A Sunday Drive in the New MX-5

Everyone knows that I’m a big fan of the Mazda MX-5, the best selling roadster of all time.  If this is news to you then you should check out my posts Happy Birthday, Little MX-5MX-5 Owners Club National Rally 2014, and Goodwood Festival of Speed.

This month marks the UK launch of the fourth generation of MX-5.  I’d already seen the new car on a static display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but was delighted to be invited by Mazda to a VIP event in the Cotswolds where I’d be able to drive the car.  Needless to say I took my camera along too…

It was great to be able to compare the new MX-5 to my 20 year old first generation model and see how the design and technology have moved on.  For a start, the 1.5l engine of the new car is great and so much more spritely than the 1.8l in mine and I guess more economical too.  There is a 2.0l version of the new MX-5, but I can’t see why you’d need it.  That said I did have some fun with a fellow test driver who had the 2.0l model – he couldn’t match me on the corners (due to my skill, I’d like to think!), but on a hill climb he beat me comprehensively.

The short-throw gearbox makes for quick gear changes and the brakes are really sharp compared to my car.  The accelerator pedal seemed odd at first but I quickly took to it.  The new car certainly has a lot less rattles too!

The gadgets and gizmos really put my car to shame.  Integrated satellite navigation and entertainment system, power steering, built-in USB chargers, nifty cup holders (which I found also make great lens holders!), climate control, heated seats had me drooling with desire.

For me it’s an almost perfect car, greatly doing what it’s designed to do.  The only three niggles I could name are that the steering feels too light for me (I think it’s ‘fly by wire’ and you get very little feedback), the two exhausts are on one side rather than one on each side (my OCD likes symmetry), and the lack of pop up headlights (due to pedestrian safety laws).

So, will I be buying one?  Absolutely.  Well, in a couple of years when the prices fall.  Of course, if any readers want to do a car swap or buy me a new MX-5 then get in touch!

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a big fan of cars – new, old, fast, slow, big, or small.  I’ve a special fondness for the Mazda MX-5, and am now on my third one.  You can see it in the post Happy Birthday Little MX-5 and more MX-5’s photographed at last years in the post MX-5 Owners Club National Rally.

So when Mazda ran a competition for tickets for the Goodwood Festival of Speed I had to enter… and won!  This was made even better by Mazda being the main event sponsor and launching the new (mk4) MX-5 in the UK.

All of the major car manufacturers were there, as well as areas for racing and F1 cars, old classic cars, and of course the Goodwood hill climb.  On the day I went it was possible to get passenger rides in all sorts of cars up the hill climb.  But not for me.  It seems for most of them you needed to register beforehand.  A lesson for next time!  

It was an expensive day too.  As much as I was tempted, I didn’t buy a new car.  But trying to get photos correctly framed in between the crowds of people with a high quality prime lens made me realise I needed a better quality short range zoom lens.  So as a result of the day I ended up buying a new Olympus 12-40mm lens.  Future blogs will feature photos taken with that lens.

The Christening of Gregory

A couple of months ago I was invited to photograph the christening of a little chap called Gregory.

It was the first christening I’d been to, so wasn’t too sure what to expect.  Most of the photos were taken with the 25mm f1.8 prime lens to get as much out of the light as possible as the environment was quite dark.

For me, photographing events like this are not just about documenting the day but also capturing people’s emotions.  Sometimes this is best done from a distance with a long zoom lens so you’re not interrupting the goings on.

A sunny Sunday in Manchester

My day job has recently taken me to Manchester a few times.  The usual routine being get into Manchester, get work done, get home.  But on this occasion I had a little free time to explore the city, with the camera of course.

Walking around Manchester with no plan was unlikely to lead to any good photos, so with a bit of research I found a website called Ready Steady Pro which had published a Google Map route for a photo walk

Luckily I was staying in a hotel just off the photo walk route, so picked the nearest point and had a six mile anti-clockwise walk around the city.  For those that don’t know Manchester, it has a reputation for always raining there… but it’s not true, the weather I had was good and I even caught some sun.

Manchester has some stunning architecture and does a great job of embracing the old and the new.  

The St. Georges Day dragons of West Hagbourne

Another year, another St. Georges Day, which means another excuse for an evening walking around the lovely West Hagbourne to photograph their annual display of dragons.

This year I was joined by friends including fellow photographers and bloggers Ryan and Emma.  Walking around the village with a small army of people taking photos seemed to produce some odd looks from the locals – as if they weren’t expecting folk to actually want to see the dragons they’d put on display!

As ever there was a great range of dragons on display, from shop-bought children’s toy dragons to artistic home-created dragons and everything in between.  I recommend a walk around the village next year to see for yourself!