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Monday, 12 August 2013


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Wow! Whoever processed most of these digitally must be an Extreme HDR fan. I think back to Kodachrome as a true high point in film photography. Only the last sample at the end of the essay -- not the gallery -- looks right.

That is magnificently beautiful color in the photo you posted here. Wonderful!

To my eyes, Kodachrome II had the best color, ever. Kodachrome 25 was better for the environment but not for color. And the 64 ASA Kodachrome were all too high in contrast for many scenes.

Another example of, "You can't go home again."

I wonder if someone who did not know Kodachrome assumed that the images were faded and tried to "restore" them. I've noticed, for example, that the muted loveliness of the old Portra NC gets quite jacked up if you color balance using white point and black point in PS curves. You then have to dial the saturation back about 50 percent to get your image back. Kodachrome was a wonderful film. Too bad about some of these.

One of my favorite 'how to' books was 'Kodachrome and How to Use it', a 30's or 40's books by Ivan Dmitri. A very useful guide to exposing early digital cameras, too. I may have gotten on the bandwagon far, far too late, but I have 3 rolls worth of wonder from Yellowstone I'll always treasure.

When I read the title, I thought it would be all about last Saturday's competition...

The one thing the NYT images do show that is consistent with all the Kodachromes that I remember using is the markedly high contrast. Combined with the way we used to shoot it by underexposing to further saturate the colors, contrast was ever present. Lots of detail got lost in those shadows.

Only #1 showed any portion of sky. That sky is not really Kodachrome-like, which would have had a tinge of magenta. More Ektachrome-ish. Ektachrome had great blues. Kodachrome had great reds.

Color impression is surely part of visual memory and I'm guessing that's what legitimated the decision to play around with these shots. Sorry but few remember the range of the Kodachrome "look," so a collective hunch now about the way it looked is good enough for many who'll buy this book.

I brought a Kodak Carousel tray of Kodachrome family pictures to my Uncle and Aunt's last Christmas. The pictures were made from 1960 to 1963 and show all the family members including pets from fifty years ago.

There were tears in my Uncle's eye when he saw, for the first time, a beautiful portrait of his mother when she was healthy vibrant and full of life.

This was the first time in 50 years that this image had been projected (I had reviewed them on a light table before) and not only did it look like the picture was made yesterday but it brought back memories that had nearly faded away.

Those Kodachrome images made last Christmas special since they brought back family members, including my Mom, Dad and brother who now live in our memories.

Timing is sometimes incredible. I am just checking out the web before going to bed and half and hour ago I put out the projector and the 1st roll I shot of Kodachrome.

Mind you, I am 18 now and was 3-4 years younger when I decided to shoot some KR (4 rolls). The first one shot in 2009 and it wad thr first ever roll of slides I shot too. But damn, I took 9 months to do the best of it.
It was Now or never.

I am thinking about sending to print a street scene I got. Well, it would be a C print on a lambda but I could get to practice out framing. Which I've gotten a bug to do. (Great 3 pt article you posted month ago)

As of books. You should check out Daniel Bayer's Kodachrome project. He was on years long project shooting kodachrome and he will release a book
A caveat... He is busy and there's no known date for publishing....
Should be really nice. I might have some sentimental connection as it was a way to learn about Kodachrome. I am waiting for it. I hope it comes before the slides fade.

Nostalgia at 18... My bad!
Greets from the other side of the pond

...I got Sentimental and forgot about the topic of the post.
As I only shot KR64 and really few; also being young I don't know much about it but:
I like how Kodachrome became saturated with sunlight... And those reds; My bad, those are reds!
On shade I had a mixed bag. It got muddy but sometimes with diffuse lighting it worked quite well. As in the example of the girl above.
It was quite contrasty however.

When I think of it. I dislike how we lost a good media; on an archival standpoint. I don't know if current chromogenic materials are up to the century (100-150) dark storage expectancy of Kodachrome. Throw in Ciba/Ilfochrome too.
Sometime I am an archival maniac... But still got many years ahead. Gotta secure those memories!

Is this a coincidence, or some sort of Blogger-Driven,Colour Conspiracy...

Roger Cicala posted "Fun With Color Vision" today.



Cheers! Jay

"New Haven, Vt., 1973" at the beginning of this post perfectly illustrates why I haven't shot another color frame (snapshots and article illustrations aside) since quality processing for Kodachrome 25 stopped being available. There has not been anything close to the rendition of Kodachrome II/25 since. Black and white is all that's left for me.

Thanks for the comparison. Yeow, that looks like a colourspace mistake to me. Mah eyes!

The original pictures are beautiful.
This site has hundreds of 4x5" format examples of Kodachrome color. Thankfully the Library of Congress did not jack-up the color on these pictures.

Wow! - Sometimes I think there is simply NO END to photographs beautiful and original such as Nathan Benn's are.

I don't guess I've ever seen his work before, or that I'm aware of anyway, and Kodachrome or not (and I certainly agree on all the remarks about the wracked out color) to my eyes, Nathan's is yet another example of the extraordinary, everyday originality that we could all drink in and take a lesson from.

Some photo editor at the New York Times, who never actually saw any Kodachrome (?!), but heard it had a reputation for intense color. Or maybe some explanation not quite so bad.

Isn't it nearly required to have a link to this one when writing a post about Kodachrome? (if this is some copyright violation, just delete it)


I would love to know the workflow steps at the NYT that led to this.

"Emotional scaffolding". That's a powerful concept. I wonder if he meant or felt it as forlorn as it sounds to the ear.

I am MUCH more concerned about the hairdoo and the lipstick on the girl in front of the pop machine.

This reminds me of the time I saw scans of Farm Security Administration Kodachromes in the library of congress, I was amazed at the accuracy of the color, something that C-41 based internegs and E-6 based transparency copies just couldn't 'nail'. Have yet to see anything like it in digital, altho I have to say I have a buddy that tried the Alien film emulator product and the Kodakchrome setting looked darn close!

What George Barr said about New Haven, Vt., 1973. So casual, perhaps captured on a late summer afternoon as Nathan was approaching the house for supper. So many powerful photographs, such as this, tell us so much about everything outside their frames.

It's also a wonderful example of the three key picture-drivers I howl so tirelessly about: Elements, Relationships, and Gesture.

This image also has that FSA look about it, even though it was captured nearly 40 years later.

Excellent work, Nathan.

BTW, I'm with Auntipode on here, Kodachome II was the bomb, and looked much like the New Haven photograph above. I could never make Kodachrome 25 work at all, it was almost 'garrish', so I quit using it after the change-over. Weirdly enough, I tried the new 120 Kodachrome when it was out back in the 80's, and it looked far more like the old Kodachrome II than Kodachrome 25, but clietns wouldn't wait for the turn-around time!

It's why I keep a Kodak DCS ProC -it shoots Kodachrome colors

Seldom do I think "vintage" or "timeless" when viewing color. This shot has changed that personal prejudice.

I would be interested to know what rights to the photographs photographers retained when shooting for the Geographic and was there any difference between the published and unpublished ones. Has the National Geographic changed its policies in recent years?

It really looks like ICC profiles got stacked or otherwise mismatched.

I'm pretty sure that neither Dale Evans nor Roy Rogers looked like that, even Trigger looks like a horse of a different color. Or maybe it's Buttermilk, but still not right.

That Coca-Cola sign behind the beehive hairdo strangely reminded me of something else from the fifties:


What a lovely photograph that is, and poignant for me as I was living in New Haven Vermont in 1973, 1 of perhaps 1200 people. I wish I knew more about it.

Nathan Benn's New Haven image is extremely fine, in multiple ways, but let's not get too carried away by nostalgia about Kodachrome - Kodachrome II, that is; the REAL Kodachrome. It could indeed be gorgeous, with a subtle range of colour and tone that has maybe never been matched (no shadow detail, of course). But - certainly with Kodak UK processing - you could get a batch of film that had no colour in it except magenta; or green.

When KII was retired in favour of K64, everyone bitched and moaned but K64 became a mainstay; it was simply much more reliable. Then Fuji started producing some very fine emulsions and lots of people went that route; things move on . . . and the past takes on that rosy tint so beloved of colour shooters everywhere.

thanks for the post Mike, ordered.

"...When KII was retired in favour of K64, everyone bitched and moaned but K64 became a mainstay; it was simply much more reliable. Then Fuji started producing some very fine emulsions and lots of people went that route; things move on..."

Kodachrome II was replaced by Kodachrome 25, not Kodachrome 64. I never found Kodachrome 64 to be remotely as good as its slower sibling. Both the 25 and 64 films were completely "reliable" for a long time after their introductions, especially the Kodachrome 25 Professional (PKM) version.

Several factors killed Kodachrome. First, Fuji introduced Velvia. Simultaneously, the public was becoming more impatient and enamored of crayon-like over saturated color. E-6 rapid processing combined with the green box's over-the-top color pulled Kodachrome demand way down.

As with so many aspects of its business, Kodak finished off Kodachrome itself. The death spiral began in earnest when Kodak Processing Labs, which up to that point had returned clean, undamaged and tightly process/color-controlled Kodachrome slides, were spun off into Qualex. From then on, turnaround time, color balance and physical handling slid into the toilet. It was only a matter of time until so few photographers were willing to put up with the situation that master film rolls were spoiling in storage before enough could be sold to use them up.

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