Kodachrome-era National Geographic

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by BetterSense, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    An era truly has passed. I was at the bookstore at the mall today and there was a smallish book collection of National Geographic photography. I paged through it of course, and it grabbed me to the point of wife-annoyance. Some truly stunning images in technical and aesthetic senses were featured, most from the 70s through the 90s. The analog nature of the photographs was obvious even in the small format reprints in the book. The grain structure of the Kodachrome source material lends a veracity to the image that just makes it so impactful. It's not that digital images can't be impactful, but there is nothing like the embedded realization of physicality provided by film source material. One image even had a bit of obvious dust in the sky area that was not edited out. The text accompaniment mentioned the photographers directly viewing slides and dealing with changing film in arctic conditions. I hate to cling to the past and I'm the last one to defend obsolete technologies, but for something so close to art, the passing of the analog medium in popular journalism, and particularly National Geographic, is a very sad thing. I'm 23 years old, and I already can't help but be slightly depressed at how, in certain fields, technology can cause such regression in the guise of progression.
     
  2. pcooklin

    pcooklin Member

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    Well put and I agree totally. I have a collection of Kodachrome's in my portfolio, here. No doubt we're not the only ones who feel the same.
    I have a couple of rolls of Kodachrome (135) still in the fridge.
     
  3. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I also agree. Kodachrome is a great film. RIP

    Jeff
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Fuji Velvia in 1984 was the Kodachrome killer. Kodak did not rise to the challenge. When I shot my first NGS piece for their children's magazine (World, now called Kids), I was told that I could use Kodachrome, but the photo editor preferred if I use Fuji.
     
  5. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member
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    Guys, it ain't dead yet! Shoot the Kodachrome while you can and revel in it. As for "progress" being regressive? Remember that until magnetic tape recording became an industry standard around 1949, every commercial record was unedited.

    And I still have a pet theory that the quality of photography went downhill after wetplate. Muuuahahaha.
     
  6. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I just got a roll back today and the slides looked really awesome. When people say it's a "dull" film that's because they shoot velvia and hold the two side to side (I have done that, didn't get me anywhere.) Kodachrome has color, and the hell it isn't dull. I get more "impact" shooting kodachrome on an Olympus Trip 35 ($5 p/s circa 1970) than I do on my D50. Go figure. The colors are subtler, but still vibrant and interesting.
     
  7. aluk

    aluk Member
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    Sorry to change the topic slightly from Kodachrome, but I was catching up on the backlog of National Geo. issues that I haven't read...and lo and behold, an article in the November 2008 edition not only features film, but large format! See here for an example, and a link to the article's photo gallery. Interesting that the editors chose to show the entire film area, rather than cropping. I was quite pleasantly surprised.
     
  8. Removed Account

    Removed Account Member

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    There was a feature not that long ago of that same photographer, Robb Kendrick. The article was about his wet-plate work with old-school Texas cowboys. I'm not sure if it was an NGS feature, but it made great reading.
     
  9. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member
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    We can take a step back in time: let's not forget Steve McCurry's famous June 1985 National Geographic image of the "Afghan Girl", Sharba Gula, shot on Kodachrome 64 (McCurry found the girl in April 2002 and again photographed her, but I don't know if he used Kodachrome). I agree the colours of Kodachrome are vibrant but natural but Fuji shifted the goalposts in 1995 (and Kodak saw what was coming but chose to do nothing) by what saturated primaries can do for exhibition prints made to Ilfochrome — a process that Fuji's reversal films excel in. I do have early Cibas printed from Kodachrome 200 and the difference viewed beside Velvia (or Provia) is striking.

    Fuji Velvia in 1984 ? I think it came in a lot further down the line (around late '94 to '95). I was very unhappy with the results of Velvia, but at the time Kodachrome was becoming evasive, though still stocked, in Australia. I remember it being costed at $29.00 a roll for 36 exposures (PKL 200)!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2009
  10. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Yeah velvia was released in 1989.
     
  11. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    I can not get past the over use of the &*^% ring flash in those shots. Beyond that, they are great and great look and feel to the film.


    Jason
     
  12. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber
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    Agreed on the ring flash...seems pretty gimmmicky, at least when they frame the image. These people are interesting enough to stand on their own in a photo.
     
  13. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    To me the lighting along is terrible for these wonderful colorful subjects. Maybe the photog was trying to light them to show off their colorful garments at would a fashion photog. Don't know what was going through their heads but I guess when it comes down to it, that was the craze of the time, and we all get caught up into that from time to time. The framing of the subject with the light...now thats just annoying.

    Jason
     
  14. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber
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    To be clear: I don't mind ring lighting but agree that framing them with the actual light is...kinda weird. It looks like a mistake or an out-take to my eyes. Although I certainly have nothing to teach a true artist like Mr. Kendrick!
     
  15. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I can't agree with you more. I LOVE the old nat geos!
     
  16. Michael W

    Michael W Subscriber

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    Those who appreciate classic National Geographic photography will probably like this book - William Albert Allard 'The Photographic Essay' pub by Little, Brown, 1989. It's all Kodachrome shot in the '60s, '70s & '80s, along with some very insightful writing by Mr Allard.
     
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