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Sunday, 12 July 2015


O.T. How could he eat breakfast with that elephant head there. Brutal.

Odd coincidence. I will be at Keuka next week just in time, if I wanted to, to drive to Rochester for the demolition. The Eastman House would be my true destination.

Proximity to George Eastman House is one of the prime benefits of living in Western New York and the Finger Lakes, if you're a photographer. GEH regularly hosts fantastic speakers, in recent years ranging from David Plowden to Larry Towell, and a range of exhibitions that can satisfy both the traditionalist and more contemporary tastes. Opening in September is a major exhibition of Alvin Langdon Coburn's work. I can hardly wait.

I love books; but there really is nothing like closely examining original prints.

From what I understand, GoPro and iPhone are the best selling cameras in the world by a good margin. How things have changed in just 10 years!

Kodak clearly had the opportunity to remain the number one photo company in the world, but was badly mismanaged by a leadership that probably got paid royally while running the company into the ground. We mere mortals could see that digital would replace film rather quickly, while the insiders and professionals, and people who should have known better insisted for years beyond reason that digital imaging was a gimmick that would never replace film. It's kind of like the way Canon and Nikon don't seem to notice that Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras are taking over, even though most of the rest of us can clearly see their advantages and expect that they will.

To save you time and help you settle in, here's a link to the web site for Watkins Glen: http://www.theglen.com/?homepage=true I'm guessing that it's a mere half hour or so from your new digs. Great way to spend an afternoon (or more): seeing cars, hearing cars, smelling cars. Maybe even take a picture or two.

Syracuse, Ithaca and Buffalo also have excellent museums that are well-worth visiting.

I've always loved the drive from Binghampton to NYC on highway 17 (especially when leaves are changing), although I never drove into NYC. I always parked at a MetroNorth Station and took the train into NYC.

Recently Schneider Kreuznach announced that they were not going to manufacture the previously announced M4/3 lenses. Instead they were going to concentrate on Industrial Lenses and their present OEM business.

What are Industrial Lenses? And what are they used for? One answer is Machine Vision. "As of 2006, experts estimated that MV had been employed in less than 20% of the applications for which it is potentially useful." ( Hornberg, Alexander (2006). Handbook of Machine Vision. Wiley-VCH. p. 694. ISBN 978-3-527-40584-8 )

Looks like Schneider Kreuznach has made a good decision. When photography tanked, they found another use for lenses. Kodak could have done the same thing with sensors, but they didn't.

Mike, the elephant head makes the whole room. I do hope your new place will have one also.

I attended a lecture in the 1990's about the extensive restoration of the Eastman House and the painstaking work that was required to replace the Elephant trophy (the replacement is made from acrylic), missing artwork (ironically they are Polaroid prints) and silk carpets (custom weaved in China). The restorers worked from photographs since many of the original items were long gone. The New York Times published a splendid summary of the restoration. You can read it here:


Sadly, Kodak's management stifled digital photography as long as possible since digital imaging did not offer the huge profit margins that the film business did. Digital caught on, in spite of Kodak, and Kodak missed the opportunity to re-invent itself and sank into bankruptcy.

When I go to the Eastman House I bring my 600 lumen Surefire flashlight so I can actually see the very dimly lit precious masterpieces. Most of the old original stuff is displayed under 5-watt bulbs, it's ridiculous.


Owen Parry (Ralph Peters on Fox News ;-p) set his book "Shadows of Glory" in Penn Yan. And while I may have just disqualified him from your consideration, his Major Abel Jones series, about a Union spy and detective during the Civil War, is a very fine set of historical fiction I hope you'll be open minded enough to enjoy.


And for heaven's sake please drive carefully around the Mennonite wagons, even if they are reluctant to add reflectors to their matte rolling road hazards.

Since an old friend grew up in Penn Yan, I’m better versed in Penn Yan lore than most Californians. The two major points that I remember from decades-old conversations, and that you need to know, are:

1. Penn Yan was founded (as Jerusalem, NY) by the charismatic evangelical Jemima Wilkonson and her followers at the beginning of the Second Great Awakening that later consumed the Burned-over Distric of New York and included the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints nearby. According to my correspondent, Wilkonson famously lead her flock down to the shores of Keuka Lake and then asked them if they believed that she could actually walk on water. When they enthusiastically indicated that she could do exactly that, she said something like this: “Well, then I don’t have to prove that to you, do I?”

2. The 1820 diary of the cabin boy on the doomed whaleship Essex was found in 1960 in an attic in Penn Yan. It helped flesh out the tale told by Nantucketer Nathaniel Philbrick in “The Heart of The Sea,” which is an exceptional book, a must read for anyone who will live near Penn Yan, and, perhaps, the basis for a good film from director Ron Howard. (Think about it: a monstrous whale intentionally rams a whaleship—twice—and sinks it, leading to heroic seamanship, cannibalism, and the genesis of Moby Dick. Riveting stuff.)

Good Fortune with your relocation. It's always strange the way the World Turns (pun intended).

When I was doing graduate school at Case Western Reserve in the late '60s, I was fortunate to make it to Watkins Glen for a couple of Formula 1 Grand Prix races and a Can/Am & FIA Endurance set of races.

Since you seem to be an occasional car person, I'd suggest that you try out a race at the "Glen" sometime, since it will be so close to your new place.


Bob Dompe

Peter mentioned the Watkins Glen race circuit, but perhaps even more interesting to someone like you who likes cars and books is the Int'l Motor Racing Research Center (http://www.racingarchives.org) - or as most of us call it, the Watkins Glen Racing Library.
They have books, a giant photo archive, cars on display and regular lectures from racing greats.
You can visit my stuff! Before we moved to CA, I drove over from Boston to give them 3 boxes of books on racing technique - over 100 books I had collected, more than anyone ever thought existed. After I finished scanning them, I gave them all my collection of thousands of racing photos from the 60s and my high school art teachers photos from the 50s.
I have also helped convince others to donate their racing photo collections to the libraty - hint, hint, if any TOP readers have racing photos. My photos have been used in a half dozen books in the last decade.
And do visit the track - I have fond memories of racing there - and not so fond memories of blowing a engine in my '62 ALFA coming uphill out of the esses...

What a huge difference there is between Eastman’s Conservatory and Steve Job’s music/living room, as shown in the famous 1982 photo of him by Diana Walker. Jobs has some cushions on polished floorboards, a Tiffany lamp, his high-end stereo, some LPs, and not much else in the room.

Jobs of course was responsible for the most used camera of our time (the iPhone) as Eastman was in his.

For those whose memory needs jogging, the photo appears at the top of this Wired article:


Since you’ve already confessed your audiophilia to us in the past, I think you might also enjoy the body of the article and the slideshow.

I don't know if it's touring or not, but this past exhibit (http://www.gallery.ca/en/see/exhibitions/past/details/robert-burley-the-disappearance-of-darkness-5324) by a prof at Ryerson in Toronto might be of interest. He travelled to various film manufacturing plants around the world, including Rochester, to photograph the buildings and equipment before it disappears. He caught some building in Rochester being demolished.

I saw it at the National Gallery in Ottawa in 2013, but it was on display somewhere in Toronto for a while. I hope it's still being shown somewhere.

Kodak. The name may endure for a while but the company is already dead. I guess Kodak UK is still alive....for a bit longer perhaps. Have you seen the price of a 100ft. bulk roll of TX? One hundred and twenty five dollars!
Obviously whoever makes the film wants to finally kill off the company all together.

Been photographing since I was 10, processing film since I was 12, and making money in the profession since I was 16. It took me until my early 40's to get to the George Eastman House, and that was a mistake...

Take any interested youngster to the place as soon as you can!

What Kodak forgot is that it's revenues came from the sale of disposables, like film, paper, and chemicals. Yes, they did pioneer the development of digital sensors, but these were not disposable. Had they instead focused on printing at that time, they might have beaten Epson to the punch -- and still be a viable company.

Ahh Yes. Watkins Glen Formula One. Must not be missed.

I actually saw Jimmy Clark and Jackie Stewart race there, at different times - in 1969 and again in 1971. Nothing like it. Even went back a few years later as crew for an amateur Road America Team out of Chicago.

Oh but I digress and need to get back to my printer.

This next move will likely be easier for you. All best wishes from beautiful Cape Cod.

LR Jasper

I hope TOP don't turn to be a " nostalgia" photoblog so soon......

It is certainly received wisdom that Kodak died because of mismanagement, but that it's not obviously true.

Certainly Fuji has survived, but that's a different company. Kodak, as the market leader, had inherently more difficulty executing the necessary pivot.

There's a concept of the market "allowing you to succeed". If your buyers see you as one thing, they're simply not going to easily accept you as a different thing. Kodak, as The Name in film, was going to have a harder time persuading the market to accept them as a digital imaging company. Fuji was the #2 player, and also had always positioned itself a little more broadly, building interesting cameras and so on.

Kodak had, for 100+ years, treated cameras as film-consumption systems. A strategy that worked very very well for 100+ years, so I defy anyone to say they were "wrong". But it did back them into an intractable position, by 2010. Perhaps inevitably.

If 4-wheeled vehicles, for reasons beyond our ken, suddenly ceased to be a viable market, GM would be toast. No amount of clever management would save it, no amount of poor management would do much to hasten the end. Tesla would be OK. Chrysler might be as well. Probably they'd be owned by Whole Foods or something, when the smoke cleared.

When I first started out in the TV business you could buy an entire station from the transmitter, switchers, tape machines and cameras from RCA. Most chief engineers who wanted to play it safe did just that.
I don't even know what RCA does anymore. My old TK76 camera is in a museum.
RCA invented the CCD TV camera but apparently that didn't do them much good. Just being an innovator isn't enough. A company needs a more agile vision and it needs to know when to lead the charge and when to let go.
On a more personal note, after twenty years I finally got back into the darkroom to do some printing yesterday. A few sheets of Kodabromide would have been fun,sigh...

Here & Now, Public Radio's live midday news program, has an interview with Mark Osterman,

co-owner of Scully & Osterman Studio, and a photographic process historian at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. He talked with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about why he embraces digital imaging, but laments that there will be fewer physical images in the future.

Blurb at: http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/07/13/changes-photography-digital

Audio will be available a bit later under today's date (13 July 2015) at: http://hereandnow.wbur.org/section/radio

If you want to know more about the decline of Kodak and the ascent of Fuji check out: Innovating Out of Crisis" by Shigetaka Komori, CEO of Fujifilm. It fits pretty closely with my view of the ikdustry. When I startyed my lab in 1982,the Kodal rep spent most of the time describing what I needed to do to meet their requirements to become a dealer. Fuji talked about training, advancing technology and what they could do to support us. We went Fuji and I have never regretted it.
I got a save the date for an event celebrating the Fuji 50th Anniversary of US operations recently. Fuji has been a great partner and they are going to continue to thrive, in my opinion.

Andrew Molitor writes "Fuji was the #2 player, and also had always positioned itself a little more broadly, building interesting cameras and so on." But according to Fuji's own account they looked at where their expertise really was, identified it as nanotechnology in chemistry, looked for somewhere to apply this and went into cosmetics. They diversified into other related areas too, see:

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