Happiness via Colour Part 2: Retro Colour from KODAK circa 1940’s

Part 2 of my ‘Happiness via Colour’ brings me to the subject of Retro Colour…

Colour, as I have said a few times is a deeply personal subject. There is nothing more likely to trigger an emotional sensation than the petrol blues and yellow ochre of an old family photograph in early, glorious ‘Kodachromatic’ colours.

My grandfather worked for Kodak in Rochester, New York and my Aunt was recently clever enough to get a series of early family pictures scanned from a stack of Kodak slides she had found from the 1940’s. When I started looking at these images I realised what was so rare; not many people had access to colour film at that time. I love to imagine my grandfather coming home with the newest rolls of Kodachrome film for my grandmother to try out. It’s the colour of these images that is so special… they have a magic glow about them that modern digital film cannot replicate. The blues have a warm aqua tone and the reds a sharp heat in contrast; the blacks a depth and punctuation.

As  David Friend (February 9, 2011). says in his article “The Last Roll of Kodachrome—Frame by Frame!”. published in Vanity Fair.

“If you have good light and you’re at a fairly high shutter speed, it’s going to be a brilliant color photograph. It had a great color palette. It wasn’t too garish. Some films are like you’re on a drug or something. Velvia made everything so saturated and wildly over-the-top, too electric. Kodachrome had more poetry in it, a softness, an elegance. With digital photography, you gain many benefits [but] you have to put in post-production. [With Kodachrome,] you take it out of the box and the pictures are already brilliant”.

Looking at these pictures in such beautiful colour helps me to get a sense of what the grandmother I never met was like… the tone of her skin and the colour of her dress. A rare pleasure indeed.













About Ptolemy Mann

Ptolemy Mann is a textile artist, designer and architectural colour consultant
This entry was posted in Art, Colour, Photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Happiness via Colour Part 2: Retro Colour from KODAK circa 1940’s

  1. Wonderful! I can see where you get your penchant for orangey red lipstick! The second picture is just beautiful… Jx

  2. I grew up in Rochester– Seneca Park was our backyard–and the mystery surrounding what happened inside my Brownie kept me from taking any ‘wasted’ photos. They all had to count–be keepers–and my heart would skip a beat when the developed film was ready and I could see my memories come alive. Thank you for including these wonderful examples.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s