Posted on January 1st, 2011 No comments
Well, first of all, Happy New Year - it is now 2011.
But, a look back to yesterday. 31st December 2010 marked the end of an era. For those who are old enought to have used film in cameras, yesterday was a sad day as it marked the final passing of Kodachrome. The film stock had not been produced for a while but yesterday was the final processing at the last processing lab able to put Kodachrome through the extensive system required to create the full reversal colour transparency product.
Dwayne’s Photo in the USA was the last lab and yesterday the last processing took place. There are now no more chemicals to service the processing plant and the machines will now be sold for scrap. Kodachrome was a film that was designed to be machine processed - the colour reversal process cannot be carried out in a conventional manual tank process.
Kodachrome survived for more than 70 years and was an outstanding stock. With it’s particularly slow speed rating it had a microscopic grain structure that provided an ultra fine finish with transparencies capable of being blown up across buildings! Kodachrome had a depth of colour that had to be seen - and was used for some of the most recognised images of the last 75 years including Steve McCurry’s iconic ‘Afghan girl’ image for National Geographic.
Above all, Kodachrome was archival - the process removed colour couplers and other oxidising materials which meant that there was very little if any of the colour degradation that has plagued other films of much newer creation.
If you want to see some of the last images check out the Kodachrome Project
Kodachrome has paid the price of the rise in digital photography. Digital is yet to provide the sheer quality of image that the ageing film stock was capable of but can, of course, provide advantages of variable speed rating and much higher performance.
Someone once said, ‘If you can’t take it on Kodachrome it isn’t worth taking’ - the 25 and 64 ASA/ISO stock required good lighting to make an image. Speed is not everything - as speed ratings increase noise becomes more apparent in a digital context (equivalent to grain in a silver based stock).
It is sad to mark the passing of an era. Producing a specialist film stock and maintaining highly specialised processing equipment was undoubtedly expensive. Would I have shot 10,000 plus images in the past 12 months if I had used Kodachrome? I think we know the answer to that and must welcome the digital revolution. But sad to see the passing of an old friend.
Kodachrome - R I P - 31st December 2010
Posted on August 26th, 2009 No comments
It is clear that the word of a Minister should not be regarded as binding, perhaps merely an expression of the state of policy at the time that he (or she) opened their mouth but nothing more than that.
Back in April, the then Minister with responsibility for Intellectual Property, David Lammy, made it clear that the option to implement a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy for peer to peer filesharers had been dropped from Government plans incluyding the Digital Britain report. The Minister said that ‘cutting off users was not “the right road” for UK law makers’. David Lammy told ‘The Observer’ that, ‘”It is for the French to determine what is right for them, (referring to the Hadopi law) but for us here we do not believe that would be the right road to go down.”
Then, in June, came the publication of Stephen Carter’s Digital Britain report. This discussed the issue of perceived piracy and the problems of file sharing and suggested that Ofcom should be tasked with the setting up of technical measures to combat persistent filesharers including restricting access etc. At this time, Stephen Carter’s report reflected the thinking espoused by the Minister.
It is now a couple of months later and it would appear that Government policy has taken something of a ‘U’ turn. It would seem that this Government is for turning with the announcement of policy changes that would see Ministers given the power to order the cutting off of Internet access for identified file sharers.
Now this is a major step in a different direction and completely at odds with previous announced policy. Clearly a Minister’s word counts for little (did we really think that it did anyway?). An announcement by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (Tuesday 25th August) suggests that thinking in relation to policy has now changed and there is a requirement for a faster process than previously discussed together with the addition of the option to cut off Internet access as part of the technical measures. The announcement says, ‘Accordingly a thorough examination of the proportionality and effectiveness of the measure (as with any of the other measures) would have to be undertaken before ISPs would be required to implement it, even if the decision to move to technical measures is taken. As ever we would need to ensure any such measure fully complied with both UK and EU legislation.’
Now this is where we get interesting. Any decision to cut off Internet access could remove access for entirely innocent parties - such as other members of a family using a circuit. The European Parliament and the Commission have made it clear that they view Internet access as an essential human right. Commissioner Redding responding to questions in Brussels said, “The fourth element I would like to underline is the recognition of the right to Internet access. The new rules recognise explicitly that Internet access is a fundamental right such as the freedom of expression and the freedom to access information. The rules therefore provide that any measures taken regarding access to, or use of, services and applications must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, including the right to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information and education as well as due process?”
Now that seems to have made the Commissioner’s view quite clear. Internet access is a fundamental right and any rules must respect fundamental rights and freedoms. Any action to restrict Internet access must be taken by a judge in a court procedure - at which the end user will be the defendant with the right to defend his position and any proposed actions. It cannot be that removal of access is the result of an order by a Secretary of State or by Ofcom without the right of the affected user to challenge the decision. At present, any evidence to suggest illegal activity seems to be based on the detection of an IP address by automated systems operated by or on behalf of rights owners. There are well publicised indications that systems may be open to abuse and that not all IP addresses may be users engaged in illegal activity. There may well be circumstances where the person carrying out infringing activity is doing so using an unsecured wireless connection without the knowledge or permission of the actual circuit owner. Yet, if evidence based on the detected IP address were to be used it would be the innocent user subject to cut-off rather than the actual perpetrator.
So, it appears to be European policy that Internet access is a fundamental right. That cannot be removed without due process - and the process suggested in the revised consultation would not appear to give sufficient safeguards for those not involved in the infringing activity. Any actions taken would seem to face the immediate possibility of a challenge under UK Human Rights legislation and then action in the European Courts.
There is another interesting facet to this new disclosure. A few weeks ago BIS announced consultation on the proposals of the Digital Britain report. The consultation paper was produced and a deadline set for responses. Now, the Dept. has announced that it wishes to change the consultation during the period set for stakeholders and others to respond and has suggested that an extended response period should now be allowed. To change the nature of the consultation after publication would seem to fly in direct contravention of the Government advice and code of practice for consultation.
‘The Crusher’ has to ask why this change has come about. The Government will deny that there is any relation between this announcement and a private dinner at which the Secretary of State, Lord Mandelson, met with US film mogul David Geffen. Geffen is known to have views on piracy and the effects of file sharing on the creative industries. It remains somewhat disconcerting that such a major policy change announcement comes just a few days after such a meeting. Coincidence or just bad planning?
Whatever the real reason this is a real policy blunder by the Government. It is almost certain that any actions to remove Internet access for alleged file-sharing, and by order of the Secretary of State or by Ofcom, would be seen to be highly disproportionate and likely to impact on he human rights of the end user and others. It would appear that the Government has now decided to announce policy changes in the midst of a consultation exercice - contrary to its own guidelines.
This is guaranteed to annoy large swathes of voters - and in the last few months running up to a general election that really is a rather silly thing to do. Perhaps this demonstrates the arrogance of the politicians responding to the views of a rich business interest over those of the electorate. That will be determined no later than June 2010.
However, all of this may be irrelevant - except for the verdict of the electorate on the conduct of this Government - with the imminent decision at the European Court of Justice in a case referred from the UK involving L’Oreal and eBay. The legal news site ‘Outlaw.com’ reports that this case may make any proposed actions by Ofcom irrelevant if it orders that a rights owner can bring an action to injunct an innocent party. The case centres around a possible injunction brought by L’Oreal against eBay to require that party to remove access to infringing materials. If the ECJ is in favour of L’Oreal then it is likely that a music rights owner would simply apply to the UK courts for an injunction against the ISP providing service to an end user. Any costs in defending their position would then fall on the ISP - I suspect that many would simply accept the injunction without the end user having any involvement.