Kodachrome Portraits from WW2

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by John Seaman, Dec 26, 2017.

  1. A series of Kodachrome portraits taken by John Cyril Redhead, who was head of Kodak's photo finishing department in London. Many perhaps surprisingly are of U.S. service people although at least one is misidentified, and there is one of Margaret Bourke White.

    The film format and camera aren't identified:

    Colour portraits of WWII famous faces and unsung heroes | Daily Mail Online
  2. Thanks. Must be pretty large format from the marginal labels...
  3. Never have I seen Kodachrome look so dreary. Maybe it's all from the itchy wool uniforms.

    Lot's of sharp detail as if you're right their with the subject.
    dcstep likes this.
  4. Ghastly.
  5. John, thanks for sharing the link. I always enjoy viewing old film photos,
  6. I guess that these show why b&w was still much better for portraiture. I really don't like the rendering. I don't like the lighting either. However, they do bring an immediacy to the time period.
  7. Hollywood Color portraits by John Kobal passes on a story that all UK Kodak processing, films mostly, had a different look than US Kodacrochome. He speculates something about the water in the chemistry but there is a different hue to them. Still most interesting. Kodachrome holds up for longer than one could hope. Real people come to life again.
  8. Closest thing to a time machine we'll ever encounter.

    Next time someone asks how to process a digital image to look like Kodachrome I'll provide this link and ask which look they're after.

    I have to wonder if Kodachrome really looked like that back then. I guess next to B&W they were probably quite happy with that color rendering.

    Does anyone that lived back then remember seeing color film look that bad?
  9. Colonel Nordlie, aide-de-camp to King Haakon VII (1872-1957) of Norway. 5th picture from the bottom. He at least has some presence.
  10. Speaks volumes about modern day society.....people on a Photo Forum, bitching about 70-80 year old color pictures, that a member was nice enough to link to.
    Any of you guys see the Real Thing, and compare it to The Digital you are looking at on your Computer.?
    Thank You OP...they look fabulous.
  11. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Just remember the start of Digital and how lame the cameras are in terms of the present. This was the beginning of Kodachrome. Additionally there are all the intervening years -- some of my merely 50 odd YO slides are good, others not..
  12. You must be new here or at least not aware of what is discussed in a forum on the subject of photography. This isn't a glad hand affair or else it would get boring in a heartbeat.

    You also don't seem to be aware of the many posts we've gotten in the past over the years asking for the look of a particular film stock where we've taken the time to offer post processing tips and find the OP states it's not what they want.

    No one's bitching here. We're answering honestly.

    Do you have anything interesting to say on this subject? Maybe some Kodachrome factoids we're not aware.
  13. Have you checked out Shorpy? Gorgeous Kodachrome same era these came out.

    Brits are very good with color especially Technicolor, but I still don't forgive them on the orange/teal color grading on "Dunkirk". Their making a point of "more natural color" on the Blu-Ray release is telling.
  14. That was fascinating, it gave me a better look at the way people actually looked at that time. Very good quality and portraiture that we rarely see now.

    Rick H.
  15. Sandy bdr re-- on her bedspread med bdr copy.jpg I can't recall how color looked in the forties because I was too young to think about it. Black and White was the majority by far. And reached an apex then. Color had to be splashy and prominent to justify its cost. Amateurs had to look to expensive 35mm and it was ISO 25, a cnallenge. The War Department had a stock of 4X5 Kodachrome but I think it was rare in the commercial world except perhaps for advertising. So the color had to have "punch." The first movies in TC had people painting the rocks and shrubs they say... I chose Kodachrome because my first camera was the Stereo Realist and you did not shoot b and w in stereo. Some of my chromes are very old and still hold up well. And are anything but subtle in vividness. Maybe that was an acquired taste. We go through swings in such matters. ( image: One stereo 23 X24 mm KC chip, circa 1957, someone's grandma,ha cha cha...)
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
    dcstep likes this.
  16. [QUOTE="Tim_Lookingbill, post: 5630090, member: 1722891

    No one's bitching here. We're answering honestly.

    Do you have anything interesting to say on this subject? Maybe some Kodachrome factoids we're not aware.[/QUOTE]
    Fair Enough..... i was also answering honestly.
    ......Were you shooting Kodachrome circa 1940.?.....did you think it looked "Dreary and Ghastly" then.....did your frames look better than those in the link.?......did your fellow photographers of WII think the Kodachrome photos sucked as bad as some of the members on This Forum do now.?
    How well do these digitals represent the originals.?
    What kind of studio lights did these guys/gals have available at the time.?
    How well was the lab equipped that processed these Negs and the printed them.?
    How well was the film treated as it made is way across the pound.?
    How well were these photos stored for the last Several Decades.
    Etc etc etc.
    Of course they look "Weird" by today's standards..... its not like they were shot 3 years ago. There are countless variables regarding the "quality" of these photos that nobody on this forum will ever be aware of.
    I think they look wonderful, and are from one of, if not The Most important eras of "recent" history.
    Critiquing the look of these photos is like listening to recordings of Jimi Hendrix from 1968 and commenting on how out of tune he was.....
    Yeah he was often out of tune.
    Want me to list 5-6-7 reasons why.?
    It seems pointless to compare these old photos to anything done in the last 30 years.
    These poor guys were in the middle of The Worlds worst conflict. ;)
    Good Luck
  17. Wonderful set of photos. They recall an era.

    For me, the trees don't block the view of the forest.

    Love the last one of Sir Mordant Snagge. A lot of character in that portrait, coming from the sitter and also imbued by the photographer.
  18. I enjoyed them as I'm not used to seeing pictures from that era in color. I really liked the wine cellar. As to the color rendition, well, it's a ton better than what was usually shot at the time. ;)

    And while kodachrome ages pretty well, - especially if kept in the dark, it does age. These photos might have had more "pop" originally and the article didn't say where the images came from, - if they were scans of slides or of old prints. If the article did mention that, I missed it.
  19. The proportions of the pictures suggest to me these were done on 5X4 (or 4X5 if you prefer). Anything bigger would have been hugely expensive, and I don't think they are any smaller. The lighting seems very frontal, judging by the lack of modelling in the faces, perhaps a potato masher type flash? Although some eyes have one catchlight, some two. The depth of field is well controlled.

    I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at the Margaret Bourke White session.
    GerrySiegel likes this.
  20. There WAS 8x10 Kodachrome.

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