These photos came from the Library of Congress and were posted in the latest PDN website (Photos District News) by Daryl Lang under the title 14 Rare Color Photos from the FSA-OWI. Coincidentally, I lived and worked in the heart of the old Manhattan photo district, (hence the magazine name), place where I shared a busy photo/motion studio with other photographers for several years. (21th street next to the original Duggal Lab). My experience in photography predates the digital camera and retouching revolution. All my early photography work was emulsion based and usually developed using any of these processes E-6, C-41, K-14,D76, TMAX and others.
Crane operator at the TVA’s Douglas Dam, Tennessee, 1942
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Double click photo for detail.
In the PDN commentary posting below the aforementioned photos, a barrage of controversy was ensued by the titles and content. But overall, the responses were mostly plain ignorant of any photographic process, rather emphasizing in the moral impact of the photographic message. In response to one of the blatant postings who stated..."My father had a color camera that he bought in 1941, he used it till the 60’s". I advised the following:
Member of a construction crew. Fort Knox, Kentucky, 1942.
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer.
Double click photo for detail.
To Old Photo Buff et all:
Certain is that these photos were not “colorized”. All these photos were most likely shot on Kodachrome 25ASA-ISO color transparency film sheet (no roll) using a 4×5 Graflex Press or a medium format Graflex Century or Speed Graphic. The dye couplers and emulsions used to imprint the polyester base “slide” Kodachrome were the sharpest, more color stable and fade resistant to date than any newer slide film made by Kodak, Agfa or Fujichrome. Kodak used a process called K-14, a predecessor of the common E-6 slide processing rendering a unique look, deep contrast, salmon hued colors. Beautiful Stuff. They are the Markers of an Era. (eg:Life Magazine covers). The drawback was their narrow latitude as any reversal emulsion (easy to underexpose-One Fstop of forgiveness). But remember, they never were color cameras, only Color or B/W film stock. The view or reflex camera is just a mechanical “Camera Obscura” that gathers light through a shutter/iris/lens. The film stock holds the color or the grayscale (B/W) emulsion that converts your Point of View (POV) into a memorable image. George Leon, Cinematographer
Sharecroppers chop cotton near White Plains, Greene County, Georgia, 1941.
Photo by Jack Delano. Double click photo for detail.
Daryl Lang the PDN researcher, introduces the photos with the following paragraph:
Even today, many documentary photographers will tell you they are influenced by the works of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and 40s. Under the direction of Roy Emerson Stryker, the FSA sent photographers to document the plight of the rural farmer during the Great Depression and the progress of New Deal programs. When the U.S. entered World War II, the photography program continued under the Office of War Information (OWI). The best-known FSA photographs are in black and white. Less commonly seen are the color photos by FSA and OWI photographers, shot between 1939 and 1945.

The question to my readers are:
1-Do you have any comments about the origination and processing of these photographs?
2-Is the crisp and saturated Kodachrome look cleanly achievable in a HD cinematography output grading LUT without any highlights clipping in a similar outdoor situation to these photos?
3- There is any recent film or HD originated feature film you have noticed the Kodachrome look?
4- Did you ever shot any Kodachrome film,(ISO25-ISO64-ISO200) on sheet pre-cut film, large or medium format, or on 35mm slide?
Please send an email with answers to: - subject: Kodachrome
Jack Whinery and his family, homesteaders, Pie Town, New Mexico, 1940.
Photo by Russell Lee. Double click photo for detail.
for more photos...

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