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Kodak: From A Near Monopoly on Nostalgia to Manufacturing Pharmaceuticals

Kodak’s modern business strategy is as weird to read as it is to write about. The company has jumped from one strategy to the next in an attempt to stay afloat. This 15-minute video delves into how Kodak went from near film monopoly, to near financial ruin, to pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Kodak’s recent history in business is almost surreal to recount. As shown in the video above by Bloomberg, it transitioned from film production to bankruptcy to attempting its own cryptocurrency to its most recent business endeavor: pharmaceutical production thanks to a $765 million grant from the United States government.

If you look at a five-year graph of Kodak’s stock price, consistent downward trends are offset by two major jumps: one in 2018 when the company announced Kodak Coin and one in 2020 when they announce a shift to pharmaceuticals.

When Kodak unveiled its cryptocurrency, it’s stock price jumped similarly. At the time, crypto was big in the news but there was no public company to attach the hype to. When Kodak announced KodakCoin, investors lept at the possibility of using traditional investing techniques to benefit from the crypto craze.

Clearly, that did not stick, as Kodak returned to the financial doldrums quickly thereafter.

Even that latest strategy is not without drama, as Kodak’s CEO has been accused of insider trading involving the surge in stock price associated with the announcement of the pharmaceutical pivot.

Kodak’s stock has again fallen considerably since then, and the SEC investigation is ongoing. So while the name of the Bloomberg video is “The Rise and Fall… and Rise of Kodak,” Kodak has yet to really make that second rise a reality.

Still, the video above does an excellent job retelling how Kodak started, how it reached its most prominent success, and how it has ended up where it is today with considerable time taken exploring the attempts at major business shifts the company has attempted in the last five years. It is one of two recent videos about the company that is worth your time checking out. The other is this excellent video from The Wall Street Journal that documents the rise and fall of Kodak.

The Process of Colorizing and Animating an 80-Year-Old Photograph

Photo colorizer and restorer Hint of Time has shared an 8-minute video where he shows his process for not only colorizing an 80-year-old black and white photo, but also brings it to life with subtle animation.

While usually stopping at colorizations on his YouTube Channel, Hint of Time decided to go one step further with this latest work on a photo of a New Jersey farmworker taken by Mario Wolcott in 1941.

“I decided to add a little twist and not only colorize but also give this photograph a 3D effect,” he writes. “It took me about 5 hours to colorize and animate this old black and white photograph in Photoshop and After Effects.”

Hint of Time has uploaded multiple videos that show his process for colonization, and his results are rather impressive:

There are some prominent historians that argue the colorization of history should be avoided, but Hint of Time says that he does his research to make sure that the colors he adds are as true to life as possible.

“When I do colorization or restoration work on an old black and white photo I always do research before anything else and try to find the colors of historically significant elements like uniforms, a person’s features, buildings, or even popular color palettes of the decade,” he writes. “The colors are then adapted to the scene in the photograph and added by hand with the help of Adobe Photoshop. Color accuracy is more important than perfectly drawing over the edges. The objective is to have an end result with colors as historically accurate as possible. The research, colorization, and restoration are processes that take a long time but the dramatic comparison of the black-and-white photos and the colorized version of the picture always makes it worth the hard work.”

For more from Hint of Time, subscribe to his YouTube Channel or follow him on Instagram.

(via r/ArtisanVideos)

How Bokeh Evolved and How Digital Photography Elevated it to Art

Bokeh is one of the most subjective aspects of photo or video. As Simon’s Utak says in this 20-minute discussion on its history and how it is elevating digital photography into art, we as photographers can’t even agree how to properly say the word.

This video is one of the most comprehensive discussions on not only what bokeh is – including descriptions and examples of the many different types – but also delves deep into the history of the defocused areas of images that predate photography as well as how digital photography elevated bokeh into an art form.

Prior to photography, artists – namely painters – rarely used blur as a method for isolating subjects. If you look at classic art, pretty much all aspects of an image are in focus. Simon argues that painters had an influence on how photographers first started using the medium, and then in turn photographers had an influence on how later painters would choose to render scenes.

Photo by Aaron Burden

Pre-photography Painters typically used one of two methods: they either isolated subjects using a neutral background or surrounded subjects with incredibly detailed backgrounds to help tell the story of the subject.

Simon points to an almost cliche example of when this changes: with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Yes, this painting is popular, but Simon argues that may be due to the fact that the image has a soft, dreamy look to the subject and background that is reminiscent of how modern cameras would render defocused areas.

Photo by Ugur Akdemir

Once photography became a thing, the popularity of that blurred defocus grew. Originally, many photographers adopted the same techniques that painters did, either with neutral backgrounds of busy surroundings designed to tell a story. The longer exposures that photography used in the early film eras meant that bokeh wasn’t really a thing for quite some time. But that doesn’t mean lens manufacturers weren’t aware of what their lenses were doing to out of focus areas. There are multiple examples of old lenses with incredible out of focus areas made possible by huge numbers of aperture blades.

Even through the 1970s, bokeh still wasn’t really used and the word wasn’t really even common. Even fast lenses were most often stopped down and rarely wide open. Wide-open lenses were used mainly for their light-gathering ability instead of the benefits of out of focus backgrounds.

Photo by Илья Косарев

Simon argues that the digital era has really brought bokeh to the forefront. Since the explosion of digital photography, bokeh has ballooned in use as a method of adding interest to an image or using the defocused areas to isolate a subject. Simon argues that bokeh is very much a modern phenomonen and a product of the digital era. Its use is still evolving and growing, and how it is being used is about more than cameras and lenses, but also software.

Simon’s entire video is worth a watch, so we highly recommend hearing his full arguments. After you’ve done so, let us know what you think in the comments. Do you agree with his assessment? How do you feel about bokeh? There is no denying it is popular, but how much longer do you think it will continue to be important to many photographers and lens designers?

For more from Simon’s Utak, subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

(via Fstoppers)

Why Mirrorless Wins: We’ve Come a Long Way and I’m Not Going Back

In 2018 with some trepidation I bought my first mirrorless camera, a Nikon Z7. It wasn’t because I thought it was better than the DSLR I had been using but because my old muscles were spasming with the weight of the camera I was using and I hoped that a package a pound lighter would help me keep on working.

Then slowly I began to learn what I had bought — a camera with major advances over any camera I had ever owned, film or digital. I hadn’t expected that. Now two years in, I’ve shot enough to see the advantages of mirrorless and I’m ready to share what I’ve learned, so — here we go.

They are lighter — Mirrorless cameras are significantly lighter and sometimes their lenses are lighter too. Don’t kid yourself, lighter is important even if you don’t feel the weight as an imposition. Cameras are inherently unbalanced with their mass extended from your body. We learn to hold them close and use the left hand to provide a second mounting point. But at the end of a long day, your muscles get tired and when they do, less mass means smaller micro tremors — and maybe the desire to shoot a few more frames.

A 14–30mm zoom with corner to corner sharpness and stabilization. The big, close mount really makes a difference

A modern lens mount gave me better lenses — I loved my old Nikon lenses and I planned on using them on the new body with an adapter. It was the progression I had come to expect as I upgraded through the years. But I bought one lens made for the new mount, and shooting with it blew me away. I quickly saw how much better the images were and all my old lenses started looking … old. Yeah, it cost me some money as I sold off old lenses and replaced them with new ones but boy am I happy with the results

Experimental soft focus macro lens on a fifty-year-old bellows — yes it’s taped in place

That new lens mount opened another door too, the ability to use old lenses from any camera, regardless of manufacturer. Getting rid of the mirror mechanism moved the mount a lot closer to the sensor, leaving room for adapters to almost any old lens, so I could have my new glass for that perfect look and my old glass to take me back to another time.

In-body stabilization transformed the old lenses I kept — I didn’t sell all my old lenses, just the modern ones. I love to shoot with really old glass, lenses without coatings, and simple optical designs. I love their flares and their soft contrast, and their bokeh. The first time I mounted an old single element 100mm lens on the new body I was stunned by how different it was to shoot with it. The in-body stabilization turned it from a shaky, use every trick I knew experience into a solid shake-free image. I had been shooting with lenses like this forever but this was a brand new experience.

A 100mm single element Portragon lens from the 80s, only now with stabilization and focus peaking

Seeing in the dark — Modern cameras have an astounding low light capability, much better than our eyes, and as a result, digital cameras have far outstripped our ability to see in the dark. When I was still shooting with my last DSLR I peered into the dark viewfinder, made blind guesses, clicked the shutter, then waited to see the image on the back to know what I had shot. With mirrorless, the viewfinder tells you what the image will look like, not what the scene looks like.

In the optical viewfinder of my DSLR, this picture looked very different

Focus Peaking — Of course, none of my old lenses had focus motors, and here is another place mirrorless really helped me out. The combination of clicking in to see a 100% view and focus peaking on demand has made keeping old lenses in focus a dream. Now, when I’m working close I can just rock back and forth until peaking shows me the focus is where I want it, and bang I’m shooting. No optical viewfinder does that as well, except maybe shooting with an old Panaflex where I could switch in a magnifier to check critical focus.

When I made this with the Z7 I knew exactly what it would look like before shooting

Presets have changed the way I work — Shooting film, I learned previsualization early on. I spent time thinking about how scene brightness would translate into tonal values on paper, remembering which colors would pop in the print. Now, with preset looks, I respond directly to the image in my viewfinder in the same way I respond to movement or emotion. Instead of an intellectual understanding, I have an emotional response to what’s going on. It’s “WOW, I love this … or This sucks, what would be better” right away. DSLRs have presets too but you can’t see them until after you make the shot. Seeing presets in the viewfinder is a game-changer.

A quiet shutter gives me more useable pictures — No mirror slap means no people turning to see what just happened. Even when I’m doing portraits there‘s fewer of those involuntary flinches that people often make when a camera goes off close by. And when I’m shooting at slow shutter speeds no shutter slap means one less source of vibration to mess up the shot.

A camera that lets you see what you’ve done lets you play more too — Instant review is a wonderful thing, especially when you are playing with time. DSLRs offer this too, but only on their back screen. And working in bright sunlight the back screen becomes useless for making any kind of critical judgment. For instance, seeing the difference in blur between a third of a second and a quarter second exposure is virtually impossible. Looking through the viewfinder is so much better. With no stray light and the image filling your eye it’s easier to see the details, to respond emotionally, to make better changes.

2011, me with a 65mm chip from a Phantom Hi-speed, the best of of the moment

Tightening the loop — In the world of remote controls, a place where I spent some of my life, we call all these differences tightening the loop. What that means is knowing when something varies from a desired result and more quickly making a change that results in a better outcome. When we shot film the only way to tighten the loop was slop processing, dunking a bit of film into chemicals on-site to see what was on the negative right away. Then Polaroids tightened the loop as did video assist on movie cameras. But the big change came with digital cameras. They made a lot of people better photographers even if they didn’t know exactly why. The complaints from purists were legion, “what are they doing checking the back screen all the time, it’s too late when you’ve already made the picture” … and of course they were right about that … but it was not too late to learn from what they had just done. In fact, it was the best possible time to learn, right now, at the moment when you clearly knew what you had desired and how the picture you had just taken disappointed you.

Summing up — I’m expecting I’ll hear from some of my friends on this story. We spent our lives learning how the human eye and the camera saw differently. We learned how to be analytical when judging a scene, how to stand back and use our understanding to judge what would be transformed by the camera, the stock, and the light. In Hollywood, cinematographers didn’t even look through the camera at the moment of shooting. Instead, they stood next to it using their judgment and knowledge to imagine what the scene would look like the next day in dailies, and they were almost always right. But things are different now. … we have a new generation of cameras that show us exactly what our picture will look like even before we take it. Seeing exactly what the camera is going to render while looking through the viewfinder is enormously powerful to me, a transformative technology. I love it and I won’t be going back.

We’ve come a long way, and I’m not going back

About the author: Andy Romanoff started taking pictures over sixty years ago. He has shot using cameras of every description including box cameras, rangefinders, SLRs, TLRs, view cameras, DSLRs, and movie cameras from Aaton to Panavision. Now he is shooting with a mirrorless camera while he waits for what comes next. Andy writes about photography for L’oeil de la Photographie, Stories I’ve Been meaning to Tell You, and Petapixel. He lists his photo sales here and you can subscribe to his YouTube Channel here.

This story was also published here.

Was this iconic war photo staged?

There are some iconic photos taken through history that turned out to be staged or altered. The example that first comes to mind for me is Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, which was both. In this video, Vox brings another example of a historic image that was most likely staged. It’s Roger Fenton’s Valley of the […]

The post Was this iconic war photo staged? appeared first on DIY Photography.

This Camera Was Used for Aerial Photos During WWII

Check out this absolute unit of a camera that was used to do aerial photography during World War II. Mounted on the front of the camera is a massive 2-foot long 305mm f/5 lens.

This viral photo has made the rounds on the Web in recent years, and the camera has widely been misidentified as a Kodak K-24.

It’s actually a Fairchild K-17, which was designed by Fairchild Camera and Instrument and manufactured under license for the US Air Force by Folmer Graflex in Rochester, New York (Kodak’s hometown), in the early 1940s.

The Fairchild K-17 shot 9×9-inch (22.86×22.86cm) photos on 9 1/2-inch wide roll film.

6-inch, 12-inch, and 24-inch lenses were available for the camera, with apertures of f/6.3, f/5, and f/6, respectively.

Shooting this camera handheld was not an easy task:

While these cameras were normally clamped into mounts, a pair of handles and a viewfinder could be fitted to K-17s and K-18s for hand-held operation. What “hand-held” meant is subject to interpretation, as these cameras were not lightweights. With a 200 foot roll of film, the A-5 film magazine used with the K-17 weighed 30 pounds. A complete K-17 with 12″ lens cone and a full magazine weighed about 55 pounds. With a 24″ lens instead of the 12″, the weight climbed to near 75 pounds. [Source]

So that camera you see being held by the airman above weighs a whopping 75 pounds — no wonder he looks like he’s straining to pose with the “handheld” camera. Thankfully, cameras these days (especially aerial photography ones) are generally much smaller and lighter.

This is How a Match-Needle Exposure Meter From a 1971 Canon Works

Technology Connections, a YouTube channel that covers a wide array of interesting technology stories, has shared this 28-minute video that explores how the Canon F1 from 1971 works, with special detail focused on the camera’s light meter.

In addition to learning specific details about the Canon F1, the host actually goes into a lot of detail about both the history of terms like ISO and how f-stops are calculated, and how shutter speed and aperture work together to create an exposure. If you’re new to photography and want a fairly fast yet thorough explanation of how all the settings on modern cameras work, this video is a surprisingly good place to start.

The main topic of the video, though, is a technology called a match-needle exposure meter. It is the only part of the Canon F1 that requires a battery to operate and works differently than modern exposure meters. Match-needle exposure meters, also called selenium meters, are based on the photoelectric properties of the element selenium. According to a detailed breakdown of the technology here, selenium meters are an instrument “which is connected to the anode and cathode of a selenium photocell that produces more or less electric power when exposed to more or less light.”

It’s a fascinating old camera technology that isn’t used much today. They did not age well, as selenium cells tended to generate less current as they were used over the years and were exposed to the elements like light, heat, and moisture. As a result, many old selenium meters are not accurate today or are completely dead. However, it’s possible if a selenium meter was never used, it could still function perfectly fine despite its age.

For more information on match-needle exposure meters, you should read this detailed article here, and for more deep-dives into technology, you can subscribe to Technology Connections on YouTube.

Photographer Uses Her Dad’s Slides to Create a Touching Visual Tribute

Photographer Catherine Panebianco—previously featured here—recently published a beautiful new photo project titled No Memory is Ever Alone that pays tribute to her father by using his old slides to bring a piece of his past into her present.

The project is a twist on the “then and now” style images that you’ve no doubt seen before. Most such ideas use historical images, blending them into the modern scene to show how much things have changed since, say, World War II. But Panebianco’s series takes its “then” material from a far more personal source: an old box of her father’s slides.

No Memory is Ever Alone is a visual conversation between my dad and I,” she explains on her website. “He used to bring out a box of slides that he photographed in his late teens and early 20s every Christmas and made us view them on an old projector on our living room wall telling the same stories every year. It was a consistent memory from a childhood where we moved a lot and I never felt like I had a steady ‘place’ to live and create memories.”

By placing these same slides into her current landscape, she’s created a “trail of memories, each [with] its own association for both of us.”

As Panebianco explains in her artist statement for this series, the project served as a source of connection with both of her parents—she was using her father’s slides, many of which showed her mother, his wife of 60 years, who recently passed away.

The photos act as tribute to them, and comfort for her. As she painstakingly sought out the perfect location, the vignettes she created helped her feel that her mother was watching over her, helping to “create a ‘home’ for me wherever I go.”

She concludes:

I did not want to Photoshop that connection. Part of the process that was necessary for me was to find the right location and feel my dad’s slides united with how I live today—a place within a place, a memory within a memory.

To see the full series, click here. And if you want to explore more of her work, you can visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

(via Colossal via DIY Photography)


Image credits: All photos by Catherine Panebianco and used with permission.

If you ever wondered where the phrase “Watch the birdie!” came from, here you go

“Watch the Birdie” – that’s what my parents told me, to make sure I look into the camera before they took a photo of me. I guess lots of you guys remember this saying. With the renovation of a 140-year-old historic brass birdie, I show you the origin of this phrase. As this website reports, […]

The post If you ever wondered where the phrase “Watch the birdie!” came from, here you go appeared first on DIY Photography.