Saturday, March 17, 2007

HOW LONG FOR FILM

Earth, Texas May 2006

When I first started writing blog/journal thing, I had an account at "my journal" but it was difficult to add images and you had to pay if you really wanted anything other than a plain white page. So I move here where blog spot has things a whole lot more together and easier user interface. Anyway, I have been deleting entries and closing things out over there, but thought I would bring this entry forward because it is relevant to several recent entries. So as I sit here waiting for it to get light enough, and as I warm myself on this snowy/sleety Saturday morning, I'm clearing one old entry at a time from the "my journal" site. I have to go fire up the snow blower in a few minutes after I have my warming coffee.

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October 5, 2006

I've been thinking about something I read yesterday in the British Journal of Photography Weekly. It was an editorial on the disappearance of silver technology as it pertains to photography. The writer's premise was this: as the demand for film dwindles in favor of digital, and I don't mean just professional use, it will be at an accelerated rate. The manufacture of silver technology sensitized products is a highly complex process, that requires ridged controls, and big, expensive to build and run factories. There are only four players in the international market currently -- Fuji, Kodak, Ilford, and Ferrania. The required control of the complexities insist on economies of scale to make production possible. And we'll all have to ask ourselves: how much will be willing to spend for a roll/sheet of film? At what point will film become too expensive? Will we continue to shoot film if it cost $25 a roll? Kodak no longer makes any film in Rochester, and that despite they built a new coating plant less than 10 years ago. Oh how I remember the problems with the first runs of Polymax FA fb that were being manufactured in that new plant. Already Kodak no longer manufactures photographic papers, b&w or color.

On the other side of the coin -- it seems the printer and paper manufacturers are finally listening to those who want to print monotone images with their ink jet printers. I think they finally realized there is a whole cottage industry dedicated to B&W printing. Given how far color printing has come in the past 10 years of the industry, I assume the accelerated rate of improvement will continue.

This whole thing is likened to two trains running full speed towards each other, but on parallel tracks. At some point, they will meet in a non-destructive way. I wonder if they were personified would they wave, greet and linger a while in their passing, or would they merely pass without any recognition?

Wonder what this conversation will be like in 10 years? I know I'll continue to use film so long as I can afford it and the paper to print it on. But I truly believe that film will die before I do. I tell my students to enjoy film while you can. Almost the entire history of film is little changed from beginning to current practices.

If you want to read the article here is the web site:
http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=345100

3 comments:

Billie said...

In the last week I followed some links and read a blog that is pertinent to your comments here. I can't find it now....maybe it came from comments in the blogs...who knows.

But the point of the blog was that the blogger was upset because he was trying to buy a kodak color neg film and wasn't able to find it. When he went to the kodak site he found that the 2 films were discontinued without any notice so there was not chance to stock up if you were working on a project with a particular film. Oh, I think that one of the films was only going to be in 35mm....no 120.

Film is getting to be difficult to find. Add to that silver gelatin paper...........
We all better learn to be good digital printers.

Billie said...

Oh, just found the link.
http://www.wireheadarts.com/blog29.html

pitchertaker said...

Yeah, I read that blog entry when posted, and my thoughts were, well, yeah, that's Kodak. They are systematically getting out of the film business. The greatest uproar will be the discontinuation of Tri-X. I'll give it two years.

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