4×5 Kodachromes


My Russian blog started to be visited by many English speaking readers after I posted the following post. I thought it would be great to give this post a special place in my new English blog, and let it be one of the first publications.

***

I regularly visit the www.shorpy.com in order to get inspired by the colors of Kodachrome photo film. This website is quite famous and contains a lot of archived photographs, I am sure many of you already know it. My wish was to make a personal selection of photographs I particularly like, in good quality. I hope that you will appreciate them as well. All the pictures have been taken during 1940-1943. Now just look at them and get inspired.

1. “Where’s Adolf?”

May 1942. Langley Field, Virginia. YB-17 bombardment squadron. “Hitler would like this man to go home and forget about the war. A good American non-com at the side machine gun of a huge YB-17 bomber is a man who knows his business and works hard at it.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

2.

October 1942. “Testing electric wiring at Douglas Aircraft Company. Long Beach, California.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

3.

October 1942. Engine installers at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

4.

October 1942. Experimental staff at the North American Aviation plant in Ingle- wood, Calif., observing wind tunnel tests on a model of the B-25 (“Billy Mitchell”) bomber. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

5.

April 1943. Schoolchildren in San Augustine County, Texas. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by John Vachon, Office of War Information.

6.

February 1943. Working on the horizontal stabilizer of a “Vengeance” dive bomber at the Consolidated-Vultee plant in Nashville. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

7.

Long Beach, California. October 1942. “Annette del Sur publicizing salvage campaign in yard of Douglas Aircraft Company.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

8.

October 1942. Workers installing fixtures and assemblies in the tail section of a B-17F bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, California. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

9.

October 1942. “Lieutenant ‘Mike’ Hunter, Army test pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

10.

October 1942. Inglewood, California. North American Aviation drill operator in the control surface department assembling horizontal stabilizer section of an airplane. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

11.

October 1942. Assembling switchboxes on the firewalls of B-25 bombers at North American Aviation’s Inglewood, California, factory. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer, Office of War Information.

12.

October 1942. Inglewood, California. “Young woman employee of North American Aviation working over the landing gear mechanism of a P-51 fighter plane.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

13.

October 1942. Kansas City, Kansas. “B-25 bomber plane at North American Aviation being hauled along an outdoor assembly line.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

14.

June 1942. Engine inspector for North American Aviation at Long Beach, California. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

15.

June 1942. Inglewood, California. “Punching rivet holes in a frame member for a B-25 bomber at North American Aviation.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

16.

942. Inglewood, California. Riveting team working on the cockpit shell of a C-47 heavy transport at North American Aviation. “The versatile C-47 performs many important tasks for the Army. It ferries men and cargo across the oceans and mountains, tows gliders and brings paratroopers and their equipment to scenes of action.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

17.

June 1942. Crane operator at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Douglas Dam. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the OWI.

18.

June 1942. Army tank driver at Fort Knox, Kentucky. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

19.

June 1942. Fort Knox, Kentucky. “Infantryman with halftrack. A young soldier sights his Garand rifle like an old-timer. He likes the piece for its fine firing qualities and its rugged, dependable mechanism.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

20.

Fort Knox, June 1942. “Light tank going through water obstacle.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer, Office of War Information.

21.

October 1942. “American mothers and sisters, like these women at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, California, give important help in producing dependable planes for their men at the front.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

22.

March 1943. Yardmaster at Amarillo, Texas, railyard. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano, Office of War Information.

23.

February 1943. Lucille Mazurek, age 29, ex-housewife, husband going into the service. Working at the Heil and Co. factory in Milwaukee on blackout lamps to be used on Air Force gasoline trailers. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard R. Hollem for the Office of War Information.

24.

October 1942. Glenview, Illinois. “Transfusion bottles containing intravenous solution are given final inspection by Grace Kruger, one of many women employees at Baxter Laboratories. When her brother left Baxter to join the Merchant Marine, Miss Kruger, a former life insurance clerk, took his place.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard R. Hollem for the OWI.

25.

October 1942. Riveter at work on a bomber at the Consolidated Aircraft factory in Fort Worth. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard Hollem.

26.

October 1942. “Thousands of North American Aviation employees at Inglewood, California, look skyward as the bomber and fighter planes they helped build perform overhead during a lunch period air show. This plant produces the battle-tested B-25 ‘Billy Mitchell’ bomber, used in General Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo, and the P-51 ‘Mustang’ fighter plane, which was first brought into prominence by the British raid on Dieppe.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

27.

August 1942. Corpus Christi, Texas. “After seven years in the Navy, J.D. Estes is considered an old sea salt by his mates at the Naval Air Base.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard Hollem, Office of War Information.

28.

August 1942. Mechanic Mary Josephine Farley works on a Wright Whirlwind motor in the Corpus Christi, Texas, Naval Air Base assembly and repairs shop. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard R. Hollem.

29.

August 1942. Corpus Christi, Texas. “Working inside the nose of a PBY, Elmer J. Pace is learning the construction of Navy planes. As a National Youth Administration trainee at the Naval Air Base, he gets practical experience. After about eight weeks, he will go into civil service as a sheet metal worker.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard R. Hollem.

30.

April 1943. “Mrs. Thelma Cuvage, working in the sand house at the Chicago & North Western R.R. roundhouse at Clinton, Iowa. Her job is to see that sand is sifted and cleaned for use in the locomotives. Mrs. Cuvage’s husband works as a guard at the Savanna, Illinois, ordnance plant.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information.

31.

March 1943. “Santa Fe R.R. shops, Albuquerque. Hammering out a drawbar on the steam drop hammer in the blacksmith shop.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information.

32.

June 1942. Truck driver at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Douglas Dam. Amazing 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

33.

December 1942. A winter afternoon in the North Proviso yardmaster’s office, Chicago & North Western Railroad. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. Click here for a closeup of the poster on the wall.

34.

December 1942. Three West Coast streamliners in the Chicago & North Western yards at Chicago. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano.

35.

Shulman’s Market at N and Union Street SW, Washington. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Louise Rosskam. Alternate view. In one of the many comments for this post, an alert FOS (Friend of Shorpy) points out the posters of Axis leaders Mussolini, Hitler and Admiral Yamamoto in the window. Along the bottom of each it says What do YOU say America?

36.

June 1942. Lockheed Vega aircraft plant at Burbank, California. “Hollywood missed a good bet when they overlooked this attractive aircraft worker, who is shown checking electrical sub-assemblies.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by David Bransby for the Office of War Information.

37.

October 1942. “Noontime rest for an assembly worker at the Long Beach, Calif., plant of Douglas Aircraft Company. Nacelle parts for a heavy bomber form the background.” 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

38.

September 1940. Jack Whinery, Pie Town, New Mexico, homesteader, with his wife and the youngest of his five children in their dirt-floor dugout home. Whinery homesteaded with no cash less than a year ago and does not have much equipment; consequently he and his family farm the slow, hard way, by hand. Main window of their dugout was made from the windshield of the worn-out car which brought this family to Pie Town from West Texas. 4×5 Kodachrome transparency by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration.

Original post in Russian-version blog:
http://pavel-kosenko.livejournal.com/303194.html
My thanks to Anna Sidorova for translating this post in English.

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422 thoughts on “4×5 Kodachromes

  1. These are amazing for many reasons. Now that digital has become dominant, all too many forget what a glorious image could come from Kodachrome. Having worked w/it in 35 mm, just the thought of that grain & color saturation in 4×5 format?! Plus, Kodachrome was the first archival color material in photography. Wonderful array of shots. DW
    PS What a chore it was to light & pose all those…yikes!

    • In fact, we have some capabilities to use Kodachrome colors in digital photography. I’m going to create a few posts about it in the near future. But necessary condition is visual experience of photographer who going to do good colors.

      • I didn’t have a camera in those days, but used a great deal of Kodachrome in the years afterwards. These were great, and brought back many memories.

      • Thanks so much for posting these. Kodachrome was definitely one of the finest film formats. Starting in 1961, I took over 5000 35mm Kodachrome slides. I still project the slides at my house on an old Bell and Howell cube slide projector. They still look as good as new. To me, Kodachrome had the most natural colors of all, unmatched even by digital today.

    • WOW!!! I keep looking and looking at these pictures. They are the most amazing colors I have seen in a long time and since I dislike the new digital cameras so much I truly appreciate these. Thanks so much for these.’

      • I’m going to write in my english blog about Kodachrome and other “live” colors in digital photography. It really to produce good colors, but need to know how. I have many researches about it I did during around 3-4 last years. I have many published articles in russian and going to translate some of them with the lapse of time.

      • The more I see the greater the pleasure and the more I find today’s digital certainly don’t compare.

    • I don’t think it was mentioned anywhere in this wonderful blog that Kodachrome is the ONLY film that has a song obout it…well almost about it:
      Kodachrome by Paul Simon (1973)
      Kodachrome
      You give us those nice bright colors
      You give us the greens of summers
      Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah!
      I got a Nikon camera
      I love to take a photograph
      So Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome awayi>

      Proof that it was a great film – period!

    • Great pictures. We make them quicker now but no better and usually not as good as these.. Wonder how our pictures will look in 70 years.

      • I scanned a Kodachrome slide from 1969 the other day, at 2400dpi, and it looks better than any digital 12mpx I’ve taken with any camera. And it looks even better than digital shots, rendered on an iPhone 4 screen. Real film will never be surpassed by present digital tech because the chemistry makes it non-linear, and can never, ever be rendered in binary. Period.

  2. What an eye you have for capturing the look and the feel of the 1940s of America. The photos you decided to us are amazing. I grew up in Long Beach, California where my mother was a riveter in 1944 at McDonald Douglas Aircraft while my father served in the Army prior to my birth.

  3. The pictures are wonderful. The color outstanding. Goes to show that photography back then was just as good or better than now.

  4. Thank you for just placing these pic’s where we can view them. Brings back memories of my father and mother from another time.

  5. Pingback: Film Photography 101: Slide film | AT Images

  6. Dear Pavel:

    As a women-in-engineering advocate, I was very pleased to see many images of American women who contributed to our country’s efforts during WWII, riveters and other service positions that required attention to detail. The photos are just beautiful and show us women’s capacity in this domain. Thank you for doing justice to these historical photos that remind us of our American heroes.

    — Lily

    • Nearly all of the planes manufactured during the war were built by women. none of them crashed or fell apart on their respective fields, and endured hardships right along with the G.I.’s and crews who serviced and flew them. Women. America’s secret weapons of WWII.

  7. These are great photos for so many reasons. Amazing colours, fresh detail, they’re a window into another time.Thanks for posting

    • Return of Kodachrome? I rather doubt it. Kodak is in disarray. I’m not sure even Kodak Rochester processes Kodachrome anymore. Maybe there are processing operation in private hands scattered here and there. Me? I’m a little concerned that B&W film will remain readily available.

      • Not entirely accurate. For the past 10 years before they discontinued it the only lab in the entire world that processed Kodachrome and was authorized by Kodak was Dwayne’s photo service in Parsons Kansas, and they did so up until December 2010.
        Now Kodachrome can only be processed as Black and white by a Private labs. But am pretty sure that when it comes to OLD Kodachrome movie film there is at least one private lab that can process your old K12 (also K11 or KII) film.

        I do also know of a private citizen making similar if not the exact same film. He is a retired chemist that has reproduced the emulsions to make Kodak Chrome and he even made a machine that can coat rolls of ester base so he can make rolls of film. I tried to contact him to see if he would be interested in selling any or trading or sharing. But he only expressed interested if i could obtain for him or direct him towards 4 inch rolls of ester base for which he could make 4×5 film from.

      • WE CAN HANDLE PRACTICALLY ANY PHOTOGRAPHIC FILM EVER MADE, ANY SIZE OF NEGATIVE, SLIDE OR PRINT.
        These include: Disc film, 127, 126 or 110 format film, Kodacolor-X, Kodacolor II, Ektachrome-X, High Speed Ektachrome, Kodachrome II,
        Agfacolor CN17, CNS or CT18, TriFCA, Verichrome Pan, Super-XX, Panatomic-X, Selochrome, HP3, HP4, FP3, Gratispool, Prinzcolor, Dufaycolor,
        Fujicolor N100 and R100, Sakuracolor, Anscochrome, Orwo NC21 and UT18, Gevaert Gevacolor R5 and N5, Agfa Dia-Direct, Agfa Scala,
        Boots films, Fujichrome 100ix APS film, Infra-red film, Technical Pan, Unprocessed Cine film (old types only), and many more.

        http://www.processc22.co.uk/

  8. This is wonderful material the likes of which we may never see again, 1’s and 0’s can never replace such fantastic colour space… Digital – eat your heart out!

    Thought for today… ‘Would the real Kodak please stand up! [Kodak is alive and well in Australia and the Far East]

    • For the doubter of the authenticity, Kodachrome was available in many forms in the 40’s, 4×5 sheets among them. Of course the images are sharp, it’s 4×5 and the ASA was either 8 or 10. These are straight reproductions from real & original color transparencies.

      • Look again at photo #21, then go to the link that Kitty has posted and check out Palmer’s photos. Nearly all are b/w. Check out his WWII photos and you will see photo #21 in a slightly different pose. It is in color, but nowhere near the color saturation of photo #21. These colors look almost like autochromes.

      • I still have 5×7 and 8×10 Kodachrome prints that my mother ordered back in the 1940s. These prints appear to be on a polyester base with a Kodachrome emulsion on them. The prints still look great after all these years and the reason why I know they are Kodachrome prints is because they are labled as Kodachrome prints by Kodak on the back of them.
        The colors look just like the images reproduced above.
        Thanks for posting them!

    • Many photogs of that era were opposed to color for aesthetic/artistic reasons, and it is clear that Palmer did most of his work in B&W.

      I have a 8×10 Kodachrome transparency of my mother taken in 1941, and the beautiful color space and crisp detail of that shot are similar to these.

      Are these original color shots? I certainly don’t know. Could shots like these have been done in Kodachrome during WW II? Absolutely! Are these simply beautiful pics? You bet your sweet a#$ they are!

      • I was a child during WWII living in a suburb in Baltimore County, MD not far from an army base. I remember the sounds of the era, the air raid warnings as well as the fog horns on the bay. My dad was a neighborhood watchman who patrolled our square mile area. Since he was 4F, he could not serve in the military. My uncles all served. When the air raid sirens wailed, I remember peeking out the window and saw nothing but utter black, not one light anywhere. I aIso remember my mother kneeling each night by her bed, saying her prayers, praying for her brothers and all their friends to be brought home safe and sound from the war. Most of them came home. I was almost seven when the war ended. These photos are a treasure from “The Greatest Generation.” Thanks for posting.

      • Carol,

        Like you, I was 8 in 1945 and the bomb had not yet been dropped on Hiroshima. Weirdly enough, I went on to work on the atomic and hydrogen bombs of our Air Force in the 1950s.

        I lived in St. Louis during the early part of the war and I remember the blackouts. They were unannounced and all of a sudden all the lights went out in the house. I was running through the front room when one of them happened and I stumbled over a footstool and almost broke my leg. My father was also a block warden. He didn’t get drafted either as he had invented a special top secret gunnery training device and the Army needed him at his factory to help train flyers just entering the war.

        We moved to San Diego California in 1943. I remember my aunt scanning the ocean with her binoculars looking for signs of a Jap invasion. She didn’t believe the news about the status of our Pacific Forces and the position of the Japanese Navy. After hearing and reading about Bataan and the Guam Children’s school (Japanese infantry machine-gunned several children in their hospital beds. You wont find a reference to this. It has all been “excised” from the history) We were terrified of a Jap invasion.

        There is much regret among Americans today about how the Japanese were treated in the California interment camps and some of it is deserved. But no one today understands the hatred and loathing we had for all things Japanese at that time. I would also say that in some part, it was for their own good as innocent Japanese had been attacked on the streets of San Francisco. I remember a nationwide survey taken of several thousand Americans at the end of the war asking what should be done with the Japanese nation. Many responses came in asking that they ALL be exterminated – men, women and children. Hard to believe, but as a country we fiercely hated them. In the 60’s I started working in Hawaii and made dozens of Japanese friends. I always had mixed emotions when socializing with them. I had too many grizzly memories of their atrocities during the war. It was so unfair of me as they had nothing to do with the sins of heir ancestors, but that old feeling kept creeping over me

        Dick Walker, Olympia WA

  9. Marian Hilborn/Shaffer April 1, 2012 at 12:24 AM
    Just wonderful! Really appreciate showing “our” time. When I graduated from George Washington High in Los Angeles I worked at Reinhold-Geiger Plastics on San Pedro Ave making parts for planes until 1945.

    • Well, I can attest to the age of KD’s. Kodakchrome was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935 – yes, you read that correctly, 1935… FORTUNATELY these have been well preserved for us to enjoy. They really are wonderful.

      If I may point out Kitty, it’s not the film alone that gives such wonderful res’ it’s the optics and the fact that 35mm film is just 1.377 inches wide. It does a great job but cannot compete directly with an image which is approximately FIFTEEN times larger with far superior optics… NO, just enjoy the wonder that is KD in 4×5″ – fantastic!

  10. I thought the action shot of the tank at the waterhole was most amazing. It was obviously shot at a fast shutter speed, note that the “splash” has been frozen! With slow speed film, this means a large aperture was used… must have been a really high quality lens!

    • You would have no change out of $3,000 for a good second hand 120mm Schneider Super Angulon lens today…Even early optics for large format photography were and are still expensive.. The 40mm Distagon for my Hasselblad 6x6cm costs new over $6,000 – far more than anything for Nikon or Canon.. Even second hand you are looking at around $2500 for a ‘good, clean one’. I paid a little over that for mine. Parting with that sort of money, you expect tack sharp images and i am happy to say, you get them.

      Picking up on your wider point, Yes Kent, it is really interesting to analyse the various images and ponder what technique was used in their capture. All good stuff and so lucky to see them..

    • Ann, look at the foot of the email you received (not this blog post itself). You will see a line in grey “Unsubscribe” Follow the instructions and bingo.. Biee

      D.

    • They certainly did. Everyone supported the “War Effort” in some way. My Mom was a factory worker and since she was a single parent continued working well into her 60’s for Farmall Farm equipment. I remember gas rationing, no new rubber tires available, the “News Reels” at the movie theatre, nylon stockings as a luxury, Atomic Bomb drills at school and so much more. The sad part about the “women in the workforce era” was that is changed the dynamics of the “family” as well. Many women continued working and the “latch-key kid” immerged. It wasn’t so bad then; neighbors and grandparents or older siblings kept an eye on them.

      • I remember too what you posted here. My father-in-law was an IHC dealer during WWII, and my husband was a Navy Carrier pilot. Yes, I noticed the farmall tractor in one picture. Yes, the women came into their own to help with the war effort. And there was Rosey the Riviter. Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful photos.

  11. Pavel, These are absolutely amazing. So use to seeing black and whites of the time period, these colors just tell the stories differently. I am from Chicago and seeing that winter photo gets me thinking about the men fighting in the war then. Over there the winters were very harsh for the Russians and Americans alike. Thank you

  12. I was a teenager, selling stamps and bonds, getting people to give blood. Thank you for these beautiful pictures and memories.

    • Thank you for helping with the War Effort! People like you contributed more than you’ll ever know and I, for one, truly appreciate it. Wish we had that kind of spirit today!

  13. These are wonderful. My father was a professional photographer all his working life. He served on a “jeep” carrier in the Pacific as a reconnaissance photographer and later taught at Pensacola. They rarely got their hands on color transparency films, and those he used later often faded and the colors didn’t last. These obviously did!

    • Looking back at my own E3 I(yes, E3 and not E6..) Ektachromes from my days in Ethiopia in the early 1970’s, they really are in great shape which is more than I can say for my early digital images from the 1990’s. Even reading them is a real struggle… It reinforces the importance of migrating ones data to the next new platform in technology – not simply to stay ahead but rather to remain in touch with your images of the past… How much simpler ‘correctly’ storing transparencies or negatives is AND how instantly we are able to view them – without having to power up the Mac or PC… Yes, Film rules okay…

      • David you must be a newcomer to Ektachrome; I have many from the 1950s and 60s that have gone very red – E3, E4 and E6. I have others form the same period that have not changed nearly so much; I have no idea if the difference is in the film manufacture or the processing. Most were lab processed but I also processed quite a few myself. Some of mine have been as stable as the lab processed. The storage conditions are identical for all my transparencies. My Epson scanner’s ‘color restore’ setting is able to restore some of these very red transparencies to almost perfect color balance, but others don’t come out nearly so well.

      • As for the archival nature of Ektachrome, I think it is the quality of the processing that matters. I have E4 from the mid 70’s that look fine to me. I don’t know how long they’ll hold up like that but now? They’re fine. Kodachrome? I have those from the mid 40’s that are damned near unchanged.

  14. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the lighting of most of the photos. Creative lighting technics had much to do with the quality of the images. I still have my 4×5 crown graphic but never got around to shooting color with it. My 35mm Color slides from 1970 both Kodachrome 64 and Ektachrome 160 are still holding up, however I do like the convenience and instant gratification of digital photography today, especially with full frame DSLR’s.

    • Yes, you are right. Lighting is very important for quality of this photos.
      In my opinion, digital photography is very convenient, but has uncomely colors.
      And this is global problem of modern photography.

      • So, what some of us (at least) would like, is KD25 and KD64 film but with processing turn around to ‘nearly’ match digital? With that in mind I have found a lab in UK that turns around E6 (and C41 for that matter) on a ‘next day’ basis. Post the Velvia off Monday, get it back by Friday. So swapping my A12 back for my P25 gives me the ‘instant’ with the ‘real’ film images coming along a few days later. I guess that is as close as I can get to ‘instant gratification’ Bill. AND, if I must admit, my cataloguing of film was and is much better than my digital catalogue.

    • Bill, I have an old 8 x 10 camera that made a beautiful Ektachrome transparency in the 1980s that has faded not one bit. I made only the one color shot, everything else was in B&W with that camera. The lens is an old uncoated Turner-Reich F7.0 that looks hazy, but the Ektachrome is sharp and contrasty – I could not believe the results through that old lens. You really ought to try color with your Crown Graphic.

      • If I do decide to try color with my Crown Graphic, I think I would be most tempted to try Kodak’s Ektar 100 sheet film and scan them before printing. The thought of going back to a wet darkroom may keep me from it unless a local camera club or Art League would have one I could use.

    • In those days Kodachrome film had a speed of 25, making lighting very important. Also, in those days (WW II) all color film was processed in Rochester, to the best of my knowledge.
      The latitude (ability to depict areas of varying light intensity)
      displayed in these photos is truly remarkable, considering the slowness of the film.

  15. What I noticed, are all the clothes seems to be fresh, no dirt. Women in some pics have long fingernails that are painted doing a lot of dirty hand work. Jewelry on many in the factory? I don’t believe I saw one set of dirty clothes, evenin the foundry.

    • Indeed, but I guess these were not spontaneous images but rather stage managed to perfection; the lighting, hair, costumes, the way the models were turned out. One exception perhaps is the New Mexican homesteader. But that’s fine. I doubt the ‘brief’ to the photographer was to emulate Dorathea Lang’s classic images of the US Mid-Wes during the Depression. These had a specific purpose, which I am sure they fulfilled. That said, they are just great to look at and enjoy. Also, the fact that all these years on we are still talking about them is magic in itself.

    • I was a child during this time and we had to leave our farm in Vt., and go to Schectady N.Y. so that my Dad could work in the defence plant (G.E.) there. I remem
      ber seeing the young military people hitch hiking past our house. Also that my Dad wept when Roosevelt died. He also said that the women who left thier homes to work would never be content to go back home and raise their children when the war was over. So much foolishness and even crime committed by youngsters now-a-days, makes me wonder if he had a point. The whole world has changed so much, and I wonder if it is all good. But this is about phtography not musing.

  16. I think one small thing is quite often overlooked in images such as this; yes they were shot by a professional photographer & yes they lit professionally, my hats off to the photographer that had this as a tool to work with.
    The lens quality had to be outstanding to make up for the difference in light sensitivity of the film, and the knowledge of light, and how to capture it correctly was essential in making these images.

    On a technical note, Kodachrome Pro sheet film, back then did not come in ASA/ISO 200, 64, 32, or even 25, this was most likely ASA 8. If we refer to the sunny-16 rule, with ASA 64, you would have needed an exposure on a bring sunny day of f/16@1/60 sec to get a good image on film. Using the ASA 8, it would have been 1/8 sec to get the same result.

    • Great observations re the likely film speed of Kodachrome in the 40’s…way slow. You’ll notice that A) all poses are easily maintained by the subject(s). That had to be because I’m guessing w/even 1000W lamps there were some 2-3 second exposures. Now in the shot of the schools kids, they’re properly exposed BUT the scene outside through the windows of the little school looks like total darkness save for a detain here and there. Of course it wasn’t night, it was school time. That speaks to the wattage of his lamps and the long exposure. All these shots are loaded w/hints as to the effort it took to capture them.

      • And of course this is the very reason we are discussing them. I am sure that had they been ‘snapped’ on a modern FX digital camera we would not be having this discussion. It’s because they were executed with great care, slowly, deliberately that we can admire them. And I loved cgtribb’s comment on the sunny, bright, f:16 rule – it brings it all into clear perspective. Nice one!

  17. The Photos are great, but what made you you choose tiny grey text on a black background. It’s impossible for me to read any comments without difficulty. This spoilt the whole thing

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  19. Congrats to everybody: you, the photographers and the women!!!! This documentary report is very interesting!!!!Thanks!!!!

  20. Amazing…! Thanks for bringing these images to our attention. I have been shooting film l8ty and just love the content and emotion of these images.

  21. Pingback: WWII Kodachrome « Random Acts of Patriotism

  22. So many women have sacrificed so much for this country. The last one does not belong there.

  23. Pingback: 4X5 kodachrome 1940-1943 - Pelican Parts Technical BBS

  24. The color really make it all come alive for me! Seeing these scenes in color makes it so much more real to me than they ever could in black and white. I’m very young, only sixteen, and so I was certainly not alive in the 1940’s. It’s wonderful to see a time period I’m so fascinated with come alive so potently. The color makes all the difference. It’s been a real treat to view this amazing work. Thank you!

  25. “Spasibo” for posting a terrific collection of photos! I was
    born before WWII but in all these years I had never seen
    anything like these 4×5 Kodachromes. Wonderful images.

  26. Stunning colors, and did you notice how many women stepped up and filled in during war time. My mother-in-law helped weld Liberty ships in Portland, Oregon

  27. I really enjoyed seeing back to that terrible period in our lives. It still brings back many memories– some good and many bad. Thanks, the color makes a huge difference, and the professional quality stands out. THANKS to all!

  28. These photos are glorious examples of a film and a technology that, for all intents and purposes, are gone. As such, they are a visual treat. However, I found that quite a few of the comments tended to strike me as bordering on the snobbish side.

    I took thousands of shots, all from slide film, from the late 1960s to about 2005 when I started into digital photography. I remember paying $30 to $50 for enlargements when I could afford them. I now pay $2 or $3 for the same size enlargements which I can colour correct and crop myself. I now have a much more affordable hobby. Now, I can also afford to concentrate on five to eight shot panoramas which have become my personal forté. I also have shots “ready to go” in minutes after arriving home instead of days going to film labs and waiting…

    Also, instead of having a massive logistics problem of storing slides and enlargements in many nooks and crannies only to be retrieved and looked at with great effort, I have THOUSANDS of photos stored on my computer and backed up onto external hard drives with the immeasurable benefit of being able to access any of them within a minute or so. I can also catalogue them in several different ways such as all sunset shots together or all winter shots together, etc.

    I’m sold on the affordability and the ease of digital photography. Eastman’s time has come and gone. There’s no point in bemoaning the passing of “buggy whip factories”.

  29. Love these pics! Do you happen to have any from the shipyards in Long Beach? My mother worked as a pipefitter there beginning in 1943. Thank you.

  30. The digital photography is winner, I use it too. But digital colors is not harmonical, Eastman can’t think about it, he dead. Adobe, Canon, Nikon and other modern companies don’t think about it too. Fortunately, we have some alternative possibilities for doing good digital colors, including Kodachrome experience. I’m going to write about it in near feature.

  31. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. Absolutely beautiful. I ahd almost forgotten haw well this format preserved the colors and atmosphere of the day. Thank you.

  32. Thanks for the glimpse at lost moments in time.

    In the early 1940’s my grandmother worked at Douglas aircraft at Tinker AFB. Her husband died of advanced Melanoma around June 1942. I always look over the aircraft assembly photos of the era with a little more discerning eye. I keep thinking I may see my Granny smiling out of one of those old photos.

  33. As a Retired Master Photographer who started my career in 1976 – Kodachrome Large Format ended in Chicago around 1976- we could only get medium and small format – The Chicago plant if dropped off at their door would develop you kodachrome in 24 hours…nothing is like Kodachrome – I have many slides myself that have the richcolor these have – these are historical in nature and I am sure the Flight Museum in Seattle would love to have them in their collection….
    Thanks for sharing them with us…
    I have help 8x 10 Kodachrome and have viewed commercial images of this quality…digital kills what we know as photography it is cold in comparison to Kodachrome…it is like hearing digital music and analogue music…
    the digital amp is cold – the analogue tube amp has warmth and depth…just like this photographs.
    Brian Kaplan, M. Photog,AFP-CNII

  34. The gentleman above is truly right about the photographer and the work in these images…he understood light, and the science of exposure – transparencies only have one correct exposure 1/4 stop either side and they do not appear the same….Digital has killed the art of understanding exposure that Ansel and Fred Picker taught…
    What is the difference between Amateur, Professional and Master photographers?
    Amateurs talk about equipment, professionals talk about making money with the equipment,
    Master Photographers talk about Light!
    Brian Kaplan, M.Photog., AFP

    • Dear Mr. Kaplan,
      My years in Chicago, ’74-’76, were wonderful. I was discovering the camera and a major city. Our in-house shooters loved Kodachrome and that overnight processing. Between that and anything that GAMMA put their hand to meant we had any…ANY post shoot needs met by mid morning the next day. Great memories. Thanks for reminding me

  35. добрый день Brilliant photographs, a real joy to see. And for a change some interesting comments afterwards. Thanks for posting.
    I’ve just moved to Moscow and am still learning the language so it is nice to find your blog with both English and Pусский.

  36. Just goes to show you that great quality then transported itsely over 70 years to the presentto give excellent pictures today .

  37. Interesting to see photos of my generation. Amazing the clarity & color of the pictures & these were taken 70 years ago. Fantastic photography, thanks for sharing

  38. I was drawn to this blog from the first photo……It just kept me reading and looking through the entire blog. Digital has it’s points, but it doesn’t compare with these stunningly gorgeous images. Thanks for posting for all of us to enjoy.

  39. Pavel, Thank you for bringing these to us. It is rare to see such clear, clean, and colorful images that connect our time to that time. It’s almost like being there. Best wishes for your art.

  40. “These Are Real Americans”, Everybody had skin in the game.. We lost approx. 465 Thousand Soldiers during WW-2, Everyone participated in the War Effort .We need to educate our Kids, Grandkids, Great Grandkids what it is to be an American. These folks knew what it was to sacrifice, They didn’t whine they just took care of what needed to be done. they also knew how many Stars and Stripes were on our Flag at that time, “Do Your Kids??” Unlike our current President who thinks there are 57 Stars, Were Losing Our Country People, We Need To Change The “Whats In It For Me” Attitude., If this is not changed these political parasites will be making all your decisions on how much money You make, what You can eat and how and where You live.. Be A Patriot get rid of these idiots in November, Figure out whats good for you instead of a politician making a decision for You.. Once your Rights are voted away they are Gone Forever. If You Don’t Protect The Other Mans Freedoms Whether It’s Guns Or Anything
    Else You Don’t Like, “Remember Your Rights Are Also At Risk”……………….

    • Joe, Ukraine lost 20 million people. Did you ever heard about this country? But americans are beast masters in marketology. Pearl Harbour is well known all over the world! Photos are great from the tech side but they lack some kind of real side of the war. Smiling girls and former life insurance clerks. Wow that cool, she quited her offie job. War ruined her life!
      The main point of my post is that americans pay too much attention to america.

      • The culture of America is based on importance of the INDIVIDUAL where Americans have a profound belief in “I can”
        (its part of our name, Amer I can) Our strength is this- ANY ONE can become an American- Its all about YOU.

  41. I BELIEVE THAT THESE POTOS ARE AS GOOD AS I HAVE SEEN IN 2011-2012. HEY, I AM 82, BORN TO A FAMILY WITH AN UNCLE TO WORKED AS A P HOTO BUG. ALL I CAN SAY,82 YEARS HAVE NOT CHANGED MY MIND.

  42. Wonderful photos. My mother worked at a Buick plant helping the war effort and my dad worked at Western Electric in Cicero. Ill and did work there for the war effort.

  43. Pingback: Large format ASA25 Kodachrome Transparencies. WWII « Daniel D. Eubank's Blog

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  45. I remember those days well. As a young boy I used to pull my wagon from house to house collecting newspapers. We collected all of the tinfoil from cigarette packages and other packages as well. Also, I would collect used tooth paste holders for the lead in them. Everyone tried to do something. Everyone loved the USA and would do anything for it. God bless the USA.

  46. The photos are Absolutely beautiful. The colors are clean and crisp, no retina display, nor digital camera can compare to kodachrome colors. Please post more. Thank you for sharing precious memories. Kodak will be surely missed.

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  48. These really tell the story. My Dad worked at North American and during the war he was recruited to teach women at UCLA to fill roles of men who were on the front lines – probably the first “affirmative action program!

  49. Beautiful pictures of serious nature. It shows the importance our dear women had in the WWII epic. It’s refreshing to see pictures of this nature that remind us of our heritage and makes us thankful for the generation who represents that era. Thanks for the explanation of each picture.

  50. Pingback: 1940-1943 Kodachromes | The Reference Council

  51. Thank you so much for posting these wonderful photos with all their source information. My parents’ and grandparents’ eras come alive in color! Strange how we think of those times as a black and white world.

  52. I started using Kodachrome film in a Rolleiflex Twin lens camera in 1948 I then went to a Nikon 35 mm. in the 50’s the pictures are still in mint condition It’s hard to believe this is no longer with us ..

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  54. Привет Павел! Kodachromes are striking, aren’t they? Are there Russian equivalents? I’ve always been interested in colour photography technologies from what used to be the “Iron Curtain”… Anything by Svemacolor or ORWOcolor? :) These Kodachromes, and those three-colour separation plates by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii are undoubtedly precious historical records. :)

    • Hello! In Russia we used SVEMA, ORWO in the main. And Kodak, Fujifilm too, particularly after 1990, when professional films of this brands start to be more available by official import. But just russian photographers and specialists Andrey Tverdokhleb and Ilia Borgh trying to save Kodachrome and other films colors for world in digital photography :) At the moment they have achieved the best results (in their Raw converter RPP) in comparison other solutions. May be it will be new historical moment? :)

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  56. Fantastic quality images by craftsmen that shows just how much effort went into the inception, with the camera angles, pose and of course the lighting. Sadly the Kodachrome days are over, but Kodachromes will live on. These were taken by real photographers. Digital has made things perhaps, too easy!

  57. My mother worked in the shipyards as a riveter during WW2. I loved the pics. I thought they were all great. I don’t know that digital really equals the film cameras.

  58. Thank you Mr. Kosenko!

    The richness of these photos is remarkable. Thank you for bringing them to us and showing us digital folks what a color really looks like.

    Thank You Again
    For the USA

    • These were a fantastic trip into the past! As a member of the “Old School” of “chemistry photography”, I still have all my 4×5 camera and dark room equipment that I used with Kodak’s Kodachrome transparencies in my studio, New England Photography, in Ayer, MA., circa 1950s. It’s sad that it’s all “obsolete” now, I enjoyed my many hours behind my Crown Graphic and Burke & James 4×5 cameras. Also had an 8×10 Kodak portrait camera and a 5×7.

      They made fantastic pictures, and with one of the first Bessler 4×5 color enlargers in my studio darkroom, you could print murals on the wall, with great clarity and resolution.

      As a former pilot who has actually flow one of the last B17 “Flying Fortresses” made, these pictures brought back memories of that incredible aircraft as well.

  59. Pingback: Fotos coloridas em alta qualidade da Segunda Guerra Mundial | OMEdI

  60. The pic of the worker at Baxter Labs, Deerfield, IL shows how blood was collected in glass back then. My late husband traveled the world as the Medical Director for that division of Baxter, converting blood collection in bottles to plastic bags, as is now done. Thanks for the memories!!

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  62. An awesome collection, and it also shows the patriotic contribution by so many while their loved ones were in far away lands defending freedom!!

  63. What a great array of Photographs, not only showing the vivid color’s, but of the collected effort of the general population at the time.
    Would like to see more photo’s, perhaps from the Pratt & Whitney Plant in E. Hartford, Ct., as my Dad worked there in the 1940’s.
    Again, Thanks

  64. I still remember as a 10 year old going to school where barrage baloons were “flying” . We were just a few miles from Boeing Air in Seattle.

  65. I concur with “Barbara”. We’re probably about the same age. I recall as a youngster, gathering tin foil, string, newspapers etc., in my little red wagon for the War Effort. Dad was too old to be in the military, but we had relatives that saw combat. And I of course lived through the “Cold War Years” (in college then). Joined the Military, and while fortunate enough to be in between the Korean and Viet Nam wars and thus have not see any combat, my heart, suport, and everlasting good wishes go out to those, past and present, that are in the military. Just wish the “current generation” had a clue! I also shot many a picture on Kodac film, and these pictures represent a “lost art”.

    • I would love to have a large format camera! Especially for macro shots and some telephoto situations. I have an old in flight camera from an old RB 57 Canberra bomber including to film canister. not something you would or could carry around for any photo opportunity(several hundred pounds each unit!) A photo intel system that was bolted to the revolving bombbay door. Its been sold recently.I miss that old monster. but a 4X5 would be perfect. And I bet a digital base could be made for it. what do you think

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    • Marian (Andrews) Lipsius on May 5, 2012 @ 1:40 AM
      The pictures were great! They brought back memories of the 40’s. THANKS!!
      All of the comments were interesting.
      I rate this a big thumbs up!

  67. I was a senior in high school when Pearl Harbor was bombed–and we did not know where it was! I worked later for a company that constructed a butadiene plant, an ingredient for making synthetic rubber as the Phillipines had been invaded by Japan. When it was finished, the next day I worked in the same place for the largest oil refinery in the U.S. at the time, after the war was over. Friends of mine worked for constructing airplanes and other important jobs for the war effort. The photos brought back memories as my two brothers were in service. Great color. All of mine at the time were b&w!

  68. ww2 bad & good old times still have KODAK SIGNET 35 camera in mint condition. Al loading of film and settings are done by hand. All insctiptions beautifully rendered in the still pristine metal & leather (silver & black) Designed with affection and used in the same way. An object of a memorable time.

  69. Pingback: Incredible WW2 Photos « Fiscal Wars

  70. Never seen anything so very clear, they are magnificent, color excellent! I was born in 1943, and this really has made a great impression on me!

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  73. Just beautiful shots, professionally lighted and posed. I have used Kodachrome in the 1960s and it is just beautiful and the long term storage is the best. Slides look as good today as they did when I took the shots.

  74. Was “blown away” by the quality & definition of the photos & the stories. Photo #23…Heil Co, Milkwaukee..my father, John W. Litsey, on the date mentioned, worked across the street{south 27th St} at Maynard Electric Steel Casting Co..he was a time study engineer, setting piece rates for the the “chippers” that formed castings for heavy machinery, made for the Heil Co., across the street. My dad worked there over 30 years.

  75. Pavel fabulous pictures of historic World War II era USA plane manufacturing plant people – the Kodachrome slides are fabulous and clear in detail. How and Where did you find them? I suppose on the photographers web site.

    I have collected many clear black and white seppia tone images of that era from a history point of view but have never seen such color pictures. I wonder if you could also point me to pictures of the Soviet Union’s manufacturing plants of those days – they had to move the plants almost under the guns of the invading Nazi Germany’s armies and get them setup and manufacturing fast in the Urals or further east. The work and determination was heroic and must have been captured in some picture I realize the USSR was under mortal threat so it would be difficult to have posed pics like these but something must have been taken.

    Thanks for these.

  76. I was not around during WWII but the pictures are so awesome. And it shows me what it was like back then. I am from Rochester, NY, home of Kodak, and I am very upset about what is happening. Kodakchrome forever!

  77. This brought back memories of my mother when she was a machinest at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, East Hartford, CT, producing engines for for fighters and bombers during WWII.

    • Ah!! Large format Kodachrome was unbeatable!!! A brilliant collection, well shot, well lit for the time and they ideally convey just how much collective effort went into WW2 on the home front – worldwide of course but, maybe, better recorded in the US. Noel Leeder, Sydney, Australia.

  78. As a pro photographer I am in awe of these pictures, the colour is amazing, I would love to be able to reproduce those tones in my digital images

  79. Developed Kodachrome has no grain. There are two stages of developing,.. first to make a negative,and the second to make a positive from the silver salts that remain after the first developing. During the second the dyes are activated to make the positive and then the silver salts are bleached out removing any grain. Kodachrome
    accentuates the colors and delivers a picture that is not lifelike but very pleasant to the average viewer .
    The dyes are very stable if protected from the light…most slides are stored in lighttight trays.

  80. wow I almost thought I would see my aunt in one of these pics will take them to show to her. During the war she worked in a munitions plant checking bullets by hand making sure the boys who shot them had bullets that performed their duty & hit the mark as she puts it.

  81. My aunt worked at Wright-Paterson Airforce Base, near Dayton, Ohio, for the War Effort. She met her future husband there.
    I used to lay in my backyard and watch the aircraft taking off for England. The end of the runway was just three miles away. My Mother wore her hair like many in the pictures.

  82. Pingback: The Home Front: 4×5 Kodachromes from the US Office of War Information - Photography links - iso200 - photography, articles and photo links from Dave Fitch

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  84. I am a camera collector & have about 150 cameras & have used the film before in my 35, & 4×5 cameras & it is awesome, the photos are GREAT !

  85. When I 1st saw pic.#36 C&W Rail 3streamliner trains , That yard looks like the rail yard I grew up at. I used to live across the street from the C&W Railyard on Kinzie St., Chicago Ill. Fond memories of playing in that yard knew how to hop freights by the time I was 8. Got into bigger trouble in my pre teens. Lost 2 grand dads to rail accendents 1 was w/C&W & not sure what the other line was. Great pictures Film will always be better then digial .

  86. Very interesting images. I still use a Speed Graphic camera from about that era. Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi is still there and is where I was discharged from the Navy in 1968. Part of the old Navy base is now Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

      • For the rank dullard calling “bs” on the women’s manicured nails, bugger off. Every shot in this tableau was posed. Posed and planned. The film speed and lighting gear of the day mandated such. So, the women involved knew in advance of the shoot. As such they did all they could do to appear at their best. Put plainly, they did their nails. Get over it, oh thee of shallow understanding.

    • How surprising that some of the pictures were posed! If you recall the war years, I was 4-9 years old, the War Effort was foremost in everyone’s mind. We bought stamps at school to eventuall add up to a $18.75 War Bond. There was no TV, most of the info on the War Effort was in Time Life magzines or newsreels in theaters. The use of big foremat cameras like the 4×5 inch plates was the top of the line for photograpers, as shown by the quality of the prints shown. Truely remarkable and breathtaking.

  87. I am from Amarillo, Tx and my father-in-law and some of his brothers worked for the railroad in Amarillo. Wondering who the yardmaster pictured is.

  88. Pingback: Some of the best WWII photos I have ever seen

  89. Imagine if Hitler hadn’t attacked the USSR, and the Japanese hadn’t attacked Pearl Harbour!

    My family only lost 1 man. In 1945, he was commanding a destroyer in the Royal Canadian Navy. Four days before the end of the War in Europe. his destroyer was torpedoed by a U-Boat. All hands were lost. His brother was in the Canadian Intelligence Corps. After the War, he would say NOTHING!

  90. I lived my whole young life in Long Beach ,California. In fact I was born there. It was interesting to see pictures of Douglas Aircraft, with the people working. During the war my Mother and my grandfather both worked at Douglas. Especially now that I am myself in my 80’s, anything that brings back “the good old days”, really gives me a warm feeling and I do long to be back there. But, I am not unhappy about being as old as I am.

  91. My mother told me about how she helped make bombs in Pennsylvania during WW2. According to he berth year and the war she would have been in her early twenties.

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  93. Really brought back the “Good ol Days” Yes I was one of the Defence workers living in the Ogden, Ut. area at the time. Not many men around at that time, mostly women.

  94. Thanks for sharing these amazing windows into our past.The lighting and color are exemplary. Did you know that a young , blonde air defense worker was discovered at such a plant in southern California ?. She modeled and then made motion pictures in Hollywood…Her name was Marilyn Monroe.

  95. great photos, but are they REAL????? Ilook closely, none of these people are dirty….. I work in a metal fab shop the does a lot of these same type jobs and at the end of the day I leave filthy.

    • If you’ll look carefully at the Lighting of each photo, you’ll notice that most if not all are set-up shots with studio lighting planned in advance, and the workers were asked to look nice for the camera ahead of time. During an actual assembly line moving at a set pace, they could not allow a photographer to get in the way of all the moving people. It shows the skills of these photographers as well as the subjects in their pictures.

  96. Being a retired US Army photographer and also a criminal photographer, I still own two 4×5 press cameras. At over eighty I have finally moved to digital photography but miss the abilities of view and press cameras. Was stationed in Bad Kreuznach, home of Schneider lens, for three years (wife is from Bad Kreuznach) and still have a Schneider Curtagon in my old Edixa 35 SLR and both still work perfectly. My Kodak digital also has Schneider lens.

  97. Thank you for posting these wonderful pictures. Although posed, they all tell a story! I was born in 1938, but I remember when my Dad came home from work (he was defered….too old with three kids) and said the war was over. I was just old enough to realize the importance of it all and marvelled at the pictures that were in the forthcoming newspapers. I’ve been a WW II buff ever since. Our family had friends that worked at the ammunition plant near Baraboo, WI.

  98. My dear Pavel, As a 90yr old airforce veteran,to view these shots is to step back in time for me. I was a radio mechanic stationed at Pueblo AAF, Colorado for most of the war. Only lacking for me are our Waac ladies who worked with us for a spell, and the Chinese crew members we trained at that time. My later transfer to Grand Island, Nebraska with the B-29’s there was thankfully the end of my service due to bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Photos of the B-29’s building and flying them would be desirable if possible. Thanks again and again from a vet.

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  101. I was just a small child back then. I do remember so many servicemen coming and going. Those many women helped the USA win the war. I wish our great country could be like it was then. So many people today don’t care enough. There should be a “None of the Above” on every ballot. If NOTA wins, select a new candidate.

  102. I have no dought they are real. I worked at McDonnell Aircraft, Boeing, and GKN Aerospace ( much more resently than these pictures) but they do professional staged publicity pictures from time to time and sure they are staged. Back then, the photography was more art than now. No fancy digital cameras.

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  104. The photographs are fabulous..crisp and clear – a true picture of that time, captured as viewed. The lighting and the people we see are fantastic and fascinating to view.
    Thank you very much.

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  106. This photos are amazing! Not to mention what era and for what reason…. Yea I bet those were some “great old days”

  107. What an Amazing aray of Photos of our past. May God continue to Bless Our Great Nation “America” now and in the future. God Please Bless and Protect our Troops.

  108. I remember my Mom worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and that was the beginning of women wearing slacks etc.

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  110. Wow, great photos!! However, photo # 24 caught my attention (Baxter I.V. Solutions).
    I joined Baxter as a chemist in 1966 at their Cleveland, MS, plant, where I.V. solutions in glass bottles were manufactured, many of which were shipped to Vietnam! The visual final inspection in the 1960’s was the same as it was in 1942! My future mother-in-law was one of the inspectors during the late 1960’s.

    • HI Wayne, The movement out of glass into flexible packaging came in the early 70’s. I worked for a packaging company and we had the task of designing machinery for boxing the bags at Abbott’s plant in North Carolina. Quite the challenge but we did it. Abbott was a competitor of Baxter.

      • Enjoyed the pictures of Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, Ca. I was attending high school at
        Woodrow Wilson High at the time, It was near this aircraft industry and I was hoping to see some familiar faces. I think I did see one. I never saw color photos from that time in history so I think these must have been doctored up for this showing. Anyway it is beautiful photography, reguardless!

  111. Great pictures! So glad they are being shared. I especially like the ones that show the women working on aircraft and other war equipment. Of course they are posed — but they ARE real, and women really did this work.
    “Rosie the Riverter” women.

  112. What I find so amazing is the lighting on the subjects…I bet that took a lot of effort to get just right. The depth of field is fantastic as well.

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  114. I never realized the world was in color back then. I thought before I was born everything was B&W. Great photos!
    I wish I had grown up during this time period.

  115. Soectacular photos–brighter than we have today, I believe. How well I remember those days and can’t help grieving over the heartaches so many days brought to people. It was hard to wait for loved ones holding them constantluy;up in prayer and admiring those women who worked so hard in the background. I bet there weren”t mistakes either.

  116. My friend in Oz sent these pics for me to peruse and I cannot ever remember seeing such clear photos with so much outstanding detail. bravo to the photograther.

  117. Pingback: Some Interesting World War II Color Images

  118. Thank you so much for posting these. They are WONDERFUL…great detail technically, and what a treasure trove of history.

  119. I was born in 1943 and salute the patriotism and hard work exemplified by the Americans in these beautiful photos. Over the years, I’ve visited about 35 states, including all of the ones where these pics were taken. I would love to see more photos like these, to remind me of the many wonderful faces I’ve seen and places I’ve been. Our family pics from the 1940’s are 3″ x 4″ black and white snapshots that seem mundane compared to these works of photographic art. They deserve to be displayed in a fine arts gallery or museum. My wife and I currently live in Ohio, near the former Weirton Steel and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel operations that utilized thousands of Rosie the Riveters, to manufacture bomb casings for our troops in WWII. Many of them still live in this area and I truly respect them.

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  121. Beautiful pictures . . . brings back many memories. . . . I was born and raised in KODAK town. . . It is truly a shame
    to go by all the ‘torn-down’ buildings. To see the vacant areas and the vacant parking lots. . . like a ghost town.
    Our town will never flourish as before. . . I feel as though we lived during the ‘best times’ . . . even tho we struggled .
    people got along together. You cared about your neighbors . Didn’t drive 50mph down rural streets , cutting in and
    out. Respect for one another seems to have vanished. So the pictures were great…However I hope the hairstyles
    never come back! !

  122. I agree the old 4 x 5 Kodachrome was not common and difficult to use due to slow speed. I used some while with the 3925th Signam Photo Service Company in Honolulu in 1945/46 but it was difficult and one had to be right on the mark as to focus, appature and shutter speed. These are fantastic pictures and all involved in taking and processing them are to be congratulated.
    Ralph Hallock

  123. Wonderfully, amazing glimpses into our history and a view of how vital women were then…as well as now! Thanks for sharing!

  124. I wasn’t born until 1944 so I really appreciated seeing this photographic history, and as for women jumping into a mans shoes, whats new, it’s still happening! Larry Le CLaire In Ewing NJ

  125. Hello Pavel;

    Thanks for providing the pics. My Mother was a riveter in the Boeing Aircraft Plant in Vancouver, BC during WWII, and I enjoyed the trip down nostalgia street!

    JT

  126. My dear deceased father was a great mechanic on the B-17’s back in ww2, he was so good, they kept him stateside so the planes could get fixed properly,,, im very proud of him till this day and will always be….

  127. Wonderful photos – film shows great detal and colors digital can’t match. My mother worked on B25 wings being built in Fresno, CA in ’43. My being 12 at time, wasn’t allowed to see any part of plant. These photos gives me idea of how she was working at plant.

  128. 1943 2 feb along with 3 brothers we started to go coon hunt. and a b25 came over us back fireing and would crash on the peaks of otter bedford va looking at all these nice px as brought back those mem as i saw a b 25 boomer here and really enjoyed seeing all these nice pxs thanks

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  130. Do you have permission to publish these photos on your blog? Exactly who do they belong to? Who has the copyright?…The photos are great, by the way.

  131. I served as a Signal Corp photographer in Europe and the Philppines during WW II and took some 4 x 5 Kodachrome myself. Couldn’t beat the color saturation of this good old film! Too bad it’s no longer made.

  132. I work for Boeing right now and noticed how all the women in the pictures have beautiful
    hands and nails despite not wearing gloves!! I wear gloves and my hands still look like hell
    all my nails are broken and dirty and the girls in the photos have perfect painted nails! cool
    photos though.

  133. I don’t think that the younger generations can fathom the dedication to American and to each other that the war experience instilled in each of this generation. I am hoping that we would rise to the occasion again…Great photos, thank you.

  134. It took unity to do what was done back then. “I am hoping that we would rise to the occasion again” is my hope as well. We as a nation are so “polorized” into groups which destroy unity. As someone just said, 47% of Americans think the government owes them something. I think thats a true statement and it reflects the reality of America’s problems. But, I am hopeful!

    • Well first off 47% do not think America owes them soemthing . Tha was just a statement of some who may not pay taxes and includes many elderly and disabled.

  135. I am particularly impressed with the photographer’s artistic use of lighting in these photos. Many such as the truck driver and crane operator at the TVA dam have a romantic and dramatic light that matches the Golden Age of Hollywood stills.

    Really lovely work, and thanks for sharing them. Large format Kodachrome is an amazing medium. Love those saturated colors.

  136. These pictures are remarkable not only for their superb quality but also for their graphic record of a time past. They recalled for me an era of historical significance. I was at school in England when they were taken and had an “exciting” time – bombed out of our home and finally evacuated to the West Country. The superb efforts of the great ladies portrayed in these photos are appreciated by me since they contributed importantly to the final victory which allowed me to enjoy a life of liberty vastly different from what was planned by our enemy.

  137. Thank you for posting these. Ironically, I was a photographer/photo interpreter in Viet Nam and greatly appreciate the quality of these images in both color and clarity. We did not have a 4×5 format for hand held work, only 35mm.
    These shots make quite a point for women, the women working in the defense plants while the men (mostly) fought the war. I was born in ’42, my father was in the Army and my father-in-law worked for North American and Rockwell as an engineer in Columbus, Ohio from 1945 to 1975 following a period with Curtiss Wright in Tuscon, Arizona in 1944, where my wife was born.

  138. Had a 4×5 Speed Graphic but never had a chance to shot any Kodachrome with it, but did shot some Ektachrome 4×5 and processed it myself. Work in the graphic arts as a scanner operator and found the Kodachrome was grainless and could be enlarged many times and still be sharp.

  139. All very smartly turned out and looking competent and efficient

    Just imagine equivalent photographs taken of today’s workers! Dishevelled in their appearance and 50% of them obese. What has happened to this nation of ours?

  140. Stellar! Absolutely beautiful, crisp, evocative, poignant, and telling photographs of a people galvanized by a passion for life and the desire of freedom. Simply stunning, telling glimpses. Thank you!

  141. Pingback: Large-format (mostly 4×5) Kodachrome transparencies

  142. Perhaps the most amazing thing about these images is the LIGHTING. This is before the days of Polaroid proofs. You calculate the the ratios based on experience, make the exposure, and then wait a week to see the results. I am sure that there were no more K-14 lines in the country back then than in the “glory days”in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. E6 was on the rise by then, and given the poor archival performance of E6 transparencies (decades) vs Kodachrome (essentially forever)….

    Yes, the large format helps the look, but it is the SKILL of Alfred Palmer that is the genius ingredient behind the impression of these images. As a former corporate and editorial photographer who DID have Polaroid proofs with which to judge the lighting– Palmer’s lighting skills are so far beyond Photoshop effects it is amusing. Simply gorgeous.

  143. Forgot to point out that transparencies have about 1/2- f stop leeway in exposure. More than that and it either looks too light or too dark. Everyone with a SLR with TTL exposure control have no appreciation for the magic that their camera and flash system is doing. Automatically.

    Mr Palmer mixed daylight-balanced continuous light with ambient light beautifully. Look at the many images with daylight and artificial light– virtually perfectly balanced. This man knew his craft!

  144. I am in awe of our mothers and grandmothers who could build and install aircraft engines and electrical systems. I was 14 years old in 1942 and remember vividly the all-out war effort. These women were a major part of “The Greatest Generation”.

  145. Neither Romney nor Obama have any Idea about how these photo designed “The American Values”!!! That’s too bad that there is so much other rhetoric they are spending time on.

  146. Outstanding quality. Brings back memories of my youth. The emotion is evident in these photos. Many thanks for your hard work in this display. Regards, Wayne

  147. I own on of the bellows type dual lens imported optic type fro 20s to 40s era have no idea of worth. It wwas my graandfathers who was a professional photographer

  148. Pingback: 4×5 Kodachromes from WWII « Douglas G. Stinson Photography

  149. i worked at e.k.company for 30 yrs. and i think your pictures are great. the clarity is fantastic.. kudos to you…

  150. Pingback: Check out Pavel Kosenko ‘s blog post of some of his favorite pictures from WWII!! « planet neato

  151. Pingback: The Pentax 50mm Lens Thread

  152. I agree the photos are fantastic but the real story is the real life people working to protect America during a very awful war.

  153. Windows of the past, an excellent record of us who lived during those days, wishing to capture many of the scenes, but in most cases ….NO CAMERAS ALLOWED.. J R SMITH USNavy Air 43 to 46

  154. Wonderful collection of images! I was an Air Force photojournalist (1984-2010) who learned photography via 35mm Kodachrome and Ektachrome film before we transitioned to digital in 1993. While most military photographers would rather photograph their subjects in natural light, I was one of the few shooters who would carry studio lights on location to paint my subjects in light – much the way these images were done. It is apparent that a lot of time and attention-to-detail went into the creation of these photographs. Thanks for sharing this! D Scott Wagers, MSgt, USAF (ret)

  155. I was school child during much of this, but I entered the armed services in time to see the end. Wish for more pics of this period to remind people that women did as much as armed forces to shorten the war

  156. Amazing clarity. Beautiful images. Also a snapshot of America now and then. Whenever I see modern Americans, it’s coloured with a view of a bovine, porcine, ‘me’ obsessed slob culture. Somehow an idiot class has been manifested. But look back then with a people at work (great work ethic) with purpose, deserved yet quiet pride, largely immaculately turned out and nary a land whale in sight. Post war prosperity and hubris came with a cost evidently. Oh – and some of those ladies were super honeys!

    Thanks Pavel for showing these pics to a wider audience (myself included).

  157. Pingback: Color Photos That Look Like They Were Taken Yesterday

  158. As an avid digital photographer when I study these images all I can say is “Up your’s digital”, these are just great works of art. Of the 40,000 images I have taken the last few years with a professional camera I am hard pressed to find a handful that have the depth and color saturation of these

    • Now now Doug Schiefer, take it a bit more easy on digital. It’s purpose is rather different than was the purpose of 4×5 Kodachrome. It’s like comparing a smart phone vid to 35 mm movie images. That said, I agree completely about the color saturation. That neg size and slow Kodachrome…unrivaled in regard.

  159. Photo Lab Del Rio Texas: Lab Commande Warrant Officer Koble
    I processed Ansco color film (4X5) before Kodachrome was issued to our photo lab.This was a B-25 Army air force base. The first Kodak color was first available in Englang. I never had the opportunity to work with kodachrome.
    Those pictures were indeed great, I believe Ansco color was as good.

    • The pictures are beautiful and they also opened up my eyes as I was 11 years old on Pearl Harbor Day! Also , my eyes got wider when I saw the three pictures of the Chicago and North Western Railroad. My Dad was an on the C&NW form 1919 until he retired as an Engineer in 1962. He was on the Galena Division that went from Chicago to
      Clinton, Iowa. I am also very familiar with the three pictures as I was born about a half mile from the Proviso Yards
      and also had rides up in the engine with him many times. I only wish Pop was still around to see these pictures. I know that he would recognize some of these people pictured.

  160. Pingback: Séries de photos de femmes pendant la seconde guerre mondiale en couleurs | le journal d'Elynor

  161. Um, to all the people saying that digital photography doesn’t compare to film, remember that you are looking at digitized versions of these Kodachrome slides. That said, these are still lovely digital renditions of Kodachrome. Fuji also did a great job of creating chrome slide film … in fact, by the 1980s and ’90s, most photographers preferred Fujichrome to Kodachrome film. When Fuji created their pro-series digital “S-3″ camera, they emulated their own famous slide films – Velvia and Provia. These digital images have the warmth and richness of the original slide films. So, it’s not that digital can’t yield excellent results…it’s that the photographers of today don’t necessarily know how to get the effect of digital to comply with the hyper-saturarted richness of yesterday’s great chrome films!

  162. What leaps out at me is the resemblance of these photos to the work of Norman Rockewll. The color hues and saturation and lighting is identical.

    • Most of Rockwells paintings were of photographs. he would actually set up senarios and have photos taken. He would then reference the photos while working on the painting. (Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick)

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  185. Nearly everyone in our family worked at Douglas during WWII and we lived within walking distance of the Santa Monica plant. My dad worked there till he was drafted into the Navy, was on a bus headed for boot camp in San Diego the day before the war was over, spent his 2 yrs behind a typewriter, mom was a steno & typist while her sister polished the cockpit windshields so our airmen could see where they were going, I worked at Douglas every summer since I was 18 until I graduated from college. These great photos also show what a fine photographer can do with 4×5 Kodachrome film in the right camera. I’m not sure if one of the women seen here might be my aunt. Thanks for sharing this chapter of history with us. Stellar photos (and stunning depth-of-field).

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  197. These were taken about the time of my birth. So glad to have this part of history so well documented in this way. Stunning photography! Thank you for compiling these photos. Do we know what became of the men who took these pictures?

  198. The colors are superb, but I’m really impressed with the lighting. I can’t imagine, with all of the wiring and large lights that would have been needed, how much effort was put into lighting these correctly.

  199. Thank you so much for sharing these pictures, as well as the information about the archives website. These pictures are so beautiful!

  200. Pavel, maybe it’s buried somewhere in your wonderful site, but what many of my friends and me are asking is: WHERE did you find all those pictures?
    Thank you!
    George B.

  201. From a good buddy, out in Huntington Beach, CA:
    I’ve seen these before somewhere else. Nothing as good in those days as Kodachrome transparency film and of course a good camera. That was the closest color film ever got to black and white detail.

    By the way picture number 37 is my wife’s aunt Lillian Buck Miller. Her daughter Priscilla was my secretary in a past employment life and was how I came across my wife, her cousin. Lillian was one of the few that stayed on after the men came home and retired from Douglas after a full career.

  202. Thank you for a remarkable & colorful journey into the past. Viewing on my iPhone, I can readily enlarge these pics. They remain perfect showing even the most exacting details of the work being done. The enlarged views of people’s faces is so real, it’s hard to believe.
    Again, remarkable photos!

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  204. Seeing all the ladies in these pics remind me of the era from which my mom’s hairstyle came :)

    She was a welder in the Frisco shipyard, and after being declared 4F by the Army, my dad was a crewleader there.

  205. The world has yet to realize what it lost when Kodak stopped producing Kodachrome. Digital will never even come close. It would be wonderful to see these transparencies projected onto a screen. While these photos look nice on this page, like I said, digital will never come close.

  206. Took hundreds of pictures using 35 mm Kodachrome in 1960 while in Navy. I lost most of them over time, this really bring back memories of how great those images were.

  207. Thank you SO much for posting these photos! They are absolutely spectacular. I posted a link to your blog on my Facebook page and commented “Kodachrome Time Travel”.

    One question: the caption on image 33 says “Click here for a closeup of the poster on the wall.” However the link does not seem to work for me. Is there any way to get a closer look at those posters on the wall? They ALL look fascinating!

  208. I share opinions of the superiority of the old Kodachrome and Extachrome technologies. There are some colors that a standard digital array CANNOT reproduce. Try taking shot of a brilliant crimson geranium. It’ll never happen. Drives the array nuts…same for HP, Sanyo, Canon, Nikon any digital camera you can name. I still drag out my old Canon 35mm (FTQL circa 1969) around when I want a great color shot containing fleshtones.

  209. Oh Forgot to thank Mr Pavel for giving us this photographic treat. I was young man during WWII – just slightly too young to be drafted. But all my relatives worked in the aircraft war plants in San Diego. These photos bring back such stirring memories. thank you, thank you !

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  212. Most likely the images where all shot with a Speed Graphic with a f4.5 lens. The good qualities are in large part due to the large 4×5 inch format. Most of the images where obviously taken with an off the camera flash. Given the era and the ASA film speed of 10 the flashbulbs (not strobes) where most likely the size of a man’s fist. As far as Kodachrome is concerned it has a very high saturation and contrast. The high contrast and saturation results in a product that is difficult to impossible to reproduce without a good deal of work. I have 4×5 inch Ektachrome transparencies and Ektacolor negatives that are 40 years old that still look fine and are easy to duplicate.

    • I was into photography in the 70s and always shot Ektachrome. Nothing like it and a good Canon 35 mm for skin tone – don’t care what Kodachrome fans say. Canon had much superior lens coating =s for shooting skin facials, etc.

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  217. The photos were just great,what is more amazing and and for,me,was the dedication and work that these women did.I have had the honer to work on and fly several aircraft made by tthese companies and dedicated women gh

  218. They dressed better in those days to rivet planes together than they do to go out for a night on the town now!

  219. Cool photos. Just for historical accuracy #26 says “…the P-51 ‘Mustang’ fighter plane, which was first brought into prominence by the British raid on Dieppe.” While the British command did plan the raid, 5,000 of the 6,000 who carried it out were Canadians, and more than 900 Canadian men died there. Thanks.

  220. I am stunned, amazed at the quality, and very grateful to all who contributed to bringing this wonderful collection of history to the world. I only wish a collection such as this had been available when I was in school learning history. It would have made it all far more personal, valuable, and understandable. Absolutely fine work!!

  221. These are amazing photos. They should be placed in every school in this country before all memory of these people’s hard work and dedication is totally removed from memory.
    Thank you for sharing these.
    God bless you.

  222. WOW!

    The ATSFRR Blacksmith shop is now a mall and the Levittown neighborhood looks so different now (Google Map the streets John, James, Andrew or Schoolhouse). These first-class professional Kodachromes bring a reality to the WWII era which is usually depicted by blurry BW footage.

    I know how hard it is to get good KC exposures. Starting at age 12 with an old (even at that time in the late ’70’s) Bolsey B2 rangefinder, flashgun, #5B flashbulbs (these bulbs are extremely powerful) and a late ’40’s GE light meter, some how I managed to get pretty good images that still look like they did almost 40 years ago.

    I went to digital because of KC’s end. I tried Fujichrome but it had too much contrast. KC got to be seen as a ‘dull’ film in comparison but it was accurate. Printing slides was difficult, as was any color work in a darkroom. But even with the best chemical process (Cibachrome) the results were nowhere near the original (sure ‘they’ said you could make a BW negative mask to help but that was too much for me). So for years projecting them or viewing them on a light table was the only way to appreciate them.

    During that time (late 1980’s) I had the good fortune to get a job making color separation negatives used to make press plates. The scanner was a $250,000 drum scanner that took up a small room and some part of the roof. A job fringe benefit was that I could reproduce my KC’s by proofing the separation negatives (8×10’s and 16×20’s) using an ultra high quality system. It was a bit involved but the results were absolutely like the images here. It would be about a decade more before good scanners became available at a near reasonable price.

    It is so very easy to get technically excellent results with digital. I think ‘how did I record important things like weddings and vacations shooting blind and waiting for at least a week to see if the pictures came out right’?

    These photos very clearly show the craftsmanship of persons who know their professional. Their reproduction is outstanding!

    Bookmarked for sure!

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