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21 Jan 2017

Kodachrome days- to be revisited?

Last week Kodak  announced that they are commencing manufacture of Ektachrome colour slide film again and that they will be launching a Super 8 film camera to use Ektachrome Super 8 film.See  KODAK
They also announced that they are investigating the feasibility of manufacturing Kodachrome film again. Behind these announcements is the fact there has been a big upswing in demand for film from younger enthusiasts who are turning to film in the same way as young music enthusiasts are turning to vinyl records. Also many movie studios want to shoot on film for the "look". It seems as if everything old is new again.

Fuji have been trying very hard to drive their remaining film business into the ground by repeatadly jacking up prices and discontinuing emulsions. Maybe Kodak's move will cause them to reappraise this strategy.
Starting Kodachrome again will not be easy. Most of the complex coating equipment will have been scrapped. Also much of the hands on know how will have been lost when the technicians left. There is also the question of processing as Kodachrome requires complex processing. There was only one Kodachrome processing lab left operating when Kodak discontinued manufacture of the film, Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons, Kansas, USA and that processed the " last" roll of Kodachrome which was taken by Steve McCurry in 2010.

If Kodachrome does reappear I would be tempted to run a few rolls through my Hasselblad. Big 6x6 Kodachrome slides-magic but surely very expensive.

I first put the story below onto the blog in November 2013 and it maybe of interest again in view of Kodak's announcement.

Early Kodachrome Days



I found this Kodachrome slide last weekend in a shoebox full of discarded slides. It was taken by me in 1960 on my first camera-an Halina 35X-pictured below.
The Halina was apparently made in China - although it was marked "Made in Hong Kong"-and had a resemblance to a Leica although Leica themselves had not adopted the red dot at that time. Maybe the Leica resemblance and a few favourable reviews and the price attracted me. As it happens I have fond memories of that camera and its surprisingly good results. Of course it had no exposure metering so I used a newly acquired and quite reliable little hand held Hanimex Sekonic lightmeter. The Halina had a metal body and you had to manually cock the shutter as well as advance the film after each shot and I do remember that the focussing was always very stiff which I found out was a characteristic of the model not just my example.


Soon after I received the camera as my 14th birthday present from my parents I took it and a much prized cassette of the -to me- incredibly expensive Kodachrome film on our family holiday to N Devon in the UK. The Kodachrome was the original 10 ASA ( today's ISO) emulsion. Hand held shots were really only possible in bright sunlight- usually a rare commodity in the UK but not luckily on that holiday. The film had almost no exposure latitude and it was very contrasty. But it was sharp and the colours were bright as you would expect from Kodachrome. Of course the last thing you need with a contrasty film is bright sunlight but with only 10 ISO and a maximum aperture on the camera of F3.5 you really had no choice.
Kodachrome could at that time only be processed by Kodak themselves and the processing was included in the price of the film. When you purchased the film there was a small envelope in the box and you put the cassette of exposed film into it , stuck on some postage stamps and posted it back to Kodak -in my case to their laboratory in the UK. A week or so later a little yellow box of 36 mounted slides popped through the post box. The films were identified by Kodak with numbers on labels which were stapled on the leader of the films as they were put into the processing machine. It seems these labels often became detached and I received the incorrect slides on a number of occasions. It must have been very harrowing for someone waiting for slides of the big wedding or whatever to receive someone else's slides. I heard that at that time Kodak had a department wholly devoted to chasing up incorrectly directed slides.
This-above- is the first slide I have ever scanned from that little very basic camera and I am still very surprised by the quality. I have not manipulated it at all .This is just how it came out of the camera. This slide is 53 years old -from a completely different era. Since then everything has changed and improved so much - including hopefully my photographic skills.
But this story just took another turn for on Monday morning it was pouring with rain (at last) and I spent time clearing out a cupboard and found a slide numbered "1" on the cardboard mount from that first film. It was, not perhaps surprisingly, a photo of my home at that time- 17 Station Avenue, Ewell, Surrey, England. There was little fogging into the lip of the cassette which is visible on the right hand edge. I did search in Lightroom for some detail in the shadows but there is none -they are black .That's how it was. So there - bottom-my first colour photo - the first of tens of thousands as it turned out.


18 Jan 2017

Heatwave

I've lived in Australia for 40 years and I have never experienced such a long hot spell as we are experiencing here in NSW. We have had just two days since Christmas Eve when the temperature was in the low 20s C. Here in Terrigal the sea has moderated the temperature most days but it has still been around or above 30C. Today is the worst. Overnight it was 34ºC at 3.00am - apparently the hottest since records began over 150 years ago. Now as I type this at 10.30 am it is 41ºC and climbing. That's 107ºF. Heatstroke territory. Just a few kilometres inland it will be even hotter. It is too hot to even go in the pool. The cats are asleep close to a fan but still uncomfortable.
At dawn the beach was full of swimmers. For the first time ever due to heat I took my car down the hill to start my morning walk. It was just too dangerously hot to walk back uphill. Anyone who denies that there is global warming needs their head examining.
These guys were showering down after a dip. Photo taken with the Leica Q. That camera is just brilliant. This is a jpeg-with the camera set on low contrast,low saturation.


15 Jan 2017

Mud, mud, glorious mud.


Two photos from the archives- scanned in prints as the negatives have discoloured. Taken in 1989 on the Australian media launch of the 1990 model year 3.9 litre Range Rover in a remote area inland from Wauchope in northern NSW, Australia.
The area is known as The Cells and was a gold mining area in the mid-19th century. In 1989 a horizontal mineshaft -filled with glowworms-was still accessible.
The descent into a gorge where the mine is located is very steep and there is a serious river crossing. The early miners managed to transport very heavy pieces of mining machinery down into the gorge. A large boiler and a massive stamping battery and other bits and pieces are still there rusting in the bush. The machinery was bought by ship to Port Macquarie where it was offloaded onto wagons and using big teams of bullocks was hauled up into the hinterland -a major task  as it is a long, steep climb and then taken down into the mine site. The descent into the gorge where the mine was located would have been extremely hazardous with the wagons anchored by ropes and chains to trees.

On the media launch pictured we had 12 Range Rovers and one Land Rover Defender which was fitted with a winch and full recovery equipment. In the week before the event there had been heavy rain and whilst the descent and river crossing were easy the track for the steep climb out turned into a quagmire very quickly. I was in the lead Range Rover and we manged to get up with a lot of wheelspin and sliding as did the Defender. But we had shredded the track so after those two vehicles it was chaos. As you can see from the photos the mud was clay and was so deep that there was no traction, no braking or steering control. I have a vague recollection that the Range Rover in the photo was being driven by Australian 500cc motorcycle world champion Wayne Gardner but I would not swear to that. Anyway the driver was extremely lucky not to go over the edge. It was a sheer drop into the gorge at that point. As you can see from the photo as a precaution we fixed a steel cable from the rear of the Range Rover around a tree to anchor it.
The guy with the red boots is Bani McSpedden who was then a partner in an advertising agency and also a motoring writer for men's magazine. Bani is still writing -now as a watch journalist. I suspect from his expression that at the time I took the photograph he wanted to be anywhere but on that muddy track.

It should have taken 30-45 mins for the vehicles to climb out of that gorge. In fact it took over 3 hours as we had to winch all the remaining vehicles up most of the slope.
The delay meant that we were very late back to the hotel in Port Macquarie. I drove back ahead of the convoy to change the timing for dinner so I was the first back and when I stepped out of the Range Rover at the hotel entrance the young lad who was the porter asked me if it was true that Wayne Gardner was on the launch and if so could he meet him. I said I would set it up and he was delighted so he then did something which I am sure he later regretted- he volunteered to clean all our boots for us. Well there were 20 journos on that launch and all of their boots were as muddy as mine. The lad did get Wayne Gardner's autograph- I hope that he thought that it was worth the effort.

I used my Leica M6 with a 28mm Elmarit lens for these photos. In later years I acquired -from a pawnshop in Sydney at a great price - a brilliant mint Nikon L35AW-AF- a rugged waterproof camera with a superb lens. See photo below. I took it on a few rugged Land Rover events and did not worry about getting it dusty, muddy or even wet but I wish that I had it years earlier. A wonderful journalist and camera collector extraordinaire,Brian Woodward, -sadly no longer with us-put me onto the Nikon.

11 Jan 2017

Walking the dogs



The three of us. Walking the dogs Terrigal beachside 6.15 am today. Another scorching humid day and no relief in sight with more heat forecast until the other side of the weekend. Big fluffy dogs like this one are feeling the heat so an early morning walk is the best time. Ditto for older humans.
In the many exercise classes and morning walkers and joggers on Terrigal beachfront on any day-winter or summer-women outnumber men probably 10 to one. There's a lesson there. Not sure what it is though.
The light pole does lean by design.
This walking is thirsty work

9 Jan 2017

Summer

As the Rolling Road seems to have more readers in the US and Europe in the northern hemisphere winter than in Australia and as both the US and Europe are currently suffering from some really cold weather I thought that a few summer photos from a very warm east coast of Australia would be well appreciated. A little sunshine to brighten up all the cold and misery around although I doubt that even my sunny photos can lighten the mood for many of my American readers as the Presidential inaugration date approaches.

We are enjoying, if that is the right word, a long spell of hot weather with cloudless skies and no rain here in Terrigal. Hot air is being pushed out from the interior of the continent and heatwave conditions are again forecast for the rest of the week. The only really cool day ( 23ºC) we have had since Christmas Eve was last Tuesday. Here right on the coast the seabreezes moderate the temperature most days but if you drive just a few kms inland the temperature is scorching.
The best time to go out is very early in the morning and that is when I took these photos over the last 10 days. 
The high surf was shot at a very high tide this morning. The two girls in the car was also taken this morning. They had taken their dawn swim and were watching the sunrise.
The first photo is my personal pick of the bunch. Also it really shows how good the Leica Q is. This is a jpeg straight out of the camera. 
If you are suffering in the cold I hope you enjoy the photos and I'll be thinking of you when I am in the pool this afternoon before I crack open a cold beer at 5.00pm. Cheers.





5 Jan 2017

Legendary Jim Clark



The autographs in the race programme in the previous story are Jim Clark (front cover), Jackie Stewart, Dan Gurney, Denis Hulme, Graham Hill, John Surtees, Jack Brabham, Ray Parsons and Mike Spence.
 For most of us Ray Parsons in the odd one out but apparently he is/was an Australian who was a quick driver who drove in the Sebring 12 hours in a Lotus Cortina with Jim Clark and who was also a development engineer with Lotus and Clark's mechanic on the Tasman series.
Photo above from my archives -Brands Hatch rooftop. From left to right-Geoff Murdoch (from Esso), Mike Spence, Trevor Taylor, Jim Clark, Colin Chapman, Jack Brabham.

My brother sent me a link to this BBC programme on Jim Clark.JIM CLARK

If you were around when the legendary Jim Clark was driving you will enjoy it and if you were too young at that time-or weren't even born-and are wondering what all the fuss is about Jim Clark even after all the years since his death then I am sure you will find it very interesting. It is a long video and the quality of the race footage is not upto modern HD standards but it is really well worth watching and I found it very moving.
Many things come to mind after watching the video but what struck me most was the civility and humility of all the participants. Not a sign of vulgarity and the brashness and ego driven behaviour we see from most of today's F1 drivers and so many other people in public life.
For me Jim Clark was an absolute hero. I was so lucky to have seen him racing so many times. It is a measure of the man that he would win a Grand Prix at a European circuit on a Sunday and then turn out at the little Crystal Palace circuit in south London to race in a F2 car and a Lotus Cortina at a public holiday race meeting the next day.
I can still remember exactly what I was doing on the 7th April 1968 when I heard that he had been killed at Hockenheim. I should have been at Brands Hatch watching the sports car race - I seem to remember that my brother was there -but I was at home studying for my final university exams. I was listening to the Brands Hatch race on the radio when the news of Clark's accident came through.
 For a few years my parents lived in Bridge of Allen north of Edinburgh in Scotland and on one of my visits back to the UK to visit them in the 1980s I took them on this long drive -way down into Border country to visit the Jim Clark room and to see Jim Clark's grave in the cemetery at Chirnside. Fortunately it was beautiful day but I remember thinking at the time that this would be impossibly sad on a wet, cold winter's day.

2 Jan 2017

Signed

My brother, Bob, lives near Norwich in the UK- Lotus car territory. Bob was once a bigger motor sport enthusiast than me. At one point he was also a very keen car modeller and scratch built very detailed models to race on slot tracks.
Over the years his interest in motor sport ebbed away and he turned to classical music and he has published a very highly regarded classical music blog for many years.
Although Bob's enthusiasm has diminished the car/motor sport genes were passed onto his son James who is a major player in a leading high tech motor sport equipment supplier BF1 Systems see BF1 Systems.
Yesterday Bob must have been sorting through his archives and he found a programme from the 1965 Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch. Nothing remarkable about an old motor sport programme- I threw all mine away in a move many years ago- but in this case Bob had collected an absolute blue-chip set of driver's autographs-and that makes this programme very special.
I cannot remember attending that meeting and it would have been unusual for me to have missed it but I may well have been away somewhere else that weekend. Whatever he did a brilliant job of collecting the autographs and those were the days when such a list of the very best drivers turned out for a sports car race and made themselves accessible to a 16 year old fan. It would have been absolutely impossible to do today.
Thanks for sending this great momento Bob.

Can you identify all the autographs?




Happy New Year

A happy new year to all readers of the Rolling Road wherever you are. Let's all hope that 2017 is better for humanity than 2016 and that our worst fears are not realised. The old saying is that it is always darkest before the dawn. Let's hope it still applies.

30 Dec 2016

Trying to be a cool cat


 Phoebe, this morning, trying hard to stay cool by finding a darkish corner, lying full stretch with her tummy on the wooden floor and opening up the hairs on her coat to let the air circulate.
Being a very furry old Himalayan in this weather is not fun. Being an old human in this weather is only a little better but at least we can jump in the pool and there is always beer o'clock to look forward to.
Photo taken with the Leica XV- much as I dislike the clip on EVF the fact that you can tilt it so that you can get the camera down really low is sometimes a benefit as in this shot.

29 Dec 2016

Surfers in the mist

Surfers in the mist at 6.30 am today on Terrigal Beach. It was a scorching day-as forecast. It "only" reached 35ºC here in Terrigal but it was much hotter a few kilometres inland as I found when I went to Erina to buy beer and pool chemicals.
With the grandchildren gone and the house cleared up after all the excitement of the last few days it was a day for doing as little as possible. I checked the pool chemistry, went shopping and spent the rest of the day in the pool or reading a book. It's going to be hot overnight and another hot one tomorrow.
Whatever your age this heat is debilitating and you certainly notice it more as you get older. With weather like this my photography is going to be confined to my early morning walk by the beach for the next few days. I am definitely not planning to be taking either of the Porsches out until it cools off. It's not good for the cars and it is most definitely not good for the driver.

28 Dec 2016

Perfection


Terrigal Beach at 11.39am today 28th December. The fourth consecutive day of clear blue sky and the ideal temperature for the beach-28ºC. The surf is a a little rough but there is a pleasant sea breeze. Perfection. Best to make the most of it today as they are forecasting heatwave conditions tomorrow up into the mid-30s on the coast and even higher inland. Let's hope that the sea breeze keeps the lid on it at Terrigal.
This photo taken with my iPhone 4S.

26 Dec 2016

That was the year that was-in smiles

There is no need to dwell on what a truly awful year 2016 was for humanity. My year was great but against a background of terrible events. Lies and nastiness or worse seemed to be the new norm in 2016.
However I met some wonderful, friendly people on my travels and somehow I managed to convince most of them to give me a smile so here are some of those smiling faces to usher out 2016 - an antidote to the hate and nastiness of Trump, Farage, Putin, Erdogan, Assad, ISIS and all the other scowlers and mean spirited people who made 2016 a year to forget.





































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22 Dec 2016

Seasons Greetings


Seasons Greetings to all Rolling Road followers. Best wishes for the holidays wherever you are.

Photo -Santa on Terrigal Beach,NSW,Australia-December 2016.

21 Dec 2016

A photo for the times

I came upon this photo in my Lightoom archive yesterday and I find myself thinking that it really is a rather special photo. It was taken in a very small remote village accessible only by river. We were travelling down the river on a small riverboat and tied up on the riverbank to visit the village late in the afternoon.
Some children came out of the poor village school to greet us. The novice monk was curious, his friend was shy and did not want to face my camera.
The innocence and serenity of the photo is such a contrast to the horrors of yesterday in Berlin and the daily horrors unfolding in Aleppo. Let's hope that the lives of these two, materially poor though they may be, remain as serene as they were when the photo was taken.

The photo was taken with my Leica X1. Since then I have acquired two more sophisticated Leicas but I keep coming back to inescapable truth that my best photos seem to be taken with the X1.

19 Dec 2016

Can Formula 1 be saved?


The 2018 Malaysian F1 Grand Prix will be the last. The Malaysian Government is no longer prepared to bankroll the annual race to the tune of A$ 92 million per annum(!) and have decided that they have better things to do with their money. This is not surprising. In recent years spectator numbers at the Sepang circuit for the GP have been small although the Moto GP race has drawn a huge crowd. No surprises there. Moto GP(motorcycle racing) is exciting and the ticket prices for the Moto GP are much lower that for the F1 GP. One interesting fact is that the cost of holding the Malaysian F1 GP has increased 10 fold since it was first held in 1999 and almost all of this increase is in the payments made to the F1 rights holders -CVC.
Malaysia is far from the first GP to drop out due to the cost of staging  the race. France has not had a grand prix for a number of years which is a disgrace. France the birthplace of motor racing cannot afford a GP. Korea, India and Turkey all dropped their GPs after a couple of years-finding that the costs were prohibitive. Even Germany could not afford a GP in 2015 and it is only a provisional starter for the 2017 calendar. Britain has retained its GP- just -but outside the committed fan base it does not attact much visibility-a far cry from the days when the British Grand Prix was seen as a national sporting event up there with the Grand National and the FA Cup Final. I am surprised that the taxpayers in Melbourne have not jacked up at the ridiculous cost of staging the Australian GP.

F1 is in a major crisis. Traditional circuits cannot afford to stage the races and TV viewers are turning off - taking it off free to air television in the UK did not help-but even without this viewers were voting with their feet. The consensus is F1 is boring, the rules are way too complicated and the show behaves like a pack of overpaid prima donnas -which they are. The hordes of PR minders and the lack of driver involvement with the fans has also turned the fans off.
The  F1 Rights were owned by CVC Capital Partners until this month-a private equity company-need I say more? They left the geriatric, now 85 year old, Bernie Ecclestone to run it for them.
CVC have owned F1 since 2005 and in that time they have not invested a cent, not a brass razoo, in the sport. They left it to Ecclestone to extract as much cash from it as he could. And he certainly was very succesful.

Now Bernie is a man who loves a good autocrat. He has previously expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and he has said that Vladimir Putin would be a good man to govern Europe so it is no surprise to hear that he is a big fan of Donald Trump. None of this would matter if Bernie was expressing his views in the day activities room of the Sunshine Years Nursing Home where he should be but sadly he has been applying his skills and autocratic mindset into running F1 into the ground. His latest nonsensical outpourings are that F1 does not need innovations and he has reportedly recently said that "I don't know why people want to get to the younger generation. I'd rather get to the 70 year old who has plenty of cash."
With views like that no wonder the show is so jaded and spectators have left in droves.
Bernie I have news for you -the 70 year olds are bored with it too. Very bored.

However the cavalry may be on the way. The big US company, Liberty Media, have bought the F1 rights from CVC for $8 billion. The man who runs Liberty Media is Chase Carey who wants to turn F1 back into a major world sporting spectacle.  The big question is have Liberty Media and Carey arrived in time to save F1? Only time will tell.
The task they face is immense. Firstly the show itself -the racing-has to be made exciting and thrilling again. That means totally reshaping the rules, changing the circuits and changing the mindset of the participants.
Secondly costs have to be bought down. Feeble attempts have been made to rein in the ridiculous expense of F1 over the past few years but there was no real will or commitment. Everyone has their snouts in the trough-private jets, minders to the left, minders to the right and opulent lifestyles.  No one wants to climb off the gravy train. Cutting costs and running F1 on sensible budgets may prove impossible - the rot may have set in too far.
Thirdly F1 has to engage with the fans openly. In Nascar, WEC and GT racing the top line drivers are fan friendly. In F1 many of them seem to go out of their way to alienate the fans. Daniel Ricciardo is the exception and look at the profile and following he has as a result. A grid full of clones of him would be a good start for Chase Carey.
Fourthly Ecclestone has to go. He is the cause of the current sad state of F1. I am sure Carey knows that so watch out Sunshine Years Nursing Home a very opinionated and nasty little man is about to be retired and he may well be heading your way so lock up the dominoes.

Photo above taken by me at the 1968 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch and shows the great Mexican Driver Pedro Rodriguez in his BRM. This was the last GP won by a private entrant when the Swiss Driver, Jo Siffert, won in a Lotus-Ford entered by Rob Walker. Nowadays the sum Rob Walker spent in a season on his private entry F1 team would barely cover Lewis Hamilton's mobile phone bill.
I took the photo with a Leica 3A with a 50mm Elmar lens at Kidney Bend and I developed the film at my home in the bathroom. A lot has changed in 48 years.