Thursday, December 30, 2010

Types of Film: Kodachrome

Today is the last day that Kodak Kodachrome film will be developed. Dwayne's Photo in Kansas is the last place that develops the film in the way it was supposed to be developed and that will cease today when Dwayne develops the last roll before selling the machines for scrap. So, I decided, after several friends asked me what Kodachrome was and what the difference is between Kodachrome, E-6, C-41, etc. film, that I would take some time and write about each different type of film. Not just for those who were asking, but also because, being someone who quite likes history I thought it would be interesting to delve into the history of different films and their development.

So, with the demise of Kodachrome I thought I would start with...Kodachrome.

Kodachrome was created in the early 1930's by two musicians named Leopold Godowsky, Jr. and Leopold Mannes and manufactured by Eastman Kodak. It's life span ran from 1935 until 2009 when Kodak discontinued the manufacture of the film. It was possible to get the film developed until today, December 30th, 2010,  but only at one place in the world, Dwayne's Photo in Kansas. Kodachrome had a number of ISO's that were discontinued in the following years: 2002 (ISO 25), 2005 (ISO 40 [8mm]), 2007 (ISO 200) and 2009 (ISO 64). There were quite a few formats available for the film as well: 16mm, 8mm, Super 8, 35mm movie, 35mm still, 120, 110, 126, 828 and 5"x4".

Kodachrome was a K-14 processed, color-reversal slide film (a type of film that produces a positive image on a transparent base) that had undergone 4 different alterations since it's introduction. The final, K-14 version was introduced in 1974; it was a complex system that required not only those specially trained with the chemicals, but also required the use of large and bulky machinery.

Why was it so difficult to develop Kodachrome? Well, Kodachrome film had no color dye couplers and as such the dyes were added during the processing in a separate step. Due to the decline in the need for the chemicals, they were all discontinued. Before getting into the short break-down of how the film is developed, let me point out the layers of the film, top to bottom: Blue sensitive (yellow), yellow filter, blue-green sensitive (magenta), blue-red sensitive (cyan), acetate base, rem-jet antihalation backing (as far as I can tell, this is a layer included to keep light from reflecting off the pressure plate of whatever else is behind the film; it ends up being washed away or turned transparent during processing). on to the process of developing the film.

First the backing is removed. Then the first developer is applied, which causes all the exposed silver halide crystals to develop to a metallic silver. The yellow filter layer remains opaque due to its emulsion combination. The film is then washed before red light is re-exposed through the base which allows the remaining silver halide in the cyan layers to become developable. Now the Cyan developer can be added which contains a color developer and a cyan coupler which is colorless. After the color develops the silver, the developer, which has oxidized, reacts with the cyan coupler and forms a cyan dye. The film is then washed again before the blue-light re-exposure from the top which allows the undeveloped grains in the blue-sensitive layer (yellow) to become developable. The yellow filter layer, now opaque, keeps blue light from exposing the magenta. Then the yellow developer is added before another wash which is followed by the magenta developer. See? This is a lot and I'm not even done yet. Now, the magenta developer contains a chemical fogging agent that makes all the remaining undeveloped silver developable, then it's washed again. Then the film is conditioned with a conditioner which prepares the metallic silver for the bleach step, which oxidizes the metallic silver to silver halide. Finally, fixer is added before the film is washed a final time, rinsed and allowed to dry.

Yeesh! What a process! But, it was all worth it in the end because Kodachrome is well-liked for its amazing color-capturing ability and its dark-storage longevity. However, it is inferior to the E-6 process when used in slide projection.

Another part of Kodachrome's demise was the emergence of other films like Fuji's Fujichrome and Kodak's own Ektachrome which was less complex and faster to develop. I've never personally owned any Kodachrome, but I have dealt with (not developed on my own) both Ektachrome (which I had made into slides and also cross-processed with C-41 chemicals, on several different occasions) and Fuji's Velvia (which creates some beautiful, killer cross-processed images). It's sad to see a product of American history laid to rest after almost 3/4 of a century, but at least we have some of the most beautiful, colorful images that will last a long time. Oh, you can still get Kodachrome developed at some place called Film Rescue, but it's black and white only and it's quite expensive.

I gathered my information for this post from a PDF from Kodak on the processing of Kodachrome, as well as wikipedia ( and Kodak's website.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New posts coming...

I've been a little lax in posts I see. I've just been really busy with school and other projects, but I've got some things I plan on posting within the next day or so...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grandparents 01

This past semester I took a documentary class and we had to do a doc on a personal subject. I did my documentary about the relationship between my mother and my sister and I. My mom lost her parents when she was young and so it's important to me to share as much time with her as I can.

I edited photos for the documentary a little bit, but decided to go back and edit some more and, in the end, have them all edited for a family album to honor the grandparents and family I never knew.



1984-1985 Pre-School Photo Retouch

I told a friend of mine that I would post this photo from our pre-school class a long time ago. Unfortunately, it not only needed dust removed after scanning but it also needed removal of paint drops that must have fallen on the photo the last time I painted my room. Strangely enough, the largest paint drop fell right on to MY face. So I had to remove that as well.

I used a combination of spot healing tool to remove the minor dust and scratches and the filter>noise>remove noise and >dust and scratches. To remove the redness around my face, I selected the area and applied adjustment layers until the area was the right color and the red had been removed enough.

If there are any questions about how I got the final product, please contact me as I would be happy to oblige.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I've decided to start this blog to showcase my photography and motion graphics work.
Soon I'll start posting photos and videos.

I'm going to include before and after photos to showcase what I can do with Photoshop in some cases...just for fun.

My photos are taken primarily with a Canon Powershot SD60o, a Holga 120n, and various Kodak plastic box-cameras like Baby Brownie, Brownie Holiday and Hawkeye. I use color and black and white film and, right now, Photoshop CS3.

If you'd like to contact me about freelance work on either photos or motion graphic work, please send me a message.