Johns' photography blog
Week commencing 15th September 2019:

19th September 2019:

OK - I've been a bit quiet on here for a few days. I had a motorsport-free weekend in which I managed to complete quite a few jobs around the house and garden but photography-wise I've been concentrating on populating the Alamy stock site with images. This basically requires me to choose suitable images for potential image stock sales, checking (and double-checking) their quality to ensure they pass the scrutineers, keywording each image, uploading them to Alamy for scrutineering and, if they pass, revisiting each image to add further keywords and categories so they they get indexed in such a way as to maximise their potential. I try and upload about 10 images a day but even that takes up a substantial amount of time - but its worth taking that time to ensure there is no rejection of an image because that carries penalties that include rejection of the entire batch and an increase in the time taken to do the scrutineering for future uploads.

The good thing about it though is that I discover past images that I've forgotten about. Here are a few of those 'rediscovered' images.

Week commencing 8th September 2019:

14th September 2019:

Disappointing news is emerging that Sigma is to discontinue providing a range of Pentax-K mount lenses due to a shrinking demand and to focus its resources on producing lenses for mirrorless cameras. It's disappointing for me because I've been using the Pentax brand since I was a teenager - not through any brand loyalty but because at the time it was a natural progression from a Zenit B (its lenses could quite easily be converted from the M42 screw thread to the Pentax K fitting with a simple adapter) and since then I have grown used to the layout of the Pentax brand and I view my cameras as tools - very much like a carpenter with a favourite set of old chisels - which is why I've stuck with it ever since. I should add that I'm not particularly bothered about losing the choice of Sigma lenses (I actually think the Tamron brand is better) but I suspect it may be the death-knell for the Pentax K mount in the longer term. In the short-term (1-2 years) it probably won't affect me (in fact it will likely result in a glut of second-hand Pentax equipment on the market) but I suspect that I will eventually have to reinvest in a new brand, with the expense and learning-curve that it will inevitably involve. I really will have to start taking a bigger interest in what's new in the market now so that when that time comes I can make an informed decision as to which way to go - Canon, Nikon, Sony? Single-lens reflex (SLR) or mirrorless? I'm going to have to think very carefully.

13th September 2019:

A selection of photographs from last Saturdays annual visit by the Vintage Sports-Car Club to Loton Park.

12th September 2019:

  • After just over a week and numerous e-mails I have finally received the list of contact details for last weeks drivers school at Shelsley Walsh and have therefore been able to send them their photographs from the day. Seems the delay was caused by the administrator going on holiday before sending me the all-important spreadsheet. Anyway it's all done now & I hope that they like them.

11th September 2019:

Every event programme for a Vintage Sports-Car Club event carries a cover shot which is an artistic manipulation of a photograph from a previous event. For last weekends Loton Park speed championship it was my turn and they used a shot that I took of a Morgan Aero three-wheeler at Loggerheads corner in 2018. Here is the cover itself complete with an (incorrectly-spelled) credit and the original image.

Original

10th September 2019:

  • The September edition of the Bugatti Owners Club newsletter carried 3 of my photographs (including the cover shot). See Published
  • Some of my photographs from Prescott have been used for the British Hillclimb Championship report on the Hillclimb and Sprint Association (HSA) website (see them here).
  • Over 600 photographs from the weekends hill climbs have just been added to the galleries.

9th September 2019:

Just relaxing after a packed weekend of motorsport: The Vintage Sports-Car Club's annual visit to Loton Park and a British Hillclimb Championship round at Prescott. This latter event had the added bonus of a new hill record being set: Sean Gould in his 4 Litre Gould GR59J Judd pipped Jos Goodyears time set in 2014 with a 35.41s ascent. The run was very smooth and controlled and didn't seem blisteringly quick and so I think it caught a lot of people by surprise when the time came up on the screens. Certainly one to watch next season.

Here are 3 shots of Sean's day on the hill. Further photographs from both days will follow later in the week.

Week commencing 1st September 2019:

7th September 2019:

Itinerary for this weekend:

5th September 2019:

  • I've been dusting down my Panasonic Lumix DCM-LX3 compact camera so that I can use it during my dog walks to grab to stock shots. It's getting on 10 years old now but takes 10.1MP RAW image files with a Leica lens and so is still comparable with many more modern cameras. I did think about upgrading and so I did some comparison shots with Mrs H's fairly-new Canon Powershot but, to be honest, there wasn't much between them so I may as well stick with what I've got.
  • The August edition of the Vintage Sports-Car Club's 'The Bulletin' carried 8 of my photographs: 3 from Oulton Park in May and 5 from Donington Park in June. See Published.

3rd September 2019:

Today I was the official photographer at the last Shelsley Walsh driving school of 2019. Once again it was another great day; good organisation, great camaraderie and fine weather. I now have 700+ photographs to sort out ready for despatch to each of the customers as a memento of their day on the hill. Here is the obligatory group start-line shot and the presentation to the overall best driver of the day Rick Leddy by the 2018 British Hillclimb Championship winner Trevor Willis.

1st September 2019:

  • I've been spending some time uploading photographs to stock sites recently and one of the less interesting jobs is applying keywords to each of them (keywords help people searching for suitable images find appropriate ones - hopefully mine!). Usually my mind goes totally blank and after about half-a-dozen I give up. I was therefore very pleased to find an online resource that suggests suitable keywords from similar images which you can then just cut-and-paste into your own. And it is totally free. Check it out here: IMStocker
  • A great start to the week with notification that no less that 19 of my photographs have been used in the latest edition of the Classic Marques Sports Car Clubs (CMSCC) magazine 'The Oily Rag', including the all-important cover shot of Clive Glass in his Morgan Plus 8. See Published.

Week commencing 25th August 2019:

27th August 2019:

I did mention that I'd tried out a few different photographic locations on Sunday at Loton Park. Here are my thoughts and some examples from these spots:

At marshals post 6, roughly two-thirds of the way up Cedar Straight. This is not a location that I'd ever tried before but I thought I'd give it a go. I started on the first runs of the day but unfortunately the sun just wasn't peeking over the trees and so the shots were in shadow. It may be worth trying again in an afternoon.
From the same location but now at a focal length of 500mm plus a 1.4X teleconverter catching the cars as they passed by marshals post 5 lower down Cedar Straight. The sun was now casting bands of light between the trees and the trick was to press the shutter whilst the car was in one.
A little later in the morning and the sun was now shining clearly across the track. This was almost opposite the marshals post and I was able to pan the shots with a 75-200mm lens. My favorite shots from this location and certainly one I'll use again.
After lunch I positioned myself under the trees at Keepers corner, being sure to keep away from the wasps nest in the tyre wall. I have taken shots from here before but always on the corner itself - this time I used the 500mm + 1.4X teleconverter combo and caught the cars on the straight (-ish) section before the corner - although I had to be quick otherwise the shot ended up with a flip-flop marker post in the middle!

This position did allow a shot of a errant Mini who slightly over-cooked it and did some mowing.

So there's a summary of my location trials. I'll certainly try marshals post 6 again when I'm next at Loton Park as the Vintage Sports-Car Club make their annual visit in a few weeks time.

26th August 2019:

  • More photographs sold - this time from last weekends sprint at Curborough. It's nice to see that the search engine optimisation (SEO) is working well on the website because the majority of enquiries now come directly from here and very few from social media - which is why I spend so little time on the likes of Facebook now.
  • I spent a nice day yesterday at a hill climb at Loton Park, not least because of the beautiful sunny weather we had. I spent the time trying out some different photographic locations, some of which worked and some of which didn't. I'll add a post about them later in the week but in the meantime a gallery of images has been added.

Week commencing 18th August 2019:

23rd August 2019:

A little while ago I posted about an unexpected payment I had received from a photographic stock agency iStock which I then used to purchase some studio lights. Discussing this with fellow photographer Rob Macdonald I learned that he used another agency called Alamy. It rang a bell and when I looked into it later I found that I had already been a member since 2008 but hadn't actually got around to populating the account - so this week I submitted the required 3 image files for the initial quality acceptance criteria and was very pleased yesterday to be informed that all had passed on the first attempt. I will therefore now be uploading further images to the site to see if I can generate some additional supplementary income over the Winter period.

21st August 2019:

Here are a few photographs from last Sundays figure-of-eight Scimfest Sprint at Curborough. More can be seen in the gallery.

20th August 2019:

  • Today I received a request for a selection of specific photographs from Loton Park over the years for a forthcoming publication - which have now been sent off via a Dropbox link.
  • I also received a request for 26 photographs from last Sundays sprint at Curborough which will also feature in a forthcoming publication. These have been despatched.
  • F-14. It has now been 14 days since I have interacted on Facebook and I do feel that I've been a lot more productive. I have also been working on my Pinterest account trying to make it more of a photographers resource rather than a random collection of saved pages. Please check it out.

19th August 2019:

I had an enjoyable day out yesterday at the annual Scimfest Sprint run by Hagley & District Light Car Club at the Curborough sprint track. This particular event utilises the figure-of-eight configuration which always gives plenty of opportunities for a photographer - indeed if you locate yourself at the centre of the 'eight' you can get four different shots of each car per run. And you don't need a trackside pass to get great shots either - the only real difference between 'spectator' and 'trackside media' is a wooden rail fence!

Of course it wasn't just Reliant Scimitars in attendance, there was a strong entry list including the Ferrari Owners Club, Classic Marques Sports Car Club and the TR Register.

A gallery of over 440 photographs has now been added.

Week commencing 11th August 2019:

14th August 2019:

12th August 2019:

  • More work published - the Chateau Impney Hill Climb team have created a special Bentley gallery to celebrate 100 years of the marque and I was honoured to be asked to be one of the contributors. The gallery can be seen on their website here.
  • A new gallery of over 300 photographs from yesterdays 'Championship Challenge' hill climb at Shelsley Walsh has just been added.

Week commencing 4th August 2019:

10th August 2019:

  • I was very pleased to receive a complimentary copy of the July/August edition of the Hillclimb and Sprint Association (HSA) magazine 'Speedscene' and even more pleased to see that no less than 18 of my photographs had been used, including a double-page spread from June's 'Porsche at Prescott' event. See more on the 'published' page.
  • F-4 Yes, it's been 4 days since I've even looked at Facebook and have I missed it. No! I have, however, used the time to sort out and revisit my favourite/bookmarked websites, many of which I haven't seen for years (and some of which don't exist any more). They now deserve some time to see how they have developed, after all I did make the effort to save them at the time.

9th August 2019:

  • I have now sent off my photograph submissions to both the Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) and Hagley & District Light Car Club (HDLCC) from last weekend at Prescott & Loton Park. As I have mentioned before, the 'deal' for getting trackside media access is a) the get work published on a regular basis and b) to submit photographs to the relevant club for use for their own publicity purposes.
  • The VSCC sent out a press release with a list of the winners from last weekend. Here are the overall awards:

Tony Lees - Fastest Vintage

Edmund Burgess - Peter Hampton Tankard

James Crabb - Fastest Young Driver

Richard Gatley - Silver Con-Rod Trophy

James Baxter - The May-Berthon Trophy (FTD)

Jeremy Flann - Sam Clutton Memorial Trophy

7th August 2019:

F-1 As a very small unscientific social experiment I've decided to go ‘cold-turkey’ from the social media platform Facebook for 10 days. As from yesterday (which I will call day F) I am not going to post on, or even look at, the site - in order to see what effect it has, if any, on my photography motivation or creativity. There are various articles on the internet from people who have done the same after finding that social media eventually became more like a 'job' rather than a pleasure (one such example is here) and I have to say that even after one day I feel 'liberated' from the habit of looking at Facebook every time I have a spare minute to see who's posted recently and if there are any more 'likes' or comments on my own posts. Let's see how it goes.

  • I've now uploaded a gallery of photographs from Sundays Loton Park hill climb. Here are a few tasters:

6th August 2019:

It has been a busy weekend of motorsport photography starting at 5am on Saturday when I crawled out of bed to get ready for the drive down to Prescott for the Vintage Sports-Car Club ‘short course’ hill climb. However, before I could depart I first had to make my weekly visit to my local butchers, ‘Paddy’ Ryan’s in Much Wenlock, to stock up with rations for the week – and my weekend lunch breaks (and yes, he opens at 6am). The day at Prescott was uneventful, the weather stayed fine, there were no major incidents and there was a decent crowd. One small cloud on the horizon involved the action of another photographer – first he positioned himself on the outside of Pardon hairpin bend and got closer and closer to the track until the marshals eventually had to tell him to move. Not more than 10 minutes later he had to be told to move again, this time because he was sprawled out lying on his stomach at the side of the track near Bridge. I had never seen this particular individual before but how he managed to get a trackside pass I will never know.

I spent the morning at the top of the hill at Semicircle (always a good spot early on due to the position of the sun), venturing down to Pardon hairpin for the lunchtime Alvis cavalcade and, after lunch, at Orchard corner. This is not one of my usual spots when the ‘long course’ is in use (which incorporates Ettores loop) due to the speed at which the cars pass by but it is worthwhile on the short course to catch them as they try to keep their speed up around the corner to head up to Pardon hairpin.

On Sunday I was up at a similar time but this was to take our dogs for an early morning walk whilst it was quiet. I left for Loton Park at a more respectable 9am and had only missed a couple of batches when I arrived. I spent the morning at the top of the hill at Museum corner and the afternoon lower down the hill at Fletchers Dellow and Loggerheads. It was enjoyable day again, not least due to meeting up with the fellow regular photographers whom I hadn't seen for some time.

So the last few days have been spent recuperating after the weekend and sorting through hundreds of photographs. A gallery from the VSCC event is now up and here are a few from the afore-mentioned Alvis cavalcade. They certainly seemed to enjoy the experience:

Week Commencing 28th July 2019:

2nd August 2019:

  • This morning I read an interesting article in the free online Shutter magazine with reference to blogging on a photography website. It pointed out that more regular blog posts are far more useful and engaging than infrequent ones. I currently only post once a week and only to cover my weekends photography so I will now try and post more regularly during the week with thoughts, opinions and happenings.
  • I spent a few minutes in the evening checking all my batteries ready for tomorrows day at Prescott. I always find it better to check such things the night before especially when having an early start. I also put my entry tickets in my camera bag and my Holdfast camera strap on top to make sure that I don't forget them. I remember last year being halfway to Loton Park when I realised that I had forgotten to put the camera strap in the car and there was only one thing I could do - turn around and go back home to fetch it! Since then I try and go through a mental checklist the night before to make sure everything is ready and obvious to see.

1st August 2019:

  • I received a request from Chateau Impney Hill Climb for some shots of Bentleys from the event. A selection of 18 shots have now been sent off in a Dropbox file.
  • My ticket for this weekends VSCC hill climb at Prescott arrived in the post today. Always nice to get it early – one less thing to have to think about.
  • The refund for the faulty studio lighting (and the 10% discount on the replacements) has now arrived on my credit card statement. Great service Amazon.


31st July 2019:

  • Just received an e-mail from Chateau Impney Hill Climb (CIHC) which follows the fifth edition of this historic British racing weekend held on 13th and 14th July 2019. The mail contained a copy of the official press release from the day and so here is a copy and below is a selection of my photographs highlighting the class winners.

Class 3: Dr David Pryke- Morgan 4/4 - 45.89 seconds

Class 5: James Collins- Hudson Super Six- 51.98 seconds

Class 12: Peter Joy - Lotus Seven S1 – 46.26 seconds

Class 10: Mark Riley- Creamer Special- 45.16 seconds

Class 7: Ben Fidler - ERA AJM1 44.53 seconds

Class 6: Harry Painter MG Kayne Special MG J2/PA – 47.96 seconds

Class 4: Mark Brett - Ballamy Ford V8 Special – 47.14 seconds

Class 9: Julian Grimwade Frazer Nash Norris Special – 44.50 seconds

Class 8: James Stuart Baxter - Riley Sprite/Era – 42.99 seconds

Class 14: William Nuthall - Cooper T53 – 41.22 seconds

Class 2: Marcus Black- Talbot Lago T23 - 49.67 seconds

Class 13: Sarah Thorne - Lotus 15 Buick – 44.40 seconds

Class 17: Malcolm Thorne- Lotus 35 F2 – 39.71 seconds

Fastest Time of the Day (FTD)
Class 15: Tom Walker - Lola T160 – 39.14 seconds

Class 18: Matt Clarke - Austin Mini - 44.86 seconds

Class 11: Mark Woodhouse- Elva FJ100- 43.05 seconds

Class 16: Jack Woodhouse - Lotus 20/22 - 39.52 seconds

Class 1: Tim Kneller - Riley TT Sprite - 47.68 seconds

29th July 2019:

  • With Mrs H working next Sunday morning I have re-jigged my plans for the coming weekend and will now attend the VSCC ‘short’ hill climb at Prescott on the Saturday (early start, late finish) and Loton Park hill climb on the Sunday which, as a more local event, gives me a late start and early finish which works much better for both of us (and the dogs!).
  • The faulty lighting set was collected today as arranged so hopefully the refund will be on my credit card statement soon.

28th July 2019:

It’s been a rewarding month this July with an unexpected payout from iStock for some stock photography together with income from prints and digital images from various motorsport events. Of course (being a photographer) this was immediately re-invested in more kit (namely a set of monobloc strobe lights and modifiers) for the studio which I will use to improve my repertoire of stock images – a facet of photography that I enjoy because it relies on meticulous planning and preparation of the set as much as the actual photoshoot itself.  

Of course, nothing ever goes exactly to plan and so on trying out the new gear I found that one of the lights had a fault (continuously strobing on-and-off), a modeling light bulb was broken and the wireless trigger didn't work. Fair play to Amazon though, a new set was sent out and delivered today and the originals will be collected free-of-charge tomorrow. They even gave me a 10% discount on the order for my inconvenience.

With everything finally up-and-running I have done a quick test shoot of three old glass bottles. Overall I am pretty happy with a first attempt (although I need to work on the reflections from the lighting itself). To the right is an image of the studio set-up I used and a lighting diagram showing the relative position of the lights.

20th July 2019
John Hallett Photography Studio

Earlier in the year I was fortunate to obtain the use of my late Fathers art studio. As a formally trained artist he found the same problem that I do as a photographer – setting up a temporary studio in your own home often seems to take more time & effort than it’s worth, and that’s apart from the fact that there is never enough room.

So, some 40+ years ago he had his own studio built in which he could set up his easels and artwork without having to think about packing it all away at a certain time. In later years he used it less and less and it became a storage ‘shed’ for all manner of bits and pieces that he felt he should keep (he hated throwing things away).

Now, however, it has been cleared out and I have spent the last 6 months replacing rotten wood, sealing leaking windows, removing ivy, repainting the outside and inside, upgrading the electrics - generally bringing it back to its former glory to create a still-life & close-up photographic studio.


Here are some before & after photographs of Dads studio – I like to think he would be quite pleased with how it has turned out.

14th July 2019
Chateau Impney (Day 2)

It was an early start on day two of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb as I made use of the close proximity of my night at the local Travelodge to pack in as much photography as I could. After a breakfast bacon butty and a natter with fellow photographers I made my way down to the first left-hand corner after the start line with the plan of just capturing some shots of the early batches - but enjoyed the spot so much that I ended up staying there all morning until the lunchtime demonstration runs. I rounded the afternoon off with some shots from those demonstrations, including a very low fly-past from a Lancaster bomber, and a walk around the paddock and showground. Then it was sadly time to leave for home - until next year!

There are two galleries, one from the practice day and one from the competition day, with a combined count of over 660 photographs.

13th July 2019
Chateau Impney (Day 1)

Here is a small selection of the various modes of transport from day one of the annual Chateau Impney Hill Climb in Droitwich (and my fifth year attending this event). As ever it was a fantastic occasion with a great atmosphere and an eclectic mix of vehicles - surely something to excite everybody. The media were, as ever, looked after splendidly with their own dedicated room and breakfast & lunch provided - by far the best facilities of all the venues that I have the pleasure to attend.

After a long day I spent the evening relaxing with B.I.L. Roger at the nearby Mendi vegetarian indian restaurant. I'm not a vegetarian by any means but the food was fantastic and goes to prove that if you know what you are doing then the absence of meat isn't noticeable. It's all cooked to order by a small family team so it's very fresh & piping hot but don't go if you're in a hurry!

 

7th July 2019
VSCC at Shelsley Walsh

The annual visit of the Vintage Sports-Car Club to Shelsley Walsh started with a request: to capture the handing-over of a 'memento' to Deputy Clerk of the Course, Dave Nursey, from his recent excursion at Prescott a few weeks ago. The print (not one of mine I hasten to add) was well appreciated and there was much ribaldry amongst the assembled officials and marshals.

The rest of the day went well with few incidents and some good weather. The entry list was smaller than usual, probably due to event clashes, but after lunch the spectators piled in to enjoy watching some fantastic cars in the afternoon sun.

Over 300 photographs from the day can be found in the galleries.

30th June 2019
VSCC at Donington Park

Well it must have been the hottest day of the year yesterday and I chose to spend it in a place with little shade - Donington Park race circuit to cover the Vintage Sports-Car Club's Formula Vintage Round 3. Apart from a brief visit last year to the BTCC media launch day I haven't been to Donington since I was in my early 20's (yes, that long ago!) coincidentally to see a British Touring Car race. So my plan yesterday was mainly to carry out some reconnaissance to familiarise myself with the track and find the best photography spots for later visits.

Of course I couldn't help but take some photographs - not least because the 'support races' were every bit as interesting as the vintage ones - the Ferrari Club Racing Series was certainly entertaining as was the 1958-1966 Touring Car trophy race (cars that I remember as a child). I also took some photographs of planes (I hadn't realised how close East Midlands airport was to the track). So all-in-all a great day which included slathering copious amounts of sun cream on and drinking bottles and bottles of water.

Over 280 photographs from the day can be found in the galleries.

     
22nd June 2019
Porsche at Prescott

A bit of a change in that today I went to Prescott on a Saturday to see a new event for 2019 - 'Porsche at Prescott'. A huge turnout of the marque pretty much filled the bottom paddock but there were plenty of other cars too - some of which were practicing for the Midland Hillclimb Championship event which followed on the Sunday. An entertaining day and one I hope will repeat next year.

Over 400 photographs from the day can be found in the galleries.

19th June 2019
Published again

The latest issue of the Hillclimb & Sprint Associations magazine Speedscene (May/June 2019 issue 203) carried 11 of my photographs:

  • 5 from Loton Park on 21st April 2019 (including the 'Editors Choice')
  • 6 from Prescott on 28th April 2019

I've been asked to cover some more events this year for them and I'll update the blog accordingly.

16th June 2019
Prescott Bike Festival

For the fourth year running I was honoured to be asked to join the volunteer media team at the Prescott Bike Festival run by the Severn Freewheelers on behalf of the National Association of Blood Bikes.

I split the hill shots with fellow photographer Ian Dowding and covered the Pardon hairpin in the morning and Ettore's corner in the afternoon. Fortunately, despite a bleak weather forecast, the rain was minimal and so the track remained dry for the majority of the time. It was a long day - over 12 hours from leaving the house to returning - but it was all worth it and I'm looking forwards to next years event.

Photographs of individual riders can be purchased here with all proceeds going to the charity.

15th June 2019
Classic Nostalgia at Shelsley Walsh
The Classic Nostalgia event today at Shelsley Walsh hosted a full programme including classes for Austin 7's, Bucklers, Austin Healeys, and a host of classic cars from the 1920's to the 1980's. But for me, the highlight was the Group B rally cars - which took me way back to my earlier years standing in damp Welsh forests for hours waiting for the RAC Rally to pass by. Here are a few tasters - a full gallery of images from all of the classes will be added to my website later in the week.
9th June 2019
Porsche championship at Loton Park

The hill climb at Loton Park hosted the hotly contested Porsche Club Speed Championship sponsored by Petra-Canada Lubricants with Pirelli - in addition to the BMTR Midland Hill Climb Championship and RVC Loton Park Championship. There was a wide variety of the Porsche marque on the hill and so here is a selection of photographs taken from Loggerheads, Fletchers Dellow and Triangle.

I should note that it's only been three weeks since I was at Loton Park but in that time the vegetation has grown considerably - the bane of motorsport photographers who hate wisps of grass getting into their shot!

6th June 2019
Landscapes & Seascapes

2016

2010

2014

2009

I have just updated and revamped my Landscape & Seascape gallery which includes some of my favourite shots taken since I converted to digital in 2008. These are shots taken from all over the British Isles - some very local to home, some from holidays away and some from business trips. For me, each one invokes a memory of the reason I was there and the events that led up to the image itself. They are all very different from the motorsport images I regularly take and commanded a much more structured approach at a much slower pace in order to obtain the result that I wanted.

You can see all of my favourite landscape & seascape photographs in the galleries.

2008

2013

2012

2011

2015

2019

2nd June 2019
Best of British at Shelsley Walsh

'Changeable' is probably the word that best describes the weather at the Best of British hillclimb at Shelsley Walsh. Sun, showers, rain - use them in any order and you will probably sum up each hour of the event. It caught some drivers out including David Uren who slipped of into the Armco just before Top Ess during the first practice run, although he was unhurt and the car was soon back for the second practice. As part of the British Hillclimb Championship there were some powerful and fast single-seaters alongside the usual mix of cars in all classes. Notable was the seemingly camouflaged BAC Mono's first visit to Shelsley and Dougie Lampkin who interspersed proceedings with wheelies on a trial bike up the length of the hill, mostly on track but sometimes up the spectators footpath!

There were two top-12 run-off's in the afternoon with points going towards the British Hillclimb Championship. Wallace Menzies managed to increase his lead from 17 to 20 points ahead of Alex Summers. Scott Moran, David Uren and Richard Spedding are now almost neck-and-neck with just 2 points between the three of them, whilst Trevor Willis has now left Will Hall and Jason Mourant trailing to take sixth place with a 16 point lead.

31st May 2019
British Hillclimb Championship points

With the British Hillclimb Championship hitting Shelsley Walsh this weekend I thought it was time to review the current points and ranking. Wallance Menzies currently has a fairly comfortable 17 point lead over second-place Alex Summers but in reality, it only takes a fail on one of the run-offs to potentially reduce this to 7 points. Third-place is close with Scott Moran, David Uren and Richard Spedding all within 7 points of each other with a similar grouping of Trevor Willis, Will Hall and Jason Mourant vying for 6th place with 10 points between them (although with less than half the total points of Menzies).

So nearly halfway through the championship, it should be an exciting couple of run-offs on Sunday.

19th May 2019
National B Hillclimb at Loton Park

After a full day at Oulton Park yesterday it was time for a much smaller and quieter event in a deer park in leafy Shropshire. Yes, it was time for a National B hillclimb at Loton Park courtesy of the Hagley & District Light Car Club. Although run very professionally it still has a club feel and and it was a refreshing and relaxing day in comparison to the atmosphere of the national circuit yesterday.

Loton doesn't have a return road so after each batch of (approximately 30) cars the whole thing stops as they trundle back down the hill into the bottom paddock. This gives us photographers plenty of time to change location and so we can vary our shots throughout the day quite easily.

I could only stop for the morning and so there is only a small selection of photographs in the galleries.

18th May 2019
VSCC Formula Vintage Round 2 at Oulton Park

Today saw the annual visit of the Vintage Sports-Car Club to Oulton Park in Cheshire for some serious circuit racing in Formula Vintage Round 2. As usual there was a good selection of vintage cars on the track together with separate races for Morgans, MG's and Austin Healeys. The whole day is very slick with little time between races - but with Oulton being a big circuit it makes for some speed-walking when changing location in order not to miss the action.

Lodge corner is always a favourite of mine and I generally choose a low angle to get the car on the brow of the corner with the lodge behind. It's a pity that the spectators view has now been spoiled by the additional catch-fencing (although safety is always the consideration). Brittons chicane is also a particular favourite which is unfortunate in that it is on the opposite side of the course (see aforementioned speed-walking!).

I should also mention that there was an autosolo competition in the morning at the far end of the paddock. I always make a point of photographing them - not least because very few other photographers bother and so it is a good way of ensuring that I get some photographs published in the VSCC's 'The Bulletin' magazine.

A full selection of photographs can be found in the galleries.

5th May 2019
Speed into Spring at Shelsley Walsh

A strange eclectic mix of vehicles at the Spring Start at Shelsley Walsh - old cars, new cars, saloons, single seaters, bikes and trikes. Not a huge entry - and not a huge crowd of spectators either. But at least it was warmer than the previous week at Prescott.

A small selection of photographs can be found in the galleries.

A weekend off for me next - and then a busy following weekend covering the Vintage Sports-Car Club's Formula Vintage at Oulton Park and a National B hillclimb at Loton Park.

29th April 2019
Freezing at Prescott

What a difference a week makes - last weekend I was at Loton Park wearing a cap to prevent sunburn, this weekend I was at Prescott wearing a hat, gloves and thick coat trying to stay warm (and failing).

A full selection of photographs can be found in the galleries.

27th April 2019
British Hillclimb Championship 2019

This year I will be monitoring the British Hillclimb Championship points after each round to see how the ranking changes. These points are readily available in points tables (a very clear & concise set can be found at HillClimb.uk - which is generally where I get my raw data from) but I am going to display these points in graphical format to see how the ranking change over time. I will only show the current top 10 drivers points so some drivers lower down the ranking may drop off the list as others gain more points and nudge into their position.


Here is the layout I will be using. It shows the cumulative points of the drivers in the top 10 after each round of the Championship. Round 2 at Loton Park led to Simon Moyse, John Chalmers and Eynon Price being knocked out of the top 10 (which is why they no longer show on the graph) because Richard Spedding, Jason Mourant and Dave Uren scored more points in Round 2 than the former three did in Round 1. You will also see that after round 2 there are only 8 positions shown – this is because of ties: both Scott Moran and Alex Summers have 17 points and Matthew Ryder and Richard Spedding share 6 points. It may seem a bit confusing at the moment but it will become much clearer as time goes on.


Rounds 3 & 4 will be held at Prescott this coming Sunday (28th April) and so it will be interesting to see how the graph changes with another two sets of points added.

21st April 2019
HDLCC National A Hillclimb at Loton Park

It was a scorching start to the British & Midland Hill Climb Championships at Loton Park on Easter Sunday - and in more ways than one: some excellent driving under a cloud-free sky led to an interesting day, not least because we were joined by some bikes and trikes which always give proceedings a different perspective. The second round of the Championship takes place next weekend at Prescott - but the weather forecast indicates that track conditions will be somewhat different!

A full selection of photographs can be found in the galleries.

 

19th April 2019
VSCC Speed Championship Round 1 at Curborough

A great start to a Bank Holiday weekend and a great start to the Vintage Sports-Car Club's Speed Championship held at the Curborough sprint course. Over 150 vintage cars sped around the circuit under a clear blue sky enjoyed by a sizeable crowd of spectators (T-shirts and ice creams were in abundance).

A full selection of photographs can be found in the galleries.

16th April 2019
Drivers school at Shelsley Walsh
Once again I was fortunate to be chosen as official photographer for a drivers school at the iconic venue Shelsley Walsh. The drivers all seemed to enjoy themselves and there was the usual camaraderie with the Shelsley team. Shown here is the obligatory group photograph on the start line and a requested photograph of the instructors in their new uniforms for MAC News.
13th April 2019
VSCC Formula Vintage Round 1 at Silverstone

Formula Vintage Round 1, hosted by the Vintage Sports-Car Club, kicked off at Silverstone today. A huge entry of cars and a unique 'Le Mans' style start to Race 5 featuring 40 vintage Bentleys.

A full selection of photographs can be found in the galleries.

7th April 2019
Bromyard Speed Festival
Today I was part of the official media team at the Bromyard Speed Festival - where the towns streets are closed off in a loop to allow a multitude of vehicles to parade around. This year there was also a re-enaction of the film "The Italian Job" which included the obligatory red, white & blue minis and even the (alledgedly) original bus. A full selection of photographs can be found in the galleries.
31st March 2019
First hillclimb of the season

Today saw the start of the 2019 hillclimb season with a National B meeting at Loton Park in Shropshire. Here are a few photographs from the finishing line - it's a spot I noticed when on a working party last weekend and thought it would be good to try. It's probably only photogenic very early in the year because as soon as the grass (and particularly the fern) starts to sprout it will make this type of shot impossible. It was a great meeting although I was only there for the morning - after all, it was Mothers Day and I had promised mine a Sunday roast!

There is now a complete set of photographs in the galleries.

26th March 2019
New calendar entry
There's a new entry in my 2019 calendar - the Formula Vintage event at Silverstone run by the Vintage Sports-Car Club on 13th April. This includes 40 vintage Bentleys doing a 'Le Mans' style start - a unique event authorised by Motorsport UK and something I just could not miss. The hotel is booked to make sure that I will be fully refreshed for an early start and late finish.
23rd March 2019
Loton Park working party

I always like to give a little something back to the Hagley & District Light Car Club (HDLCC) who run the Loton Park hillclimb venue and so at least once a year I volunteer to be part of a working party getting the facilities ready for the season ahead. Today was the day and so I was equipped with a paintbrush and tub of creosote to paint as many fences as I could. It was a great day, always some good camaraderie, and, of course, a free lunch! PS: I also noticed a new tyre-wall at Museum.

This is the last working party because the hillclimb season starts next Sunday at Loton Park in Alberbury (on the Whitchurch road just North of Shrewsbury) and this competitive event has FREE ADMISSION for spectators so there is no excuse not to take in the fabulous surroundings of the deer park together with the sight and sounds of highly-tuned cars making their way up the hill in the quickest time they can muster. There really is something for everyone.

18th March 2019
New calendar
There is now a new feature on the website - a calendar of events that I plan to attend. This addition is courtesy of a (rare) UK-based software company Tokify and my thanks go to Robert from their support team for assisting in setting this up with me. It still needs some dates populating for later in the season but it gives an indication of where I will be.
14th March 2019
More dates for the diary
Another few dates have been added to my 2019 diary: I'll be covering a couple of the Shelsley Walsh drivers schools in April & September and, also in April, will be part of the media team at the Bromyard Speed Festival. It's starting to hot up now......
24th February 2019
Geoff Taylor Sporting Trial
Today marked the start of my motorsport photography season at the annual Geoff Taylor sporting trial run by the Hagley & District Light Car Club (HDLCC) on behalf of the British Trial and Rally Drivers Association (BTRDA). Held at Apley Park in Shropshire it was only a 5-minute journey for me so it was an easy mornings preparation. It was an atmospheric start due to a thick layer of mist that remained until dinner time but afterwards the sun burned through it and it turned out to be a glorious afternoon. It was good to meet up with numerous Hagley Folk and it was a really friendly day and a pleasure to be there. Here are a few tasters and a gallery will be uploaded shortly.
18th February 2019
Dog shoot

The weekend saw me doing a commission shot of a friends four cocker spaniels, now resting after a working season. Fortunately, they are very well trained and posed perfectly for each shot - provided I was just behind their owner, they certainly weren't looking at me! This actually is 'the 'also-ran' shot, the chosen one is being blown up into a large print by an old school-friend of mine who runs MyBigPoster.com and then framed for display in their house.

5th February 2019
Shoot in the cold

So last Thursday I headed to Herefordshire to cover a pheasant shoot at the Dinmore Manor Estate - on the last day of the UK's season. I've covered this shoot several times before and so know the score - my only concern this time was the very cold weather. Not for me (I just wrap up warm) but for the camera batteries, which lose their charge readily when the temperature drops - but with a bit of careful power management I managed just fine. As usual it was a great day that goes all too quickly but with four drives during the day I managed to take over 1100 images. Here are a few and there are more in the galleries.

6th January 2019
Lightbox tests

White background

As usual, I was spoiled by my family this Christmas with a multitude of great gifts all bought with thought and care. One of these gifts was a collapsible lightbox - ideal for my interest in macro & close-up photography. As its name suggests it comes as a flat pack (with carrying handle) but folds out, using velcro strips on each edge, to create a cube. Inside edges are all reflective and the lid houses a set of LED bulbs. It is actually quite amazing the first time you turn it on to see how intense and clean the light is - and I quickly realised why my attempts with white backing paper and flashguns had never quite worked in the past. The lightbox also comes with 4 backing papers - white, grey, black & cream. Here is a set of test shots of a model car to show the different effects they give. In my opinion, the black background works best in the scenario but I guess it will be 'horses for courses' as I try different subject matters.

Grey background

Black background

Cream background

Go to Johns' photography blog for 2018