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.


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.

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
Timing by Rolex
Williams F1 truck
senna store
Setting up the Ayrton Senna store
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


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
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


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

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.

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

Messin’ on the Mekong

The Lonesome Boatman
My boat lady
View from the river

Nice Vietnamese People

A Quality Smile
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.

More photos on the Flickr.

Gig Economy 1: Paper Dogs


Sometimes shooting a gig, especially in a small venue with manky lighting and a lot of shouty drunk people half your age can get you questioning your photography.  Then occasionally there’s a band who just hit the spot, visually and musically you’d want to photograph them again and again.  Paper Dogs are a 4 piece from Belfast with a very accesible hard rock/funky/bluesy sound with bit of Hendrix, Jeff Healy, Thin Lizzy and many more.

The band are led from the front by lead guitarist and vocalist, Chris Rooney.  Looking like a young John Power from Cast (to these old eyes anyway), he’s a dynamic presence and a performer with a bit of class.

Chris Rooney, Lead guitar and vocals


The rest of the band, while not as dynamic visually, perform as an exceptionally tight unit.  And with a style that looks effortless, they’re easy to photograph – lighting not withstanding.  The following shot of drummer Kris Young broke the no-flash rule – it was that or nothing as he was out of range of all the stage lighting


Kris Young, Drums


Mark Mahood, bass
Nick McCully, guitar

The band’s EP, “The Lost Art of Conversation” is on Spotify – definitely worth a listen and there are some more shots on The Flickr.

Kit:  Canon 5D, 50mm, 28mm and 85mm lenses
Lightroom, Color Efex and Silver Efex Pro.
(and a Speedlite 450 EXii….)

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
Jim Beam Barrels
Jim Beam Still

More photos of the Jim Beam on the Flickr

Metal for the Middle Aged

Photoshoot with metal band Lock Horns

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.

20mm lens for this one


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

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


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