Friday, December 31, 2010

Technology takes another bite

In a few hours, the photography world will lose a significant part of its history.  Many will not even know it has happened.  Not even photographers....well the amateur ones.  Technology has pushed a giant player down and it will never recover.  Don't get me wrong.  I love technology.  I am the queen of it in my household.  I have an iPod, and iPad, and iPhone, and laptop and a desktop.  After finishing The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins last night, I wanted to read the sequel right away.  With a few clicks of a button and in less than five minutes time, I had the sequel and never had to leave my house.  So I'm not opposed to technology, but it's hard to let go of  the past.
Kodachrome has had a 75 year run as the go to film for photographers.  It's complex processing gives dimension and color to images that digital cannot.  Kodachrome was the single most influential film and it changed the way the printed image was viewed.

Paul Simon dedicated a whole song to the film....with lyrics that say....

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away"

One professional photographer, Steve McCurry, shot an image that was featured on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic.  He shot the image with Kodachrome film.  When he returned years later and found her again, this time as a grown woman, he shot that image with Kodachrome as well.  Steve McCurry received a special privilege.  He was allowed to buy the last roll of Kodachrome film ever manufactured by Kodak.  The very last image shot on this roll of film was taken in Parsons, Kansas.  It was a picture taken of a civil war cemetery there.  A fitting setting for the last roll.  This roll was processed at Dwayne's Photo in July 2010 and took up residence at the George Eastman House.

You may ask why Parsons, Kansas.  The answer is that the last processing center in the world able to develop Kodachrome film is Dwayne's Photo, in Parsons Kansas. Since Eastman Kodak made the announcement on June 22, 2009 that it would no longer produce the Kodachrome film, Dwayne's Photo has been developing 700+ rolls a day from all over the world.  And tonight, at midnight, it will cease for good.  Even if you have an old roll, biding its time in the coolness of your fridge, after midnight tonight, no one in the world will have the capability of processing your film.  The process is so complex, that it cannot be done at home in your own darkroom.  The chemicals themselves will be extinct as well.

So, the last photograph on the last roll of Kodachrome film is a cemetery. Dramatic?  Perhaps.  But this is the end of an age.  Pushed out by the digital world.  Technology's latest victim.  Gone are the days of taking a roll of film and carefully feeding it over the teeth of the manual camera rollers. Looking through viewfinder and lining up a photograph worthy of an image on that celluloid, will no longer be the patient art it actually was.  You took the picture, hoped it was good one.  Trusted what you shot was good and then you waited for the images to be developed.  An act of faith really. 

As a very amateur photographer, I now take many photographs.  I have my older, manual, film taking camera tucked carefully away and use my digital camera all the time.  My grandchildren will never know the act of taking a photograph and having to wait to see the image.  They can see the image in the second or two after it's taken.  I don't know if they can truly appreciate the uniqueness of photographs the way I do. But it will be my job to teach them about the past so that can have a whole view of their future.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Of Christmas' past

While on a visit to my brother's recently, (see last post), he posed a question to both me and our youngest brother.  He asked if we had any memories about Christmas' from our past.  Considering the fact that we had all grown up in a constantly moving, alcohol bathed, emotionally dysfunctional military family, I thought it was a fair question.  I did ask, though, that we not drag up stuff that was going to be dark and damaging to any of us and start us on a depressing diatribe of how screwed up things were.  I mean, we were all there and don't need to be all "survivor-ish" about it.  So I opened the door to the past and journeyed through the cobwebs of my mind to survey the holiday pictures I may have mentally taken along the way.  At first glance, I couldn't say any stood out to me at all.  I asked my brother's what they remembered and they said the same thing...nothing came to them at all.
And then I remembered.  The first Christmas I remembered with fondness was the year I turned 12 and got a Four Tops album.  I have a picture somewhere to prove it.  I'm in a robe with a short pixie cut and I am holding the album.  I was excited to have it.....I also have a memory about a silver (aluminum) tree with a color wheel that rotated and made it pink, red, green and some other color that escapes me.  Apparently, my brother's hated that tree.  I thought it was different, but not too bad as trees go.  But my most favorite memory is from my adulthood.  So maybe I stepped outside of the question that was asked, but it is a memory about Christmas so I shared.

My mother lived in North Carolina and my husband and four kids lived in Virginia.  We rarely traveled on Christmas, but decided to go down for Christmas that particular year.  Carting presents all the way down.  I didn't bring my kids up believing in Santa Claus, which I regret to this day, but that's another story for another time.  So we drove to North Carolina and got there well after dark.  At this point in my mother's life she was sober and had been for sometime.  With a firm foothold in AA, she had reshaped her life and in turn reshaped me as well.  We got into town and drove directly to her trailor.  Yup, mom lived in a trailor, in a trailor park.  She wasn't always the best house keeper, but this night was one for the books ~ or this blog as it turns out.  We fell out of the car and stumbled towards the door.  I walked into a Christmas wonderland.  Mom had Christmas music playing softly, candles were lit on this Christmas decoration that spun from the heat of the candles, all of the Christmas houses mom had hand painted were lit and displayed beautifully and the air smelled of cinnamon and cookies.  Her trailer was beautiful and clean and, well......home.  I mean, really home.  Her tree was decorated meticulously and she greeted us with a big smile.  I felt like I walked into a scene I had hoped for my whole life.  I do not remember what I bought my children, my husband, my mom or anyone else that year.  But I do remember that she made a memory for me.  One that I cherish even more, now that she is gone.
I have made it a point to make those memory sights, sounds and smells for my children and now grandchildren.  Having the opportunity to relive that wonderful moment made me ask my own daughter about the Christmas' she rememebers.  I asked my clients as well and almost all of them have said, it's not always the gifts (although sometimes special ones stick out), but it's the memories.  It's the time with family and far away relatives who come for the holidays that stick out. 
So for me, this season, I am doing my best to make happy memories. I am going to try and make it joyful and not exhausting.  It doesn't mean it won't be, but I know that I'm in charge of what happens so I will try and create an aroma of love when my family comes to visit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life is not a number....right?

I know my last post was...

A.  A while ago. Thanks for the reminder Lacey.    and...
B.  Led to the belief that someone out there might want to know how to can tomatoes.

Well I changed my mind about what my next post would be and decided to write about the mind boggling event that takes place today.

I am the oldest girl of two boys in my family.  Yes, I still refer to myself as a girl and my brothers are still "the boys".  Complete with y's on the end of each of their names.  The world may call them Mark and Bill, but they will always be Marky and Billy to me.  I know them.  Well, I kind of know them.  I knew them when we were kids.  I fought them and I fought for them.  The ole' adage that I can fight them, but you can't stood true.  I would have fought the world to protect them....and there were times in my young childhood when it felt like I did.  I was the oldest, so it felt right.  But I digress....

So today is one of my "baby" brother's birth day.  And he turned 50 today.  I don't know how this is possible.  Wasn't I just walking alongside of him holding his hand?  Didn't I just explain to him how deodorant might help his chances with the general population?  Not just women, but people in general?  Didn't my husband just let him borrow his Z28 Rally Sport Camero to take his date to the Cotillion?  Didn't he just get married?  Well, no, I guess none of these just happened.  But this is a real bump in my road.  It was one thing for me to turn 50.  Another when my oldest turned 30.  Big things for sure.  But this is my "baby" brother and I feel like I just got put into my place.  Like the universe just commanded me to sit up and take notice and realize that life was moving by me fast.  And that I don't really have forever to live.  Nothing morbid, just a check.  So I respond.  I notice....and I will live differently.  I have alot to get in before I go, so I got a whole lot more living to do.  I have grown complacent in this living in my fifties thing and I need to remember how to do it!  So here I go, starting again at your birthday party! 

  Happy 50th birthday Billy.  I know we each have alot more years to live outloud!