Monday, March 22, 2010

An open letter to Kodak

Dear Kodak,

I just want to say up front that I hate photography. Unfortunately, I must take photographs as part of my job. It's fairly easy - black and white film, fine detail, close up 1:1 shots. However, you are making my life much more difficult than it needs to be.

In the beginning, it was fun. I was given a camera and some 35mm film and told to go out and take some photos. We even took a field trip to the state park nearby. I took some shots of the lake on the wildlife preserve near my apartment, and something odd happened when I developed my print, giving it an wonderful, ethereal quality. I was...intrigued. But then we got down to business, and I started taking those shots of evidence. Loading 4X5 film in the dark. Bracketing shots to get the right exposure. Developing the film by hand - takes too long to send it off to a processor. Learning to do everything by touch.

Of course, the honeymoon had to end sometime. Standing at a land camera setup for hours on end, taking shot after shot, trying to get them right. Standing in the darkroom for hours on end, trying to stay awake in complete blackness. Develop, agitate for 5-7 minutes, stop bath, fixer for 10. Go back and do it all again, because the shot wasn't exactly right. And the film. Well, it was awful. TMax - too much gray. CPO and Kodalith - good for contrast, but will not record shots taken with a laser, because those films don't see red or orange.

And then...and then I met TechPan. I loved it. And then I met Ektapan. I loved it even more. The contrast! The grayscale too! The development time! These films were wonderful. A UV shot that used to require a 3 minute exposure was now reduced to 30 seconds. Laser shots were a second or less. And the images were so clear - not like that muddy TMax. Development times of 30 seconds to 3 minutes. They were so wonderful.

But, Kodak, you screwed me over. You decided that we were no longer important - us film-using technophobes. (Well, we're not really technophobes - we just work for one of the most cash-deprived states in the US.) Anyway, film was not part of your business plan, so you started discontinuing things bit by bit. I understand. You were embracing the digital era. First to go was CPO. I didn't miss you much. Next was Ektapan My UV shots went long again. But I still had TechPan. And then you took away my Kodalith and TechPan. I had to resort to some film made in Czechoslovakia instead of my beloved TechPan! And the replacement for Kodalith doesn't even fit in our film holders. The film holders are a standard size - why can't the film makes figure that out?

I realize that 4X5 sheet film is not exactly a hot commodity, but we need this film. At least until our lab gets its digital equipment, anyway. Which will be next year at the earliest. If the state raises taxes or something. In the meantime, couldn't you have sold the formula for these films to a rival? It's not like you're going to go back in time, Kodak, and start making film again. Think of us - we who are stuck taking pictures for preservation of evidence! None of your former competitors can make a comparable product, and so we're the ones who suffer. Reopen production or sell your formula. Help us out. Please.


A Sad Forensic Scientist Who Hates Photography. And owns a Canon digital camera for home use.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Show And Tell - Stealing Mel's idea

Today, Mel is showing paint samples. Five years ago, at this time of year, paint samples were a large part of my life, and led to a most interesting Easter weekend...

My husband built our house. He was the general contractor, sure, but he also helped with the framing. He and I installed insulation and wiring. He supervised the drywall hanging. Then we hired someone to do the drywall finishing (mud and tape) and painting.

In case you haven't ever dealt with this sector of the population, it's difficult to find a reliable subcontractor. Our drywall finisher and his son did the mudding and taping, and applied the finish to the ceiling. They started painting - complaining the whole time that I had chosen semi-gloss. You know why contractors choose flat paint? Aside from the fact that it's cheap, it's also very forgiving, so if the drywall finish isn't perfect, it's not so noticeable. The more gloss you add, the more the imperfections stand out. For a couple days, the painting was going on. The ceilings were finished, and the Friday before Easter, we made a rookie mistake. Since the job was just about finished, we paid out the remainder of the contract.

The check got cashed shortly before we went to the house to see it. I had chosen what I thought was a soft oatmeal color - neutral and light/bright - for most of the house. For the bathrooms, I chose a dark sage type color. For the dining room, I wanted a dark red.

What I got in the house, instead of a neutral tone with a dark red accent, was a carnival funhouse. The oatmeal color turned out to be a pale yellow - pleasant, but not exactly right for the whole house. The painter had only applied two coats of the red (one of which was mixed with primer), so it was a lovely hot pink. The greenish color in the bathrooms was OK on it's own, but combined with the other just wasn't pretty. My husband freaked out. I cried. The painter had vanished with our money, and we got a pretty accurate gut feeling that he wasn't coming back - it was a holiday weekend, and he had just gotten paid.

So off we went to the Home Depot, where we tried to pick another color. We had to repaint, because it needed to be finished and dried before the next weekend. That's when the guys were coming to install the crown molding. I wanted a beige color, but thought it would be too dark. The nice lady at Home Depot finally told us how to get an accurate idea of what the color would look like on the walls. I don't know why this works, but it does...

Take a sample of pure white and cut a square right in the middle. Put the color you think you like in the middle of the square. It will give it a much different tone, and allow you to get a better idea of the color than just the paint sample itself. If you want an accent color, put your main color and the accent side by side in the cut-out square.

So, my husband and I painted for an entire weekend. We put 2 coats of beige on the main room, kitchen and master bedroom. We put about 6-8 coats of red on the dining room. It turned out very nicely. If my DVD drive worked, I would post some pictures of the colors.

Lessons learned: Never pick colors that are too light. Never pay anyone until you are satisfied with the finished project. Never let me choose the colors.

Go see what everyone else is showing and telling this week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Show and Tell

My husband is safely home now, but last December he was in Afghanistan. While he was there, he visited the market and brought me these beautiful items, made of lapis lazuli.

According to Wikipedia, lapis lazuli is "a relatively rare, semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color." The best lapis lazuli is found in northeastern Afghanistan. Click on the picture to enlarge, and you will see a series of stones tiled together. The variations in the stone are calcium and pyrite (fool's gold) deposits.

Please visit Mel and see who else is participating in Show and Tell this week!