6 Feb 2013

A McLaren,Kodachrome and an Olympus.

These photos taken by me on Kodachrome slide film in 1978.They show the Australian Unipart team Formula 5000 McLaren M23 -built and raced by John McCormack.The car was powered by a modified Leyland P76 power unit -which was originally based on a Buick V8-which John "shoehorned" into the McLaren.
The photos were taken at Adelaide International Raceway( Mallala),South Australia and Sydney's Oran Park .Mallala is still in use but sadly Oran Park is a housing estate.Look at the size of the crowd at Oran Park.

I took these photos on an Olympus OM2 SLR camera.The OM2 was very popular at the time.It was a small ,compact ,very well made SLR with great lenses.It had a very nice feel and I always thought that it was a camera with "soul".
Recently Olympus have introduced a digital retro OM and whilst by all accounts performs very well I feel that its retro styling is rather forced( the pentaprism is just for effect) and it is very light to hold and it just feels soulless.Perhaps I am just spoilt having owned and used the original .

I recently posted  photos of Myanmar and said that their "look"  resembled Kodachrome.I have since realised that quite a few readers of this blog may not know the story of Kodachrome so here is an update of a post from two years ago.
 Kodak made the last Kodachrome film in 2009 and the last processing laboratory shut down its processing machine at the end of 2010 . So the shutter has clicked for the last time on one of photography's iconic products .Kodachrome was launched in 1935 and in the following 74 years it was the colour film of choice for generations of keen amateurs and professional photographers - still and movie .
Kodachrome was exceptionally sharp and was renowned for its vivid colours -- "Kodachrome " colours .Paul Simon even sang a song about it. It was also very stable.In my photo archive the old colour negatives and Ektachrome/Fujichrome slides are fading and discolouring but the Kodachromes retain their original brilliance .Who knows but given the lack of attention to archiving today's electronic images maybe in two hundred year's time all that will remain of today's images will be Kodachrome slides ?
 Despite its considerable strengths Kodachrome had some real weaknesses .It was slow.Originally only the equivalent of today's 10 ISO-yes really slow- it speeded up to 25 for its peak years and was later available as 64 and a high speed 200 which was a lesser performer .
It was also very expensive .A 36 exposure 35mm cassette cost the equivalent of a sizeable memory card today .
Processing was a complex task and it could only be processed by Kodak's own laboratories originally .Later independent laboratories came on stream although these were mainly in the USA .So processing the film involved posting the film in a little prepaid wrapper and then waiting patiently for a week or longer - often a lot longer if the lab was overseas- for the little box of slides to return by mail.Worse still the slides sometimes went astray in the post or were mixed up in the lab .Kodak in the UK had a small staff locating and redirecting incorrect slides .
Another major weakness was also that the film had very little latitude in terms of exposure .Correctly exposed photos were beautiful however even a little under or overexposure resulted in very dark/black or very washed out slides .


  1. Superb images. The first is a triumph of red, white & blue, 'nice composition.
    The Olympus OM was delightful, what a wonderful camera. I have one on my study window sill, nowadays a pretty curio. Still feels great to handle and just the brightest viewfinder I ever used. So easy to focus.
    I echo your sentiments about Kodachrome too, it has a look I still try to emulate these days.
    A great post, thanks.
    Paul (Ferry Man).

  2. Yes, these are very good images. I loved the Kodachrome look and also the use of the OM camera with its excellent lenses. Looking at these pictures also reminds me that this "is" my generation. Those were the days. Only memories, such as these pictures, remain.