recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : kodak   7

Color Goes Electric - Triple Canopy
"Greener grass, bluer skies: How photography came to capture the world that we want to see, and how our memories have been fashioned by industry."



"Interviewers at polling stations in malls and other locations around the US and overseas would invite consumers to examine images in return for a modest fee or token gift. Certain predilections became clear: Almost all viewers preferred films with finer grain structures. Caucasians tended to prefer skin that appeared tanner in reproduction than in reality, although opinion varied slightly according to region; for example, those on the West Coast generally preferred rosier skin tones. At different times of year, test subjects often selected somewhat different balances of warm and cool colors. They were also picky about the hue of the sky at the horizon; when shown a pair of photographs, one with an accurately reproduced horizon—in which the color might be almost white, due to a high degree of light-scattering by the atmosphere—and one with a horizon nearly
as saturated with blue as the sky overhead, consumers reported that the latter “looked right.” The strongest, most consistent finding among all subjects was a strong preference for bright, snappy versions of well-known colors, with saturations far exceeding their actual colorimetric values.
None of this was any surprise to Kodak, where photographic researchers had been studying such preferences for a number of years. As Kodak researcher C. James Bartleson explained in 1960, in his foundational essay “Memory Colors of Familiar Objects,” skin, grass, sky, and other “objects with which we have frequent visual experience” are indelibly imprinted in our memory. Memory colors are hues that we can recall easily, and thus they would seem to provide the imaging industry with a straightforward heuristic for judging accuracy; for example, slight hue shifts toward green or purple in the familiar color of flesh are immediately detectable to the human eye. But Bartleson found that test subjects consistently remembered the saturation of familiar colors with exaggerated intensity, or to be “more characteristic of the dominant chromatic attribute

of the object in question.” In other words, “grass was more green, bricks more red.” Rather than increasing accuracy, our familiarity breeds a kind of mnemonic distortion. And because most people consider themselves quite capable of judging the colors in photographs “taken by people other than themselves, of objects that they have never seen, at times when they were not present,” as the scientist R. W. G. Hunt puts it, the crucial industrial mandate in photographic color reproduction is accordance with memory, not reality. Thus the technologies that record our memories have been materially imbued with memory’s subtle alterations."



"In 1981, five years after MoMA’s Eggleston show, New York’s International Center for Photography mounted a group show called “The New Color Photography.” In addition to Eggleston, the exhibition featured such artists as Stephen Shore, Jan Groover, Joel Sternfeld, and William Christenberry, all of whom had put on prominent solo shows in the previous decade. A movement was afoot, and it was time to gather its adherents and make a canon, under the informal rubric of “newness.”

In her catalogue essay, curator Sally Eauclaire attempted to account for some of the aesthetic issues that may have previously militated against the acceptance of color photography in the art world. Film’s “exaggeration of subject hue” was one problem, because it “gave the medium an aura of vulgarity.” Color photography had an unfortunate inclination “to alter rather than duplicate the world’s colors, producing extravagantly lush, festive hues from less flamboyant sources.” But Eauclaire believed that a decisive shift had occurred in the 1970s, after color photographers “modified their traditional naturalistic priorities . . . by careful framing of a selected section of the world,” and in so doing “learned to anticipate and enlist color film’s hue exaggerations.”

Others argued that the admission of color photography into the rarefied realm of fine art had more to do with the medium’s evolving capacity to depict the world accurately—that the removal of various technical obstacles led to images that seemed more acceptably natural. But, in fact, the attainable level of saturation in color films increased throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s; Kodak and Fuji battled for market dominance, with Kodak’s engineers amping up the chromatic effects and Fuji developing its own films that were popular for their hypersaturated, nearly psychedelic colors, which even entailed occasional “mistakes” in the rendering of memory colors. In the accounts of imaging scientists, during that time period, both consumers and professionals in preference testing always asked for as much (credible) saturation as the scientists could squeeze from the chemical medium—and scientists delivered. So if there was no quantum leap in color film development from the 1960s to the 1970s, just the same struggle to increase color as much as possible within the naturalness constraint, how did color come to seem more “natural” under the skeptical, unforgiving light of the white cube? As Malcolm wrote in her Eggleston review, the American visual environment was now full of “recently made structures, machines, and objects; by people dressed in clothes of the cheap, synthetic democratic sort; by the signs and the leavings of fast food, fast gas, fast obsolescence.” Fast, cheap—and bright.

What has been considered synthetic, exaggerated, or natural in color photography only reflects our preferences, our ideas about the desirability of a look. These received forms have become pure content, since classic analog-era looks can now be applied to any digital image at all. Numerous programs and apps have experimented with algorithmic simulations of specific film products that had so carefully mediated between preference and pleasingness, between the naturalness constraint and the constraint of chemical materials. Instagram’s early filters were designed to mimic degraded analog renderings as a means of masking the obvious errors of poor-quality first-generation phone cameras, but no longer: As one Instagram engineer says, their objective now is “just to figure out what’s pretty.”

In 1971, Stephen Shore, one of the “New Color” photographers, decided to shoot pictures of the decidedly unglamorous town of Amarillo, Texas, and produce postcards from the resulting urban landscapes. He sent his images to a professional postcard printer in upstate New York. Though the summer heat had yellowed the grass in front of the Amarillo courthouse, the postcard edition depicted it as green. And though Shore shot his image of a local barbecue joint on a cloudy day, the printed card showed a brilliant blue peeking out from behind the clouds. Rather than complain about the distortions that the printers had wrought on his work, Shore shrugged it off, explaining to a curator years later that the printers “never asked, they just did it. They’re the pros. They know how postcards should look.”
film  photography  filmprocessing  2016  clairelehmann  color  colors  colorphphotography  memory  history  williameggleston  kodak  agfa  vilemflusser  eastmankodak  ansco  art  jamesbartleson  humanfactors  vision  rwghunt  blue  green 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Teaching The Camera To See My Skin
"The photos were horrible. Mom was kind of blown out on one side; my father’s hair, a scalped crop fro, disappears into a faux marbled background. He’s half brown and tan, teeth capturing the strobes’ glare.

My mom had saved up quite a bit of money to try to create a pastoral scene of domesticity of our rough and ragged family to give to loved ones. I just couldn’t understand how the camera could get us so wrong.

Photography is balancing an equation between light and documentary. Beauty and storytelling. Honesty and fantasy. The frame says how the photographer sees you. I couldn’t help but feel that what that photographer saw was so wildly different from how I saw myself.

Is that how you see me? Could you not see blackness? Its varying tones and textures? And do you see all of us that way?

By the 1990s, when I began taking pictures, I hated shooting brown skin on color film. The printed results failed to accurately represent my subjects, their shades obscured, their smiles blown out. I understood that some of this had to do with harmonizing the basic components of great image-making from the gear: film speed, aperture, and the ghost we all chase, light.

The inconsistencies were so glaring that for a while, I thought it was impossible to get a decent picture of me that captured my likeness. I began to retreat from situations involving group photos. And sure, many of us are fickle about what makes a good portrait. But it seemed the technology was stacked against me. I only knew, though I didn’t understand why, that the lighter you were, the more likely it was that the camera — the film — got your likeness right.

When I picked up the camera, lighting brown skin in the grayscale felt freeing. How is it possible that the suggestion of brown, beige, cappuccino, cocoa, and sable skin was evocative in black and white? Somewhere in the grayscale, we didn’t look so off against white skin. The light was kinder. Or at least it was in grayscale that I learned the power of light and the limitations of the gear. I had control. I could capture blackness without producing a distortion of it.

Most photographers — my parents, the Olan Mills studio — didn’t have that control. Unless you were doing your own processing, you took your roll of film to a lab where the technician worked off a reference card with a perfectly balanced portrait of a pale-skinned woman.

They’re called Shirley cards, named after the first woman to pose for them. She is wearing a white dress with long black gloves. A pearl bracelet adorns one of her wrists. She has auburn hair that drapes her exposed shoulders. Her eyes are blue. The background is grayish, and she is surrounded by three pillows, each in one of the primary colors we’re taught in school. She wears a white dress because it reads high contrast against the gray background with her black gloves. “Color girl” is the technicians’ term for her. The image is used as a metric for skin-color balance, which technicians use to render an image as close as possible to what the human eye recognizes as normal. But there’s the rub: With a white body as a light meter, all other skin tones become deviations from the norm.

It turns out, film stock’s failures to capture dark skin aren’t a technical issue, they’re a choice. Lorna Roth, a scholar in media and communication studies, wrote that film emulsions — the coating on the film base that reacts with chemicals and light to produce an image — “could have been designed initially with more sensitivity to the continuum of yellow, brown and reddish skin tones but the design process would have to be motivated by a recognition of the need for extended range.” Back then there was little motivation to acknowledge, let alone cater to a market beyond white consumers.

Kodak did finally modify its film emulsion stocks in the 1970s and ’80s — but only after complaints from companies trying to advertise chocolate and wood furniture. The resulting Gold Max film stock was created. According to Roth, a Kodak executive described the film as being able to “photograph the details of the dark horse in low light.”"
2014  syreetamcfadden  race  photography  racism  film  kodak  avaduvernay  jean-lucgoddard 
march 2015 by robertogreco
'Racism' of early colour photography explored in art exhibition | Art and design | The Guardian
"Can the camera be racist? The question is explored in an exhibition that reflects on how Polaroid built an efficient tool for South Africa's apartheid regime to photograph and police black people.

The London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film that had been engineered with only white faces in mind. They used Polaroid's vintage ID-2 camera, which had a "boost" button to increase the flash – enabling it to be used to photograph black people for the notorious passbooks, or "dompas", that allowed the state to control their movements.

The result was raw snaps of some of the country's most beautiful flora and fauna from regions such as the Garden Route and the Karoo, an attempt by the artists to subvert what they say was the camera's original, sinister intent.

Broomberg and Chanarin say their work, on show at Johannesburg's Goodman Gallery, examines "the radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself". They argue that early colour film was predicated on white skin: in 1977, when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the stock was inherently "racist".

The light range was so narrow, Broomberg said, that "if you exposed film for a white kid, the black kid sitting next to him would be rendered invisible except for the whites of his eyes and teeth". It was only when Kodak's two biggest clients – the confectionary and furniture industries – complained that dark chocolate and dark furniture were losing out that it came up with a solution.

The artists feel certain that the ID-2 camera and its boost button were Polaroid's answer to South Africa's very specific need. "Black skin absorbs 42% more light. The button boosts the flash exactly 42%," Broomberg explained. "It makes me believe it was designed for this purpose."

In 1970 Caroline Hunter, a young chemist working for Polaroid in America, stumbled upon evidence that the company was effectively supporting apartheid. She and her partner Ken Williams formed the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement and campaigned for a boycott. By 1977 Polaroid had withdrawn from South Africa, spurring an international divestment movement that was crucial to bringing down apartheid.

The title of the exhibition, To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, refers to the coded phrase used by Kodak to describe a new film stock created in the early 1980s to address the inability of earlier films to accurately render dark skin.

The show also features norm reference cards that always used white women as a standard for measuring and calibrating skin tones when printing photographs. The series of "Kodak Shirleys" were named after the first model featured. Today such cards show multiple races.

Broomberg and Chanarin made two recent trips to Gabon to photograph a series of rare Bwiti initiation rituals using Kodak film stock, scavenged from eBay, that had expired in 1978. Working with outdated chemical processes, they salvaged just a single frame. Broomberg said: "Anything that comes out of that camera is a political document. If I take a shot of the carpet, that's a political document.""
photography  race  racism  2013  polaroid  cameras  southafrica  kodak  africa  jean-lucgoddard  adambroomberg  oliverchanarin 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Spanx.com - Sara's Whole Story
“I knew that Kodak and Coca-Cola were the two most recognized names in the world, and they both have a predominant ‘K’ sound in them. Also, from doing stand-up comedy, it is a known secret that the ‘K’ sound makes people laugh. So for good luck, I wanted my product's name to have the ‘K’ sound in it, and SPANKS hit me like a lightning bolt. I immediately knew it was perfect! At the last minute I changed the ‘KS’ to an ‘X’ after doing research that made-up words do better for products than real words (and are easier to trademark).”
language  business  naming  businessnames  names  kodak  coca-cola  trademark  pronunciation  attention  recognition  via:litherland 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Polaroid’s SX-70: The Art and Science of the Nearly Impossible
"We could not have known and have only just learned–perhaps mostly from children from two to five–that a new kind of relationship between people in groups is brought into being by SX-70 when the members of a group are photographing and being photographed and sharing the photographs: it turns out that buried within all of us–God knows beneath how many pregenital and Freudian and Calvinistic strata–there is latent interest in each other; there is tenderness, curiosity, excitement, affection, companionability and humor; it turns out that in this cold world where man grows distant from man, and even lovers can reach each other only briefly, that we have a yen for and a primordial competence for a quiet good-humored delight in each other: we have a prehistoric tribal competence for a non-physical, non-emotional, non-sexual satisfaction in being partners in the lonely exploration of a once empty planet."
design  technology  art  history  science  polaroid  harrymccracken  edwinland  steevejobs  apple  photography  gadgets  entrepreneurship  tinkering  invention  sx-70  relationships  people  anseladams  normanlocks  andywarhol  OneStep  kodak  consumerelectronics  electronics  instantphotography  cameras  granthamilton  2011  children  companionship 
july 2011 by robertogreco
What Do We Want? Our Data. When Do We Want It? Now! | Epicenter | Wired.com
"Data portability is a rapidly growing movement among cloud-computing supporters. The idea that the online services we’ve herded ourselves into should let us at least pass from one pen to the next is key, although the nuts and bolts of how open standards will work are still being hammered out.
dataportability  cloud-computing  cloud  privacy  socialmedia  google  data  portability  gmail  googledocs  picasa  youtube  amazon  kindle  itunes  apple  kodak 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Core77 - Experience is the Product: Why designers will never succeed in product design by simply doing product design
"Transcendent product design is a matter of philosophy and approach...product development has gone wrong is that people stop...when the solutions are most convoluted...you have to go beyond; you have to think about the experience people are having."
business  design  marketing  technology  ux  experience  user  strategy  gamechanging  branding  advertising  flickr  apple  target  systems  methodology  innovation  management  engagement  process  interactiondesign  interaction  products  designthinking  experiencedesign  usability  kodak 
june 2007 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read