Johns blog
14th July 2018
Loton Park National 'B' meeting (plus bikes)

In a change from the 'norm' I attended this Loton Park event on the Saturday instead of the usual Sunday. It was a superb meeting with the added bonus of some bikes and trikes. The early practice sessions saw some drivers/riders pushing their limits at Fallow leading to a number of excursions onto the grass (although fortunately no harm was done) and the day was rounded off with a huge fish pie at The Old Hand & Diamond in the company of some friendly marshals. The reason for my change of day was so that I could rebuild the 'office' after redecoration and in readiness for some new 'tech' which I hope to start utilising in the coming weeks (as soon as I work out how to use it).

Next weekend is a rare one with no motorsport photography planned so my next event will be Classic Nostalgia at Shelsley Walsh on 29th July.

7th & 8th July 2018
Chateau Impney Hillclimb 2018

It's not often that I cover a 2-day event - or stop overnight in a hotel to facilitate it - but the annual Chateau Impney Hillclimb is worth it. Under a baking sun over 200 cars of various marques, shapes and sizes made their way up the hill four times - and a couple of planes went overhead. Here are just a few of the 1000+ images I took throughout the weekend.

Next Sunday I'll be back on 'home turf' at Loton Park.

       
1st July 2018
MAC Vintage & Sports meeting

Today saw the annual visit of Vintage & Sports cars to Shelsley Walsh. Or was it? At the last minute the VSCC declared that they were not involved and the whole event was run by the Midland Automobile Club (MAC). And it didn't seem any worse because of it - it was well managed with a good entry and a massive crowd of spectators helped, of course, by some glorious weather.

Here are a few chosen images from the day, including one of my favourites - the 1937 twin rear-wheeled MG Bellevue - and the obligatory 'smoking tyre' shot of Chris Williams' 24L Napier Bentley Racing.

This weekend I'll be taking more shots of vintage cars at the Chateau Impney hillclimb.

19th June 2018
Drivers school at Shelsley Walsh
Another trip to Shelsley Walsh today to cover the June drivers school. It was once again a very enjoyable day - the officials, instructors, marshals, medics, rescue & caterers all work together in a friendly & efficient way to make sure that the entrants get the best value for money and go away with a smile on their faces. Each entrant will receive a full set of photographs of their car on the hill but here are some general shots from the day - including those from the prizegiving for the 'most improved driver, 'best novice driver' and 'driver of the day'. I hope you can see how pleased they were to hear the news!
17th June 2018
Prescott Bike Festival

Today I awoke at 05.30 on a Sunday morning to travel 80 miles Southwards towards Gloucestershire and be proud once again be part of the volunteer media team at the annual Prescott Bike Festival run by the Severn Freewheelers on behalf of the National Association of Blood Bikes. It may seem extreme to arrive so early but actually we need to meet up to syncronise cameras times (so that the shots from the team follow in logical order) and to make sure we are all shooting the same file format (no point in some shooting in High-Def Raw whilst other are shooting in Low-Def Jpegs) - and, of course, to order the obligatory bacon sarnies! We have all worked together for many years and know the score but it is all coordinated in military-style by stalwart Geoff Robinson so no stone is unturned. Once again I was paired with a great photographer Dennis Woods to cover the bikes 'on the hill' and we soon agreed our spots for the morning - Dennis went for 'Pardon Hairpin' and I went for 'The Esses', although we moved about in the afternoon.

The photos of the 'Run The Hill' entries will be published soon on the Severn Freewheelers website where they will be available to purchase. Meanwhile here are some images from the Paddock Special demonstrations. After all, where else can you see a motorised shed.... a jet-powered shopping trolley...... or a jet-powered hearse?

10th June 2018
Loton Park National 'A' meeting

Another sweltering hillclimb day today - this time at Loton Park. The new tarmac is settling in well and many personal best times were achieved - together with a number of minor 'offs' and spins. There was a lot of three-wheeled action at Museum too and it all led to a very enjoyable spectacle for the sizeable crowd.

Next weekend I'll be part of the media team at the annual Prescott Bike Festival - a charity event on behalf of the Blood Bikes. It was supposed to happen in April but got rained off - what a difference a couple of months has made.

3rd June 2018
British Racing Green

The sun shone today on the British Racing Green event at Shelsley Walsh. A big crowd turned up and were rewarded with a great days hill climbing, not to mention a couple of nail-biting top-12 run offs. As it was an MSA British Hill Climb Championship the 'over 2000cc Racing Cars' class was present (which obviously dominated the top12) but there were numerous other classes including the Porsche Club National Hill Climb Championship and the Pirelli Ferrari Hill Climb Championship.

If you want to sample an MSA British Hill Climb Championship there is another one next weekend at Loton Park. I'll be there on the Sunday.

2nd June 2018
Classic day

I headed North today to the Classic & Sports-Car Club's event at Oulton Park. It was an extremely damp start (i.e. it was raining) but it made for some interesting shots given the spray that the cars produced. As the day went on it dried out but the racing wasn't compromised in any way and it was an very entertaining event throughout. I managed to change viewpoints numerous times and found some new ones that I will be using in future events. A great day!

You may notice that the 'Galleries' page has now changed to a 'Favourites' page. This is because I am no longer going to create a 'record shot' gallery of every event - it takes up far too much time and for no real end result. My 'raison d'être' is to get work published rather than to supply drivers with individual images of their cars and so from now on I won't be offering that service. The new 'Favourites' will just consist of my 12 favourite images from each event. If a publication requires a specific image of a car or driver then I will check out my archive from the event and offer what I've got. It should be much more time-effective than post-processing hundreds of images each time for little reward. I hope that you approve.

29th May 2018
A great result

Today I was pleased to receive notification from MSV Media that I had gained media accreditation to attend the Classic & Sports-Car Club's event at Oulton Park this weekend. I am very keen to expand my repertoire of motorsport images and circuit racing is certainly the way I want to go. I have really enjoyed my visits to Oulton Park over the past few years and to start getting media accreditation (other than just with the VSCC) is a welcome development. I hope to take this further.

Here is an image from one of last year's events:

27th May 2018
Productive catch-up day

Today I had planned to attend the 'La Vie en Bleu' French-themed event at Prescott hill climb in Gloucestershire. It was not to be - on analysis of jobs to be done at home, and taking into account the 120 mile round-trip and a dubious weather forecast, I eventually decided to stay put. This was also after I looked out of the bedroom window to bright sunshine, only to look out again 10 minutes later to torrential rain & thunder!

The good news is that I have finally managed to post-process all of the images from the three motorsport events that I attended in the past week:

And getting these images post-processed in a timely manner is not just a whim of mine - part of the 'deal' of being invited to attend as accredited media and getting trackside access is that you submit images free-of-charge to the clubs and archivists for future use in newsletters, programmes and, in the case of drivers schools, to the customers themselves. And this needs to be done relatively soon after the event otherwise they just get lost within the mass of other events happening during the motorsport season.

I am sure that many people think that we photographers just turn up when they feel like it, get unprecedented access to the course and then sell the photographs for a vast profit afterwards. If only that was the case! The reality is that you have to book your place (after first proving that you have the talent), provide & maintain your own photographic equipment, pay for the obligatory £5M public liability insurance, travel many miles each weekend to venues across the country - and then hope that your (freely provided) photographs make it into print. Eventually (after many years) you may get a decent reputation and get some paid gigs (that usually barely cover the costs of you being there). Such is the life of a motorsport photographer. But we still love it!

Here is an eclectic mix of images from the above-three events that I attended this week. I am planning to be at a Classic Sports-Car Clubs event at Oulton Park and a speed hill climb at Shelsley Walsh next weekend.

 

26th May 2018
Dakota fly-over

The Ironbridge Gorge World War II weekend started today and part of it included a Dakota airplane flying over the Gorge. As usual with these events it flew right over our house and here is a shot of it as it headed south, coincidentally towards the Prescott hill climb event at Gotherington, Gloucestershire, where I will be tomorrow (weather permitting):

 

22nd May 2018:
Shelsley Walsh Drivers School

Once again I was privileged to be the official photographer at a Shelsley Walsh drivers school held by the Midland Automobile Club (MAC). For those that don't know here is an itinerary of the day:

  • Arrive to a bacon butty & cup of tea.
  • Drivers briefing - including a discussion about each corner & the right line to take and a video of a driver taking the hill
  • Photoshoot on the start line
  • The customers (usually about 30 drivers) split into four groups and walk the hill with an instructor
  • Two runs up the hill with yellow marker posts identifying turning points and apex's
  • Feedback from the instructors (who sit in various spots on the hill to monitor progress)
  • A further two runs up the hill
  • Cooked lunch in the Stratstone restaurant
  • Two runs up the hill (without yellow marker posts)
  • Feedback from the instructors
  • A further two runs up the hill (or maybe three if it all goes smoothly!)
  • Tea & cake
  • Certificates for everyone plus prize giving for 'Best Novice', 'Most Improved' and 'Driver of the Day'
  • Go home with a big smile on your face.

From just £195 you can't go wrong if you want to take your motorsport seriously.

And you just bring your own car. Yesterday, for example, we had a Saab estate, a couple of Westfield's, a couple of Porsche's, a couple of Ferrari's, a couple of classic Mini Cooper's, an excellent Mini Clubman (complete with rear window curtains) and (my favourite) a vintage Hudson Super 6!

 

20th May 2018
A great day at Loton Park

I always call Loton Park "my home motorsport venue" - not because it was the first one I went to in my teenage years, not because it is closest to where I live, not because it is the first venue that I attended trackside - it is because of the camaraderie of the officials, drivers, marshals, commentators and, of course, photographers. Of all the venues I go to this is the one where I feel at home and enjoy the company as much as the photography. Today was no exception - with the sun beating down on my sunburn obtained at Curborough and Oulton Park (despite being frozen to the bone just 3 weeks ago at Presott) - I enjoyed every minute of it.

Todays 'Picture Of The Day' is of Dave Warner's Renault Clio R27. This is a new car for Dave this season but already he has had a Personal Best (PB) today at Loton and it looked exceptionally quick at Museum during his second run. A really nice guy and one to watch as the season unfolds.

Note: 'Picture Of The Day' is a new feature that I will use when a driver, vehicle or photograph catches my eye at a particular event to showcase - it won't necessarily happen at every event. The award is based on a complex algorithm that mathematicians worldwide cannot agree on - only I know how it works!

Next weekend I will be at Presott attending the French-themed 'La Vie en Bleu'. Hope to see you there.

Picture Of The Day

19th May 2018
Vintage scorcher

Back behind the camera this weekend - and what a day! An absolute scorcher and some great racing as well at the annual visit of the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) to Oulton Park in Cheshire. I made a point of trying as many different viewpoints as I could - I really like Oulton Park more and more every time I visit. Nice to see Druids corner open again for spectators (it's been closed the last few times I've been there) and a sizeable crowd despite a Royal wedding!

Tomorrow I'll be at a much smaller venue but no less exciting - Loton Park speed hill climb.

14th May 2018
A rewarding weekend

I decided on a relaxing 'non-motorsport' period over the past weekend - but it was no less rewarding.

First: I had a lovely e-mail from Tim Hopkinson who had previously requested some images of his dual-drive 1935 Riley Special that he was driving with Peter Hopkinson at the recent VSCC Curborough sprint: "Thanks for the photos . They are really appreciated....... great photos". Examples are attached.

Second: This coming weekend is the Vintage Sports-Car Clubs Formula Vintage Round 2 at Oulton Park. Although it is run by the VSCC all media have to apply for media accreditation directly through MSV (who run the venue). It isn't a walk in the park - you have to submit 4 examples of published work from the past 12 months together with a letter of authorisation from an editor or publisher. It was pleasing that less than a few hours after submission of my request I had an e-mail back confirming my attendance.

Third: Later in the day I had confirmation of my media accreditation for Chateau Impney hillclimb in July. Good job really as I've already booked my hotel to cover the 2-day event.

So a non-motorsport weekend turned into a great motorsport weekend - and with a busy motorsport weekend to come: VSCC Oulton Park on Saturday, Loton Park on Sunday - and a driving school at Shelsley Walsh the following Tuesday. Bring it on !

7th May 2018
What a scorcher !

Yesterday saw me at Curborough sprint course for the annual visit by the Vintage Sports-Car Club. And what a day - the sun was beating down and I've never seen so many people at the venue. I'm sure that there will be a fair few, like me, with a touch of sunburn this morning. A great selection of cars on the track and few incidents all made for a spectacular day.

 

3rd May 2018
FORCE Racing cars
Two images from the April Prescott British Hillclimb Championship meeting have been used on the FORCE Racing Cars website. Thanks to Chris Bennett for the credits.
29th April 2018
British Hillclimb Championship at Prescott

"Was it cold?"

"No - it was bloody freezing!"

I am sure that someone gave me a dodgy calendar at Christmas. The one I have say's it's the end of April but today I was standing in a bitterly cold wind and I could see my breath! This cannot be right.

Even so, it was a great day at the opening round of the British Hillclimb Championship at Prescott. It was good to see many familiar faces and to meet some new ones - I do enjoy being part of the Midlands hill climb community. Will Hall had some very successful runs, getting faster and faster throughout the day and thankfully there were no major incidents so despite the fact that I couldn't feel my fingers at one point I came home with a smile on my face.

Having just said that I enjoy the Midlands hill climbs I have to confess that I will miss next week's Shelsley Walsh "Speed into Spring" because I'll be at Curborough covering the annual visit by the Vintage Sports-Car Club.

24th April 2018
Drivers school at Shelsley Walsh

Today I was official photographer at another drivers school held by the Midland Automobile Club (MAC) at the Shelsley Walsh hill climb. A great selection of cars but to say it was damp would be an understatement - it basically rained continuously. However, credit to the drivers (and of course the instructors) that there were no incidents at all throughout the entire day. Everyone drove very sensibly given the conditions, so-much-so that we were ahead of time so they had the opportunity of an extra run up the hill at the end of the afternoon. A very enjoyable day and, at the end, we had cake.....

The club and drivers will all get the car shots but here are some general shots from the day.

Next weekend I'll be travelling down to Gloucestershire for the opening round of the British & Midland hillclimb championship at Prescott.

22nd April 2018
VSCC at Silverstone
Although this was Round 1 of the Vintage Sports-Car Clubs (VSCC) Formula Vintage - a day of circuit racing - I had already decided to spend the time covering the autosolo in the morning with some paddock & garage shots in the afternoon. There were probably getting on for 60 accredited photographers judging by the signing-in sheet (so plenty getting trackside shots) - but experience tells me that few visit the autosolo and so I usually get some published. Here are a few examples from a (rare) sunny and warm day at Silverstone.
20th April 2018
Commercial shots

This week I was asked to do some more commercial shots for TCL Packaging - this time for a promotional sales presentation which will also be used in a display loop on a monitor in the Reception area. One shot had already been taken by the Managing Director on his mobile phone but, when viewed large, the lack of definition was evident and so I was asked to recreate it exactly. The other was to illustrate the technical innovation available and so a laboratory shot was required. Both shots were completed and the presentation will be 'live' shortly.

This weekend I'll be at Silverstone covering the Vintage Sports-Car Club's Formula Vintage Round 1, including an Autosolo on the Sunday morning.

15th April 2018
Bikes & Trikes at Loton Park
I always enjoy it when the bikes & trikes visit Loton Park - it adds something different to the mix and they provide great entertainment. And they didn't disappoint with a good turnout and some spirited riding. There were cars too but as the bikes made a rare appearance here is a selection of shots. More to follow including, of course, some cars.....
12th April 2018
About turn
There was an interesting change of stance today by the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) Chief Executive Dave Salmon who sent a personal e-mail to the VSCC media team stating that attendance of a media briefing at Silverstone on 21st & 22nd April was NON-MANDATORY but just advisory of health-and-safety grounds. I hadn't got a problem with the principle of the idea but the timings just seemed rather harsh for those not on the doorstep of Silverstone. I will try and attend one of them if I can - but the second session on Sunday clashes with the Autosolo which I always try to photograph so I may not make it. Fortunately it now seems you can sign a disclaimer and not attend at all. I suspect that someone at the VSCC had a bad day today.....
11th April 2018
Early tickets

Today it was nice to receive my complimentary media tickets to the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) Formula Vintage Round 1 event at Silverstone on 21st & 22nd April. This 2-day event covers 18 races and nearly 600 cars.

In an interesting change, media now have to attend a compulsory media briefing at either 08.00 or 11.45 - failure to attend means no media tabard which effectively means no trackside access. As I want to be there in the morning it means leaving the house at 05.30 to get there in reasonable time. I'm not sure if this is a new VSCC requirement or one specifically for Silverstone but it will be interesting to see what it adds to the proceedings.

On another note, I will be at Loton Park this Sunday for the second 'National B' speed hill climb of the season run by the Hagley & District Light Car Club.

8th April 2018
Sad times / happy times

A sad week in that my petrolhead brother-in-law Rob finally lost his battle with the big "C" which, although expected, was still a big shock. Rob was a massive Manchester United fan and so in tribute (and with a Manchester derby happening) we had a 'fish & chip' supper at our house last night which obviously included Robs' wife, children and grandchildren. Here are some shots from a great evening. Rest in peace Rob.

 

3rd April 2018
Kiss of death

I should have known it. Only yesterday I made my weekend plans clear - to attend the Hagley & District Light Car Club's (HDLCC) annual Geoff Taylor sporting trial. Today I found out it has been cancelled due to the site being waterlogged. Not to worry, I thought - I'll go the the Bromyard Speed Festival 'On Tour' at Shelsley Walsh instead. Only to find this afternoon that it has been postponed due to a waterlogged spectators car park.

Don't get me wrong - I think that these are absolutely the right decisions but it is indicative of the havoc that this recent wet spell has caused on motorsport events across the country. Looks like I'll be spending the weekend in the garden then - or 'the swamp' as it's now otherwise known.

To pad out this post here are a few more static car shots from Loton Park on Sunday. A small gallery is here.

PS: The Bromyard Speed Festival is hopefully now going to take place on Sunday 13th May.

2nd April 2018
HDLCC Speed Hill Climb at Loton Park

Well it was only ever going to be a short visit to Loton Park for me yesterday - I had plans for the afternoon and, for some reason, had got it into my mind that there would be another day of hill climbing today - Easter Monday. Unfortunately it was only a few days ago that I realised my error and so it was a meagre day of photography for me. I spent most of my time in the Paddock area attempting to fine-tune my static car shots (and even utilised my flashgun, which is a rare occasion) and barely made it onto the hill itself, apart from a few shots on the start line and at Triangle. However, it was good to catch up with some old acquaintances and to make some new ones so not an entirely wasted day.

Next weekend should be me travelling in a westerly direction deep into the Shropshire countryside to photograph the Hagley & District Light Car Club's Geoff Taylor sporting trial. I just hope that I turn up on the correct day!

28th March 2018
BTCC Media Launch at Donington Park
Yesterday saw me attending the British Touring Car Championship's (BTCC) 2018 media launch at Donington Park in Leicestershire. It was a full day starting with interviews with each of the drivers, an unveiling of the teams cars with their new liveries and then track testing in the afternoon. My thanks go the Ian Dowding of Track Action Photography who not only suggested the event to me but also provided great company throughout. I took 1300+ photographs altogether (probably a personal best) so it may be a little while before I publish the gallery.
21st March 2018
Change of plan

Only a few days ago I was planning a couple of weeks off but then yesterday I had notification that I have been successful in getting media accreditation for the launch of the 2018 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Donington Park next Tuesday.

It's going to be a full day starting at 7.30am for the obligatory complimentary full breakfast followed by welcome interviews with drivers, then team & car unveilings, grid shots, and in the afternoon, on-track testing shots. It all sounds like a great experience and will be all the better because I will be meeting up with fellow motorsport photographer Ian Dowding of Track Action Photography.

Photographs of the day will be here shortly.

18th March 2018
BARC Club Car Championships at Oulton Park

Well that will go down as one of my worst motorsport photography experiences ever. I can deal with torrential rain, I can deal with the beating sun (not that we see that much of it) but I could not deal with the bitterly, bitterly cold wind that blew over the BARC Club Car Championships at Oulton Park yesterday. I had 'layered up' with a cotton tee-shirt, thick fleece and a thick coat with a fleece lining, I was wearing a woolly hat and gloves but still the cold hit me as soon as I got out of the car. I tried my best but, frankly, after a few hours I'd had enough and honestly couldn't feel my fingers. So after a warming cup of tea I decided to head back at lunchtime to the some central heating.

On a positive note I did manage to see a race of Legends which I haven't seen before. Legends are a style racing car designed primarily to promote exciting racing and to keep costs down. The bodyshells are 5/8-scale replicas of American automobiles from the 1930s, all powered by a Yamaha 1200cc motorcycle engine. It certainly made for exciting, fast (and noisy) racing. If only if it had been warmer!

A few weeks off for me now until the first speed hill climbs of the season at Loton Park. These will take place on Saturday 31st March (practice day) and Sunday 1st April. It's no April Fools joke to mention that on the Sunday (only) there will be free admission to spectators.

11th March 2018
HDLCC Autotest at Curborough

What a great start to my 2018 motorsport season than the Jon Mackenzie Autotest at Curborough run by the Hagley & District Light Car Club (HDLCC).

A superb display of driving - I have no idea how they can control the cars the way that they do, or even know what direction to take -it just looks like a random positioning of traffic cones to me!

Media coverage of the event was covered 100% by John Hallett Photography & here are a few images from the day.

A small gallery will be added later in the week although this season I'm not going to be putting 400+ record shots from every event on my website - it just takes up to much time and it just isn't needed in todays society of mobile phones. But please ask if you are after a particular image from an event.

Next weekend I will be covering a circuit race meeting at Oulton Park in Cheshire. Check back for photos.....

9th March 2018
Magazine feature

Nice to see that I was 'featured' in the March edition of the Hagley & District Light Car Club's (HDLCC) newsletter 'Between the Scenes'. It happens to coincide with my first motorsport event of the year: the same clubs annual Jon Mackenzie Autotest at Curborough Sprint Course this coming Sunday. This venue is flat and with limited facilities and so can be bitterly cold even in the middle of Summer so wrapping up will definitely be a priority. Here is a shot from the same event back in 2016.

 

17th February 2018
Working Party at Loton Park

Sometimes it's nice to give something back. Before the start of each season the Hagley & District Light Car Club hold several working parties at Loton Park during which volunteers can help prepare the hill and facilities in advance of the first speed hill climb of the year.

Today was the second one that I attended this year and I spent the day with Roger and Barry, first laying some slab bases at Triangle and Fallow for me to place my camera tripod so that I don't have to level it each time and, after a superb buffet lunch, we mended the tyre wall at post 9. It was well attended with great banter (as usual) and a lovely spring-like day to boot. There is another one in two weeks time (3rd March @ 10am) if you want to come and join us.

PS: Actually the slab bases are for the emergency traffic-light tripods, not my camera. But one can dream!

 

13th February 2018
Free HDR Software

HDR (or High Dynamic Range) photography tends to be a bit like Marmite - you either love it or hate it. Or at least it was when it first gained popularity a few years ago - the garish, over-processed images made me think "my eyes, my eyes, please save my eyes".

But not so much now as most HDR photographs are toned down to be a least semi-realistic. However, to try HDR processing out meant spending some serious money, particularly if you wanted the grand-daddy of HDR programs - HRDSoft's Photomatix Pro.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the March issue of Practical Photography (in the UK) was giving away a FREE copy of Photomatix Pro 5, worth a claimed £72. Of course these software giveaways aren't for fun, they've just launched version 6 and are hoping to tempt you to buy it but if you just want to have a go the £5.49 cost of the magazine isn't going to break the bank - plus you get a few hours reading into the bargain.

You need to be quick though - although it states to be the March issue a new issue (presumably the April one) will be out in 2 days time on 15th February (!!) at which point this version will go off the shelves.

Here's a quick HDR version of an image from a few weeks ago using one of the presets on Photomatix Pro 5. A bit OTT for my liking but it shows what can be achieved with a simple mouse click - and there are lots of sliders to fine-tune it afterwards if you want to.

Original

 

High Dynamic Range version

10th February 2018
End-of-season pheasant shoot at Dinmore

Well I've finally managed to post-process the images from the 31st January at the Dinmore Estate in Herefordshire when I covered the last shoot of the season attended by the guests of Paul Dawes. It was a great day and the 'guns' certainly had a busy time - the last drive didn't finish until 5pm. Here are a few samples from the day and a full gallery of photographs is here.

31st December 2017
Pheasant Shoot at Dinmore Estate

An unexpected phone call earlier last week led to me travelling in a South-Westerly direction on Friday to the Dinmore Estate in Herefordshire to cover a pheasant shoot. I had been there a couple of times in the early part of 2016 and so it was nice to be invited back and also to be welcomed so warmly by everyone as if I'd only been gone a week or so. Another bonus was that I didn't even have to drive as a good friend was also going with his dogs to pick up the birds and so took me down with him.

The forecast throughout the week had not been good and I was expecting rain for most of the day and packed my gear accordingly. However, on the day, the rain stayed off and I was blessed with some nice low sunlight in the morning which was ideal - albeit getting a bit chilly in the afternoon.

This was also the first time out for a new piece of kit that I bought about a month ago and thought that I wouldn't be using until my motorsport season starts in March. I won't let the cat out of the bag just yet but I will write a mini-review here shortly. Happy to say that it did exactly what I wanted it to do.

Here are a few samples from the day and a full gallery of photographs is here.

27th November 2017
Mini review: Corel Aftershot Pro 3

I am a big fan of Adobe's software and use Lightroom exclusively for all of my post-processing. However, I do get concerned that with their continued drive to push everyone onto their cloud-based version that at some point I'll be 'held to ransom' and end up paying through the nose to access my own images. Therefore I am always interested in alternatives and seeing that currently there is a whopping 50% discount on Corel's Aftershot Pro 3 software (and you get a free months trial) I thought I'd give it a go and for the last 3 weeks I've been trying it out. So what did I find?

  • Aftershot Pro 3 loads very quickly - much speedier than Lightroom.
  • Unlike Lightroom, Aftershot Pro 3 doesn't import your images from a memory card. You have to do that yourself as a separate operation and then get Aftershot Pro 3 to import those images into a catalogue. This was a bit of a pain - instead of one operation it turned into two separate ones - and there was no automatic back-up of the images (which I can set Lightroom to do every time).
  • The desktop layout is very similar to Lightroom - navigation on the left and adjustments on the right. Oddly, the thumbnail filmstrip runs vertically down the left of the main image rather than horizontally underneath it (as per Lightroom) which to me seemed to compromise the size of the main image.
  • The adjustment panel has plenty of sliders for all the categories you would expect. However, in use, I found there was a delay between moving the slider and seeing the result which made editing more time-consuming and tricker to get an exact result.
  • Aftershot Pro 3 has an excellent watermarking tool that has a myriad of options and shows the watermark on the main image (unlike Lightroom that adds it at export) meaning that you can fine tune the position & opacity image-by-image.
  • Unfortunately the main downfall was that even with a tack-sharp image on the main panel when it was exported as a JPEG (at 100%) the resultant output was noticeably fuzzy. I tried many different settings, even over-sharpening the main image, but to no avail. Research on the internet showed that I wasn't the only one who had noticed this.
Section from the original main panel on Aftershot Pro 3
Section from an exported JPEG of the same shot

It is this latter point that makes Corel Aftershot Pro 3 unsuitable for my needs. After purchasing decent lenses and attempting to get the sharpest shots in the field I don't want to throw it all away during the final process. It's a shame - other than that it was a viable alternative and I was starting to feel comfortable using it. But for any photographer losing sharpness just isn't an option.

2nd November 2017
Support for ‘Lightroom Bitesize’ tutorials to cease
Please be aware that my support of the John Hallett Photography ‘Lightroom Bitesize’ tutorials is to cease at the end of November 2017 and they will no longer be available for download after that time. The reason for this is that all the new features being developed for Lightroom by Adobe are only being put on the ‘Creative Cloud’ version and the stand-alone version that I use is being slowly left behind - meaning that the existing tutorials are slowly becoming out-of-date and I haven’t the capability to access the new features in order to write replacements. I have enjoyed creating them over the years and have had many messages of thanks and support but I have no choice. If you find them useful please download them now before the disappear altogether. Thanks.
1st November 2017
Sober for October update
Just a quick 'Thank You' to all of you who supported my 'Sober for October' challenge - between us we managed to raise £210 for Macmillan Cancer Support which is far in excess of my initial meagre target of £75. A great result.
28th October 2017
MSVR Club Car Championships at Oulton Park
Today I managed to circumnavigate the traffic heading in, and out, of the RallyFest at Cholmondeley Castle to get to Oulton Park for their final circuit event of the season: the MSVR Club Car Championships which included the F3 Cup Championship, VAG Trophy, MSVT Trackday Championship, and MSVT Trackday Trophy. The highlight of the day was the contention of the F3 Cup Championship title between the Italian driver (and current championship leader) Jacobi Sebastiani and Brit Shane Kelly. Here are a few tasters from the day- a gallery will be added shortly.
22nd October 2017
The lights come on at Oulton Park
As the storm clouds brought the rain they also cast a dark shadow over the circuit and so the lights came on at the BARC meeting at Oulton Park yesterday. Here are a few selected images. A full gallery from my day is now available.
21st October 2017
BARC Club Car & MSA Superkart Championships
Well Storm Brian huffed and puffed but ultimately failed to put a damp squib on todays' British Automobile Racing Club's (BARC) Club Car Championships and the Motor Sports Association's (MSA) British Superkart Championships held at Oulton Park. There was a wide variety of vehicles on the track which kept everyone entertained, the only disappointment was that Druids was closed off to spectators - presumably a safety decision based on the many trees and anticipated high winds. Here are a few example images - a gallery will be added later in the week.
15th October 2017
Bitesized Review: Camera Cleaning Kit

I don't generally like using the 'C-word'' but I feel that I must: Yes, it's only 10 weeks until Christmas! So it's time to start shopping and, if you have a photographer in the family, time to start dropping hints about what they may want. To assist with this I have, over the years, written some Bitesized Reviews on niche photography accessories, books, videos & software that may help. Here is a new one on a Camera Cleaning Kit that I bought recently when I found that my lens cleaning pen had reached the end of it's life. Check it out in the Reviews section.

Product shot: John Hallett Photography

14th October 2017
Sober for October

This October I'm doing something heroic to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support - I'm transforming into a Soberhero and going 31 days booze-free. I'd love you to support me on my quest and make a donation; there's no amount too small (or big!). I'm already 14 days in and have blasted past my initial donation target so please check out my profile: http://www.gosober.org.uk/users/john-hallett
Thanks in advance! John

7th October 2017
Classic Sports Car Club at Oulton Park
I headed North today into Cheshire for the Classic Sports Car Club's (CSCC) annual visit to Oulton Park. I usually only visit Oulton Park once a year for the VSCC event and so I had already decided to make a full tour of the venue to check out all of the possible photographic angles ready for future visits next year. In the morning I started at Brittens chicane and worked my along Hill Top, Knickerbrook, Clay Hill and along to Druids Corner. In the afternoon I went on the opposite side to Dentons, The Avenue, Old Halls Corner, Deer Leap and finally Lodge Corner. I really enjoyed the diversity of shots and have certainly found some new spots that I wasn't aware of before. Here are a few examples - a gallery of images will be added later in the week.
3rd October 2017
Bugatti Car Handicap at Prescott

Type 40 (1927)

Type 43 (1927)

Type 30 (1925)

Type 35b (1926)

  Eight drivers took to their Bugatti cars at the BOC's Autumn Classic at Prescott last weekend. It was interesting to see how the car evolved over the years. These are all taken just after the start line.  

Type 35b (1927)

Type 51 (1931)

Type 51 (1932)

Type 40 (1927)

2nd October 2017
Speeding & Stationary American Cars at Prescott
This is the post I was going to add yesterday but got carried away with the animation of the smoking Camero. Here are some images of Americano from the American Autumn Classic run by the Bugatti Owners Club (BOC) at Prescott. Some speeding up the hill, some stationary in the paddock. A gallery of images will be added soon.
1st October 2017
American Autumn Classic at Prescott

It was the last hill climb event of the calendar year for me today as I attended the Bugatti Owners Club's (BOC) American Autumn Classic at Prescott. The competitions are over and the awards won so this is all about the spectacle - and so, as last year, I concentrated on Americana (both cars and details) rather than just photographing cars on the hill that didn't fit the theme. My original plan was to add a few examples in a collage as I usually do but William Chaplin in this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro provided a series of shots at the start line that I just had to convert to an animation:

27th September 2017
Photography day at Loton Park
This morning saw me driving towards Alberbury for the second time this week as I headed towards Loton Park. No cars involved this time though - this was an invitation by Sir Michael Leighton to the Hagley & District Light Car Club (HDLCC) for a photography day at the park. The nine in the party were met by Sir Michael and given tea & biscuits before having a screening of his very own film "Raptors of the Marches". He also had provided a display of his own wildlife photographs taken in the park over the years which were very impressive. Following that we were given unlimited access to the park to take whatever photographs we wanted. Given that it is a deer park we were all hoping for shots of bucks and roes but we were sorely disappointed. I saw a few in the trees but they had clearly sensed me before I saw them and they quickly disappeared into the undergrowth. I later met two gamekeepers who told me they were doing a deer cull which may explain why the deer were in hiding. However, we got some autumnal shots and had a good banter over a picnic lunch so it was still an enjoyable day. After lunch one of the party offered to take me to an abandoned military hospital on the site which sounded very exciting - but once again we were thwarted - the area was padlocked off, presumably to retain the pheasants. Then it started to rain! We decided at that point to call it a day but agreed to try and organise a repeat event next Spring. Overall a good day with a great group of Hagley members. Special thanks to Sir Michael Leighton for his hospitality and to Graham Loakes for organising the day.
24th September 2017
British, Leaders & Midland Hill Climb Championship at Loton Park
It was the final Hagley & District Light Car Club organised hill climb of the year at Loton Park today (although for me it was the penultimate visit - a little teaser that I'll explain later in the week). And what a day it was with many 'personal bests' achieved and Scott Moran narrowly missing breaking the hill record (his own) by just one-hundred'th of a second. I was once again taking images for the Hillclimb & Sprint Association so hopefully I will see some more in print soon. Here are a few quick selections and a gallery will be added later in the week.
23rd September 2017
VSCC Long Course at Prescott
Today I attended the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) 'long course' speed hill climb at Prescott. It is only the fourth time that this course, which includes the Ettores Loop, has been used and on the previous three occasions it was run on the Friday preceding the usual weekend on the shorter course. It has become so popular that it now has it's own Saturday -and today was it. As predicted there was a huge entry but everything went relatively smoothly and there were few delays. Not a huge crowd of spectators though, probably due to the fairly cold weather in the morning, although it started to fill up in the afternoon when the sun finally shone through.
17th September 2017
"Autumn Speed Finale" at Shelsley Walsh

It seems like only yesterday I was at the Midland Automobile Club’s ‘Speed into Spring’ at Shelsley Walsh but today I attended their Autumn Speed Finale. Where did that year go?

I was only able to attend for the morning practice sessions which turned out to be fortunate because there was a bitingly chilly wind that made it quite uncomfortable at times. The action on the hill was steady but not particularly exciting but it was good to meet up with the regular photographers as we head towards the end of the season.

6th September 2017
Shelsley Walsh September Drivers School

Yesterday I was fortunate to once again be the official photographer at the Shelsley Walsh drivers school run by the Midlands Automobile Club (MAC). It is always fascinating to see how the drivers progress. Slow, sedate runs to start with but much quicker, controlled & spirited runs by the end of the day. There was, as usual, a varied mix of cars - from a Riley Elf to a highly-tuned Subaru Impreza, but no matter what, the smile on the drivers face was just as big after each run up the hill. A well organised day with a great atmosphere.

4th September 2017
Hillclimb & Sprint Association website
I was pleased to be asked to cover the recent hillclimb at Prescott on 3rd September 2017 by Jerry Sturman for his report on the Hillclimb & Sprint Association's (HSA) website. The next day four of my images accompanied his report. The full report can be found here.
3rd September 2017
Prescott Speed Hill Climb

A few quick featured images from a moist Prescott today run by the Bugatti Owners Club (BOC) which created a red flag day due to the number of 'offs'. Well done to the marshals and rescue crews who kept stoppage times to a minimum. See a gallery of over 380 images here.

 
27th August 2017
Loton Park Speed Hill Climb

A great day at Loton Park speed hill climb run by Hagley & District Light Car Club (HDLCC). A pleasure to take Stephen Morrison from www.on-track.co.uk on his first trackside visit to Loton - great company. Thanks to the marshals & officials for making the day run smoothly & quickly. I found it all very enjoyable - pity the season is nearly at its end. A gallery of over 300 images can be found here.

 
16th August 2017
British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill
 

Just back from a long weekend in Scotland which 'happened' to coincide with round 7 of the British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill. Here are a few tasters and a full album can be found in the galleries. An album from the supporting races will be added later in the year.

6th August 2017
Vintage Sports-Car Club's Speed Hill Climb at Prescott
 

Some interesting pieces of machinery at the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) Prescott hill climb last Sunday. A full gallery can be found here.

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1st August 2017
Shelsley Walsh Drivers School

Today I was 'Official Photographer' at the Shelsley Walsh August driving school run by the Midlands Automobile Club where 31 drivers took their own vehicles up the hill climb course under expert tuition. Each driver will be sent a set of images of their runs from the day all courtesy of the Shelsley Walsh team (and me!). It was a great day and thanks to everyone who made it so enjoyable.

 

23rd July 2017
Classic Nostalgia at Shelsley Walsh
 

Well it was a day of 'full-frontals' (ooh-err missus) at Shelsley Walsh the other weekend at the annual 'Classic Nostalgia' event (run by the Midlands Automobile Club) when I didn't venture any further than 'Crossing' the whole day. Here are a few tasters but there is a full gallery.

 

16th July 2017
Loton Park Speed Hill Climb

A few images from the Hagley & District Light Car Club's (HDLCC) speed hill climb on the newly-laid tarmac at Loton Park on 16th July. A full gallery can be found here.

9th July 2017
Chateau Impney Speed Hill Climb
 

Some images from a great day at the annual Chateau Impney hill climb - a fantastic event with a great atmosphere.

6th July 2017
Vintage Sports Car Club hill climb at Shelsley Walsh
 

A few from last Sunday's Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) speed hill climb at Shelsley Walsh. A gallery of nearly 200 images can be found here

1st July 2017
More from the VHRA at Pendine
 

More from the mental day at Pendine Sands with the Vintage Hot Rod Association (VHRA). A gallery of over 170 images from the event is here.

28th June 2017
Vintage Hot Rod Association at Pendine Sands
 

Just back from a long weekend in South Wales which coincided with the Vintage Hot Rod Association's (VHRA) run up Pendine Sands. Here's a few tasters:

18th June 2017
MAC Reg Phillips Trophy meeting at Shelsley Walsh
 

A few from last Sunday's Reg Phillips Trophy meeting run by the Midlands Automobile Club (MAC) at a sweltering hot Shelsley Walsh

10th June 2017
VSCC Hawthorn Memorial Trophies at Oulton Park
 

A few quick snaps from an excellent day at Oulton Park celebrating Round 2 of Formula Vintage run by the Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC). Here are some images of the Autosolo in the morning and some circuit racing in the afternoon.

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4th June 2017
British Racing Green at Shelsley Walsh

Another busy week and so I've only just managed to sort out the images from the Midland Automobile Club's (MAC) 'British Racing Green' at Shelsley Walsh last Sunday. Here are a few chosen images and a gallery is now online

28th May 2017
VSCC at Loton Park
 
A great weekend at the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) annual visit to Loton Park in Shropshire.
27th May 2017
La Vita Rossa at Prescott
 
Two, three and four-wheeled action at the Bugatti Owners Club's (BOC) italian-themed 'La Vita Rossa' at Prescott - including a whole 'clutch' of ERA's.
21st May 2017
Speed Hill Climb at Loton Park
 

Always a pleasure to be at the Hagley & District Lights Car Club's (HDLCC) Loton Park speed hill climb - and yesterday was no exception.

13th May 2017
Traction Engines at the Ironbridge Gorge
 
I'm usually taking photographs of quickly moving vehicles and so it was a change today to take some of a slower mode of transport: steam-powered traction engines. Of course it helped that they passed right in front of our house here in the Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire - so little preparation needed. Here are a few chosen images - a small gallery is here.
7th May 2017
Speed into Spring at Shelsley Walsh
 

Well I 'Sped into Spring' today at a very sunny speed hill climb at Shelsley Walsh run by the Midland Automobile Club (MAC). Here are a few quickly selected images from the day .

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6th May 2017
A bit of a tidy up

So today I had a bit of a website tidy up. No great changes but I have:

  • Added images and changed the order of the front page slideshow
  • Added some images to the Motorsport Favourites gallery
  • Amalgamated the Vintage Vision gallery with Motorsport Favourites

Hopefully it will add to the sites viewing pleasure - and I have noticed a steady 10% increase in visitors month-on-month.

 

30th April 2017
VSCC Speed Trial at Curborough
 

A great Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) speed trial today at Curborough. A good line-up of cars made an interesting day, albeit with a sharp & cold wind that made you crave for a nice hot mug of tea. An album of images is here.

23rd April 2017
Prescott Speed Hill Climb
 

A few images from an excellent & very enjoyable day at Prescott Speed Hill Climb run by the Bugatti Owners Club (BOC) yesterday.

22nd April 2017
Launch of the Vintage Sports-Car Club's new race series: Formula Vintage
 

I was privileged last night to be invited to the launch of the Vintage Sports-Car Club's 'Formula Vintage' race series at the Brooklands Suite at Silverstone. The aim of the series is to introduce the Club's unique line up of racing vehicles to a much wider (and new) audience. Today I'll be back at Silverstone to photograph the first races of Round 1 each of which has an exciting range of cars. Later in the season further rounds will take place at Oulton Park, Cadwell Park, Mallory Park and Snetterton.

17th April 2017
Loton Park National B Hill Climb
 

Interesting Bank Holiday weather at Loton Park yesterday - wet, then wet & cold, then cold, then cold & wet. But once wrapped up it was a great days motorsport run by Hagley & District Light Car Club and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's a few images from the day.

9th April 2017
Prescott Bike Festival

Today I was proud to once again be part of the volunteer media team at the annual Prescott Bike Festival, run by the Severn Freewheelers on behalf of the National Association of Blood Bikes. I was stationed on the hill, at Pardon hairpin in the morning and Ettores in the afternoon, attempting to photograph each of the (nearly) 300 bikes as they took their two runs. The teams photographs are available to purchase (all proceeds to the charity) at 2020zoom.com.

7th April 2017
More from the Bromyard Speed Festival
 

A few more images from last Sunday's Bromyard Speed Festival. A full gallery of 160+ photographs can be found here.

3rd April 2017
Image used for VSCC

Nice to see that one of my images from last season has been used to promote the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) annual visit to Loton Park hill climb:

2nd April 2017
Bromyard Speed Festival

 

A day at Bromyard Speed Festival -a biannual event where the town's streets are closed off so that vehicles can be shown in their glory.

 

26th March 2017
Hillclimb season opener at Loton Park

A great start to the 2017 hillclimb season today at Loton Park, run by Hagley & District Light Car Club. Some great driving, few incidents and sunshine! Free admittance led to a sizable crowd and I hope that they enjoyed the day. I certainly did.

16th March 2017
Commercial shot

Another commercial publication, this time in the British Plastics & Rubber online magazine. I was asked to capture a portrait shot of a new director at TCL Packaging Ltd. I chose a number of locations including this one outside the Reception area which included the company logo. In hindsight maybe I should have added a polorising filter to minimise the reflections although then it might not have been so clear that it was taken in front of a window?

15th March 2017
Formula Vintage

Nice to receive the following invitation to the launch of Formula Vintage at Silverstone – the new name for the Vintage Sports-Car Club's racing activities – an evening which will include a brief look back at more than 80 years of VSCC Racing history and an overview of what you can look forward to seeing at the events in 2017. Followed by the VSCC Spring Start races at the same circuit on Saturday it should be a great weekend.

 

12th March 2017
Peter Blankstone Sporting Trial at Shelsley Walsh
 

Fantastic day today for the the BTRDA Peter Blankstone sporting trials held at the 'world famous' Shelsley Walsh venue. Great to meet up with the gang of Midland motorsport photographers, namely Geoff, Rob, Gail, Jean, Stella & Calvin and to spend some time with stalwart marshal Mick Robbins and Shelsley's Commercial Manager Mark Constanduros.

19th February 2017
Yesterday I was mainly....
 

Yesterday I was mainly....... repairing a fence with a new post and two rails (all rotten) and then painting them green. Then I went to the bar - and painted that green too. Yes - it was the second working party at the Loton Park hill climb venue getting it ready for the forthcoming season. Plenty of banter and another free lunch - soup, beef stew and a very tasty banana & ginger crunch for pud! The next one's on 4th March, which coincides with the Marshal's training weekend at Prescott, so we may be a bit thin on the ground. Please join us. Tea & toast at 10am and we should finish about 3.30pm. Hope to see you there.

4th February 2017
Today I've mostly been....
 

Today I've mostly been.......painting the regalia shop at Loton Park hillclimb. Yes, the first of three working parties and with the weather being so good as many as possible of the 20+ volunteers were issued brushes and fence paint to give the various huts some extra protection. This was all topped with an excellent free 3-course meal - soup, chilli & jacket spud and trifle. The next working party is on Saturday 18th February starting at 10.00 and finishing about 3-ish. Come and join us.

26th January 2017
iPhoneography #1

I was a very lucky man this Christmas. Mrs H spoiled me rotten with a triple-purpose present - an Apple iPhone 7 Plus.

Triple-purpose? well she thought long and hard:

  1. My Bang & Olufsen MP3 player died during 2016
  2. My Lumix LX3 'compact' camera is getting on 9 years old now and , to be honest, isn't very 'compact'
  3. She hated my work-supplied Motorola Moto-G phone

To replace all three individually would be expensive - but to combine all three in an iphone was the solution.

It's a lovely piece of work. I used to have an iPhone 6 - which was also lovely as a personal assistant, but generally useless as a phone. It constantly dropped calls and reception was patchy, to say the least. This new iPhone 7 reminds me of the smooth, tactile, feel of my old iPhone but combined with a very much improved reception - possibly the best call reception of any mobile phone that I've owned.

But this isn't about phones - it's about photography. So how is the camera on the iPhone 7?

The main camera is a dual-lens 12 megapixel unit, one lens being an f/1.8 wide angle and the other an f/2.8 telephoto - and on top of that you also get 10X digital zoom. And on the front there is another 7 megapixel camera for those all important 'selfie' shots. It is supplemented by a flash, in-camera filters, HDR, a depth-of-field 'portrait mode', a panorama mode and many other additions, more of which will be covered in later blog posts.

But meanwhile, here is a wintery shot of Jackfield village taken during a walk with the dogs:

1st January 2017
Happy New Year
 

Our New Years Eve consisted of a walk through Lydebrook Dingle in Coalbrookdale with our good friends and our (collective) 9 dogs, 5 of theirs, 4 of ours. (see if you can spot them all). Followed by a huge spread with a few!! drinks. Happy New Year.

26th December 2016
Boxing Day Shoot

Today I was fortunate enough to be invited to join a pheasant shoot at the nearby Willey Estate near Broseley, Shropshire. After a busy Christmas Day with plenty of food (and drink!) it was good to get some fresh air and exercise and we were blessed with a dry, sunny, albeit slightly chilly, day throughout. It was a great group of people with plenty of banter and I really enjoyed it. Here is the obligatory group shot and the gallery is here.

11th December 2016
Another sunset
A lovely sunset this evening - taken from my kitchen door, albeit with a  200mm lens

20th November 2016
VSCC Cotswold Trial

Yesterday saw what will probably be my last motorsport event of this year - the Vintage Sports-Car Club's Cotswold Trial in and around Prescott. It's one of my favourite events, not just because of the friendliness of the competitors but also the stunning backdrop of the autumnal trees & leaves. Highlight of the day for me was, as I walked between stages, Douglas Monroe stopped his 1929 Riley 9 and gave me a lift. Fantastic.

A gallery of the event can be found here.

 

17th November 2016
Ha'penny Bridge

I was pleased to receive a complimentary copy of a new book 'The Ha'penny Bridge' by author Michael English through the post this week. Well over 18 months ago I was approached by Michael who asked to use one of my images ' Ironbridge in snow' in this book about a bridge that is a symbol of the city of Dublin - the first footbridge over the river Liffey and also the first iron bridge in Ireland, built in 1816.

My image is a two-page spread over pages 54 & 55. The original can be seen in the Landscapes & Seascapes gallery.

12th November 2016
Mobile optimisation

Just a reminder that this website is optimised for most mobile devices:

30th October 2016
Hanging Leaf
It was a lovely mild day for the end of October and an ideal day to continue cutting shrubs back ready for the Winter. As I was heading for the compost heap I came across this silver birch leaf, seemingly hovering in mid air. Taking a closer look I noticed that it was actually suspended on a tiny piece of what I can only imagine is spiders web - but looking up the nearest overhanging branch was some 30 feet higher. Why or how this leaf ended up dangling on it is a mystery.

I couldn't miss this shot - especially with the opportunity for a small depth of field giving a dreamy, uncluttered background. I used an aperture of f/2.8 to do just that and a shutter speed of 1/250 sec to try and eliminate any movement blur. The ISO set automatically at 500 to allow these settings. What I hadn't accounted for was that the slightest hint of breeze sent the little leaf wildly pivoting and swinging about - a tripod was clearly not an option. Therefore I just had to hand-hold the camera and try to back-button focus on the leaf whilst using a 'burst-mode' continuous shutter in the hope of capturing something reasonable.

I ended up taking 50 shots in just a few minutes. Most were rejects due to poor focus, others for poor composition. I ended up with 3 possibilities but this was my favourite - not least because if you look really closely you can see that tiny spiders web.

19th October 2016
Classic Sports-Car Championship at Oulton Park
 

I've just added a gallery of images from last weekends Classic Sports-Car Club's (CSCC) event at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

16th October 2016
Bitesized Review: Sleeklens Lightroom Presets

I was recently contacted by the Danish software company Sleeklens (https://sleeklens.com) that sells professional workflows to photographers who are looking to cut down time editing their photos and get better results. Basically they offered to give me a free copy of their landscape workflow software ‘Through The Woods’ (RRP: $39) in return for a review on my website. Here's one of the images I produced and the review is here.

13th October 2016
VSCC Welsh trial gallery added

A selection of images from last Sunday's Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC's) Welsh trial has now been added to the gallery.

9th October 2016
VSCC Welsh Trial

A fantastic day at the Vintage Sports-Car Club's (VSCC) annual Welsh Trial near Presteigne. Here is a snapshot. A gallery will be added later in the week.

5th October 2016
Autumn Classic at Prescott gallery added from 2nd October

Some chosen images from the American-themed Autumn Classic at Prescott have just been added. I made the conscious decision to only take images depicting the American theme rather than the cars competing on the hill. The gallery is here.

2nd October 2016
Autumn Classic at Prescott
 

A few detail shots from today's splendid American-themed Autumn Classic at Prescott run by the Bugatti Owners Club (BOC)

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1st October 2016
Lightroom Bitesize Tutorials added

The popular Lightroom Bitesize tutorials have now returned to the website. There are currently 35 tutorials, each of which opens as a handy PDF document which you can just read on-screen or print off for your records.

29th September 2016
Loton Park gallery added from 25th September 2016

A few images have been added to a gallery from a very slow day at Loton Park where the final rounds of several national hillclimb championships took place.

27th September 2016
Sunset

Fantastic sky over Ironbridge this evening. Pity I was just outside my kitchen door rather than being somewhere photogenic.

25th September 2016
HDLCC Loton Park hill climb
 
It was a great day for socialising at Loton Park today. Good job - there were so many stoppages there was little else to do. Altogether I enjoyed it - even though I took a pathetically low number of photos. I will add some more to the website later in the week (but not many!). Great to see everyone though....
15th September 2016
New Facebook page

I have now created a new Facebook page (as opposed to a timeline) which is designed to complement this website. You can find it here.

 

11th September 2016
VSCC Hill Climb at Loton Park

This morning I set off in a westerly direction to my 'local' hill climb venue, Loton Park in Alberbury, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, to be part of the Vintage Sports-Car Club's media team for their annual hill climb. I have been visiting Loton Park on-and-off for over 30 years and so I have a soft spot for it, notwithstanding the fact that I now know it so well - in fact the only problem I have is trying to find something a little bit different each time.

It was a great day. It all went very smoothly, no major 'offs' and the weather stayed dry and (largely) sunny. I also met a couple of very pleasant new media photographers on the hill and we had some good banter - I hope to see more of them both next season.

A new gallery from the day has been added.

4th September 2016
Shelsley Walsh Bike Festival 2016

Today saw the second ever bike festival at the iconic Shelshley Walsh hill climb venue. Once again I was privileged to be invited to be part of the official media team to capture photographs from the day. In the morning I was on the start line taking a photograph of every 'ride the hill' entry with our grid girl Mel. She normally models at stock car and drag car race events and this was her first experience of a hill climb - but her experience soon showed through and it was a pleasure to work with her and she brought a smile to many a biker.

In the afternoon I was stationed on 'Top Ess' and it was great to see the entrants put some spirited handling into a difficult corner on their way to the finish point.

The Bike Festivals raise vital funds and awareness for the organising, regional Blood Bike group, Severn Freewheelers, charity no: 1120999. Photographs are a available from this website. No member of the media team makes any money from these photographs - any proceeds are donated to the charity.

28th August 2016
Loton Park Hill Climb

It was a fantastic day at Loton Park today - a fly-past by the Red Arrows, a lovely presentation to the Gate Marshall crew - and, of course, some great hill climbing.

I attempted some wide-angle HDR shots of some of the cars in the paddock area, inspired by best mate (and top photographer) Adrian Evans. Some came out OK but there is more work to be done. However, it is something that I will continue to do because I really don't spend enough time in the paddock area and concentrate far too much time 'on-the-hill' which can, of course, over the season become a bit monotonous. A couple of these shots can be found in the Gallery.

20th August 2016
Fully operational

The new site is now fully operational with all links working. I just need to populate the gallery and links pages and we're ready to go......

 

18th August 2016
The website develops

Slowly but surely the new website is developing and I finally have a vision of how it's going to look. It's interesting that as I get into it I start to remember how it all works after years of relying on Wordpress to do everything for me. I'm sure that I am only touching the surface of what Adobe Dreamweaver is fully capable of but I am quite pleased with the results and hope to launch a fully operational website soon.

 

15th August 2016
A new website is born

After months of sporadic, and sometimes downright terrible, loading of my website - coupled with a new problem that developed whereby I couldn't upload any new images - I finally decided to contact a local I.T. company, Midland Computers. I have used them in a professional capacity over many years and so trust them to give me the best advice. As soon as I mentioned that it was run on a Wordpress platform there was a sharp intake of breath. In a nutshell, they don't support Wordpress-based sites because so many of the themes and plug-ins are open-source and, as such, can give rise to all sorts of bugs and security breaches. To de-bug my site was clearly not an option.

After a brief chat it was clear what was the best option for the future - to delete the Wordpress site entirely and start again with a new approach. At present my aim is to create a unique stand-alone site using Adobe Dreamweaver just like I used to years ago. This may take some time though, much has changed since then and the key is all about planning what you want the end result to look like rather than just ploughing on in the hope that something good may develop. It may be some time before this site is up-and-running to its full potential.

PS: As a footnote, as I was deleting the old Wordpress folders from the web server I noticed that for every image I had uploaded it has created and saved 8 other versions of various sizes. No wonder that the database was getting so bloated. It seems a very amateurish method of providing the user with a range of images sizes for a blog post.