News / USA

In a Digital World, Camera Film Fades to Black

Mama has taken your Kodachrome away but you can still find, and have fun with, a roll here and there

This was Robert Cohen's Kodachrome shot of the audience at the state fair tractor pull. Pretty good for 14-year-old film.
This was Robert Cohen's Kodachrome shot of the audience at the state fair tractor pull. Pretty good for 14-year-old film.

Multimedia

Audio
Ted Landphair

Robert Cohen knows a thing or two about photography.  He's a staff photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of America's most respected newspapers.

One day this past August, he set off to shoot photos at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. Fairs abound with wonderful photo opportunities: people eating corn dogs, riding the Ferris wheel, trying to win plush animals at the shooting gallery. Clowns applying face paint. Young lovers holding hands.

From this Cohen fair shot, you get the idea what he means about the vivid nature of real film as opposed to what some believe are flatter digital images.
From this Cohen fair shot, you get the idea what he means about the vivid nature of real film as opposed to what some believe are flatter digital images.

Cohen caught them all, not on his fine digital camera, but on a well-worn 35-millimeter model, using vintage 1996 Kodachrome 200 film. He had found a roll by surprise in a freezer.

As he wrote in the Post-Dispatch, Kodachrome was once America's film of choice. It produced, as he put it, pictures so real, so full of texture. The color, rich and grainy, gave the film a soul that no smart phone app can match.

The final little box of Kodachrome rolled off the Eastman-Kodak company's assembly line in 2009.  To most Americans, film was already a technical dinosaur, alongside typewriters and Beta video recorders.

One could shoot and shoot and shoot digital photos without buying a single roll of celluloid film.

But film devotees are diehards, just as some audio purists insist that a good turntable spinning a classic vinyl record outperforms the finest digital music player. Lots of photographers and teachers have kept their darkrooms and stubbornly develop film there. 

This place in Kansas is the last place in America where you can take Kodachrome film for developing. But that sign will be changed or removed at year's end.
This place in Kansas is the last place in America where you can take Kodachrome film for developing. But that sign will be changed or removed at year's end.

Robert Cohen relished his day at the fair, shooting his last 36 frames of film. Then he drove way over into Kansas, to the town of Parsons, 550 kilometers from St. Louis, to the last lab in America that still develops Kodachrome film. But only until December 30th, when it, too, will give up trying.

Cohen waited around town for three hours before the lab called to tell him his film was ready.

Yes, the clerk assured him, you appear to have pictures.

Good and memorable ones, it turned out. Real keepsakes.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid