jump to navigation

Uffish Thoughts: The End of the Kodak Moment March 6, 2012

Posted by klondykewriter in Uffish Thoughts.
Tags: , , , ,

Uffish Thoughts: The End of the Kodak Moment

By Dan Davidson

January 24, 2012

Star, Jan. 26/12

– 755 words –

“Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away…”- Paul Simon

It’s surprising how quickly technological references become dated. That line from Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome” – indeed, the very title itself – will require a footnote in a few years.  So will the popular saying about something being a “Kodak moment”.

This line of thought is prompted by the news that Eastman Kodak, the company that put photography into everyone’s hands, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

My first several cameras were Kodaks, something bound to be true of just about anyone who was a teenager in the 1960s. My mother had one of those box Brownies with the view-finder that flipped up and gave you a hazy view of your subject. You held it in the middle of your chest, which gave the shot an unusual perspective.

I had a simple Instamatic 126 model for a few years but eventually moved to the very simple 110 model. Both of these had viewfinders that were separate and slightly off-center from the actual lens, which sometimes led to a person losing an arm in the finished photo. I used the 110 as my main personal camera for years, graduating to an SLR type only when I began to do newspaper work.

Along the way I also owned a couple of Polaroids, a move dictated by living in rural Yukon, a long way from film processing facilities.

The mere existence of the Polaroid camera is an early sign of Kodak’s tendency to have blind spots. The company let the instant camera market get away from them in much the same way as they have apparently lost the digital race.

My first digital camera was a Kodak, a DC210 Plus, purchased in 1999, in spite of much scoffing by some friends who were dedicated film buffs. (Note: they also own and use digital cameras these days.)

It gave me the ability to select the pictures I wanted to use with an article and the option of writing the caption right along with the rest of it. It took the guess work out of getting an image and let me try different angles and compositions without having to spend a fortune on developing or having to spend the time it would take to do my own processing. Also, it let me know that I actually had a photo I could use, which was something I was never quite sure of when using film.

In addition, it cut a good six hours off the time it took to lay out an issue of our local paper, an important consideration in any volunteer organization. These days our darkroom is used for storage, and our enlarger is on permanent loan to the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.

According to what I’ve been able to read on this subject, Kodak pioneered a lot of the developments that have made digital cameras what they are today: simple downloading to computers, increased pixel density, etc. Company executives could not, however, fathom a world in which sales of film and photo paper did not constitute a major source of revenue, and failed to diversify their product line, or to drop obsolete items. It’s only been about a year since they discontinued making Kodachrome film.

Polaroid also seemed to have gone the way of the dodo as well, having ceased production of film based cameras in 2007 and the film itself in 2009. Indeed, the original name itself is now just a shell owned by another company,

Part of the company became Polaroid Eyewear and its focus (pardon the pun) is on sunglass lenses, which was the area where Polaroid had its first commercial success. The brand name is also attached to LCDs, plasma televisions and DVD players.

Both companies failed to see a world where the majority of picture taking would be done with cell phones or other multifunction handheld devices, and people would carry their personal albums around with them in digital form or post them on a social media site.

Recently however, a revamped Polaroid has partnered with Lady Gaga to produce a line of portable printers suitable for use with cell phones.

As Creative Director of the company, she said, “I created the GL10 because everyone loves to take photos with their mobile phones – and the next evolution is to combine digital images with instant photography, bringing photos to life in vibrant colours that you can share, from the palm of your hand.”

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.


Photo: Cleaning the snow off the Visitor Information Center roof in mid-January. This column actually ran without a photo but, considering the topic, this is as good a shot as any. Photo taken with an iPod, by the way.



No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: