Kodak-alaris, not an Alarmist…

Kodak? Alaris? No, Kodak-alaris!

That is who has finally emerged from the restructuring of Kodak’s crazy financial demise. And they care about film according to this interview at “Filmsnotdead.com“. No, they won’t be bringing back Kodachrome or even E6, that would be silly, it is not financially responsible…the Kodak “Alarmists” want that but the realist will visually kick ass with the films they do make. And speaking of that, they will try their damnedest to keep what excellent film they do have in the offering. I for one am very grateful. Even though I use films like Fuji Acros, Ilford Pan-F, etc. I love Kodak Tmax 100 and 400, Tri-X and so do lots of other people. I have been getting close to getting my book project done…finally. It has been more of an emotional blockade than a production one. The break from it was good but my time is up I gotta go to print.

Speaking of prints, other projects abound, lots of darkroom work, workshops taken and amazing days and nights spent in places that I love, like the canyon in the attached photo and video. It is a National Park…one that at least on the North side of the chasm, I was the only person there the entire day…amazing. Shot on Kodak Tmax 100 in 4×5 the day in the video, Rollei IR400 in the photograph…gotta get that snowy Tmax souped and check it out. Film lives through the eyes of the intrepid, the bold and the forward thinking. For those of you who keep asking for Ilford, Fuji and Kodak-alaris to bring back films they found to be a financial risk to keep around, well…film is already dead for you then, isn’t it…

BC_39

 

Posted in: Kodachrome by DanBayer No Comments

“Hip” deep in Kodak Ektar, State of the Art meets my State of Mind…

Like pinning over a lost love in my teens, I have waves of missing Kodachrome something fierce lately, I keep seeing light that it was practically made for, but at least a little bit of the sting is sweetened by Kodak’s fabulous Ektar 100 Color Negative film. It takes time to get to know any new film at first, but if it is good, like a nicely made guitar, you start to hit the right notes after awhile and man, it really feels good. I’m not gonna lie, Kodachrome’s now ever larger than life visual attributes will never be replaced, but Ektar is a truly fantastic pairing to Kodak’s Portra 400, another well loved modern color negative film. I use both mostly in medium format, and do load the 35mm  version in my XPan on occasions. But now I am about to start using Ektar in 4×5, a format where the term “Hyper-Real” was truly born and comes to life in a way that mesmerizes the viewer as more details seem to emerge the longer you look at the image. My mom was about 7 the last time you could shoot Kodachrome in this format. Besides 35mm, 120mm and 4×5, Ektar comes in made to order 8×10 in batches that are almost always in stock at B&H Photo, all sizes performing solidly at or above the highest quality and consistency of any film made to date.

Now, since the conclusion of Kodachrome, I have really scaled back my shooting of color in favor of printing real darkroom prints in black and white. For this I use other Kodak stock such as Tmax-100 and Tmax-400 films in both 120 and now 4×5 along with good ol’ Tri-X in my Leica and Xpan. All of those black and white negatives are developed in my Jobo CPP2 processor using Kodak and Ilford chemistry printed by hand on superb Ilford Multigrade Warmtone fiber silver gelatin paper.

But I have recently been lulled into shooting color neg for it’s great scan-ability for my color fine art and editorial use, I was a fool to think I can completely let go of color film, it was just a matter of time. So I have started a fun project this year called “Mirror Us” that was born of the idea of how could I impart a sense of in camera “Hipstamatic” photographs using the engaging randomness of multiple exposures and splashes of filtered color…but with film. So I use both Ektar 100 and Portra 400 in medium format and now Ektar in 4×5 to make in camera produced color work disjointed with layers of lord-knows-whats shot though what-the-heck-is-its…..or just use a mirror. Either way, it is big fat color film gone outta control and it is a lot of fun!

The the new ride for my 4×5 format Ektar is a gorgeous and refined Chamonix 45N-2 large format field camera, a high tech affair made out of teak, aluminum and carbon fiber, it is feather light at 3.4 pounds. I have not taken much time at all to build of a stable of now very sensibly priced Schneider and Rodenstock lenses of top quality too, really making this fun, it is truly a completely different experience in photography. But for now, I do have the medium format Ektar and Portra scanned in, so here are a few takes from the project…..who needs “Hipstamatic” in a phone all the time when you could grab a roll of film and take a fun camera for a spin?

The Dark Closet…note cat on fridge filled to the door jams with film…

The Chamonix 45N-2 in Teak on a Acratech GP ballhead…If Tim Allen were a photographer, he would pass out in joy using this one, spot the focusing stage born of technology used in high tech micro-robotics..pre-cis-ion….

A few samples from “Mirror Us”, shot in a Hasselblad 501 C/M with either a 60mm 3.5 or 100mm 3.5, 120 Ektar 100 and 220 Portra 400…


Ilfochrome Discontinued?

I have been looking forward to getting the funds together to print a show of Ilfochrome prints from my Kodachrome slides. Given that Kodachrome is gone and several other color slide films have left the shelves, I have kind of wondered what might happen to what must be already a VERY niche product and service like Ilfochrome which has been manufactured by well respected Ilford Corporation. Well, rumors lately have not been very endearing to say the least, but nothing solid yet.

So I had the chance to talk to a very well respected name in Ilfochrome that I can not reveal but he did write me this note:

“The declaration by the Swiss ILFORD division, at 1st reading looks like a dedicated group of artisans who just cannot afford the price of gold anymore with which to sculpt their precious little baubles for the masses. After much back and forth including a lengthy conversation with Christian Neumann (German rep), it all leaves me confused. It would appear that nothing is cast in stone. For sure there will be another run, which means coat a piece of ILFOCHROME the size of a football field and divvy it up. The rumor has it the 30% increase is not realistic and will be reduced to a smaller more workable figure. And any increase will only affect paper and film products not chemistry. Which is really good news because a bottle of fine Cognac is literally cheaper than ILFOCHROME chemistry.

My understanding is that possibly next week will provide a clearer picture (so to speak). The Swiss are notoriously detail oriented but they also move painfully slow in the logistics of change regardless of the direction. Change is not necessarily good!

I spoke with my XXXXXXX rep and there has been a run on the stock they have, which means someone must like ILFOCHROME, which means there actually is a demand for it. The down side is the XXXXXXX is out of most stock however there is a large delivery en route. Everything is shipped via container and boats just don’t go as fast as airplanes, as well as the distribution once it arrives can be tedious. The bottom line on this whole issue is it’s not over till the fat lady sings. And it is most definitely possible she might sing a different song than the one anticipated.”

So lets hope the song remains the same, not fat, not from a lady…

Cool upgrades equal cooler film…

So I have started shooting some of my stash of Kodak Infrared, the stuff likes to be frozen until I use it. So we upgraded the fridge and added one 100 watt solar panel via that nifty slide out rack a couple months ago. But now we are getting into Fall and eventually Winter so we decided to up our solar game yet once more and swap out our trusty 85 watt roof mounted panel with a bigger but still manageable 135 watt version. So the great folks at Colorado Solar pulled a panel from their stock at Solar Panel Store and got me hooked up today in a jiffy with their great service and, well, dry garage ( it was rainy today ).

When Sarah and I got back into town, we went out to dinner and when we came out after dark and showed a friend our new sun catcher, it was showing 3.4 volts under a street light….that ought to do er….

Super Camper in the bay getting wiring prep…Ken splices MC-4 connectors onto existing wiring…Eric and Ken of Solar Panel Store and Colorado Solar stand by their work, literally…

i, photographer….

So as we move right along with Kodachrome, I thought it would be fun to do a show locally with my existing collection of iPhone pics that were shot for this blog. My friend Ross Kribbs started a nice gallery in down town Aspen this year called “Nugget Gallery” in which he almost always showcases a photography, a rarity in this day and age. So this Friday, August 6th, “i, photographer” opens with wine and friends, come by and enjoy the show, shot entirely with the iPhone-4 using the Hipstamatic App. Seriously, it is hip to be square….

1,285 rolls and new solar in the camper…

So Sarah and I are in the midst of editing the 1,285 rolls of Kodachrome shot between August of 2006 and the final day of Kodachrome processing on January 18th of this year. While we do that, we have been taking breaks to get out in the camper to shoot other projects, get our cat “Face” used to camping and traveling and doing more upgrades to the camper. One of the main problems I faced with the camper last year was keeping the fridge in operation at all times, no easy feat as the propane mode of this 3-way fridge required the truck to be as close to perfectly level as possible. When “Stealth-Camping”, this was particularly tough as the bright yellow leveling blocks were a dead give away in places like Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. It even netted me a nice $75 ticket in Acadia National Park when I was out shooting for hours, not even camping per se. The 12 volt mode of the fridge pulled way too many amps to be practical, even drawing off of the battery, single 85 watt panel and the truck’s charging system while in motion. So a few weeks ago, Sarah and I decided that for critical things to be kept cold like food and now expired and rare Kodak High Speed Infrared film, a new system was a must. The total cost of all my upgrades was a no nonsense $2,000. Thankfully, work has picked up and I sold nearly $20,000 worth of film specific 35mm camera gear, mostly Leica, to make ends meet. I still have the M6 and 35mm, the camera I shot the very last frame with and an M3 with a new Zeiss ZM 50mm F/2, a lens that has third stop increments that would have been brilliant for shooting Kodachrome. Nearly all the film I shoot now is either Kodak Tri-X in the Leicas or Ektar 100 and various black and white in my Hasselblads.

So the upgrades are a new AC/DC 65 quart Dometic CR-1065 fridge and freezer, a lightweight 100 watt solar panel mounted on a custom slide out and removable rack that resides under the cabover of the camper. The panel produces 17% more output and is 5 pounds lighter and even smaller than the 85 watt one on the roof. Also purchased are a new Morningstar MPPT 15 charge controller with the RM-1 remote meter for detailed analysis of all aspects of charging. The charge controller has been moved to the inside of a dead space in a storage cabinet and the remote is on the panel along with the other instruments. The now 185 watt output feeds a new Sears Die Hard Group 31 deep cycle marine battery with a higher amp hour rating. There is a temperature sensor hooked to the battery that gives this information to the charge controller for optimum charging. Another upgrade are 4 40 pound capacity pneumatic springs, two on each end of the camper that greatly help with both lifting and lowering the roof. This is a great upgrade considering the weight of the 85 watt panel, storage rack, two electric fans and the occasional load of fresh snow on the roof.

So the fridge install, charge controller and remote meter install were a breeze, the fabrication of the slide out mechanism took some more time and certainly more thought. The fridge did require the additional purchase of the space saver flange, which gave it 2″ more space on the rear for clearance in our All Terrain Campers “Bobcat”. I thought of coming up with some form of tilt mechanism for the 100 watt panel, but simply removing the panel and using an extension of the commensurate gauge of wire seemed a better bet. I used connectors from this supplier, good price and great products. So the panel can be both slid out when parked or just removed completely and plugged in via a 12 foot extension cord. The 85 watt panel is always working as it is on the roof and the additional 100 watt panel comes into play when parked / camping. The panel is secured to the underside of the cab over via two 2″ x 48″ L shaped aluminum guides mounted with carriage bolts to the camper. Then the panel slides out on 1″ angle aluminum mounted to either side of the panel with a 1″ square brace across the back that has holes drilled for clevis pins that secure it in both extended and retracted positions. Two casters mounted upside down on the brace keep the panel sliding smooth. While driving, a piece of foam hose insulation is stuffed between the panel and camper underside to prevent it from bouncing on rough trails and crosswinds. To keep sticky fingers from walking off with the panel, a lock replaces the front pin and can be used in both travel and active modes.

So thus far, the new system is great, the fridge draws less than a third of the amps as the 3-way and provides the coldest temps of the old fridge at a setting of around 50%. The freezer is simply luxurious. When not holding ice and frozen meats not mention ice cream bars, it will easily hold 20+ rolls of film and a tray of ice cubes. We ran the fridge for nearly two weeks straight and the freezer was always perfect while the fridge temp never lost more than 2 degrees when opened in regular fashion. This would have saved tons of headaches in the last two years that I was shooting the Kodachrome Project. The AC provision on the fridge is a great thing to have when “Camped” in those friend’s drive ways, KOA Kampgrounds and for pre-cooling the fridge before departing. The off setting turns off the interior light but you can still check that the unit is getting power from the green LED that is always on as long as there is power. We also stopped by to visit our friends at All Terrain Campers to show them the upgrades and stock them up with Pepsi.

Here are some pics of the panel and fridge:

Another upgrade was the acquisition of the new Fuji X100 digital camera. As much as I would have loved to get an M9, the price to performance ratio just did not make any financial sense to me, especially given my Leica 35mm 1.4 Aspheric would exhibit troublesome focus shift and needed to be replaced with the ridiculously priced version-II. So for 1/10th the price, I got a camera that is smaller and lighter than the M9 and does even better in low light even though the lens is one stop slower than my Leica 35 at F/2. To top it all off, the shutter is dead silent, simply brilliant for shooting events like the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival. Even Leica fans Steven Huff and the controversial Ken Rockwell gives props to the X100 over the M9. Leica gear mattered a lot when shooting Kodachrome film, but far less so when shooting digital so since the photograph matters first to me, I punted the idea of a $12,000 35mm digital camera with a 35 1.4 that only does so so above ISO 1,600. For $2,100 less than the price of the new Leica 35mm 1.4, I got the X100 and Nikon’s new 35mm 1.4G which is simply outstanding, now that is responsible spending.

Sarah and I took the Fuji X100 along with my two Leica bodies loaded with Tri-X on our trip, part of it spent where we met last May, Yosemite. Life is good, my wife and I are planning our year anniversary wedding day and will celebrate 8 months of a wonderful partnership in just a week or so.

Now…I have to confess, even though I have some 35,000 photos shot on the film, I miss Kodachrome! I am starting to see more and more “Kodachrome Light” everyday, including this nice moody light at Tunnel view that I shot on the X100 while Sarah was cooking pan seared Sea bass with fresh veggies…in the parking lot..:-)

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DreamWorks Studios Does Kodachrome…

These days I have been enjoying getting back into the groove at home, getting up on the hill skiing for clients, etc. I have also been busy editing Kodachrome images for my book, now most likely it’s original title, “The Kodachrome Project”.  It has also been fun getting some some “Last Day” photos from Dwayne’s Photo Customer Service Rep, Pam Garretson Queen who recently stated that the lab is surprised and delighted by the uptick in the volume of film they have received since the conclusion of Kodachrome Processing on January 18th of this year.

So speaking of which, as I had predicted, the prolific story of Kodachrome would exceed the film’s actual lifespan as stories and photographs emerge over time.  One of the more well thought out editorial pieces by New York Times writer, Arthur Sulzberger has recently been selected to be the basis of a screen play written by Jonathan Tropper for a yet untitled and unscheduled film by Shawn Levy in connection with DreamWorks Pictures.

The film will aim to embrace the well known pilgrimage of people who made their way to Dwayne’s Photo on the last day the lab was open to get their precious Kodachrome memories in on time to be developed. In these early reports, it would seem writers are setting the primary hook of the story by creating a character set of a Father and Son duo and and the narrative of their adventures while on the road to Parsons Kansas.

So you can’t really shoot the film anymore, but you can always enjoy the past, present and future stories that will emerge over time as people get creative in telling about the era that is Kodachrome…

Vintage Kodachrome…

About a month and a half ago, Kodachrome processing and the era of the film’s legendary 75+ year history came to a close. Now the images and films remain, some old, some very recent. Over the years since starting the project in 2004, I have been on the lookout for Kodachrome memorabilia consisting of older packaging, odd things like coolers and other Kodachrome-esque goodies. I have seen old slides, movies and even some 4×5 Kodachrome images, but never an 8 x 10″. So last week while doing a search, I stumbled upon a man in Australia who was selling not one, but 15 vintage 8 x 10″ Kodachromes of Hollywood movie stars in glorious color. I was stunned, they were incredible visual treasures dating from 1939 to 1949. The lat time I had seen something so rare was in the “Vault” of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. So in short, I paid a fair bit for a very nice large format Kodachrome of Hollywood star, Ruth Hussey. I got the film today and it is indeed incredible to view, staggering in size for a film I have only been used to seeing as large as 120mm medium format. And a wonderful irony is that Ruth Hussey was best known for a role as a photographer in the movie “The Philadelphia Story”. I doubt I will see many more of these come up for purchase so I am glad I went for it…..truly great collectibles at this point…

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Kodachrome Below Zero…The Last Rolls!

My last 128 rolls of Kodachrome showed up at the door at 5 below zero. I had to put the entire box in a garbage bag to avoid condensation…and it worked. I saw lots of really nice frames but two stuck out that I had to scan, one shot of a windmill amid the night sky reflected in a mirror in the Kansas Prairie from the last roll, the other of the very last frame on the roll shot of the women who work at Dwayne’s Photo on the last day the K-14 line was ran. Kodachrome is history now, all that remains are the many photos and movies that were made on the fine film.

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What is a “Kodachrome” to become…?

So I am still waiting on my last 100 rolls that were shot after the 30th. Once I get those sometime next week, I will have about 30,000 Kodachrome slides shot since the Old Man in Pie Town in late 06′ to edit. Tonight, I took a quick glance through a box of slides sticking out of one of the boxes it was shipped in and found one of the rolls of underwater scenes of tide pools in Acadia National Park I had shot, scanned one in..

So this is not over yet and the site will actually morph from being a project to a way of thinking in terms of creating tangible photography that gives honest narrative of the lives we will live beyond our dance with Kodachrome. I am also planning a possible annual photo workshop that surrounds the ideal of how to best achieve what a Kodachrome should be about in terms of honest photography…
What a Kodachrome should become now and from here on out is an ideal that no matter what medium you are using, if you see a great convergence of light, color and moment on the back of your digital camera or your iPhone, well, that is a Kodachrome, a little window of truth in that not only do you not have to do anything more than print or show it, you really ought not to.

Just let the moment and the way you chose to frame it simply be. That way, we continue to hand down through the generations to come an honest portrayal of the way we lived and what we really saw.

There has always been a place for honest narrative and artistic license in the same world, there is nothing wrong with that, it adds depth and variety to our expression as human beings.

But let us not lose the respect of the real moment as it happened. For no matter how great an artist any person can be, the totality of all life through the voice of life it self will never be topped by us in any form of art we may create.

There is art in the truth, lets carry it forward in the ideal that it lives in what a Kodachrome has been and always should  be….

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