Archive for December, 2010

Happy New Year!

Colorado National Monument is celebrating their 100th Anniversary and as part of that, they had a fireworks display inside the monument tonight. We were not sure about going, what with the frigid temperatures and the hassle of too many cars, but at the last minute decided we should at least try. It was 1 degree when we got there but we were bundled up pretty good. The actual show only lasted 12 minutes but it was a wonderful experience and a great way to welcome a new year. And with that, a Happy New Year to all of you!

Fire in the Sky - Colorado National Monument - New Years Eve

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The Magic Yellow Box

The Magic Yellow Box…

When I was a kid in the fifties, my dad used slide film for family photos. That was pretty unusual since most folks back then favored print film. It usually took a month or two to finish a roll of film and then we waited another agonizing week for the lab to develop the film and return those small cardboard vignettes of our life! When dad bought Kodachrome brand film, the slides came back in the “yellow box.” And magic indeed was the night dad got out the Montgomery Ward slide projector, set up the gigantic 40 inch screen and proceeded to mesmerize us with the bright, sunny records of what we had done and where we had gone. When I got a little older, he even let me run the remote control! We could make 36 slides last an hour or more. After all, what other entertainment compared? There were only 3 TV channels in those days and where we lived, we could only get two. And those were on a small, grainy b/w screen that was a pale substitute for Kodachrome.

After graduating college in 1972 and becoming serious about photography, I naturally used Kodachrome. After all, Paul Simon wrote a song about Kodachrome. Who would not want those nice bright colors, the greens of summers? Even a state park in Utah is named after the film.

Kodachrome was invented in 1935 by two musicians, Leopold Godowsky, Jr. and Leopold Mannes. Maybe that is why the film had magical, lyrical properties?

It reigned supreme for 50 or more years. It had legendary sharpness and color but the chemical process to develop it was a nightmare. National Geographic would buy an entire production batch to ensure the same color for all their stories. Steve McCurry shot The Afghan Girl with Kodachrome. The film has amazing archival properties and Kodachrome slides will be around long after digital photography has evolved into the “next thing”. A Kodachrome 35mm slide contains about 20 megapixels worth of data, a figure only recently attained by digital cameras.

The first numbing blow to the venerable film came in 1990 when Fuji introduced Velvia film. I myself joined the thundering stampede to the beguiling new film in the green box, but felt a bit of angst in doing so.

The final knockout punch was of course, the advent of digital.

Kodak discontinued making Kodachrome in June of 2009. But you could still get it developed at Dwayne’s Photo lab in Parsons, Kansas. They were the last to offer the technically demanding process.

But alas, on New Year’s Eve, 2010, Dwayne’s will develop the LAST roll of Kodachrome forever. Beyond the souvenir t-shirt that Dwayne’s is offering, what would Paul Simon say? What would the two Leopolds say?

It seems fitting that a small town in the middle of America represents the final resting place of our old friend. Kodachrome was a thoroughly American product as it captured a country’s journey for half a century. It has earned a well-deserved rest.

But while it no longer graces the camera store shelf, it remains forever in my memory as the magic yellow box that made us think all the world’s a sunny day!

The Magic Yellow Box

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HDR Photomatix Update

Just a note to remind you that HDR Photomatix Pro software was recently updated to version 4. This is a free update for most users and represents a major improvement to both the functionality and interface aspects. They have improved the algorithms for motion as well as others. It also has a lot of new presets that let you quickly look at a variety of interpretations. My HDR classes in 2011 will feature version 4 and I will also update my training materials. Don’t forget you can save 15% off the purchase of Photomatix if you use my code: SteveTraudt (no spaces; note capital letters). HDR is really changing the way photographers think about certain lighting situations. And remember, you can go for any “look” from mild to wild. See more examples in my HDR Gallery.


Bicycling Thru Colors



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Bosque Boog-a-loo!

Just returned from my annual trek to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. Some of the best conditions in a long while. The corn crop was good this year. Weeds were cut down so you could get good shots. Area in front of Flight Deck was good this year; good for morning sunrise blast offs. Ponds along highway productive. Lots of snow geese and cranes. Got into some amazing flocks of red-winged blackbirds one day. A slow shutter speed created some wonderful abstract blurs. Go if you have a chance. Eat a green chile cheeseburger at the Owl Bar for me!

Check out a 5 minute ProShow slide show of new Bosque images I just posted to Photodex HERE.

Whirled Snow Geese

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