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Posts Tagged ‘professional photography

Teaser: Photoshop CS5 Extended’s Content Aware Fill

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By Photoshopman a.k.a. Gary Small

Hi everyone! Well, I know the buzz is on with the announcement by Adobe of CS 5! As one of the people privileged to work with the beta/pre-release of Photoshop CS 5 Extended, I can tell you it’s an amazing upgrade. There are not only a bunch of new tools and features, but most of the tools and functionality of Photoshop across the board have been greatly improved. It’s like a whole new program!

I was going to write a long article, covering all the new features, but since I know many of you are dying to see what’s new as quickly as possible, I decided to put out a few teasers a little at a time, just to whet your appetites. I’ll try to publish as many as I can as quickly as I can.

So on that note, here is the first installment—what I think is by far the best new feature in Photoshop CS 5: Content Aware Fill.

Content Aware Fill is like the Patch Tool on steroids. I won’t even attempt to explain the technology behind it (because frankly I don’t understand it myself!), but the way it works is incredible. Let’s say you have an object, or even a person, or just about anything (trees, cars, telephone poles, exit signs) that you want to remove from a picture. In the past, it would take hours of Cloning, Healing, and Patching. Along comes Content Aware Fill, and reduces the work to mere seconds.

Here’s a nice outdoor scene with a bride and groom by a bridge. I love the scene and would like to re-use it, or make a background image out of it. But I need to get rid of the bride and groom to do so. All I have to do in Photoshop CS 5 is select the bride and groom (I used the Lasso tool to make a loose selection), then either hit the Delete key (if you’re working on the Background layer), or go to the menu and click Edit>Fill. Then in the dialog box that pops up, click the drop down box and select Content Aware and then click OK. Then watch what happens.

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Original image of the bride and groom. Photo Ⓒ Gary Small.

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Photoshop CS5 Extended screenshot of the selection around the bride and groom. Photo Ⓒ Gary Small.

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The final image, after Photoshop CS5 Extended worked its magic with Content Aware Fill. Photo Ⓒ Gary Small.

It doesn’t always work perfectly, but in almost all cases, Photoshop analyzes the surrounding area and fills in the selection appropriately, to make it look like the object (or people) selected are replaced with the scenery they were standing in. In the same example, I used Content Aware Fill to fill in the patch of white sky in the upper left corner. It was much faster than cloning the trees or using the patch tool and with better results too!

My next installment will talk about the new “Refine Edge” command, and as a bonus, we’ll see how I combined the two to make a completely new picture in under 30 minutes! Stay tuned!


♦ Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman is a Professional Photographer, Photoshop Guru and master of color management. Check out his work at www.jsmallphoto.com.

Pentax medium format digital camera is now a reality

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The Pentax 645D, just announced, is a 40MP medium format digital camera. Pentax had long been in the medium format film business, but this is the first medium format digital for the company.

For years, photographers, journalists and rumor mills have been mulling over whether Pentax would be reentering the world of medium format cameras with their first digital model. Well, debate no longer, because Pentax has joined the digital medium format game. Yesterday, Hoya Corp. Pentax Imaging Systems announced the Pentax 645D, a 40MP medium format digital camera.

The camera will be utilizing a 40MP CCD sensor with a physical size of 44mm x 33mm, and no low-pass filter. The camera will be compatible with the majority of existing smc PENTAX 645 interchangeable lenses. Processing of images will be done by Pentax’s proprietary Prime (Pentax Real Image Engine) II.

The camera was designed to be durable, a feature seen in many of the Pentax 35mm DSLRs. The 645D is made with a main frame created out of magnesium-steel alloy with a diecast aluminum chassis; the two LCD panels, (one on the back panel, one on the camera’s top) are covered with tempered glass plates for extra protection. The camera’s 70 seals will keep dust and other nasties out. A newly designed shutter is said to withstand as many as 50,000 shutter releases. On the inside, the camera will utilize the Pentax DR (Dust Removal) II mechanism to keep dust off the image sensor.

Other features of the camera include the ability to shoot RAW (PEF/DNG), JPG, and RAW + JPG, (for a 40 megabyte 14-bit RAW file size); a newly designed 11 point Safox IX+ wide-frame AF sensor, 77-segment multi-pattern metering system, dual SD/SDHC memory card slots, ISO range of 200 – 1000 expandable to 100 – 1600, TTL, exposure compensation +/- 5 f/stops, shutter speeds from 1/4000 of a sec. to 30 seconds plus bulb, self timer, interval, multiple exposure and other modes, custom image function, HDR functionality, dynamic range expansion, digital level, automatic compensation of distortion and lateral chromatic aberration with the D FA 645- and FA 645- series lenses, copyright credit attachment on image files, compatabiltiy with the SDM (Supersonic Direct-drive Motor) autofocus mechanism inside SDM lenses, and much more.

The camera features a 3-inch LCD and HDMI terminal. PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 software package will come with the camera. To see the full press release, go to www.pentax.jp/english/news/2010/201008.html.

We can’t wait to get our hands on this baby, however at this time, there are no plans to bring the camera to the U.S.

—Diane Berkenfeld

The Importance of Professional Photography

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Basso is on your side ◊ edis ruoy no si ossaB

Commentary & Photo By Claudio Basso

There are so many options in photography today that consumers have a difficult time deciding where to spend money and where to save it, leaving them with the question, “When do I need a pro or an artist and when can I just use my point and shoot?”

Let’s talk for a second about the magic of photography. It allows us to live eternal, bringing back a moment, or a face, over and over again, far into the future, even after our journey here on Earth has ended. In past centuries this was achieved by master painters. Leaders and aristocrats spent serious money to commission their portrait from the best artists.

The artists, on the other hand, often celebrated their spouses with a beautiful painting. The emotion generated by the whole process was powerful, just think of La Tosca or the movie The Girl with a Pearl Earing. Even the Master Photographers followed the tradition with wonderful images of their loved ones.

Why is a Professional Portrait Important for Business?

What happens when you arrive at a party or walk into a trendy bar or restaurant? People “check you out” and in the first few seconds they build an opinion. Be it right or wrong it is a common behavior across the world. That says a lot about the power of your first impression.

The Power of Your First Impression

It is more powerful than your business card, the titles next to your name and your resume, all combined together. Your first impression will determine who will talk to you and who won’t.

The same thing happens when people see your picture, online and off, the Power of First Impression applies in all its majesty. You know you need a portrait of yourself, particularly in your work environment. Now you have a choice. You can go to a cheap photographer and be done in ten minutes and probably end up saving money but getting a generic, cheesy or boring image. Alternatively you can go to an artist, someone who has the ability to tell a story with one image, your story.

No matter what your brand is—“Eco Friendly,” “Reliable Real Estate Agent,” “Mean Executive,” “Rebellious Intellectual,” or anything else—your portrait can and should project your unique brand. If you don’t have a professional portrait done by a true artist, you literally are missing the chance to let a picture speak 1,000 words about you. In this age of social networking, this becomes even more important because you need your portrait to be consistent across all platforms that your image is visible on. What if you had an excellent corporate shot and then your next potential employer Google’s you to find you on Facebook with an image shot by your child at home?

What About Personal Portraits?

“Hey my husband and son have good digital cameras and Photoshop, why should I spend the money in getting a professional portrait to send to family and friends for the holidays?” some might ask. Now remember one thing. It is true that anybody can snap a photo and also that today’s digital technology can help. But think carefully before you choose, if you buy Microsoft Word does that make you a writer? The following card we made explains it very clearly:

A good portrait is not a picture of you, it’s a representation of your being. It is not a frame of your forms, it’s a confession of your soul.

Let’s think about this past Thanksgiving holiday. We get up, dress up, and visit family, eat turkey and all the other good food, drive home, go to sleep. Next morning we wake up, have coffee and go to the bathroom. After that we realize it’s all gone, the cycle is completed, and all we have left is the value of the time spent with loved ones, the rest just decays.

If time is the most valuable of our resources, wouldn’t you want to have a tool that allows you to stop it? Right… Let’s say pause it and rewind it?

That is the job of photography. Now think of what you are interested in conserving for posterity, your forms or your soul? The answer will direct you either to Sears or to an artist. Either way I wish you satisfaction and happiness with the results.

What About Point & Shoot Cameras?

I am currently sponsored by Canon and I shoot with their top camera, the EOS 1Ds Mark III, an amazing piece of engineering, which sleeps comfortably in the gear bag with all its related equipment. While it is not that difficult to take it out and get it going for a picture, I do not have it hanging around on a table collecting dust. This means that most of the times when there is a cute situation happening, most of the times with one of our pets, I miss it because of the time required to set up and shoot.

Then the Camera Gods created the point and shoot. Good quality, easy to operate, does not require a bag full of lenses and stuff, can sit around and it takes two seconds to get ready to shoot. I have one and I love it! It shoots darn good images and it fits in my jacket pocket when I go out. I push that baby to the max and I am amazed at what I get out of it. It is also discreet and does not call for attention in a public situation so I don’t have to explain what I do for living. So I am a big supporter of the point and shoot. I strongly recommend you to get one of those little cameras, you will be blown away by the results.

While I always carry one around, because you never know when you’ll stumble upon a photo opportunity, I would never use it on a job because it would limit my array of tools. For instance, I enjoy driving a Cabriolet around town—it’s a dream. I don’t own one but I would not use it for a 3,000-mile road trip. My students always look at me with wide eyes when I say that and someone usually asks: “But Claudio the point and shoots are the cameras that the amateurs use to outbid us on jobs…”

The so called Spray & Pray photographers, those that go out, shoot a million images—hey it’s cheap—in the hopes of getting a good one. I have nothing against them, everybody needs a chance and we live in a free country. What I think the market deserves is more education for clients so they understand what each job entails and then they can make educated decisions. Let me give you another example. Ladies you carry lipstick and powder in your purse, because you never know, right? For most occasions that is enough to get you back to your diva level. Now would you carry your entire collection of makeup with you, say, when you go out to dinner? Obviously not, that is what I mean. There is a tool for every job.

What is the Best Approach Then?

I do not own the truth, all I can do is offer you my knowledge regarding all the options you have available so that you can make educated decisions. Ultimately the decision is yours. And don’t worry. Nobody has the right to judge you. Those who do probably are those that don’t even have the guts to pick up a camera and shoot.

I think the best way to approach the question: “Where do I spend my money and where do I save?” is like planning a vacation. You have a budget, some items are not discretionary like transportation and hotel and meals. Then you have the optionals. Even when you think of the non discretionary items you still have room to maneuver. If you want to stay at a four star hotel you may have to sacrifice flying first class or the flashy rental car. Depending on your needs and the outcome you want of your vacation, you make your choices. A classic example of a bad choice would be spending tons on a rental car when you are going to be in one of those resorts that you never leave. Another would be booking a five star accommodation when your vacation is packed with tours and activities, and you know you are only going to sleep at the hotel.

Thanks; Choices, Choices and More Choices

Okay here’s the refreshing breeze that will move the fog away. Whenever in production, we are faced with a bunch of decisions, many of which are impacting another; at first we feel like running around like a chicken with no head. Where to start from then?

I always say, in this scenario you have to prioritize and you better write down your list on paper. It is what we call a punch list. Regarding the choices in photography, I would suggest following this course, (again please note this is just a recommendation, you can figure out your very own methodology).

First let’s divide our needs for photography into three categories:

  • Business Use
  • Official Family Photographs
  • Everyday Casual Needs

Now we define the outcome—the desired objective of each:

  • Business: It is important that you have an image that tells your story and represents you the way you want to be represented—you need a pro.
  • Official Family: These are birthdays, for holiday cards and so on. For the majority of these images you can do it yourself with a little point & shoot. In these images, capturing the moment is more important than anything else. For those images where the moment is less important than the story you want attached to the picture, I would hire an artist. Note I say an artist and not a pro, I will elaborate on this later.
  • Everyday Casual Needs. Unless you’ve won the Powerball Lottery or are followed by myriads of paparazzi on a regular basis, you don’t need a pro at your side 24/7. This is the time when the little point & shoot shines. Two seconds to take it out and bang! You got the shot.

Now you pull out a calendar and list all the needs that fall in each category except c) because you don’t know the future, and if you do I would like to invite you out to lunch…

Based on the list from the calendar you allocate your budget dollars.

Before I let you go I promised I would elaborate on the difference between an artist and a pro. I will offer here a short version and leave the long one for another free report to come in the near future.

From Wikipedia:

Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially, as, “a person who expresses themselves through a medium.” The word also is used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of ‘high culture,’ activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, photography, and music—people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics will define as artists, those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline.

A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialized educational training.

The word professional traditionally means a person who has obtained a degree in a professional field. The term professional is used more generally to denote a white collar working person, or a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs.

In western nations, such as the United States, the term commonly describes highly educated, mostly salaried workers, who enjoy considerable work autonomy, economic security, a comfortable salary, and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work.[1][2][3][4] Less technically, it may also refer to a person having impressive competence in a particular activity.[5]

So a professional photographer is someone who has studied and practiced photography to a depth of understanding and knowledge of the craft inside and out. The majority of pros are just that. An artist is someone who utilizes a medium to describe something, like an opinion, or an emotion.

A pro can give you an excellent image, an artist can tell your story with one image.

Et voila’ this method will guarantee you the best bang for your buck! I am offering this article for your use, for free because I believe it could help you be happier. I kindly ask you to forward it to anyone you think may benefit from reading it.

Thank you for reading.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

— Claudio Basso

“If you light a candle, you can then light a million more from it without shortening its life.”  — the Dalai Lama

To contact the author, email him at Claudio@claudiobasso.comFor more information about Claudio Basso, check out his websites: www.claudiobasso.com and www.renovance.tv.

[Editor’s note: The comments expressed in this article are that of the author, and do not necessarily represent Picture-soup.com or its staff.]

What is a select focus lens that isn’t always a select focus lens? A Lensbaby with the Fisheye Optic!

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By Diane Berkenfeld

Lensbaby Fisheye Optic.

One of the newest optics for the Lensbaby Composer is the Fisheye Optic, which isn’t select focus, but it does let you capture images with 160° field of view. At its ultra-wide 12mm focal length, the Fisheye Optic is an f/4 optic with aperture disks that range from f/5.6 to f/22. To use the aperture disks, you simply unscrew the front element and switch the aperture disk with the Optic Swap Tool; the aperture disk rests just above the bottom element. The lens itself is a six element multi-coated lens. Owners of the Lensbaby Muse can utilize the Fisheye Optic with an optional adapter. The Fisheye Optic is not compatible with the Lensbaby Control Freak lens.

One of the coolest features of the Fisheye Optic is that its minimum focus is only 1.3 centimeters (that’s a half inch) from the front of the optic to infinity. This means your subject can practically lean over and touch the optic. Because your subject is so close to the Fisheye, you really get a lot of great distortion. When you place the subject further away from the camera, you end up with the image inside of a 360° circle. Depending upon how close you are to the subject, part of the circle may be cropped out of view.

I love using this new Lensbaby optic, partly because I can now say I have a Fisheye lens, for much less than the cost of an actual Fisheye lens. Depending upon your aperture, you’ll have more or less depth of field. However by being only centimeters away from your subject, even at a wide aperture you can really see depth in your image—to the point of unreal distortion—but the effect can be way cool.

This image of Gracie, a four month old kitten was taken with the Lensbaby Composer and Fisheye Optic on a Nikon D300s DSLR. You can see that I was almost close enough for the edges of the circle to be cropped out of view (see corners of the image). Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

A second view of Gracie, also taken with the Fisheye Optic, at f/4, with the Lensbaby Composer on a Nikon D300s. Note the depth in her face almost makes this little housecat look like a baby tiger. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

If you were reinvigorated as a creative photographer when you first began shooting with a Lensbaby, give the Fisheye Optic a try—it will give you yet another boost of creative energy to experiment capturing photographs of all manners of subjects in yet another new way.

For more information on the Lensbaby system of lenses and optics, check out the website www.lensbaby.com.

Book Review: Karen Sperling’s Painting for Photographers

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finalbookportrait

Karen Sperling's Painting for Photographers. Cover painting and design by Karen Sperling from a photo by Felicia Tausig.

Karen Sperling’s Painting for Photographers; Steps and Art Lessons for Painting Photos in Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop, (ISBN: 978-0-9818163-0-2) is being released by Artistry Books in multiple formats, including an autographed hardcover edition, complete with a CD of source photos to use with the tutorials, bonus tutorials and brushes, and a 10% donation to charity for $149.95; print on demand softcover edition with downloadable source photos for $85.95; regular softcover edition with downloadable source photos for $39.95; and an e-book with source photos accessible from within the digital edition for $35.95. The author is the founder of Artistry Tips and Tricks, a website that educates photographers by providing tips and techniques for creating painterly images from digital photographs. She was also the author of the first manuals on Corel Painter and has penned several other Painter books as well.

Sperling uses numerous examples to illustrate the techniques including many by other photographers as before images, with her painted version as the finished images. The inclusion of the before and after images is extremely helpful, so the reader can see and fully understand the techniques that are being explained.

Sperling offers a wide range of tips and tricks, for portraits (including people and pets) and landscapes, in addition to more general techniques. This is an important focus as many professional photographers will likely be turning portraits taken of clients into paintings. For the fine-art photographer, landscapes are an important subject to tackle, and techniques for these images are also discussed in detail.

The author begins the volume with a quote by Andrew Carnegie, “If you think you can do something, you probably can.” Sperling explains that painting is 90% thought and 10% execution.

The book offers an introduction to art concepts, which is important for the photographer who may not have taken art classes in the course of their schooling; something that really is necessary to know to turn a photograph into a painting without having it look like you just ran it through a filter or plug-in in Photoshop. Such art concepts include understanding color harmony and tonal ranges.

Sperling also explains how to turn a photo into a painting. She discusses what types of images make great starting points, how to choose an image to take further; and how you can take the best parts of an image or images, while leaving out distracting elements—turning ordinary images into extraordinary pieces of art.

An entire chapter is spent on portraits, detailing body parts and how the different types of painting, acrylic, oils, watercolor, airbrush, etc. vary the look of an image. Another really helpful part of the book is the inclusion of examples from some of the portrait-painting masters, such as Degas, Rembrandt, and others.

Sperling follows a similar tone with the Landscape chapter, showing examples of how different styles of painting can alter the look of an image.

The chapter on pets is segmented into sections focusing on cats, dogs, and horses—which is helpful, as these are the more common animals that photographers will likely be working with.

The author explains the various tools that Corel’s Painter program offers users. She also explains the powerful tools that Photoshop offers the digital imager who wants to use that program. Sperling also includes shortcuts, including explaining the benefits of utilizing a Wacom pen and tablet in turning a photo into a painting because of the added control offered by the device.

Sperling completes the book with a discussion of over-painting techniques and the supplies needed to do so. Over-painting is the technique of painting with acrylic or oil paints on top of the canvas that the image has been printed upon. It is becoming a popular technique and adds an extra quality of uniqueness to images that receive this treatment.

Sperling notes that she finds painting both on the computer and with traditional paint to be more about confidence and suggests that if the reader practices and familiarizes themselves with the materials and techniques used, they’ll be more comfortable in working with these varied media. Sperling closes by bringing the reader back to her opening sentiment that, “If you think you can, you probably can.”

Creating painterly art from photographs is ideal for the professional photographer, who can use this to add a new dimension to their studio’s offerings. The guidance and education in Karen Sperling’s Painting for Photographers takes the intimidation out of turning photographs into painted masterpieces.

Check out Karen Sperling’s website at www.karensperling.com to see examples of her work. Go to www.artistrymag.com for Sperling’s Painter tutorial site.

— Diane Berkenfeld

Momma Say it Ain’t So! Kodachrome Discontinued After 74 Years

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35mm Kodakchrome 64 – the last ISO/size of Kodachrome film – available while supplies last.

35mm Kodakchrome 64 – the last ISO/size of Kodachrome film – available while supplies last.

 

By Diane Berkenfeld

Kodachrome film, beloved by pro and enthusiast photographers alike, was the first commercially successful color film for Eastman Kodak, (www.kodak.com) introduced in 1935. It will just slide into its 75th anniversary by the time the last of the rolls are sent for processing. [no pun intended]

Kodachrome is a unique emulsion, technically a B&W film until the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow dyes are introduced during the development process. 

On June 22, 2009 Eastman Kodak announced it would retire the film. Kodak estimates that current supplies of Kodachrome film will last until early this fall at the current sales pace. If the many Kodachrome devotees purchase large amounts of film, the available inventory may disappear sooner.

What was once the most popular and successful film for Kodak now represents “just a fraction of one percent of the company’s total sales of still-picture films” the company reports.

During its heyday, Kodachrome filled a special niche in the imaging world. Photographers and magazines alike revered the film—for the fine detail it offered with no visible grain. It was used to capture some of the best-known photographs in history, while also being the film of choice for family slide shows of the Baby Boomer generation.

Kodachrome was immortalized not only in the millions of photographs captured on the film, but through song as well. Singer/musician Paul Simon immortalized the film in his 1973 hit “Kodachrome”. [See Lyrics Below] Simon sang the praises of the film’s unique, brilliant colors.  There’s even a park in Utah named after the iconic film: Kodachrome Basin State Park (http://stateparks.utah.gov/stateparks/parks/kodachrome) was given its name by the leaders of a National Geographic expedition in 1948 who used the then relatively new film.

“Kodachrome film was probably the finest film ever produced. It was used by every major photographer over the past 70 years; and has enjoyed a cult-like following amongst consumers,” says Jonathan Sweetwood, chairman of the board/CFO, Unique Photo (www.uniquephoto.com). 

According to Patrick DelliBovi, senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Freestyle Photographic (www.freestylephoto.biz), “Twenty-three years ago, Kodachrome was a key product that we sold. Other films made up a small portion of our sales.”

“Kodachrome film is an iconic product and a testament to Kodak’s long and continuing leadership in imaging technology,” said Mary Jane Hellyar, president of Kodak’s Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group. “It was certainly a difficult decision to retire it, given its rich history,” she added.

History alone does not bring in the profits needed to keep any film emulsion, or photographic or other product for that matter, in production. As photographers over the past decade migrated to digital, film use declined. Kodak remains committed to providing both film and digital products to meet the needs of photographers, According to the press release sent out on June 22, while Kodak now derives about 70% of its revenues from commercial and consumer digital businesses, it is the global leader in the film business. Kodachrome is simply no longer financially viable for the company to produce.

For all of its magic, Kodachrome is a complex film to manufacture and an even more complex film to process. Unique Photo’s Sweetwood notes, “The emulsion for this film was essentially mixed by hand by a group of highly experienced chemists.  As they have retired, the difficulty of manufacturing this product is compounded.”

Freestyle Photographic’s Eric Joseph, VP of Merchandising, explains, “Film doesn’t start out the manufacturing process at the width of a roll of film. [Large] master rolls are made, and coated. Production lines are then run as needed.” The film is most likely not produced on a daily basis. The equipment that Kodachrome is manufactured on probably sits idle for much of the year. Joseph adds, “You also have to do a full production run of the film every time, there’s no way for them to cut the recipe and make it in batches either.”

Then there’s the processing. Dwayne’s Photo (www.dwaynesphoto.com) in Parsons, Kansas is the only lab left in the world that processes Kodachrome. There were few labs dedicated to the complicated K-14 process that’s used for Kodachrome, even in the film’s heyday. It is suggested that only 36 labs processed the film during that time.

According to Grant Steinle, co-owner of Dwayne’s Photo, the fundamental difference between Kodachrome and other films is that while the dyes are incorporated into other films during the manufacturing process, this is not done with Kodachrome. “Its just a B&W film until its processed. Then the dyes are introduced. That’s why it is so stable and archival in dark keeping. No extra dyes are present that may become unstable,” explains Steinle. “The K-14 chemistry doesn’t come preprocessed like E-6 chemistry does. All of the chemicals come in their raw forms. They have to be weighed, measured and mixed from scratch,” he says. This requires the quality control standards to be much tighter as well. “And unlike E-6 which utilizes two developers, Kodachrome has four developers, because each of the dyes—cyan, magenta, and yellow are introduced during the developing process,” he adds.

“We’re sad to see Kodak’s decision to discontinue Kodachrome, its an icon of the 20th century,” says Steinle. “We understand the business decision surrounding it. Manufacturing the film, the dyes, the entire process…”

Eastman Kodak and Dwayne’s Photo have agreed to continue to offer processing of Kodachrome film until December 31, 2010. “Once we’re no longer processing [the film] the only option is to develop it as B&W.” At this point, Steinle says it is too early to tell if processing will be available after the cut off date. It will depend upon film volume and chemical availability.

Why Now?

Freestyle Photographic’s DelliBovi explains that Kodak has been saying this day was coming for the last 10 years. “We don’t like to see any products discontinued, but as technology moves forward, it is going to happen. The resources that have to be expended to manufacture Kodakchrome film and K-14 chemistry is just too large.” He adds that Kodak will be shipping until its remaining inventory is gone. And retailers are stocking up now.

DelliBovi admits that color slide film has been a casualty of digital but B&W film use still remains strong.

“I don’t think [it] is an indication of anything to come,” says DelliBovi. I don’t see a time when B&W darkroom or color photography will be eliminated. In fact we’re seeing a renewed interest over the past few years, especially in the last six months. One of the factors behind the resurgence in the use of color film is the popularity of the Toy Camera category. These include such cameras as the Holga, Diana and Lomo.”

Many schools still feel there is no match for the effectiveness of teaching B&W photography using film and the wet darkroom.

Unique Photo’s Sweetwood adds, “Film still remains a near perfect medium to capture images, and many products will be continued to be viable for the foreseeable future.  The inherent beauty of images, especially of people, captured on film remain the industry standard.”

Outcry                                               

Almost immediately the announcement spawned an outcry by those photographers who still shoot Kodachrome. Forums and blogs were abuzz with talk—some understanding and reminiscing, while others were bitter and complaining.

Companies discontinue products because people aren’t using them, or because there’s something newer and better. Too few people are shooting film nowadays—Kodachrome in particular. For all of the outcry about Kodak’s decision, had more photographers been shooting more of this particular film, maybe it wouldn’t have come to this conclusion.

This is not the time to suggest that photography is dead—or even that film is dead—because neither is true. This was purely a business decision. Everyone we spoke with feels that Kodak knows how important Kodachrome is to photography, and if there was any other way, they would have come up with it. The film started its decline 10 years ago and Kodak has spent the last 10 years keeping it alive. For those who ask why Kodak can’t license or sell Kodachrome to another company to produce—the assumption can be made that the film is too proprietary for the company to allow that.

Daniel Bayer, photographer and founder of the Kodachromeproject.com [See Kodachrome Project Below] has seen this type of response to similar news before. “When one looks at other films that have been discontinued, there is always the initial outcry but then it calms down a bit,” he says.

Bayer says most Kodachrome shooters are very aware of the impending deadline for the last available processing by Dwayne’s Photo set for the end of next year. He hopes the buzz gets people to look around and see what they have in their drawers and refrigerators and get the processing done in time.

Once Kodachrome is no longer an option, those photographers who regularly use the film will have to make a decision whether to either use another slide film—such as Ektachrome from Kodak or Fujifilm’s Fujichrome—or make the switch to digital photography. Bayer notes that most photographers did make the switch in the late 90s, leaving Kodachrome a niche film.

As far as digital versus film, it is starting to level out a bit in that many people now shoot both. It really boils down to what you feel like using to make your images. I think those who are passionate about using Kodachrome now use it because it is a unique medium and enables a unique look right out of the lab,” he says. “As far as my use of film or digital beyond Kodachrome, I will move on to other E-6 stocks and continue to use digital for color work while ramping up my use of film only for B&W.”

The Kodachrome Project

Bayer started the Kodachrome Project in 2004 as a means to create a body of work that truly spoke of the Kodachrome era instead of seeing it pass quietly. “The outcome I hope to produce is a book/exhibit about the 75th year of Kodachrome, what the world looked like and to create a series of essays that tell clear and relevant stories at the time of Kodachrome’s passing. The main body of the work will be mine with select essays and work by other members of the project,” Bayer explains.

“The website www.Kodachromeproject.com was launched a few years ago and the forums shortly thereafter. The forums are fairly popular as far as niche film products go.” There are more than 300 members, of which over 100 are active and more than two dozen serious photographers engage in the opportunity of the project.

Additional Tributes

Along with Daniel Bayer’s Kodachrome Project, the film manufacturing giant is planning a tribute to the film as well. Eastman Kodak will donate the last rolls of the film to George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film (www.eastmanhouse.org) in Rochester, NY which houses the world’s largest collection of cameras and related artifacts. Professional photographer Steve McCurry will shoot one of those last rolls and the images will be donated to Eastman House.

McCurry is best known for the image of a young Afghan girl that captured the hearts of millions of people around the world as she peered hauntingly from the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985. Incidentally, 17 years later, McCurry sought out the young woman he had photographed almost two decades earlier; this time he captured a portrait of her using Ektachrome Film E100VS.

“The early part of my career was dominated by Kodachrome film, and I reached for that film to shoot some of my most memorable images,” said McCurry. “While Kodachrome film was very good to me, I have since moved on to other films and digital to create my images.”       

Kodak has created a gallery of iconic images, including the Afghan girl and other McCurry photos, as well as others from professional photographers Eric Meola and Peter Guttman on its website: www.kodak.com/go/kodachrometribute. Photographers can also leave comments, many dozens have already expressed their feelings, both positive and negative.

Coincidentally, “Kodachrome Culture, The American Tourist in Europe,” a new photography exhibit displaying more than 100 photos from 21 countries across Europe, will be on display at the National Geographic Museum, from June 25 to Sept. 7, 2009.

From the museum’s description of the exhibit: “…The bold 1950s and 1960s Kodachrome color photographs documented an era of peacetime travel and helped shape National Geographic’s tradition of photographic excellence by offering a fresh look at distant places.

“Culled from the National Geographic archives, the images showcase the work of more than 35 legendary photographers and revisit a photographic medium that changed the way we document the world.

“National Geographic pioneered the use of Kodachrome film in the late 1930s and was among the first to recognize its advantages. The film produced a dye image without the grain found in other color processes, and the photographs could be enlarged without loss of detail. The film was also faster. Instead of requiring a tripod, color shots taken with a compact 35mm camera could be spontaneously composed.”

The National Geographic Museum is located in Washington, D.C. For information on the exhibit, visit www.ngmuseum.org.

Final Thoughts    

“The discontinuation of Kodachrome production represents the end of the analog photography era. While there are still pros and enthusiast film photographers out there, it is clear that from an industry standpoint we are firmly in the digital age,” says Christopher Chute, research manager, Worldwide Digital Imaging Practice, IDC. “Now the question will be ‘how will pro and commercial photography continue to be re-shaped by changing customer tastes and social networking technology.’”

The final frames of the last roll of Kodachrome film will likely be shot and developed just days before New Year’s 2011, 75 years after the first rolls of Kodachrome film came off of the production lines. Until then photographers far and wide still have a chance to savor in the vibrant, saturated colors of their favorite slide film. Make it something special.

 

“Kodachrome” — Lyrics by Paul Simon

When I think back

On all the crap I learned in high school

It’s a wonder

I can think at all

And though my lack of education

Hasn’t hurt me none

I can read the writing on the wall

Kodachrome

They give us those nice bright colors

They give us the greens of summers

Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day

I got a Nikon camera

I love to take a photograph

So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew

When I was single

And brought them all together for one night

I know they’d never match

my sweet imagination

Everything looks worse in black and white

Kodachrome

They give us those nice bright colors

They give us the greens of summers

Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day

I got a Nikon camera

I love to take a photograph

So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away…