Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Me on Kodachrome

So after the glamour of the French Riviera it's back to the good old North East Liberties for our content.  Regular readers (Ed: eh?) will know that my interest in photography started when I was a teenager and developed from there (if you pardon the pun).  Both The Brother and I were prolific shooters of film back in the 1970s (well, there was only film in those days of course) and pointed our various cameras at anyone and anything that moved (and quite a lot of things that didn't).  As well as having boxes of prints dating from that era on my shelf there is also a whole dose of slides kicking around.  I finally got round to opening a box or two and scanning them.

It has been a real delight looking at photographs taken with the legendary Kodachrome - a film so good Paul Simon wrote a song about it!  Kodachome films were purchased with the development costs included - once finished, you sent if off to Kodak and a week or two later a little yellow box dropped through your letter box with 24 or 36 slides in their little plastic mounts.

The way Kodachrome captures colours is just beautiful - it's a shame that Kodak discontinued production of it in December 2010 - less than 5 years ago!   But since we read all the time that there is a growing interest in film again perhaps Kodak, or a spin-off, will resurrect this fabulous emulsion.

Now I know I've said that I don't do colour - and that's true, I don't.  But I did, back in my youth.  And speaking of youth, here's me back then, so to speak:

Me, on Kodachrome c1978
As you can see I'm full loaded here, with both a 35mm and a 6x6 twin lens reflex camera.  The 35mm is my lovely little OM-1, with a 200mm f/4 Zuiko lens attached.  The TLR I'm not so sure about - I think it's borrowed (I don't remember ever buying one) and could well be a Yashica 124G.  This shot is taken down our road, where I still live today - I returned to live in the North East Liberties where I grew up after many long years in the wilderness (aka England).  So this is a shot just crying out for a 'then and now' treatment - sadly the 'now' won't be on Kodachrome but it still might prove an interesting shot all the same.  It's on my 'to-do' list...

Aren't the colours just so real?  I mean, what else can give you luscious greens like that?  And so much depth - it almost looks 3D.

Notice that I'm not mentioning the flares - d'oh!  Ah well, it was the 1970s and as I'm reliably informed by some-one 'in the know', flares are back.  

The Olympus OM-1 was (and still is) a pretty little camera - it was quite revolutionary when it arrived on the scene in the early 1970s.  Up to then the market was dominated by Nikon and Canon (no change there, then) but Olympus shook their tree with the OM-1.  It was so much smaller&lighter than anything that Canon or Nikon had and had a really bright viewfinder.  And it was a proper system camera, with lenses from 21mm to 600mm, motor drives, flashguns and all the accessories.  Many professionals adopted it as their preferred camera - people like Don McCullin and David Bailey.  You can still buy one today, although they are aging now and usually need a good service. The best thing about them is that they are purely manual cameras - no electronics, just need a battery for the light meter (if you need it, that is - the camera works perfectly well with or without a functioning meter).   Of course in those days the battery was a little mercury affair, which are no longer available, but this isn't a huge problem to fix.

I can remember saving hard to buy one - it cost around £170 in 1976 (if memory serves me correctly), which apparently equates to a figure of around £1200 today.  Blimey!  That's a heck of a lot of birthday and Christmas savings - probably about 11 years' worth.  Soon afterwards I got a Saturday job in the photographic department of a local chemists which came in very handy - I worked every Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and every holiday until I left school and so had good money to feed my photography habit.

Here's another photograph from that era.

Yours truly, sometime in the late 1970s

1 comment:

  1. Give you those nice bright colors, it gives you the green of summer...
    and don't take that Kodachrome away from me...
    Eventually they did, but that was Kodak's own decission in the end. Great to have a look back to days passed though :)