U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Kodachrome/mold

Re: Kodachrome/mold

----- Original Message ----- From: "Don Bryant" <dsbryant@bellsouth.net>
To: <alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca>
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2008 9:38 AM
Subject: RE: Kodachrome/mold

Dear Alters,

Sorry Chris, I don't mean to hijack your thread, but what is really sad for
me is the whole saga of Kodachrome film dying a slow death. It appears that
it will be discontinued this year or next.

No, I'm not trying to preach doom and gloom as the moderators on APUG are
fond of saying. The year that Kodak stopped producing K25 was the year I
stopped shooting Kodachrome. There was something special about how that film
responded to light that I've not seen digital imaging or other films touch.
Man, give me a roll of Kodachrome 25 and a Nikon/Leica camera and I'm all
set. Just look at the color work of Ernst Haas, Harry Callahan, Fred Herzog,
Esther Bubley, Jim Hughes, and Helen Levitt to name just a few.

For a little bit of Kodachrome inspiration take a look at some of the work
by Herzog:


or Haas


In all honesty though, Kodachrome processing is really costly, complex, and
nasty; so it's demise is just a sign of the times. As its legacy fades into
the past at least the slides won't fade away so quickly.

Don Bryant

There are a lot of Kodachromes on the Library of Congress site including a bunch from the Office of War Information. They are available as relatively small JPEGs and very, very large TIFFs. Some need a bit of work in Photoshop but many are pristine.
Kodachrome has very good dark storage characteristics but fades faster under strong light (projection) than Ektachrome. Kodak seems to have wanted to get rid of it from the time Ektachrome was put on the market about 1946. Kodak discontinued all sheet film sizes of Kodachrome about that time (it was available in sizes up to 11x14).
Kodak's recommendation for mold removal is to use dry isopropyl alcohol but only on the emulsion side. There are better solvents for dirt, if you can find them, such as 1,1,1,trichlorethane, now hard to find because it is an envrionmental hazard. I think for a large amount of material it would be best to contact a conservator. Mold is very difficult to actually remove and I don't know what the current approved methods are. The cardboard mounts should be removed and probably burned.
At least two kinds of laquer were used on Kodachrome and Kodachrome prints. On dissolves with a mild alkaline solution like about a 2% solution of sodium carbonate (Diluted Dektol will probably work). I no longer remember what removes the other but think its a solvent like alcohol. Kodak used to have some experts but I doubt if any of them are still there.

Richard Knoppow
Los Angeles, CA, USA