Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Have A Dream...

...and for now, that's all it is. The dream involves a black MA70 Supra that I have sitting out the back of my house, a 1JZ-GTE and 7 miles of salt. My rather long term plan is to develop the car into a F/BGCC car, in laymans terms, a 2.01 - 3.00 litre blown gas competition coupe, or in other words, a turbocharged, stretched bodied car, running petrol. This is one of those plans that will take years to come to fruition, as it's rather ambitious, especially now that Mikah is on the scene.

My rendition of a JZA70 F/BGCC land speed car

Before I get anywhere near that, I plan on running the car as a /BGC car, which basically means it would have a much more stock appearing body on it. And if that is to come to fruition, it in turn means that I'll probably have to pack the car into a trailer before the Westernationals one year, and send it towards Lake Gairdner, for the DLRA's SpeedWeek event, flying out myself just after the Westernationals in order to catch up with the car and head out to the salt.

The ill-fated Stringfellow and Kirk /BFCC at Bonneville SpeedWeek 2010

Mind you, before I even get anywhere near that point, the car has a little panel damage, mostly front end damage, that needs to be fixed. Once the front end is fixed up, I can put a new windscreen in the car and start work on turning it into a race car. Having only ever driven on the salt in the Cadillac so far, I'm planning on putting this beast together as a fairly tame number in it's first incarnation, in order to get to grips with the low levels of traction available on the salt, hence my plan to run the car in a much more 'stock' class to start with.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cars and Guitars

Well, that was a very busy, and rather enjoyable, weekend. The Easter long weekend coincided with ANZAC Day in Australia this year, seeing two of the regular end of season events at the Perth Motorplex on the same weekend, the Hankook Tyres Burnout King on Good Friday and the Holden vs Ford drags on ANZAC Day. Between those two events, the Motorplex hosted a concert on Easter Saturday, headlined by ZZ Top and Rose Tattoo with support from local acts Datura and The Joy Evelation.

Kynan Hall took out the blown category at the 2011 Hankook Tyres Burnout King, shot with Canon 1D Mk III, 70-200 f/2.8L (non-IS) and Speedlite 580EX

The Holden vs Ford and Burnout King events are pretty much a regular feature on my calendar these days, but the opportunity to see one of my favourite bands in action at one of my favourite venues was what had my attention over the weekend. I'd been in discussions to organise media accreditation for myself for some time, and finally got the good word on Saturday morning. Having not shot a lot of concerts before, this was always going to be a challenge, and something that I was really looking forward to.

The pit, as seen from side of stage as we wait to be given permission to enter, shot with Canon 1D Mk III and 24-105 f/4.0L IS

This was the first time I'd experienced 'the pit', that part of the venue between the stage and the crowd, a little over a meter wide, where the accredited photographers can find some space to work. Many acts choose to limit the time that the pit is open to photographers to a couple of songs, and this concert was no exception. While this may seem to restrict us a little, I think it also helps, as in the case of ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons seemed to be paying attention to the shooters in the pit during those couple of songs, and there are definitely a couple of keepers in my shots from that time.

Billy F Gibbons, lead man for ZZ Top and legendary cool car dude, shot with Canon 1D Mk III and 24-105 f/4.0L IS

After the time in the pit was over, I headed back into the crowd to hang out with Kate, and switched to a longer lens to grab some more shots, mostly with two, or all three, members of ZZ Top in the frame. Another part of the challenge in shooting concerts, is that almost 100% of the time, flash photography is banned, meaning you're relying on constantly varying stage lighting, which can be good and bad, sometimes at the same time. While there are often some cool colour effects, you're always chasing the right exposure settings, and when you get it right, there's certainly a sense of achievement to go with it.

Dusty Hill and Frank Beard from ZZ Top, shot with Canon 1D Mk III and 70-200 f/2.8L (non-IS)

On the subject of gear, I shot the whole night with my Canon EOS 1D Mk III, using a Canon 24-105 f/4.0L IS lens for most of the night, and switching to a Canon 70-200 f/2.8L (non-IS) lens for the latter portion of ZZ Top's set.

ZZ Top on stage, left to right, Frank Beard, Dusty Hill and Billy F Gibbons, shot with Canon 1D Mk III and 70-200 f/2.8L (non-IS)

I don't think I ever doubted that I'd enjoy shooting my first concert, and it's certainly something I'll be keeping an eye out for the opportunity to do it again some day, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Three months ago, Kate and I became parents to a wonderful little girl, Mikah. I have been meaning to write something about our experiences since that day, and somewhere along the line I decided to wait until our little girl was three months old to do so.

Mikah joined us at 4:42pm on the 24th of November, 2010. Looking back now, she had given us indications of her imminent arrival the night before, and Kate started having some good strong contractions around midday on the 24th, ironically, on her way home from a check up at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH). At around 3pm, I received a call from Kate, asking me to come home and take her to KEMH, as she thought she was going in to labor. After an eventful trip home and up to KEMH, I dropped Kate off at the hospital doors just after 4pm and went to find a carpark. As I made it upstairs to where Kate was, the midwifes and doctors were examining her to find out if she was actually having a baby or whether there was some sort of problem with little Mikah that was causing the contractions. They didn't take long to come to the conclusion that Kate was about to have a baby, and quickly located an empty birthing suite for us to use. After a little over 20 minutes of the usual grunting and groaning, pushing and squeezing, our little baby girl was born. It was shortly after this that Kate's family arrived and got to meet the new addition to the family, who at that point still did not have a name. It ended up taking us around 3 days to come up with a name for young Mikah, and we're quite happy now that we took our time, and came up with a name that is not only fairly unique, but is also very special to us.

Since Mikah's birth, 3.5 weeks ahead of schedule and weighing in at only 2.885kg, we've had the extreme pleasure of watching her grow and develop over the last 3 months. She's now weighing approximately 5.5kg, is becoming more aware of her surroundings and starting to grab at toys. She's still a little too young to be crawling or talking at this point, but is trying to roll over on occasion and will make crawling motions if placed on her belly (most babies will do this anyway, it's a standard reflex). Her neck strength appears to be improving and she will hold her head up and look around every now and then. She also appears to have taken a liking to a particular photo I've had printed from our last trip to the United States, a shot of a Nostalgia Altered mid-burnout at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California.

Over the last 3 months, we've introduced Mikah to many new people and experiences, most of which she's probably oblivious to, but no doubt these will shape her life in some way in the future. Mikah's already been to several major drag racing meetings at the Perth Motorplex and gotten up close and personal with Robin Judd's Top Doorslammer and Darren Morgan's Top Fuel Dragster. She's been to see drifting at Wanneroo Raceway, and partied like it's the 50's at Mike Naylor's 50th birthday party. I'm already looking forward to the day when we can take Mikah travelling with us, and trying to work out how old I want her to be before we take her to the USA with us, which will be a delicate balancing act if we're going to continue driving old cars with unreliable air conditioning through some of the hottest parts of the United States.