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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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