A Film Legacy – Pt 1

By November 6, 2012 Blog, Film, Guest Post 36 Comments
Autumn by Hamilton Lake

Preface

To date this blog has contained only my own images, today I am both delighted and honored to be able to publish a selection of images within this post that were created by the hand of another photographer. I’m not exaggerating when I say this unexpected episode has given me as much photographic joy as anything I have done for myself. I’d especially like to take this opportunity to thank the photographers family without who’s gracious permission I would not be able to share these images. For that and the trust bestowed in me I am most grateful. 

A Film Legacy 

I clicked on the email attachment, whilst the image of assorted camera equipment wasn’t the best the list was clear enough….. Leica M5, 35mm Summicron f/2, 90mm Elmarit f/2.8 all caught my eye, words that meant nothing to me only a couple of years ago were now very much etched in to my photographic brain. Other lenses in both M & R mount were listed amongst a myriad of Leica equipment. The email arrived via the father of a friend, word of mouth regarding my fondness for all things Leica had ensured it found it’s way to me, good fortune indeed. I phoned the contact number and made arrangements to view the items at the earliest opportunity and in doing so acquired not only a wonderful collection of vintage Leica equipment but also the opportunity to show the world the photography of Roland G Phillips-Turner, his film legacy so to speak.

As I carefully packed away the equipment, the daughter and I began to chat about her late father and his photographic exploits, as I listened intently my connection to this newly inherited equipment grew stronger with each spoken word. All vintage equipment comes to you with a history, more often than not it’s imagined on the part of the new owner, to actually know the story behind it makes it very special indeed. With this history comes what I would almost describe as a sense of duty, one I would come take very seriously, lenses have since been serviced and as I write this the M5 is at DAG in the US receiving the attention it deserves. Indeed, upon it’s return from CLA the 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1 made its debut for me HERE

I’d describe myself as a rational person, I don’t believe in such things as fate and destiny, but I have to admit its crossed my mind when it comes to this equipment. From opposite sides of the world, separated by two generations and via a huge slice of good fortune this equipment has landed in my possession, the survival and continued use of this Leica equipment is now ensured. 

Glancing up around the room my attention was drawn to a slighly faded image on the wall, “That’s my father in the print, it’s one of his” said the daughter. He sat, surrounded by bush, his back to the camera looking in the direction of a distant waterfall, the image bought the biggest smile to my face. As we sat and looked at more of the prints there was a casual mention of slides, “I’d love the chance to look at those sometime” I said or words to that effect. I left with a handful of borrowed Ansel Adams books that I would return in a few weeks once I had read through them. As I made the journey home I wasn’t thinking about the equipment next to me, my thoughts were firmly on the slides. My interest had been piqued and they crossed my mind many times over the weeks that followed.

Eventually it was time to return the books and in doing so maybe there would be an opportunity to view the slides, as I stood in the doorway I said “I’ve been thinking about these slides, I’d really love to see them and maybe to return the favour I’ll scan them for you” Five minutes later and I was leaving with the slides, I think I made it maybe 4km’s before I had to pull over and look, almost two hours past before I would commence my journey home.

It seems only appropriate that this post contains a brief background from the family of Roland G Phillips-Turner, those that knew him best. 

Background

“Dad was an ENT surgeon in Hamilton and it was Mr Attewell at Mannings the chemist who sold him all his equipment. Dad’s father had been originally a surveyor but finished up being the Director of Forestry for New Zealand, so he had an immense love of the open spaces before it was fashionable to be caring for the environment. He was also an artist focussing on outdoors New Zealand. So many of his photographic images were eventually transformed into paintings.”

“In his later years he was researching the reasons for deafness among many Maori children who at that time were largely living in rural areas. He would travel through remote areas to treat them. This was an enterprise he really enjoyed as liked the interaction with Maori communities in the Urewera and the East coast. It also gave him the opportunity to take interesting photographs.”
Slide 1 – Hasselblad 500c – KODAK EKTACHROME A Film Legacy JHSlides-7I was so pleased to find this amongst the negatives, after some research I’ve been able to establish that it was taken at Marokopa Falls in the Waikato. It was also fascinating to discover that the photographer used the Hasselblad 500c for the medium format work. I had also purchased a 500c from the USA a month or so before coming across the slides, just another wonderful coincidence.
Slide 2 – Hasselblad 500c – AGFACOLOR DIA A Film Legacy - Pt 1 (Slide 1) (1)Kuia with a moko – “Kuia” being an elderly woman, grandmother or female elder and the “Moko” is the Maori facial tattoo.
Slide 3 – Leica M5 – KODAK KODACHROME A Film Legacy JHSlides-6Image taken with the Leica M5 and most likely with the VISOFLEX that was also included within the set of equipment.
Slide 4 – Hasselblad 500c – KODAK EKTACHROME A Film Legacy JHSlides-15Deer Hunters in the Urawera’s, a rural scene that is no doubt still repeated in the present day.

Around 18 months ago I picked up on what was quite a high profile news story here in New Zealand regarding the Te Urewera region and terrorist charges being laid against some of its inhabitants. Being something you wouldn’t generally associate with this country it piqued my interest in the region which is maybe 2 hours drive southwest of where we live and I started to do some research of my own.

Encircled Lands by Judith Binney details the history of the Te Urewera region and it’s people the Tuhoe from 1820 – 1921, it is colourful to say the least. The issues are complex yet at the same time simple, sovereignty over its own lands being at the heart of the matter. These images have once again awoken my interest in the Te Urewera region and I plan to visit in the near future.

Slide 5 – Hasselblad 500c - AGFACOLOR DIA A Film Legacy - Pt 1 (Slide 2)

"He had an immense love of the open spaces, before it was fashionable to be caring for the environment."

− Daughter
In this image Mount Ngauruhoe appears to be active. You may recognise this volcano as Mt Doom from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Anyone who follows the news in New Zealand will know Mount Tongariro, the neighboring volcano has also erupted quite recently.
Slide 6 – Hasselblad 500c – AGFACOLOR DIA A Film Legacy JHSlides-9Slide 7 – Leica M5 - KODAK KODACHROME A Film Legacy JHSlides-5I’ve found myself to be surprisingly fond of the New Zealand flora images in this collection which I think work particularly well on the Kodachrome film.
Slide 8 – Hasselblad 500c – AGFACOLOR DIA A Film Legacy JHSlides-20

"In his later years he was researching the reasons for deafness among many Maori children who at that time were largely living in rural areas."

− Daughter
Its easy to understand a photographers fascination with more remote regions like Te Urewera as they remain rich in Maori culture even today.
Traveling amongst the indigenous people in these rural areas whilst doing his research must have been the most incredibly rewarding experience.  Add to that the opportunity and ability to photograph them and it really must have been a joy on many levels.
Slide 9 – Hasselblad 500c – AGFACOLOR DIA A Film Legacy JHSlides-11Ruatahuna in the Te Urewera – whilst its been possible to identify the locations of certain images you have to let your imagination fill in the blanks in terms of the image content, I don’t mind this.

Final Thoughts

In years to come will people have similar experiences to the one I have just shared with you? What is the likelihood of my photographs being rediscovered 40 or 50 years from now? You would have to say, highly unlikely! Film has made this discovery possible, it has preserved these images beautifully and ensured their survival to date.

Boxes of slides, stored in an attic, a garage, who knows where, you open it, hold it to the light and instantly you can see the magic, will people recover digital images from old hard drives in this way? I can’t see it myself……..only film can make this possible. I already had an affinity with film, this experience has strengthened that bond still further, I never say shoot film over digital, I always say shoot both. There is true value in both media.

The images posted here are indicative of the collection I have been entrusted with and I will continue to share them over the coming weeks and months, I hope you’ll join me and follow these posts with interest.

This has been the most heartwarming discovery, one that resonates on so many levels, I’m delighted to have be able to share it.

A Film Legacy – Pt 2 HERE

Cheers 

Jason.

Note:  I have undertaken some dust removal only where I felt it was a distraction from the image.

36 Comments

  • Bruce Esplin says:

    Jason – beautiful, thougthful and so sensitive

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Bruce, I feel very privileged to have been able to show these images. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. Cheers. Jason.

  • Greg says:

    Great story Jason. I have really enjoyed discovering your website. I have come back again and again since discovering your user report on the Voigtlander 15mm Heliar which I since bought and love.

    Your comments about film really resonate with me. I recently found a box of old negatives that were my father’s. In there were medium format negs that one of his uncles took when he was stationed in the pacific sometime after WWII. I love looking at them and trying to imagine what was going on. I agree that the likelihood of anyone doing the same with my digital files in 50 years is pretty small. I recently started shooting film again (I used to develop/print all of my own work in my homemade darkroom but have to get them processed elsewhere now for lack of space) and I find the process of film photography – shooting more carefully, waiting for the processed negs, and rediscovering what is on them is so much more “real” than the process of digital where the “final” product is online within hours of shooting.

    Thanks again for the provocative piece.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Greg, I’m pleased your enjoying the website and the post.

      From reading your comment you have had a very similar and enjoyable experience of your own. I have to agree with the remainder of your comment also, but I accept not everyone would share our view on this…..:-) Cheers, Jason.

  • Josh Perera says:

    Great work bringing these to the light of day mate.
    I too have an effinity for film. There is just something in the way it renders that speaks to me, and each film renders in it’s own magical way, almost as if it had a soul.
    There are some awesome captures in this post, he obviously had an eye for it.
    I like your final thoughts and the longevity of our photography today.
    I started a 1day in 1roll group over here to promote going out and shooting more film. Maybe those of us who decide shooting film is still a viable medium along with digital may actually Oneday have a legacy of our own to pass on…

    …again great work Jason.

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Josh.

      Agreed, I had never seen images on AGFACOLOR DIA before looking at these, the unique and subtle differences between films are very interesting to view up close.

      He did have an excellent eye and its only fitting his images are viewed on a wider scale.

      I didn’t want to hijack the post and risk it turning in to a debate on the merits of film vs. digital but it needed to be mentioned, little discoveries like this will happen less and less over time. I certainly know there are still plenty of us film shooters out there!! :-)

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, cheers Jason.

  • What a lovely story and beautiful film images! And I could not agree more about the emotional aspect of images stored on slides/negatives and the wonderfulness of discovering them years later. No such romance with digi files:( Really loved reading this post Jason.

  • Don McConnell says:

    Jason – I have only recently come across your site and wanted to say thanks to you (and Mr. Phillips-Turner’s family) for showing these wonderful images. This must be an important historical archive for the community in that area. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of them in due course.

    Thanks again,
    Don

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Don, welcome to my site.

      Exactly, I understand from the family of Mr Phillips-Turner that he used to really enjoy showing his slides, hopefully he would approve of this more modern means of presenting photographs. Cheers, Jason.

  • Bob says:

    Jason,
    Thank you for presenting this story with all of the care and appreciation of another film photographer. I look forward to seeing and reading more.
    Bob

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Bob, firstly, welcome to my site.

      I’m genuinely grateful for your comments and I was certain that both film and digital photographers would appreciate the merits of these images and the continuing story behind them.

      Once again, thank you.

      Jason.

  • Ryan Lussier says:

    Great story great photos and really nice website, it’s now on my reading list I love your article on Russian lenses thanks you for that.

    R

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Ryan, It’s good to know your enjoying the website, makes the effort I put in worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by, all the best, Jason.

  • Worths the first explorers & travelers shots …. Very sensitive !

  • InFrame says:

    Excellent article and perfect find.. Having that oppertunity to share an important piece of history is captivating… Bravo and thanks for sharing Jason.

  • Wow. Jason… those shots are amazing. Thanks for sharing the link on my blog so I could discover this. There is no word to describe such things. It’s purely priceless.
    I guess I have found someone (we are a few, I know) who loves old film as much as us! :)

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Steph, thanks, I thought you’d appreciate this. It’s always great to find others that can appreciate the wonder of film, pleased to meet you guys.

      Cheers, Jason.

  • […] For anyone that missed it the first part of this guest post can be found here – A Film Legacy – Pt 1 […]

  • […] For anyone that missed it the first part of this guest post can be found here – A Film Legacy – Pt 1 […]

  • mark says:

    I started to just look at some of the pictures and thought, wow that looks so familiar then the pic with moko made realise that I was looking at my home country. Its great to see these images from a time before I was born. Thanks so much for sharing this legacy online.

  • Adrian Batey says:

    Love this blog. Its made me excited to get through the boxes of slides that was my grandfathers.
    I inheritaed his M4, 35 and 50 crons and 90 elmirate earlier in the year and just sent it all off for servicing recently.

    Its lovely to use a camera with known history and can only hope that our own cameras come into someones hands who continue to build that history in the future.

  • john says:

    Kia Ora Jason – thank you for sharing your discovery and celebrating the life and work of the late doctor and the people and places he documented. You remind me again that it is not the medium, but the story. And yet here you have a wonderful blend of both. best, John, across the ditch.

    • janrzm says:

      Kia Ora, John. You’re most welcome. This discovery has been enjoyed by so many people now. I agree, the story and the images are what matters most and I thank you for taking the time to read this. Cheers, Jason.

  • Maximo says:

    Hi!
    This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  • […] anyone that missed it the first part of this guest post can be found here – A Film Legacy – Pt 1 & A Film Legacy – Pt […]

  • […] comes to images I’ve perhaps been a little selfish, thus far with the exception of the late Roland G Philips-Turner I have only featured my own images. Over the next month I will be featuring the work of four other […]

  • Kim O'Brien says:

    Dear sir,
    It was with greet delight that I found these images. and your tribute to Roland G Phillips Turner who was a superb photographer. He, through a long lineage descended from the de Jersey family in Guernsey, the Channel Islands. I am currently preparing a manuscript and I would love to make contact with his descendants, if this is possible. I would also love your permission to include the photos in the de Jersey manuscript that covers the Pirie family as part of the world wide de Jersey family that I have written, as am I a descendant of the de Jersey’s in Tasmania, Australia. My e mail is [email protected]. kind regards Kim O’Brien (Mr.)

  • Gordon Cooper says:

    Two years ago I bought a Rolleicord III from an estate sale. As I opened the leather case, a slip of paper with handwritten exposure compensations for Isopan fell out. A second set of notes were written on the inside of the case. The original warranty card had been filled out, but never posted. The camera and its kit of accessories looked brand new.Everything was in its original box, leaving me to wonder if the camera had been used once or twice, then stored in a dark closet for decades before coming into my hands. Similarly, my WWII Speed Graphic shows no real wear, not even a ding on the lens cap. I wonder who will use these cameras in 60 years, or whether film will be abandoned and cameras used as knickknack holders.

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