ANOTHER RETRO FLASHBACK

This humble reporter will be going out of town the week this edition hits to attend a family based event in central Florida located near Orlando. This is an area that was spared from Hurricane Ida, and it will be interesting to see how this community weathered out the storm. Because I won’t be at my post, I through we would dip into our archives to place another article of interest

This article reprint (or “recycle” in order for us to appear hip and trendy), comes from something we wrote upon way back in 2005 when Eastman Kodak, the folks that nearly “invented” photography as we knew it, was faltering upon their success on not jumping on the digital bandwagon that seems to be the only method to capture imagery. Call this ploy a labor of love with the labor and not the love.

Anyway, here was our take on that issue that was published in Vol. 10-No. 37, week of September 12th, ’05…..

PICTURE PERFECT-NOT!!

On August 25th, Eastman Kodak of Rochester, New York reported that the company would lay off some 1000 jobs in its plants in Middleway, West Virginia, Rochester, NY, and in Xiaman, China. In addition to those locations, a recycling plant that handles polyester waste will shut down and reduce an operation that processes polyester raw material. Kodak will use new raw materials and farm out its recycling needs to an outside firm. Next Spring, it will also close a printer plate plant in West Virginia, and cut back on operations in China. The company presently has less than 50,000 employees worldwide, down from 75,000 in 2001, reflecting a peak of 145,300 in 1988. Sales of photographic film have been down some 30% from the past year.

So what does the above news story have to do with anything that this news service reports on? Plenty! This means that people that take photo pictures, either for professional reasons or just for fun (the majority) are not using the industry standard–film! They are using a camera all right, but a digital camera; a device that can capture photographic images, but recording those images on a computer based file to be later stored on a hard drive or other computer file storage aspect. These images can be placed on a website, e-mailed to anyone who has an e-mail address, printed on a paper element, or if the photographer doesn’t care for the image, it can be deleted, never to see the light of day again!

Let’s face it. People like to take pictures, be it for a special event (holidays, weddings, etc.) for prosperity (family portraits, etc.), or just for the hey of it! (Birthday parties, group shots of “the gang”, etc.). To encourage the joys of picture taking, Eastman Kodak, the inventor of modern photography, sold cameras by the truckload. The cameras were mostly the point-and-shoot variety. No need to fool around with f-stops, light meters, and other mumbo-jumbo. Just point the camera to the spot of what you want a picture of, press the shutter button, and you’re good to go! Film was rather inexpensive for what it was worth. Film from Kodak was readily available, sold anywhere from drug stores, gift shops, etc. Other companies, such as Fuji, Agfa, Ilford, etc. also made film. Some were more of the professional variety, meaning that the film captured the image to a better liking. The film itself may have been a bit more pricey, but one got their money’s worth if they wanted the best photos they could shoot!

Kodak, the leader of them all, had their industry all sewn up. The processing of film has remained unchanged since the 1880’s until the introduction of color film around 1939. Here, for the first time, amateur photographers can take pictures in vivid colors that are outstanding! Reds were reds, blues were blues, and greens were, well, green! Of course, it took a while until color film caught on with the public (around the 1960’s), but the idea was, anyone can take great pictures that would last nearly forever–just as long as the pictures and negatives were kept in a cool dry place, away from heat, extreme cold, and moisture!

Then, things began to change, slowly but surely. In 1990, Canon introduced the first digital cameras at the 1990 Summer Consumer Electronic Show in Chicago. These cameras took pictures like any other camera, but it didn’t use film! It stored a digital image onto a tiny hard drive built within the camera. It took a maximum of about 25 images. Once the hard drive was full, one could hook the camera up via a cable onto a desktop computer and download the images onto the computer’s hard drive. Once that was done, one can see the images to later save, print, or erase and start over. The camera on display was not going to be cheap, but it was something new and quite different. As the 1990’s progressed, other companies such as Olympus made digital cameras that used the same process as the early Canons. The D-200L, made by Olympus c.1996, looked like a point-and-shoot camera. It was rather heavy for what it was, (11 oz.) and took 40 “low resolution” pictures, or 20 “high-res” picks! The images had to be downloaded via a cable onto a desktop computer, and could be later retooled using some sort of picture imaging software, such as Adobe’s Photoshop.

To make a longer story shorter, since 2000, digital photography has taken the consumer world like gangbusters. Today, most cameras sold are digital cameras. The majority (if not all) new cameras used by consumers are digital. The camera today can take pictures far superior to the original digital cameras from a few years ago. In short, film is out, and digital is in!

That is why Kodak is downsizing. For the first time in a long time, a consumer mainstay originating from the 19th century is finally meeting its match! Photography on film, as we know it, is doomed, and may not even exist in the next 25 years–based on what is going on now!

So will digital photos take over pictures shot and recorded on film? It’s hard to tell right now! However, one element we can state. It cannot be predicted on how digital photographs will be preserved! Will they last, or will these pictures become obsolete? We are keeping a watch over this fact. And once we have updates on the state of keeping and preserving digital photography, you will read it right here via Accessibly Live Off-Line! Stay tuned!

A bit of an update of the above article. This article was written slightly two years before the first iPhones were released by Apple. Their smartphones had a built in camera attached, so taking pictures became not only easier, but changed digital photography. There was no longer a need to use a dedicated digital camera. Nowadays when folks want to take a picture on the fly, they whip out their phones to capture the moment. No longer one would use a separate device.

Also, Kodak is still around, but not in the same form as it once was. They still make commercial film stock, both for still imagery and for the moving kind. There is still a demand for this product, but not necessary for the consumer.

But photography is still alive and living. Just don’t expect to get your film from that yellow and red colored box.

So capture that selfie of yours! Everyone else seems to be at it…!


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