Posted by: David | January 22, 2011

Kodachrome: The End

This blog would be even worse without the photography. The imagery is meant to share some of the flavor of the rural northern New England lives we lead. I figure that you city folk could use some of that flavor for relief from your urban stresses. And this way you don’t have to endure the crushing boredom you would likely find attempting to live this lifestyle. I’d be taking the pictures anyway, as I have been since 1970, but I’m glad that the internet came along. In the old days you’d have to set up a screen, a slide projector, and provide lively narration to keep your guests from dying of boredom.

The screen. Da-Lite model ‘Golden Challenger’, ca. 1960

We came home from a first birthday party with my daughter, her best friend, and the best friend’s kids, aged 7 and 8, and started messing around with slide projectors, slides, and stuff. The 8 yr-old was very intrigued by the slide projector. He’s very mechanical and curious. The kids were psyched to see the slides despite my warning about how boring slideshows were. Before there were PowerPoints, there were slideshows. They lasted for a couple dozen slides before returning to their digital devices. Maybe they’d have been more interested if the slides were not a bunch of baby and kid pictures. We looked at about 5 trays of slides. Images we hadn’t seen for a long time. There was some yawning. No deaths from boredom.

Each tray holds 140 slides.

Ektagraphic IIIA projector, with ‘REMOTE CONTROL’ (which had a 20′ cord).

Obviously all the images posted here need to be digital to occupy this internet space, and almost of them were captured with digital cameras. But there have been a few images that were scanned from old black & white negatives. It’s still really hard (for me) to believe that a mere 16 years ago digital photography was so lousy that no serious photographers ever thought that it would make film go away. Chalk that up to the runaway expansion of technological progress. It’s all digital now. It’s old news, and I should have posted this two Junes ago. Kodak discontinued making Kodachrome film in June 2009. The last roll of Kodachrome was processed by Dwayne’s Photo, of Wichita, Kansas, a few weeks back. So if you find an old roll of Kodachrome in the drawer, you’re out of luck.

There’s a baby shower coming soon, and my wife undertook to review hundreds of our old Kodachromes, Ektachromes, and Fujichromes to find some nice shots of our kids when they were little. I’m scanning these slides now. It’s a little tedious.


  1. This sure brings back a lot of memories. My dad shot thousands of photos, slides, and 16mm film of us (5 kids). So many slide shows. So many movies. He even had a specially built storage compartment in the ceiling from which he could lower the movie screen. Of course, no slide show went without pauses to unjam slides. And you can imagine 5 kids arguing over who got to operate the remote. I shot up a lot of Kodachrome myself, once upon a time. I still marvel at today’s digital technology.

    Wow, 16mm film and a permanently installed screen, that’s serious. We used 8mm. I remember being charged with splicing all of it together as a teenager. It was a pain. I think we transferred them, primitively, to VHS tape at one point. Wonder where that got to. Now we should be digitizing all that stuff. I guess.

    I inherited the photo genes from my dad too. It took a long time to get there, but digital photography is fully mature. And the array of equipment available is truly boggling. It’s almost too much. The captured image is more fleeting and ephemeral now, as digits. Perhaps it always was.

  2. I love slides. I do not love PowerPoints.

    I hear ya.

  3. You forgot to mention that any photographer worth his salt would not touch COLOR film!! haha I always say — this is the best time to be alive! Look at what we have experienced — the internet, digital photography, Facebook, PowerPoint. I am writing a hundred page report for work right now and it is killing me but not like it would have with a typewriter, carbon paper and an eraser. Remember the first time you used white out!! Weird.

    Yeah, black & white images are more ‘essential’ or something like that, but I don’t hold anything against color photography. And yes, this IS a great time to be alive (isn’t there a Chinese saying to that effect?) with all the technology choices still explosively growing and recombining in ways one would have never thought possible. I think that the typewriter I brought to college had a fancy correction ribbon in it that we all thought was pretty amazing, as was the Texas Instruments SR-50 (SR stood for “Slide Rule”- remember those?) calculator that I paid $150 for. Now you can get all those math functions for free on the web.

  4. I made the switch from film to digital promptly after my daughter was born. And thank goodness I did, or who knows how many shots of a baby crawling away from me I would have paid to develop. Though I suspect the people sitting next to me at Abby’s swim lessons today wish I would have been using film instead of digital, because I most certainly would have been more judicious in my photo-taking. Click, click, click, click. Deal with it people. She’s cute and I love water sports.

    Anyhow, my parents never were into slides. Grandpa had a bunch of slides that my mother scanned. Realizing now that must have been pretty tedious for her.

    Baby shower :-). Gettin’ close?

    Thanks Allison, I hope that you’re backing up all those digital photos to CDs or flash drives or whatever.

    It took the better part of the weekend to scan 120 slides to high res jpegs.

    Baby shower is next Sunday.

  5. Thanks nursemyra. Someone needed to put that song in there.

  6. You are absolutely right that this serene blog and photos make me forget the urban stresses, silly that they are, and I come to that realization almost daily now, would say your blog has been instrumental in that therapy, thanks! πŸ™‚

    Romi! I ♥ your comments! Thank you for being such a good blog friend.

  7. πŸ˜€
    I had to go to Wikipedia to find out what a baby shower was. I immediately suspected it would be the latest of Americanadas trying to avoid any wordies that might however so slightly allude to some kind of religion.

    Here (in Spain) they spent years and lots of effort to remove the name of Franco from all the streets and plazas and public buildings and to take down all the statues, pictures, photos from all the administration offices. All the post stamps and tons of money had to be withdrawn and re-printed.

    What I don’t know is if they actually removed facts alluding to his former existence from the history books, too.

    I will be attending the baby shower. Supposedly I am assigned to herding the children in attendance, trying to engage them in some sort of arts and crafts project. With your suggestions, maybe I’ll have them all create portraits in crayon of what they think Franco might have looked like after his baby girl was born. Or what he looked like changing a diaper. Or what he looked like when he was a baby, before his existence was wiped from history.

  8. Hiya! Good to see ya! I was afraid you’d spun off into cyberspace somewhere, never to blog again! (yes, I’m a bit of a pest.)

    I also love slides and as children, my sibs, cousins and I used to love going to the Grandparent’s on a Sunday and viewing slides of our even younger selves!

    Benny the Troll (our eldest son) got ahold of 2 rolls of Kodachrome film, shot them up, and got them developed at Dewayne Photo, the last place on Earth to get them developed. Most of them came out beautifully. There’s just something about old processes and methods that is appealing.

    Hi S. Le. I’m a ‘slow blogger’. One post a week is average. A little inspiration or a funny idea usually helps me drop a post. I don’t mind the pestering. I sort of owe you one, for Withnail & I, a movie I should have seen decades ago.

    I ended up digitizing over a hundred slides last weekend. Mostly of my kids when they were little. I should post some of them. Most of them were Kodachromes. The Nikon scanning software actually had a ‘Kodachrome’ setting. Glad your Benny was able to get in on Dwayne’s final Kodachrome processing runs. Kodachrome lived for 75 years. That’s a pretty good run for a ‘modern’ technology.

  9. It’s a little scary to think that there are probably kids out there right now who have no idea what this technology is!

    I know what you mean Leaf.

    At the college where I work, the photography professor still has the students use 35mm cameras, b&w film, darkroom, enlargers, etc. so that they can see what the process used to be. They end up using digital, but at least they get to see the craft as it was.

    When I was a teenager, I once purchased an E-4 processing kit and developed my own Ektachrome film. It required temperature maintenance within 0.25 degree F and there were at least 5 different solutions. I think I did it only once or twice. My medium was Tri-X Pan film, which comprises 98% of the negatives I still have.

  10. Looking after the children! There is your calling. But it is cold there now and so you will have to herd them indoors.

    I told you about my thing with the taxman. Now today my best friend came and told me: “Hacienda is having crow in our honor”.
    “Hacienda” is an older word for “farm” and means “tax authorities” here.

    I am in a hurry because something most exciting has happened in this town and I must read up on the buzz buzz

    Thanks for this sweet comment cantueso. All child herding will be indoors I imagine.

    Your riddle escapes me, but I hope that it means good news for your friend.

    What good news is there in Madrid?

  11. Are you a fan of Mad Men? Don Draper did this amazing pitch about the Kodak Carousel–if you haven’t seen it, go watch it on YouTube sometime.

    I love nothing more than looking at old photographs. I spent hours doing this as a kid, as my gramma had a huge box of random B&W’s of Italians. No one in my family had movie camera or the carousel, but I wish we did. I wish I was sitting in your room, watching along with you (not too creepy I hope) because there is nothing better than seeing someone else’s photos to me.

    Sigh. I don’t blog about photos enough. Thanks for doing so!

    I haven’t gotten into Mad Men. Yet. But I did find the video clip to which you referred. It was very compelling. Even though the technology is outdated, all the cool feeling of watching slides came right back as we worked through the boxes of carousel trays.

    I love looking at old photos too. There’s much to ‘read’ in them, as long as they’re of somewhat reasonable quality. I wish you were sitting there too. Some of our photos might have creeped YOU out a little. πŸ™‚

    You’ve got all kinds of great photos on your blog, so no worries on that. I admire your prolificity (yes, apparently that may actually be a real word, if you can believe what the online dictionary says … ) and perseverance. When you become famous I will try to auction off the comments you’ve left here on ebay. πŸ™‚

  12. So the saying is not American. In Spanish it is “roer cebolla”, gnawing on an onion, and “it is widely thought here” that in English that would be “eat crow” meaning having to eat your own words? make a humiliating concession? lose wars in Iraq and Afghanistan etc?

    But in this case it was only that the Treasury had been trying to fine us and had to pay back and also had to PAY INTERESTS πŸ˜€ on the money withheld, which was very little, but of immense symbolic value, as you will undoubtedly understand, even if you have never seen a Spanish public employee at work.

    In Madrid I don’t know, but in my town. In short:

    1. Next door a bunch of lawyers moved in. They looked a little scruffy and were a little rude, which was surprising. They had also paid a very big rent without haggling, which was so surprising that it made me wonder. This was about 2 months ago.

    2. January 26 I discover a little leftist newspaper printed on flimsy paper. First glance: hey, this is financed by those lawyers. Second glance: it is ISSUED by those lawyers! WRITTEN by them! They are up in arms against the present town government!

    I check these people online and find that they are fly-by-night: their boss keeps changing his CV to present himself in different webpages as a real estate consultant, a teacher, a computer security specialist, a company lawyer, yet he does have a law degree.

    January 29: the Mayor resigns “for personal reasons”.

    These facts are likely related. There will be local elections in May. There are some 50 000 inhabitants here, but because of the construction bubble, there has been wild corruption never taken serious.
    Just one example:

    That town government has a shitty little webpage, shitty design, with accesses to job offers, job orientation, an access to all kinds of computerized courses, little else.
    According to his accounts, how much did drawing up this web page cost the town?
    € 800 000,–

    It makes me almost sick to see that number. Sick! Because it shows what people little by little end up accepting as normal.
    It’s nearly a million dollars.

    Hmm. I like that: roer cebolla.

    So the lawyers next door fomented a revolt? After cashing in on some cheesy web authoring? Or have I connected too many dots? It’s a great letdown that the internet, so full of promise with its unfettered access to all information and knowledge, also is a huge funnel of the worst thievery ever, reaching directly into the rooms of every kind of fool. Like me.

  13. There aren’t yet any dots!
    IM humble O those “lawyers” could stage anything. IMHO they are more like would-be politicians, imagining that it’s simply all bluff and big talk.
    But there is a real power struggle taking place.

    It could be that they meant to stage something political but then discovered that incidentally it brought them CLIENTS πŸ˜€

    Suddenly the mayor announced that he was not going to run for re-election! This was reported all over, always with those same few words, and no successor announced.

    Proust reader knows: if a fact or an event is always reported in the same few words, there is a basic lie at work. Best example: the sudden powerful presence of the acronym WMDs.
    It kept me awake so many nights that now I have one of these good old migraine headaches, but very suave and by now almost over.

    I have very very beautiful photos made by an aunt of mine (about Christmas ) who has since died, and they are all in slides. — What kind of scan do you have that allows you to scan the slides? I tried, and right now I don’t remember why or how it didn’t work.

    I don’t want to talk about lawyers. But thanks for that little bit of Proustian wisdom.

    The scanner I use to scan 35mm negatives and slides is a relatively old Nikon Coolscan LS-40 ED. It sold for around $400 USD about 10 years ago. It might be possible to buy a used one on ebay, or to borrow one from someone. The process of scanning each slide is a little time-consuming. Depending on the condition of the slides, they may need to be dusted off before scanning, and worked on in Photoshop after scanning. Scanning of a 24X36 mm frame requires a high resolution device, which converts the frame to a fairly large TIFF or JPEG file. You may be able to find someone to do this work for you, but be prepared for it to be costly, due to the time involved. Maybe I can help? Email me.

  14. Re: Proustian wisdom. Yes. Proust also explains why that is (that liars are not wordy). There is Proust’s mistress who is light-hearted, beautiful and a liar, but not a strong mind.

    So Proust says that when she had to lie, which she hated to do but could not avoid, she had to look for words, desperate only for words, while in her mind there was a big blank where otherwise, if she had been telling the truth, there would have been the souvenirs of that true thing.

    She also knew that her gentleman (Proust himself) was a sharp detective. So she was often in agony over whether on a former occasion she had told a different story about the same thing.

    Yes, most liars are weak minded. Wisdom is the search engine for truth. Occasionally one meets liars with strong minds. They are wordy and don’t fear detectives because their lies are architectural.

    So Marcel had a mistress? Really? Or in his infinite imagination?

  15. Favourite Proust quote:

    His mistress was of the lower class kind and loved romantic musical entertainment. So she wanted to go and see “Love on the Nile” and Proust, fearing that she might meet other boyfriends there, tried to dissuade her telling her how so very much classy and adorable she would seem to him if she could refrain from attending those cheap shows.
    He goes on and preaches for two pages or three pages about what things might make her look more distinguished and elegant, and she listens silently with a sweet sad expression in her face.
    Finally she interrupts him and says softly:
    “Honey, Marcel my darling, if you continue any longer, I will miss the ouverture….”

    And the overture would be the worst part to miss, since it is what will inhabit the memory and symbolize the entire sappy pageant. Shame on Marcel for consorting with such pedestrians. Why should we snobs bother to read his thousands of pages?

  16. I have not read any about-Marcel books, but I don’t think he ever had a mistress. His most famous girl and the subject of many volumes, Albertine, was probably Albert in real life, but the transposition is nearly perfect, because most of the characters appearing in the Temps Perdu, including all of the great women and the supreme wonderful larger than life Count Charlus are Proust’s alter egos.

    That is, he knew all his crooked characters and those vain silly women from introspection, like “there but for fortune” of the psychological kind or “it takes one to see one”.

    Well at least you’ve read his fiction. I tried many years ago, but drowned in the oceans of words.

  17. Well, I am sorry. I should have said “from introspection + extrapolation” because I hope and I pray that he would not himself have actually committed all the crappy things that he uses to entertain his very few readers.


    Thank you very much for offering to help with the scans, but it is unnecessary because the photographer is my cousin and he is a graphics artist and he would have changed his files to digital long ago. So I can ask him.

    Well I would not hold that against him. Proust that is.

    Maybe your cousin has a scanning machine. Good luck with that project.

  18. Proust is not nice to read in translation. Shakespeare is even worse.
    Hemingway does better, because linguistically he was a minimalist. And he wasn’t given to long thinking, and so trimming the sentences down may partly have helped hide a defect in intellectual fertility.

    Well that’s a relief. Of course I didn’t fare so well with Hemingway either. Shakespeare is lovable though. Of course I prefer the comedies.

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