August ‘19 Community Letter

Kodak Factory Tours, Silberra Letdown, New Lomo Film, and Ransomware

4 min read by Dmitri. Published in Letters & Editorials.

This month’s letter covers an announcement from Kodak, adds an update from Lomography, expands on the Silberra film situation and summarizes two troubling findings from the world of digital imaging.

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Kodak film factory tours.

This month the American film company announced two tour dates which are still available for booking. As of this writing, you can sign up for either September 12th or December 5th excursions in Rochester.

They will not be cheap. Costing three hundred dollars, the tickets will cover guided access to Kodak Vision Center, film base manufacturing, film sensitizing and film finishing facilities. You will also get to have lunch at George Eastman’s office.

The announcement received mixed responses on social media. Some people voiced excitement about the opportunity, others criticized the steep price point. Considering that $300 is comparable in cost to a typical helicopter tour, I’d say that the Kodak factory visit holds its value. There are no other film-producing facilities in the world operating at this capacity. And there’s likely more photographic history and science to be witnessed at that plant than anywhere else.

Silberra team lets its backers down.

The Saint Petersburg film production company launched their IndieGoGo effort in 2017. Unfortunately, the campaign failed to generate substantial funding, having collected only 30% of the goal’s value.

Two years later, Silberra made some progress, delivering a portion of the rewards. Unfortunately I, along with a few others, never received the film.

The latest surprise came in the form of an email announcement. A photography store began selling the film owed to the backers. I was later told that it is available worldwide. Just not to the people who funded its production.

I reached out to Konstantin earlier this week for comments. No response. There were no campaign announcements from Silberra on their IndieGoGo page since Dec 23rd, 2018.

It’s unfortunate that the creators of the film that looks rather good aren’t able or willing to adequately manage their backers’ contributions.

IndieGoGo’s relaxed funding schedule allowed/forced Silberra to take a 70% cut from their expected amount and incur additional fees. Their end balance robbed them of volume discounts on materials. An expense that Silberra decided to quietly dump onto their early supporters.

Lomography will begin shipping a brand new colour emulsion in 2020.

Last month I spoke with Birgit Buchart, a Marketing PR Manager at Lomography USA, about their new Kickstarter campaign. They have just crossed the finish line with a $165,151 cheque.

While there are no guarantees in the world of crowdfunding, as demonstrated by Silberra’s example, Lomography belongs to a different league. Having successfully delivered on all ten campaigns they ran, they are a safe bet.

Lomography’s final amount, however, is unfairly short of Yashica’s near three million for an awful, awful camera. This may be a sign of the declining trust as we begin to wake up to the realization that building anything worthwhile is insanely difficult.

I choose to focus on my excitement about testing my new colour emulsion in the first quarter of 2020. 🥳

Security vulnerabilities in Canon DSLRs.

A security flaw in the software that powers new Canon cameras has been recently discovered and rectified. The bug would allow hackers to take control over the camera and extort payments, amongst other things.

I think it’s important to understand that anything that’s powered by software is at risk of being tampered with. However unlikely it may seem.

Facebook is embedding tracking data inside photos you download.

And then there are cases when your software comes pre-tampered.

A cybersecurity engineer has recently shared a tweet where he highlighted an “IPTC special instruction” embedded in the image downloaded from Facebook. Apparently, this has been known for over four years and there are no answers as to what those “instructions” trigger.

Luckily, there’s a tool that can help you disarm Facebook’s mystery ware. Alternatively, you can convert your downloads to .bmp files and then back to .jpg to get rid of the “trash.”

A few more reads.

The new season of Stranger Things, a popular Netflix show, has got one of its younger viewers puzzled. Having never experienced the analogue printing process, they posted a question online:

In Stranger Things, we frequently see Jonathan go inside this to ‘refine’ his photos or something. I don't quite understand what happens here. He puts the photo in water, and somehow this makes it more clear? An example is in the first season when he refines Barbara's photo and sees a little bit of the Demogorgon. Is this an old film technique, and if so, what is it called?

The author got the answer, but not without having their question become a meme and end up being featured in The Guardian.

The man who took 1 million photos is a piece on BBC Culture about the Garry Winogrand: Colour exhibition in Brooklyn, NY. It’s an overview of the photographer’s professional life and well-written praise to the work of the curators. The event is on until December 6th.

Tough Lessons From a Portfolio Review is a short read by a beginner photographer looking to find her way in the art world. I think her insights and experience are widely applicable.