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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Just Mowed: 1943

Just Mowed: 1943

Farmland and weathered barn in the Catskill country, New York State. June 1943. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by John Collier.

 

Bygone

I saw this and froze for a moment.

To the left of the barn and in the distance are the Shawangunk Mountains, sort of a margin between the Catskills and Hudson Valley. Hang gliding capital, the Shawangunks.

My grandmother's sister Lula married Earl and they farmed while he took carpentry jobs during the workaday. It was a wonderful place to vacation in summer and they were the best hosts. The fresh milk was put in a spring fed brook to keep till morning pickup, and the eggs were won from the rooster's protective stance. The word hubris hadn't been invented yet and the peace and freshness were everywhere. I miss all that.

The house is gone now but the barn is there and some beef cows instead of dairy.

Kodachrome vs Digital

As impressive as these 4 x 5 Kodachromes are, if we can admire their color rendition on our computer screens then the "digital" process has the ability to capture this quality. I have looked at some vacation pictures shot with an ordinary 8-meg Canon pocket camera, and they're just as sharp and rich in color. The cheap lens betrays a bit of flare around hot spots, but the new "film" is MUCH faster and considerably sharper than the 35mm slide enlargements we've seen here. Serious photogs using SLR-digital and RAW image encoding are getting awesome results, with lots of dynamic range for post-processing. And Photoshop or its equivalent offers manipulations and corrections only dreamed about by Kodachrome users, who basically took what they got back from the factory. Who hasn't suffered the orange or blue disaster of shooting the wrong type film under the "other" type of lighting? Kodachrome has admirable archival quality, but "digital is forever" IF anyone cares to re-copy the files as computers get changed. The real problem is that we are inundated in casually acquired data.

PS: I think some of my satisfaction with digital stems from viewing the pictures as "slides" on a screen. Real slides were always more vivid than prints.

End of the roll

Last spring, I finally sat down and scanned through 2500 old slides and negatives going back to the 1970s. Shots taken all over North America, Europe and Australia. Most of the film hadn't seen daylight in years. Many of the Ektachrome slides had turned pink in storage and the Kodacolor negatives had no pizazz but the Kodachromes all looked like they'd been shot yesterday. One of those scanned Kodachromes is my wallpaper, a red combine under a blue Aussie sky in a field of golden wheat.

I haven't shot any real slide film in 3 or 4 years. I'm not proud that I was part of what killed Kodachrome, without intending to. I'm ashamed.

Kodachrome Sadness

Each time I look at one of these beauties I become more perplexed as to just why Kodak is phasing out such an amazing product. What a pity that we've all gone digital crazy and no longer appreciate the true art of photography.

Kodachrome

From what I've read on the internet, Dwayne's in Kansas is still getting a good volume of Kodachrome coming through their doors. They should be processing it for a while to come.

Not even Kodak anymore

I don't think Kodak even develops the film now. Dwaynes Photo out in Kansas is the only domestic K-14 developing operating left in the United States.

I now have 4 rolls of the 64 speed stuff that I'm going to burn through on my old Minolta SLR so see if I can get some of these same effects (although the negative sizes are different - so probably not).

In the processing

Kodachrome is different from Ektachrome and others in one other way: The color is added during processing. Anyone with a film tank and a batch of E6 chemicals can process Ektachrome, even the reversal is chemical now, but Kodachrome can only be processed by Kodak.

"Makes you think all the world's a sunny day" Paul Simon

Kodachrome

The color, dynamic range, richness without looking fake... It is amazing, and digital needs to come a long way in order to do what we see here.

Absolutely beautiful!

Kodachrome

Thanks for that info! It is indeed a shame it is being phased out.

re: The Colors

It's not you. Kodachrome is a completely unique color process unlike any other. It's also proven to have the best archival characteristics (in dark storage) It's a shame Kodak is slowly killing it off. Kodachrome 64 35mm is all that's left that you can purchase fresh.

The colors...

I don't know what it is about these Kodachrome transparencies, but the colors are absolutely beautiful--so rich and crisp, and yet subdued at the same time. I can't seem to find the right words to describe them. All I know is that when I look at one of these transparencies, I feel something special and timeless.

Is it just me?

(Just out of curiosity, why is there no name field in the comment form?)

 
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