Gone racing

6 09 2014
The Mechanic.

The Mechanic. Without Kimura-san, the Lola Formula 3 car would never have gotten off the trailer.

‘Peter-san, please brake on’ – Kimura-san was about to put the jack under the front suspension, and just needed me to activate the brakes. Climbing over the wide body moulding, I levered myself into the driver’s ‘seat’ and stretched my legs down a seemingly endless tunnel. My size 11s found the pedals, but you need ballerina’s feet to touch only the brake. By turning myself kind of sideways, and pointing my toes, I managed it. Not a comfortable experience by any stretch of the imagination, and then there’s the wild howling crazed monster of an engine, inches behind the driver’s head. You really have to be a slave to cars, to even contemplate strapping yourself into one of these missiles.

I had come to Fuji International Speedway, location of the longest straight in the world, to shoot some portraits with a 10 year old Japanese karting champion. Unfortunately, he had gone to school. But Kimura-san, the mechanic for dentist Saito-san’s little F3 Lola, had an interesting face, and I told him so ‘not interesting, Peter. bad, maybe’. Saito-san owns and drives the Lola at closed meetings like this one, or historic racing events. But he seemed a little camera shy. So Kimura and I went to the pit lane, where you have these beautiful converging lines, and a heavy cloud covering the background. I shot with a 14mm lens, to include the dramatic architecture of the grandstand and circuit buildings. A flash in a soft box provided the light for Kimura’s face. It was a shame that the original subject had not made himself available, but still coming away with a great shot is compensation in itself.


the baseball flyer

21 03 2014
shooting one picture for a flyer going to local Little League parents

shooting one picture for a flyer going to local Little League parents

making up a flyer for a local Little League team; we had to borrow the glove and ball, the guy who was going to lend us the bat pulled out. then my kids who promised to model for me decided to bring their friends along to the session. lesson learned: when using a human light stand please ensure they are at least 16 and not in the company of their mates.

used my D1x for this, knowing that the fence surrounding the bb field would have been pretty close to where Rex has to stand. so shooting 1/1000th at F2.8 on the 80-200 – the flash still syncs ok. processing in Perfect Effects. not sure if we’ll be using this one, really wanted a landscape format shot for the flyer


17 10 2013


Old shot from a couple of years ago: since I currently have the Topaz bundle to play with, while cleaning up some excess files, thought I’d have a little play with this one. This is a film emulation in Topaz Adjust, which is probably what I’ll end up buying. The Lens Effects are kinda fun, but I think require a lot more investigation and planning, to be effective.

Undokai is the Japanese school sports day, usually held on gravel, and involving parents and teachers in the competitive events.

at the front lines

10 11 2012

doing a bit of work for a local metal band. it might sound glamourous but it really isn’t. think I must have gone deaf many years ago, when I used to shoot for the UK music papers. when you have to stand in front of a giant stack of speakers, whose output literally shakes everything loose, that experience lives on for several days. I don’t get that background hiss in my ears anymore. hearing protection was something that the older generation did. now I’m in that older generation and protection would be largely pointless. live and learn I suppose..

so the band I am working for, Gotsu Totsu Kotsu, tend to play in small live houses, where the audience is right in the band’s face. which is great for atmosphere and vibes, and communication. but not so great for shooting pictures. unlike the larger venues, there is no dedicated space for photographers, so it’s simply a case of finding a niche, and slotting yourself into it. the crowd dynamics in Japan though, are quite different to the West. although the basic format is the same, with a maelstrom of whirling bodies in the centre (moshpit), and a distribution of more static fans at the edges, Japanese fans are pretty polite and perfectly happy to let a 6′ guy with camera stand in front of them to shoot pictures.  unlike some gigs in the West where you may as well just pick a fight or spill someone’s pint, if you want a better position for shooting.

for this shoot I used a 10-17, 17-50, and  85mm lenses. basically you want to be changing lenses as little as possible, so each lens is mounted on a camera body, ready to use. I try to avoid using flash, because it does kill the atmosphere, so it’s a case of spotmetering the performer’s face, shooting wide open, with a fairly high iso, to increase the chances of getting a sharp picture. the bigger the event, usually you can count on better lighting. in this instance, there was almost no frontal lighting, and the event was held in a basement with a fairly low ceiling, Painted Black (what else?).

the 17-50mm lens that I used for this event, is made by Tamron, in Nikon AF mount, and has a useful F2.8 aperture. this is the non IS version, and apart from the hood continually detaching itself, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it. shots from this show, for example, where spotlights are shining directly into camera, show no flare or significant contrast issues. it’s sharp at F2.8 and brilliant from F4 onwards. AF speed is hardly stunning, but it’s fine for my purposes.

(I don’t need this) pressure on

19 10 2012

sorry, not many blog posts for a while. got involved in lots of other time-consuming things. bought new lenses, committed to teaching kids photography, nearly got divorced…


the buying of new lenses was unconnected with the divorce! although some might argue a contributing factor


If you can’t laugh at yourself…..

22 04 2012


So we went rollerskating at Tokyo Dome, with some friends. It seems to me that the younger or more female you are, the better you’ll take to life on 8 wheels.  Granted, some of the skaters were hardly in the prime of life, but then they had been skating champions in their youth.

My performance of Swan Lake was therefore nothing short of a cataclysmic artistic interpretation. The wall & I became firm friends. It is slightly more tricky I suppose, when you have ¥¥¥ of camera gear hanging around your neck.


new ways and a couple of lines

10 04 2012

Getting a handle on adjusting exposure in a whole new way. The ISO dial. That’s it. Ok, it was one line.