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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid