the camera to remind me of the whole visit.
And we got to taste some.  Definitely one of my favourite shoots.

Kit:  Olympus E450 DSLR (the old 4/3 one) and 14-42 kit lens. Silver Efex Pro.

Some of the folk at JB.

Jim Beam Tasting
Jim Beam Noe

 

Jim Beam Mike
Storehouse worker

 

Jim Beam Loading Barrels
Delivery team

Around the plant

Jim Beam bottling best
Bottles.
Jim Beam Barrels
Barrels
Jim Beam Still
Stillhouse

More photos of the Jim Beam on the Flickr

Metal for the Middle Aged

Photoshoot with metal band Lock Horns

withPSD2cx
With the .. Horns

It had been a while since I’d done a bit of gig and band photography, so after a few contacts and shooting blokes with guitars and girls with mics, I arranged to do a promo shoot for a young metal band. Four guys, all reasonably photogenic and enthusiastic and with only a rough idea on what to shoot. So the agreed brief:

  • Outdoor shots in a forest (public forest park – not a problem).
  • And in a quarry (private property, no permission but it was early on a Sunday and it will be closed, we’ll improvise getting in and out..)
  • Indoor shots in their rehearsal space
  • Look mean and moody. And metal-ly

It was a very overcast ( intermittently rainy) day, so the outdoor shots were a mixture of natural soft light and a bit of fill-in flash. The band members’ height differentials aside, we did a mix of poses, some emphasis on members just for variation and a good hike through Ballysallagh Forest.  To give a bit of contrast and some drama to the soft woodland vibe, a bleach bypass effect was used in Color Efex.

LH_3
20mm lens for this one

LH_4

LH_8
there is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees…

So.. trespassing.  There is a quarry, it was closed but they fancied a few shots.  Mud and fencing were no barrier to preventing some shots high above the landscape.  Away from the trees and the green colour cast, it was possible to get a few different tones. LH_6
LH_7mono
LH_5

And finally back to the studio with softbox and brolly.  A group shot and then a few singles.

LH_9

jr_guitar
Jr, lead guitar Lock horns

and then Alex, lead vocalist in full scream. As scary as he looks, this is just filtered and contrast adjusted in Color Efex.  The lupine jawline, though,  is all his.

Alex, vocal Lock Horns
Alex, lead vocals Lock horns

So a bit of plug-in filtering and moody poses can turn 4 personable and well spoken young guys into a pretty powerful visual metal band.  They perform and sound the business too.  Even to an oul’ lad with a camera.

More from this shoot on the Flickr.

Kit:  Canon 5D,  50mm f1.4,  85mm f1.8, 20mm f2
Interfit Lights, Speedlite 430 EXii