Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year: A podcast & a magazine

Happy New Year everybody - and welcome to 2011!

2010 was a strange year to be sure, a very emotional roller-coaster of a year, which ended on a rather low note. Of course there was the tragic loss of 29 lives at the Pike River Coal mine here on the Coast, which effected everyone in the community very deeply. We are a very small, close-knit town - so not surprisingly the death of 29 men was a tremendous shock that will be felt for years to come.

On a more personal note, 2010 also saw the untimely death of my friend and mentor, Dr. Denis Dutton. For 6 years during the mid to late 1990's I was fortunate enough to call Denis my friend - as well as my supervisor - at Canterbury University. He was an inspirational, funny, generous, humble, passionate man whose vast intellect surpassed any other's I've ever met.  Denis lost his battle with cancer just two days shy of 2011 and he will be greatly missed.

Denis taught me more about art and aesthetics than everyone else put together, and it's largely due to him that I am the person that I am today. I can truthfully say that my time spent with Denis changed my life - for the better - and his loss saddens me almost as much as the loss of my own father did when I was 16. Thank you Denis, I will never forget you.

But for all of the sadness associated with the end of 2010, I will also look back on the year with fondness. It was, after all, the year I re-discovered my passion for film photography (he says, getting back on track for the blog).

Two major factors contribute to this film renaissance - one I've already talked about at great length, and the other I'm about to mention here for the first time. First was my interest in the small Olympus Pen cameras - initially in their digital form, but then eventually as film cameras. I purchased a Pen EES-2, then an Olympus Trip 35, and the rest, as they say, is history. I had been dabbling in film prior to this - picking up old Canon film cameras here and there on Trademe (a NZ internet auction site), but my commitment to using film regularly really exploded with my discovery of the Olympus Pens.

The second was my discovery, around the same time, of a podcast that ignited my enthusiasm because of the enthusiasm showed by the hosts themselves. I found the 'Film Photography Podcast' by searching on iTunes and was instantly hooked.

The shows hosts: Mike Raso, Duane Polcou and John Fedele are passionate film photography users who discuss a huge range of film related topics. It's a fun, informative and entertaining podcast that educates its audience on film photography almost in spite of itself. You're learning along with the hosts (who by their own admission are also only learning themselves), as they re-discover old cameras, film formats and techniques through trial and error. Mike is a Polaroid junkie, Duane is a long time large format shooter and film developer, while John grounds the show by asking the questions we all want to ask and supplies the soundtrack to the podcast with his band, the Pink Delicates. It's a winning combination of culture, humour, education and inspiration - all wrapped up in film photography.

For someone who was experiencing the same journey, at almost exactly the same time, on the other side of the world, the podcast is a godsend and each new (fortnightly) episode can't come around quickly enough. You must check them out. Simply search 'Film Photography Podcast' on iTunes and download all the previous episodes for a real film feast!

Finally, I have also re-discovered a magazine must have for the film photographer; Black + White Photography magazine. It's a British magazine (not to be confused with the American B+W magazine) that is dedicated to the 'art' of monochrome photography, whether in digital or film, 35mm, medium or large format.

Not surprisingly great care is taken in the printing of the magazine, so the reproductions are of decent quality. It's a niche magazine - the kind that could easily be in jeopardy in the current e-zine, ipad culture, so I urge anyone with an interest in film photography to hunt this magazine down and subscribe! The bigger the subscription base, the more likely it is that the magazine will stick around. And heaven knows that with all the dross out there we need quality magazines like this to survive long-term. So what are you waiting for? Go find it and buy it - NOW!

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