Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Olympus PEN.

In 1959, Olympus introduced a new vogue in camera models- the PEN series. The Olympus PENs were so fashionable due to their innovative 'half-frame' capabilities, i.e. double the amount of shots could be squeezed onto a reglar film because the camera formats the film at half the intended exposure. It also meant that the camera could be super skinny; the nouveau compact. So it's 1959 and Yoshihisa Maitani is designing the first half-frame camera to be produced in Japan; it was conveniently as portable as a pen. This is where Olympus got their name. The PEN. This website is useful if you're interested in thoroughly knowing the specifications of invididual PEN models. Basically, the PEN and the PEN-S were the originals, with simply a viewfinder and no manual settings. I guess they were supposed to let the camera's new half-frame concept do all the talking. Then we have the D-series, the EE-series and the EM-series, all launched in the early 1960s and with additional features to the original model. There's also the rare PEN-W which was only produced for a few years (the W stands for 'wide' as it boasts a wide-angle 25mm f/2.8 lens - equivalent to a 35mm in full format). And finally the PEN-F series of half-frame SLRs.

While the PENs were all film cameras, 2009 saw the release of the digital Olympus PEN EP-1.
The EP-1 runs to the Micro Four Thirds system, which provides a standard for different manufacturers to adhere to in order for their lenses to be interchangeable between brands. the Four Thirds system is intended for digital SLR cameras, and so, logically, the Micro version is for cameras that aren't quite SLR size. This means that the EP-1 and its Micro Four Thirds facility allows it the freedom of a Four Thirds camera body whilst retaining a compact figure. Even better is the EP-2 which was released at the start of 2010. The EP-2 has an extra port to attach external objects like a microphone, a couple of new art filters, and it comes in black rather than silver (yay!). You may have seen Kevin Spacey advertising this miniature photographic deity on the television. There are a lot of things I would do to own one of these babies, as they currently come in around £600 on, and sadly I appear to have a bit of a half-frame purse...

Friday, 26 March 2010


Ok, so Jamie Lee Curtis Taete is a photographer. And I know, I know, if you saw one of his photos on its own and heard that he was successful and accomplished in his career then you may well laugh quite hard. Because yes, I'm not going to deny the fact that these photos are probably pretty terrible in terms of their technical compostion, and he kind of ignores all those other stylistic boundaries that a lot of photographers push in order to be heard. Seen. Whatever. But then maybe if you saw three, or even four, of his shots together... you might just get it. Jamie Lee Curtis Taete does not fiddle with all those exposure and aperture and lighting techniques, because that is not the point of his work. His work is there to demonstrate how he is somewhat talented in the art of being in the right place at the right time, and having a camera in his hand. Admittedly if I was him I'd maybe try and get some snazzy snaps where, I don't know, at least the colours are a bit brighter or the subject is the only thing in focus or something, but I guess that's just his style and it actually sort of works? I suppose that the point is essentially to be amused by the content of the photo instead of going "Oh wow! A pretty picture!" without actually looking at what is in the picture. Go and explore his blog, Princessfaces, and if at first you're unimpressed just keep on scrolling. I'm still not sure if I'm convinced or not, but he's actually quite a comedian.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Sunday Dinner with Jim.

In the 'swinging' 1960s counter-culture of London there was a Louisiana-born man named James. James was commonly known as Jim. Jim Haynes. And he slowly turned himself into an iconic underground figure. He went on to teach sexual politics in Paris, so you get the sort of character we're dealing with here. If you heard the name Jim Haynes and 'dinner party' would you get it? Basically, Jim has hosted a Sunday dinner party at his house in Paris for something like 25 years now, apart from the odd holiday he takes. Anybody is invited, you just gotta send him a message to say you're coming. The simple theory behind such an extravagant idea is that, in the words of Jim, "If I had my way, I would introduce everyone in the whole world to each other". Sounds fun, no? I have really wanted to go to Jim's for Sunday dinner for a while, but now After Eight have jumped on the Haynes bandwagon of cool and used this weekly soiree to promote their chocolate-covered social etiquette of never leaving until 'after eight'. In other words it's no longer got the clandestine gift of privacy, and so I'll never get my name on the list.