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Old 07-31-2010, 11:04 AM
Chris Sweetman Chris Sweetman is offline
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Today (31/07/10) my Mother-in-Law and I were looking at her collection of View-Master reels and I became aware that they featured Kodachrome film.
Many reels from Grace's collection are from the 1950's and stated on these envelopes is:

"The pictures in this reel are made on full color KODACHROME film and reasonable care should be exercised in handling."

One reel I found particularly fascinating not only because of the subject matter but it also had an exact date was reel 65. This one was titled: "Volcanic Eruption, Puna, Hawaii Feb. - Mar. 1955". The photographs here look as fresh as when they were processed over 55 years ago! So this is another example that if you want your slides to last choose Kodachrome. Others from the mid 1950's I liked were the close ups featuring birds and butterflies. These had a superb 3-D effect and still had an intense colour again courtesy of Kodachrome.

Looking at later reels there was fading evident . After a search on the internet I found out that from the late 1960's Kodachrome was replaced as the film stock.

Whilst searching I went off on a tangent and found out about stereoscopic photography. View-Master even produced 3-D cameras. The only 3-D cameras I could name before this were the Stereo-Realist and the Nimslo. Along the way I also found out that Kodak provided a service producing stereo pairs of slides from Kodachrome. It looks like the 1950's was the hey day of 3-D photography. It was certainly not covered in any articles in photography magazines I bought from the mid '70's to the present.

For the history of Kodachrome we must not forget the impact it had and still has on 3-D photography and as a home entertainment medium.

Cheers Chris and thanks Grace!
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:42 AM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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Chris,

Do you have the means to scan a few samples and share? I have some much older reels that are quite faded and need some color restoration and I recently bought an Epson V700 that might allow me to get that done as it has the right resolution for the task. Even though they are not Kodachrome.

It would be nice to see a few examples of those volcano images you mentioned!

Now that you noted this, I need to go through my reels and see if any are indeed made from Kodachrome. I'll see what I can find.

Kevin
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Old 08-03-2010, 07:05 PM
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uwphotoer uwphotoer is offline
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I have a kodachrome slide my grandfather shot of my mother in 1938, looks like it was taken last week.
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:21 AM
3Dhillary 3Dhillary is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Sweetman View Post
Along the way I also found out that Kodak provided a service producing stereo pairs of slides from Kodachrome. It looks like the 1950's was the hey day of 3-D photography. It was certainly not covered in any articles in photography magazines I bought from the mid '70's to the present.

For the history of Kodachrome we must not forget the impact it had and still has on 3-D photography and as a home entertainment medium.

Cheers Chris and thanks Grace!
It's that connection between Kodachrome and stereo photography that brought me here (as my username would indicate ). The 1950s 3D photography era would not have existed if not for Kodachrome. Not only did it make the View-Master practical in the late 1930s, but Seton Rochwite developed the prototype Stereo Realist camera specifically to take 3D color slides in Kodachrome. This particular combination of camera and film ignited that era of 3D.

When other camera companies followed suit, offering their own "Realist format" cameras, Kodak was among those. IMO, none are as robust as the Stereo Realist, but Kodak's stereo camera is much more user friendly, and more attractively designed. But just to clarify, Kodak offered stereo mounting services for Kodachrome shot with stereo cameras (and even specially packaged film), but didn't do anything otherwise special to create 3D images. In other words, they couldn't create 3D from a customer's standard Kodachrome slides.

Using the View Master Personal camera was very economical, with 72 stereo pairs on a single roll of film. After processing, the film was passed through a special punch (or die cutter) which took out the proper pairs, each side keyed for its own opening in the View Master Personal reels. I met a gentleman who told me his wedding was shot in View Master back in the 1950s. He said back then, having any kind of stereo 3D shots was the only way to get color pictures of one's wedding. Though I've not seen many V-M wedding pictures, I've seen hundreds of wedding stereos in Kodachrome. Truly the most perfect way to preserve such an event.

In his book "Americans in Kodachrome," Guy Stricherz notes the importance of the Stereo Realist along with the Argus C3 as seminal in capturing the color of life during Americana's halcyon days "between the war we won and the war we lost." The Stereo Realist was in production from 1947 to 1971. It was the first and last of its type to be produced, outliving all of its competition.

Since 1998, I've been shooting Kodachrome in my Stereo Realist (last roll of K64 is in there right now) and have been collecting vintage amateur stereo slides. Just as with View-Master reels, looking at those 3D slides is like looking back through time! Kodachrome alreadly has a 3D look--imagine it in real 3D! It may be a compartively small subset of Kodachrome history, but for what it offers, a very important one.

BTW, I can't find any reason for it, but some post 1960s View-Masters continued to use Kodachrome for their reels. I have the 1976 King Kong V-M set in perfect color (and with that distinctive Kodachrome relief). By the 1980s, it looks like the transition was unfortunately complete.

Thanks for sharing your experience Chris. It's wonderful to discover something new that's old!

Last edited by 3Dhillary; 08-07-2010 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:53 AM
Chris Sweetman Chris Sweetman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinkar View Post
Chris,

Do you have the means to scan a few samples and share? I have some much older reels that are quite faded and need some color restoration and I recently bought an Epson V700 that might allow me to get that done as it has the right resolution for the task. Even though they are not Kodachrome.

It would be nice to see a few examples of those volcano images you mentioned!

Now that you noted this, I need to go through my reels and see if any are indeed made from Kodachrome. I'll see what I can find.

Kevin
Sorry Kevin but I don't have a flat bed scanner that can scan film. I am hoping to get one soon and the Epson V700 looks like the best in the business. You may be able to get the volcano set from e-bay.

As you will be aware the format View-Master used was very small so it will need a good scanner to bring out the detail.

Cheers Chris
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:35 AM
Chris Sweetman Chris Sweetman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3Dhillary View Post
It may be a comparatively small subset of Kodachrome history, but for what it offers, a very important one.

BTW, I can't find any reason for it, but some post 1960s View-Masters continued to use Kodachrome for their reels. I have the 1976 King Kong V-M set in perfect color (and with that distinctive Kodachrome relief). By the 1980s, it looks like the transition was unfortunately complete.

Thanks for sharing your experience Chris. It's wonderful to discover something new that's old!
Hi 3Dhillary

The results using Kodachrome in your Stereo Realist camera must be quite something. Thanks for providing a background history to both areas. I found it very interesting. Looking at some of the sites relating to 3D it appears that mounts are still available. It is great that firms still provide accessories to keep this format alive. What film stock will you be using after that last roll of KR64?

Regarding View-Master when we got back home my wife found her collection of reels. This collection comprises of reels that she had from her childhood, college years and a some sets acquired from a car boot fair a few years ago. Some of the later non Kodachrome reels are hit and miss regarding fading. In their non-film related range V-M provides a time machine. I am enchanted by the views of places as they were in the 1950's. Other favourites from my wife's collection are the Children's Zoo (San Diego) reels B 6171, B 6172 & B6173 all dated 1958 and Disneyland Fantasyland A178 undated and all on Kodachrome.

Amongst GAF's wide product line were films. Perhaps they used their own brand for V-M reels. However, I think GAF stopped producing film stock in the mid '70's so perhaps this allowed other film producers back in. All this is speculative as I have not found out any real information from internet searches. Certainly even if Kodachrome was used during the GAF era they did not promote another companies wares. This is in contrast to Sawyers who did openly supply the name of Kodachrome to their reel outers.

I must confess that after this exposure to 3D images I found myself taking shoots in the style of V-M when I went out with my family to Stratford on Avon. These photos were taken with Kodachrome using an OM4Ti and a Zuiko 28mm f2.8 lens. OK they are not 3D but the style was a travelog type used by V-M.

Finally, on the subject of 3D images do you have a copy of "Bugs in 3-D" by Mark Blum published by Chronicle Books, San Franciso 1998? Here the pictures are stereo pairs and are viewed with a built in stereoscope.

I hope a few more people will provide their experiences in this significant arena using Kodachrome in 3D cameras and as a 3D home entertainment system.

As you have said 3Dhillary it is certainly wonderful to discover something old that's new! It has been a bonus to have a site like this to share experiences.

Thanks

Cheers Chris
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:27 AM
3Dhillary 3Dhillary is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Sweetman View Post
The results using Kodachrome in your Stereo Realist camera must be quite something. Thanks for providing a background history to both areas. I found it very interesting. Looking at some of the sites relating to 3D it appears that mounts are still available. It is great that firms still provide accessories to keep this format alive. What film stock will you be using after that last roll of KR64?
Hi Chris,

I wish there was a good way via the internet to share Kodachrome stereos in their full glory. Of course, you already know that splendor while peering into the View-Master. Those of us still shooting stereo slides are fortunate that high quality mounts continue to be available. Unfortunately, a year or so ago, Fisher-Price discontinued the View-Master Personal reels for those shooting in that format. Clever enterpreneurs have offered alternatives which appear viable. But of course, our Kodachrome is being taken away. When this roll is gone, I'll be switching over to Fuji Astia 100F, which compares reasonably well to the vintage 1950s Kodachrome stereos in my collection (and has the most pleasing skintones this side of K-chrome IMO), and Provia 100F, which favors the K64 a bit more. Admittedly, they are compromises, but based on my slide shows, I'm the only one who can tell the difference.

It would be interesting to know if when GAF owned View-Mater, they used their own film for the reels. If anyone knows, it should be the folks who run this website:

http://www.cinti.net/~vmmasell/

Those great old reels seem to have more resonance today they they did when new. Back then, anyone viewing them was merely traveling through space; new they're traveling through time!

I love that you've found yourself adopting the V-M documentary approach in some of your own photography. Often, when I'm shooting (especially Kodachrome), I feel I am documenting something which may be important to someone someday. Perhaps it is our awareness of Kodachrome's lengendary longevity which informs much of our work that way. BTW, you can shoot in 3D with your Olympus by taking two quick exposures, shifting your weight from one foot to the other in between. It's called the "cha cha" method, and works best on non-moving subjects. And there are viewing options for such pairs, but that may have to wait for another post.

I've heard good things about "Bugs in 3D" but do not have it. One of my favorite 3D books is "3-D Hollywood," featuring the 1950s stereo Kodachromes of Harold Lloyd, most famous as a daredevil comedian from the silent movie era. His stereo images reflect his world, including friends like Marilyn Monroe, Gene Autry, and many others. Another book of his 3-D photography concentrates on the many nudes he shot, including Bettie Page!

On a much more modest note, and in the interest of personal documentation, we had our own wedding shot in 3D Kodachrome. Below is my best attempt to share one of those images. To see it in 3D, you need to cross your eyes until you see three images. Concentrate on the middle image and it will appear 3D. It takes practice, but in lieu of sending viewers to everyone, this is the best I can offer. I hope it works for you.

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Old 08-08-2010, 12:14 PM
Clay Clay is offline
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Excellent, it works!

Now to dig out my view-master reels from the 1950's.

Been quite a few years since I last looked at them

Best regards,

/Clay
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:32 PM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Sweetman View Post
Sorry Kevin but I don't have a flat bed scanner that can scan film. I am hoping to get one soon and the Epson V700 looks like the best in the business. You may be able to get the volcano set from e-bay.

As you will be aware the format View-Master used was very small so it will need a good scanner to bring out the detail.
No problem. I haven't dug out my VM reels yet nor have I tried them out on the V700 though I am predicting the images will be reasonably good.

The only problem I have found with the V700 is the difficulty at achieving sharp focus across multiple scans. Epson's slide and negative holders are handy (loading 12 slides at a time is a great time saver) but they only have 3 discrete focus points using the little adjustable feet. A bit cumbersome and dependent on the slide mount thickness and film curl (the holders do a decent job of keeping the film taut but it's still different for every roll!

There are aftermarket holders with a finer and greater range of adjustment but they are not cheap.

I had to get my Nikon LS-2000 serviced and, though it's only 2700dpi, I can achieve exceptionally sharp focus with it so I use that more than the V700. I'll keep messing with the V700 for the 120, 126, and other format negatives I have since they are unable to be used in the Nikon.

Kevin
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Old 08-09-2010, 10:36 PM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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Update: I just checked my reels and have 75 from 1946-1947 and all of them are in sleeves that say "7 Three-Dimensional Pictures in Full-Color Kodachrome".

The bad news is that they are all in pretty bad shape and are mostly nice shades of purple with blue skies a sickly yellow. Now and then you'll see a nice bright red but mostly they are all of poor quality.

Checking my records, I bought them on ebay in 2002 and remember them being a disappointment then as well so their condition is that in which I bought them and not due to any poor storage on my part.

It's possible that SilverFast (I bought an upgrade for the V700 with IT8 Calibration) might be able to work some magic on them but, if my Dad's slides from the late 50s are an indication (some have similar color issues) color correcting them will be a nightmare regardless of calibration.

Lastly, I ran a quick test on the V700 using the settings for "Film Area Guide" (allows you to place negatives directly on the glass as opposed to the film holders which are a different setting) and got an image that was pretty blurry compared to the original. Checking on a light box with loupe shows the original is not all that sharp to begin with but the scan is worse. So, knowing the cardboard reel adds a bit of height, I'll have to experiment to see if I can sharpen them up at all using different settings and resolutions.

Right now, though, my reels are pretty shot which makes any scanning project of them likely moot.

Note the image here is reversed. I placed it on the scanner backwards and am too lazy to reverse it at the moment.

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