Wordprompt: Green

This is the second monthly challenge set by WordPress as a means of prompting a blog post based on a specific word. I naively expected to be informed of this months new challenge but I actually had to search around to find out what it was. I can see a bit of a marketing failure by WordPress here particularly as the promised ‘feature of the month’ from the last challenge never seemed to materialise either.

Anyway, the word ‘green‘ is a difficult one because it can define many things. However as a motorsport photographer I just chose this picture:

A green car || © John Hallett Photography

Now this is clearly a green1 car – but due to its large internal combustion engine it isn’t considered very green2. However I’m green with envy3 that I haven’t got one because I’d love to drive around our village green4 in it. But then again, with our terrible roads and those skinny tyres I’m not that green5 to realise that I’d soon be green around the gills6 – unless I stick with a sensible diet and eat all of my greens7. Or maybe I’ve just taken too much green8.

And now the key:

  1. A colour between blue and yellow in the colour spectrum
  2. Environmentally friendly
  3. Jealous
  4. An area of close-cropped grass in the centre of a village
  5. Naive and easily tricked
  6. Sickly and unhealthy
  7. Leafy vegetables
  8. Street name for the drug ketamine (one of many)

Thanks for reading.

Easter Sunday motorsport

Easter Sunday – what does it mean to you? religious festival? chocolate egg? Well for me it means it’s usually the first competition weekend of the speed hillclimb season at Loton Park in the village of Alberbury near Shrewsbury in Shropshire, and so with uncharacteristically good Bank Holiday weather I headed in a westerly direction to capture the action. This first event also has a contingency of motorbikes which is a fairly rare event at hillclimbs (although I will be attending a charity bike event later in the year) and it’s always a good opportunity to capture shots of their different approach lines to the corners and a welcome change from just four-wheeled vehicles.

So here are a few photographs from the day, concentrating primarily on those motorbikes (and sidecars):

© John Hallett Photography
© John Hallett Photography
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Note to oneself

We all like to think that we remember everything – but the reality is that we don’t and have to write things down. Notepads, post-it notes, diaries all come into play but then you have to remember which one you used and where they are. I have been using Microsoft’s OneNote for some time now, not only as a place to store important information that may get lost but also to jot down ideas for future photoshoots (and blog posts). Apart from the simplicity of use you can also share notebooks across devices meaning I have access to the data, and can add to it, on my home computer, tablet, phone and laptop – all of which synchronise automatically.

OneNote page within a notebook with text, hyperlinks and images

Although it is a Microsoft product (and comes bundled with MS Office) it is free and can be downloaded as an app for any computer, tablet or phone (not limited to Microsoft). Once loaded on your first device you just need to create an account. You can then create multiple notebooks, each of which can then have multiple tabbed ‘pages’.

On each of the pages you can type notes (or write and draw if you have a pen), highlight them, add hyperlinks, add images or clippings from the web. All of this saves and syncs automatically as you work.

If you add the app to another device you can sign in with the same credentials and all the notebooks will automatically be available. Even if you have OneNote signed in on a different account (at work, for instance) you can ‘share’ notebooks to yourself, or even to other users if you want.

A ‘Top Tip’ – just some personal tips that I have picked up and hopefully may assist someone else – all of them with some spurious link to photography.

Hillclimb season begins

Sunday saw my first motorsport ‘speed hillclimb’ event of 2022 and, as per every year, it took place at my local venue, Loton Park at Alberbury, near Shrewsbury in Shropshire. When I say ‘local’ it is a pleasant 30 mile journey through the Shropshire countryside although I calculated that with todays ridiculous fuel prices it actually cost me £12 for the round trip. The cost of travelling to motorsport events this year is something that I will seriously have to pay attention to.

At the finish line || © John Hallett Photography

Speed hillclimbs are run on tarmacadam courses with the aim of getting to the top quicker than everyone else. Although some motorbikes enter it is generally limited to cars – everything from a family run-around to a highly-tuned single seater racing car. There are obviously different classes to give everyone a fair chance although there is usually a top-12 run-off for the overall fastest on the day.

© John Hallett Photography
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The demise of the photographic magazine

Last July I was somewhat saddened to have the monthly edition of Practical Photography magazine arrive on my tablet (see Ready for Readly) only to find that it was the last ever issue after running for over 60 years. I was first introduced to this magazine by my grandmother when I started to become interested in photography and, being a teenager at the time, also appreciated the plethora of scantily-clad models that used to adorn the pages in those days.

Typical 1980’s cover

Now I find that the March 2022 edition of Digital SLR Photography magazine is also the last one. This magazine has been in existence since 2006 but the editor cites the “decline of both publishing and photography markets” and Covid for the reduction in sales resulting in the decision to close.

What sad times. I appreciate that people just Google for information now or watch a YouTube video for reviews but surely I can’t be the only one who enjoys sitting down with a cup of coffee and a magazine – even if I do now read it on an iPad?

The last ever issue

Story behind the shot – Packaging panic

This was a commercial shoot with a rather tight 24hr turnaround requirement. The client wanted an urgent marketing photograph of some plastic printed packaging bags with the brief to show the range of different sizes, potential products (both food and non-food) and some of the supermarket brands who stock them. Due to the time constraints I had to take the shots at the clients premises rather than in my own studio.

The finished shot || © John Hallett Photography
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Published work – TVR Car Club Sprint Magazine

The March 2022 edition of the TVR Car Club (TVRCC) Sprint magazine carried a number of my images taken at the drivers school at Shelsley Walsh back in September 2021 to accompany an article by Steve Ward describing his day on the hill.

Nice layout of my photographs in the TVRCC Sprint magazine

I’m booked to cover another drivers school at Shelsley Walsh in May. Won’t be long now…

It’s in the bag

At the risk of stereotyping and infuriating every women who reads this blog; I have found over the years that females generally like to buy a new bag at every possible opportunity – usually to match their latest new outfit. This trend is mirrored by photographers – who will invariably decide that a new photography bag is required shortly after purchasing their latest camera.

And I’m no different. Having recently acquired a new medium-format camera & wide angle lens – and then two additional lenses, it soon became clear that with their bigger size (due to the bigger sensor) they just weren’t going to fit in the shoulder bag I had planned to use.

My new Vanguard Heralder 33 shoulder bag
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Taylor-made advice

When I first got interested in studio photography I really needed some advice on lighting because it all seemed so complicated (although I loved all the gadgets). Having looked at the available resources I eventually opted to join Karl Taylor Education.

Karl Taylor Education website

I had come across Karl Taylor previously and liked his style of presentation but I was surprised to see how much information was available on his website. Let’s clear the obvious question up straight away – no, it’s not free. I pay a monthly fee of £14/month (March 2022) but for that I get unlimited access to hundreds of informative videos covering topics such as:

  • Studio lighting theory
  • Portrait photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Product shots
  • Post-production
  • Business advice
  • Live photoshoots

As you can probably guess, most of the information is centred around studio photography but there are some additional videos covering landscape and travel photography – but probably not enough to make membership worthwhile if that is the only genre you are interested in. However if you have any interest in the science of photographic lighting and how to make it work in practice then I don’t think you can get much better.

These blog posts are just some personal thoughts and experiences that may hopefully assist someone else – all of them with some spurious link to photography. I have no affiliation with any product or service I may endorse on this blog.

Jet to the coast

Pembrokeshire in South-West Wales is one of our favourite places, but with Covid restrictions limiting travel over the past two years it’s been too long since we’ve paid it a visit. But recently we managed to put that right and even though it was a fleeting visit due to other commitments we did manage to spend a few hours on Newport Beach (not far from Fishguard) with the dogs.

Jet’s first visit to the seaside
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