Monday, November 10, 2008

The Age of Film (Part 1)

In his 2006 national day rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about the ‘great digital divide’; referring to the big difference between the lifestyles of today’s youth and those of my generation. Recently, I discovered that one area where this divide was quite marked was in the way we dealt with photographs.

During the June holidays, I attended a church camp in Kuantan where our trigger-happy photographers took hundreds of high resolution photos. After we came back, I was put in charge of disseminating the photos to our members. In the old days, the way we would do it would be to first bring the negatives to the studio to print one set of the photos and then display them on the notice board or circulate them in an album. Members would then fill up a form indicating which photos they wanted to order, and then I would bring the negatives to the studio to get them printed. I would then sort them out, distribute them and collect the money.

But when the number of members runs into hundreds, this was obviously a very tedious affair. And so I wanted to do it the modern way, which of course is to upload the photos onto a photo-sharing website like Flickr or Photobucket, and then simply direct members to the website to view and download the photos for themselves. But to my surprise, I found that many of the older adults did not know what was Flickr. Frankly, I believe if I hadn’t taken up blogging, I probably would not know what was Flickr either. I grew up in what can be described as the golden age of film.

Up to 1970, all the photos my family took were black and white photos. You have seen many of them on this blog. But in 1970, I used my first roll of colour film which I blogged about here. The film I used was Kodak of course. At that time, Kodak was the dominant brand. I remember when I came back from my holidays, I brought my precious roll of film to the Kodak Centre in Alexandra Road (near to where the Performance Motors Centre is located) to have my film processed and printed. I think each print cost more than $1.

But soon another brand burst onto the scene to challenge Kodak’s dominance. That brand was Fujifilm. From the seventies onwards, the cost and speed of processing colour films came down rapidly. Two other brands of films also became popular. They were Konica and Agfa. At the same time, ‘idiot-proof’ cameras with auto-focus and built-in flash also made their appearance.

The demand for films and film processing sky-rocketed and many photo shops and kiosks sprang up all over the island. Some famous names that I can recall off-hand are Standard Colour Centre, Singapore Colour Centre and Joo Ann Foh.

Thanks to this technological advancement, my dad who was retired and who loved to travel, was able to leave behind several albums of photos after he passed away. Likewise, I was able to capture many shots of my children as they grew up.

This is my very first colour photo taken from a ferry to Penang in December 1970. At that time the Penang Bridge was not constructed yet.

This is a full-page advertisement by Standard Colour Centre in the 1993 street directory. They had branches all over Singapore.

This is my last film camera (left), which I believe is still in working condition. It’s a Canon EOS 1000F. I have placed it sided-by-side with my new EOS 400 for comparison. Many happy moments with my wife and kids were captured by this trusty, (and now dusty) Canon. The next shot shows the film loading compartment.

Related posts:

1) My cameras
2) Through the years
3) Gather moments while you may

Next time I will blog about the photo studios which played such an important role in our recording the key milestones in our lives.


yg said...

i stopped using my slrs - a nikkormat and a nikon fe2 - when i reached 40. it was too bothersome, having to remove your glasses, before you could press the button.

with film, you could experiment by processing, developing and printing your own photos, especially the black and white ones.

we used to print our own black and white photos in the school's darkroom.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes I had an absolutely lovely Contax camera with a superb lens but it too lies dusty in my drawer. I used to take black and white prints mostly during the early 1960s when I was in Singapore, can't recall who developed them but it would be somewhere in Changi Village. For more special events I would use colour slide film - Kodak or Agfa were I think the choices, they were better quality than early prints but of course you needed a projector or at least a good viewer to see them

Lam Chun See said...

Do you notice the tag line used in the Standard Colour Centre advertisement? It says; "Memories should never fade".

Now don't you think that makes a good tag line for this blog?

Lam Chun See said...

The best thing about digital cameras is that you don't have to worry about wasting film. What you don't like, you can simply delete. And you only need to print those that you really liked. For film you have to print the whole roll the first time round.

In Spore, I got quite fed up with some of the shops because the quality of their print was quite bad. Maybe they tried to cut cost by over-using their chemicals. I like a particular shop at Ipoh near my house in Jalan Pasir Puteh. Their prints were always of a very consistent high quality; plus they gave you a bonus to print one large photo of your choic free-of-charge. I have one of them of my family right in front of me right now onthe notice board in front of my pc.

Tom said...

Tom said ...
can any body tell me what is wrong with my digital camera, I was taking some Photos the other day, and all the photos came out pink in colour, could it be that the memory card has seen its day ?, I have ask afew people I know, but they said they do not know what is wrong .(help)

Victor said...

Tom - Try using another memory card. They are so cheap now that you really ought to have more than one. If you really have only one, then try borrowing one from your friend or check if your camera has a built-in memory. Most digicams nowadays have a small built-in internal memory of about 16Mb at least. Remove your memory card and the camera usually defaults to using the internal memory to store photos. Take a few photos and see if they also turn out pink. If they do, then your camera is likely to be faulty.

Tom said...

Tom said...
Victor I did what you told me to do, I took out the memory card, and used the intenal memory, and the photos turn out pink again, victor I think I will have to buy a new camera, But I will wait till the shops start their chrismas sales, and see if I can get a bargain, Victor thank for your help.