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June 22, 2009 4:13 PM   Subscribe

They've taken my Kodachrome away, oh yeah.
posted by normy (62 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by joelf at 4:18 PM on June 22, 2009


Can I just say that as an Ilford enthusiast, everything does not look worse in black and white.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:18 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's the end of an era. No more Red Shirt photos.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:18 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, they have been slowly discontinuing it for years. This was just the last ISO, 64.
posted by joelf at 4:20 PM on June 22, 2009


sorry, read that wrong. They are discontinuing the 35mm stock. that's sad.
posted by joelf at 4:21 PM on June 22, 2009


Well at least my mama still loves me, she loves me. She gets down on her knees and hugs me.
She loves me like a rock.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:21 PM on June 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


.
posted by klausness at 4:25 PM on June 22, 2009


I should have included this Gallery.
posted by normy at 4:27 PM on June 22, 2009


Here's the obit.
posted by heyho at 4:27 PM on June 22, 2009


With all your honor and dignity, what would you do? Please don't answer without giving it serious thought. By giving an honest answer you will be able to test where you stand morally.

The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation, where you will have to make a decision one way or the other. Please scroll down slowly and consider each line — this is important for the test to work accurately.

You're in Florida... in Miami, to be exact. There is great chaos going on around you, caused by a hurricane and severe floods. There are huge masses of water all over you. You are a news photographer and you are in the middle of this great disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot very impressive photos. There are houses and people floating around you, disappearing into the water. Nature is showing all its destructive power.

Suddenly you see a man in the water, fighting for his life, trying not to be taken away by the masses of water and mud. You move closer. Somehow the man looks familiar.

Suddenly you know who it is — it's Dick Cheney!

At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him away, forever. You have two options. You can save him or you can take the best photo of your life. So you can save the life of Dick Cheney, or you can shoot a Pulitzer prize winning photo, a unique photo displaying the death of one of the world's most ruthless men.

And here's the question (please give an honest answer):

Would you select kodachrome, or rather go with the simplicity of classic black and white?
posted by netbros at 4:28 PM on June 22, 2009 [24 favorites]


For film, I still maintain that the combination of Nikkormat FTN and Kodak Tri-X is one of the most sublimely perfect things in photography. I keep worrying that Tri-X will be next.

Kodachrome has left and gone away, hey hey hey.
posted by cmyk at 4:29 PM on June 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hello darkness, my old friend...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:31 PM on June 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


All those links, and not one to YouTube?

. o O o .
posted by maudlin at 4:35 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


My mom has an old red and yellow toy camera. When you press the button on top, it makes a little squeak and a clown head pops out.


That's the camera I would use at Dick Cheney's last moment.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:38 PM on June 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


We DO NOT have cameras.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 4:39 PM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


My mom does, and I bet she'd let me borrow it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:45 PM on June 22, 2009


.

I knew it was coming, but like the death of a particularly elderly friend, it's still kind of a sad surprise to hear the news.

It's a small consolation and testament to the genius of Kodachrome's inventors that all the images shot on it and properly stored will be around for decades, perhaps centuries, to come, long after many competing formats have literally faded into obscurity (or at least nasty color casts).
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:47 PM on June 22, 2009


ocherdraco, that's officially the most frustrating wikipedia page ever, describing a technical style of art while displaying no examples and providing only a single (dead) link.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:47 PM on June 22, 2009


.


(Please someone who knows more about film than me, please answer: I have heard that Kodachrome was the most archival slide film made -- something like an 80 year lifetime. If so, then the death of Kodachrome is bad news. I worry about how we plan to archive all the digi photos we're taking these days. I suspect they'll be as inaccessible as all the papers I wrote and saved on floppy disks).

(Also, nothing beats Kodachrome for making your slides look like National Geographic photos ... such warm colours!).
posted by bumpkin at 4:48 PM on June 22, 2009


You are all part of the problem. You decided that that a low resolution image on an uncalibrated monitor works out just swell.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:55 PM on June 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


more here with examples of some historic photos by Steve McCurry.
posted by Nauip at 4:59 PM on June 22, 2009


The death of Kodachrome was inevitable yet Kodak has recently brought out a new color print film, Ektar 100 (which despite appearances is not a replacement for UC) in both 35 and 120. The film business can make money, although the margins are not what they once were. Kodak has too much overhead, unfortunately, to make film pay off for them.
posted by tommasz at 5:02 PM on June 22, 2009


How long will it last in the freezer? I have a digital now, but I think I still got my best cave photos on Kodachrome, and it's the only slide film that's decently archival. bumpkin, I've heard up to 100 years, if stored correctly, but who knows, yet? It hasn't been around for 100 years. I might go buy 20 or 30 rolls, and stash them, if they'll keep. Then again, will I be able to get them processed? One of the reasons I went digital is that I got tired of entrusting really hard-fought rolls to the USPS, as Kodak had only one processing facility, in Florida.

I'd love to do some dual-camera shoots -- digital alongside 35 mm Kodachrome, same settings. It'd be an interesting project.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:07 PM on June 22, 2009


I have a roll of long discontinued 200 sitting on my dresser that I've never been able to bring myself to shoot. Guess I'll hang onto it like some sort of talisman of analog things I once loved but have now permanently lost.
posted by photoslob at 5:09 PM on June 22, 2009


.
posted by Mitheral at 5:14 PM on June 22, 2009


Remember, one man's ceiling is another man's floor.
posted by blucevalo at 5:17 PM on June 22, 2009


Self link: I'm at this very moment serendipitously working on an upgrade to my Andy product (my bestselling plug-in), adding support for reversal B&W film and classic colour emulsions like Velvia and Kodachrome. I'm sorry to see the real thing pass, but at least I can recreate something of the look. And there will be an FxPlug version for Final Cut, too -- in testing it is absolutely magical, the simulation of Agfachrome RSX is breathtaking. Makes flat and dead DV look GOOD.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:35 PM on June 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


. (Paul Simon should make a song about this...)
posted by majikstreet at 5:38 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


And here's the question (please give an honest answer):

I wouldn't be out in the storm in the first place, and neither would Dick Cheney.
posted by philip-random at 5:44 PM on June 22, 2009


Yeah, I've gota half brick of K 64 in the freezer, Do I try to sell in on Ebay before the processing stops, or frame it as a momento of my youth?
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:56 PM on June 22, 2009


I worry about how we plan to archive all the digi photos we're taking these days. I suspect they'll be as inaccessible as all the papers I wrote and saved on floppy disks).

File format is not the problem. We can still open and view pictures in .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .png, etc, no matter what device or program produced them, so long as they were saved according to the standard. In 50 years, our Mozilla iGoogleChromeFoxes will still be able to open all of those formats.

The issue is curating the massive amount of data. We produce so much data, and the issue is making it properly browse-able, tagging accurately and adding other metadata. I personally lose/forget about so many of my old files, and while I can back them up and transfer them from hard drive to hard drive ad infinitum without loss of quality, I rarely get around to properly curating them.
posted by explosion at 5:59 PM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shorpy's been on the blue before, but this seems to be a good time to link to their selection of large format Kodachromes, mostly taken from FSA Office of War Information Collection. They look amazing for WW2 era photos, giving a sense of immediacy B&W images lack.
posted by fings at 6:04 PM on June 22, 2009


It's a sad day, but I haven't shot many rolls of slides in decades. When I did Kodachrome was one of the favs. Print film is next and that is actually going to have impact upon me.
posted by caddis at 6:09 PM on June 22, 2009


Can I just say that as an Ilford enthusiast, everything does not look worse in black and white.

Well, metaphorically speaking it does.

How long will it last in the freezer?

Doesn't matter. Looks like you won't be able to get it processed past 2010.
posted by The Deej at 6:22 PM on June 22, 2009


In live versions of Kodachrome, Paul Simon sometimes sings "everything looks better in black and white."
posted by danb at 6:31 PM on June 22, 2009


You probably wonder, I'm guessing, as a journalist, whether it's worth it to go for the obvious cliche. Because it's so pithy and nice. Kodachrome dies = Paul Simon Kodachrome.
The Hubble Telescope runs into problems..."Trouble with Hubble!" I respect the journalists who rejected the obvious.

(also, I love my Kodachrome slides)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:31 PM on June 22, 2009


seanmpuckett: Yes!! I love Andy and would absolutely love to see classic color emulsions in it!
posted by zsazsa at 6:43 PM on June 22, 2009


Doesn't matter. Looks like you won't be able to get it processed past 2010.

That's one thing to be said for regular old film -- you can process it in your bathroom. Damn shame. It's really beginning to make me feel old. That & the pain in my back. & the kids with their digital cameras on my lawn. PANCAKES!
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:51 PM on June 22, 2009


I can't resist:
A few years ago I had a job writing software at a company that makes video editing/processing systems. One day I was working with a colleague, trying to find a bug that seemed to be in some code he had written. At one point, in hopes of isolating the problem, I suggested that we try commenting out (i.e. temporarily removing, for you non-geeks) a section of his program, having to do with the processing of the "chroma" (as opposed to "luma") portion of the video signal.

As I did so he turned to me and said: "Mama, don't take my chroma code!"
posted by dlanznar at 6:57 PM on June 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


What I found interesting reading about this today, is that there's only one lab left in the world that processes Kodachrome slide film. And its out in the middle of nowhere, Kansas, of all places. Even the film from Europe gets sent there because the last lab in Europe closed a couple years ago.

Anyway, the lab's website says they'll keep processing it through 2010 at least, as long as there's stock out there that needs it.
posted by dnash at 7:33 PM on June 22, 2009


DAMMIT. I bought a Nikon camera a month ago and had just gotten this song out of my head.
posted by blenderfish at 7:36 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Film is like vacuum tubes. There are still things tubes are used for, but not damned many. They still make tubes, but not damned many, and they're expensive because of diseconomy of low scale.

So it is, and will be, for film. They'll always make film. There are some things it is unsurpassed for. But in most of the applications it used to dominate, CCDs are better, faster, cheaper and more convenient.

Kerosene lamp, anyone?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:37 PM on June 22, 2009


We can still open and view pictures in .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .png...In 50 years, our Mozilla iGoogleChromeFoxes will still be able to open all of those formats.

That's a mighty tall prediction, there. 50 years? I certainly wouldn't bet the farm on any of our current standard digital image formats being easily read 50 years from now. Technology marches on.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:48 PM on June 22, 2009


Today's related flickr blog post.*

*complete with Paul Simon reference!

This is gonna result in a big spike in airplay for Paul's tune over the next few days, I'd imagine. He'll see some increased earnings from this...

posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:53 PM on June 22, 2009


Thorzdad, can you open Amiga .IFF files? In HAM mode?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:58 PM on June 22, 2009


Oops. That should have been addressed to "explosion". Sorry about that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:00 PM on June 22, 2009


can you open Amiga .IFF files? In HAM mode?

The GIMP supports both regular IFF and HAM mode IFF files via a plugin. XnView supports it as well. IrfanView can do it via a plugin. On the commercial front ACDSee supports the format as well [pdf]. And a little googling turns up several lesser known or one-off viewers.

Of course, if all else fails, you can fire up an Amiga emulator.
posted by jedicus at 8:20 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


XnView will open IFF, HAM mode required special hardware, JPEG is implemented wholly in software. We might not be able to to find hardware to read Secure Digital cards, USB drives or CDs 50 years from now but I'm pretty sure you'll be able to open the file and view it if you can access it.
posted by Mitheral at 8:25 PM on June 22, 2009


GIF is 23 years old already. JPEG/JFIF is 18 years old. TIFF dates from the mid-80s. There are billions of each already out there, orders of magnitude more than the above-mentioned IFF format. All are very-well documented in many places, including printed form. Those formats have enormous critical mass so they are extremely unlikely to die. I am a little more worried about proprietary raw formats (NEF, CR2, etc), but multiple high-quality implementations of readers for these formats exist, with at least one open-source example. So file formats are covered.

Storage methods are probably the more fragile part of the equation, but as long as a copy is kept on a reasonably state-of-the art medium, keeping an undegraded copy should be manageable. This does come at an increased cost in time and labor, though; you can't just toss your photos on a DVD and expect to read them in 75 years.
posted by zsazsa at 9:39 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well that's too bad, although it was obviously only a matter of time: I just yesterday sent a roll of it away for processing, and loaded up another, my last...
posted by misteraitch at 10:31 PM on June 22, 2009


you can't just toss your photos on a DVD and expect to read them in 75 years.

This would be true even if the file formats don't change over that time, as DVD, like CD, is a layered medium, and therefore is subject to degradation. Already, two of the earliest store-bought CDs I purchased in the mid-80s have failed, not because of scratches or mishandling but because it is NOT a long-life form of storage. The life expectancy for burned discs is likely even shorter.
posted by hippybear at 11:03 PM on June 22, 2009


I respect the journalists who rejected the obvious

This mere FILM STOCK was so beloved that one of the most lyrical, observant American songwriters of the century wrote a paean to it (and it happened to be a hit). Surely that's more substantial a fact to launch an article with than a silly rhyme or pun. And it's wonderful that something so potentially forgettable can be immortalized that way, can keep aweing people many years past its practical, commercial lifespan. In fact, the song's probably a big part of the reason there has bee so much coverage of the discontinuation. That's cultural synergy in the artistic appreciation of technology, not cultural degradation in shitty journalism form.

Anyway I like how sexy-dorky it is to write beautiful songs about art kit.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:49 AM on June 23, 2009


Storage isn't rocket science: I keep my photos on two computers (a laptop and desktop), an external drive and CDs, DVDs, etc. Then there's Flickr and various storage sites, my camera store, etc. The negatives, by contrast, just go in a big box, but I have decent CD scans of most of them, even ones from 20 years ago.
posted by raysmj at 2:56 AM on June 23, 2009


.
posted by sciurus at 3:31 AM on June 23, 2009


Inevitable for a long time, but I still feel the brand value of keeping this going was ignored by Kodak's top brass. The Impossible Project is reviving Polaroid instant film and surely the closest thing an ordinary punter can get to Technicolor (it is an additive, three layer process) could have had a 'cool' injection to keep going. I think there was a lack of imagination here. Just bought 10 rolls from 7dayshop.com and I will shoot as much as I can with my Contax G2 and other film cameras (though that Contax is hard to beat!) till the end before switching to Ektar. I think Kodachrome could have survived longer as a niche, specialist product (maybe with a price to match) but instead just was ignored. I give Kodak credit for coming out with Ektar and making a new version of TMAX 400 though. I just wish they had given Kodachrome some more love. Even if very very few bought it, it would have kept them tied to photographic history and excellence in consumers minds.
posted by The Salaryman at 3:44 AM on June 23, 2009


Snore? It might archive well, but the colours are barmy, and at low-light levels were really impossible to use properly. Scanning Kodachrome is really not fun guys, really not fun.
posted by Magnakai at 5:20 AM on June 23, 2009


Storage isn't rocket science: I keep my photos on two computers (a laptop and desktop), an external drive and CDs, DVDs, etc. Then there's Flickr and various storage sites, my camera store, etc. The negatives, by contrast, just go in a big box, but I have decent CD scans of most of them, even ones from 20 years ago.

And, out of all that, the negatives in a box are the most likely to survive 50 years from now. Current digital storage is simply not archival. In fact, about the only part of digital storage that seems to qualify it as "archival" (in most people's minds, anyway) is the ability to keep redundant backups...on other digital media. All far more inherently failure-prone than those negatives sitting in a box.

Of course, even though the source media (negatives) may stand the test of time, their usefulness (the ability to pull new prints) is dependent on the survival of the necessary chemicals. But, as long as the physical base source survives, I'm pretty confident that there will be some way to capture an image from it, be it optical scanning or some other, yet to arrive, imaging technique. It is, afterall, a physical object, just like a tree, a building, or a person.

The same cannot be said, with absolute certainty, for digital media. All those hard drives, dvds, cds, SD cards, etc. are ultimately dependent on being able to interface with whatever technology we might be using 50 years hence. Unless there is a huge growth market in the adapter market, I'd seriously doubt, in 50 years, you're going to be able to interface your Firewire-based camera with whatever it is we are using. Ditto for USB. I mean...SCSI, anyone? Seriously? Hell, I'm willing to bet that current wireless technology (and associated frequencies) will be long-superseded by something else.

Digital has never been about quality of image and archival storage. It's always been about ease of manipulation and storage. The quality part of the equation has certainly gotten far, far better. But quality of storage has failed to advance beyond the simple convenience factor.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:15 AM on June 23, 2009


Already, two of the earliest store-bought CDs I purchased in the mid-80s have failed, not because of scratches or mishandling but because it is NOT a long-life form of storage.

Double-disc sets? If so, the foam inserts outgassed something that ate discs. Smart.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:34 AM on June 23, 2009


Aren't there Kodachrome processing labs in China?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:45 AM on June 23, 2009


Interesting - Godowsky, Mannes, and Paul Simon were all Jewish musicians as well. See also.
posted by ericbop at 10:26 AM on June 23, 2009


I have heard that Kodachrome was the most archival slide film made -- something like an 80 year lifetime.

I used to shoot slide (and still have a big honkin' slide scanner on my desk) and in my experience, Fuji's stuff looks just as good as the Kodachromes. The big thing with Kodak was the ludicrously-high resolution of their ultra-slow chromes, like their ISO25. People lamenting the demise of physical film need to remember that film has just as hard a resolution as digital, except instead of sensors you've got bits of silver halide.

As the off-the-shelf stuff dies out, you're going to start seeing more of the real die-hards that mix their own emulsions.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:01 AM on June 23, 2009


I hope Fuji keeps Velvia in production for a while longer.

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posted by JBennett at 12:31 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


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