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31 year old images of Bob Dylan developed

Bob Dylan makes another comeback with a little help from Ilford Photo.

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Bob Dylan

A film roll containing photographs of Bob Dylan has been unearthed and developed for the first time 31 years after it was exposed, thanks to UK based Ilford Photo. The pictures demonstrate the capacity of old film technology to store images perfectly, giving rise to the question of whether digital pictures will last this long.

Press Release:

Bob Dylan has made another critically acclaimed comeback, although this time it is his image rather than his music that is causing the excitement. 31 years after a concert in Fort Worth, Texas pictures of Dylan taken using Ilford HP5 black and white film have only now been developed after gathering dust for over three decades.

Unlike Dylan, now 68, the photographs show no apparent signs of ageing and provide a crystal clear view of Dylan on stage during the 1978 performance. For the photographer, Mark Estabrook, the fact that the pictures survived demonstrates the archival properties of traditional photography compared with digital files:

The film lay dormant and undeveloped at various room temperatures until I discovered them when moving house recently,” He said. “I asked Ilford Photo’s technical team how to develop the film and when I came out of the darkroom I was amazed how well the images had been preserved. It was as if I shot the show yesterday, with superb grain detail.

I have used various digital storage, from floppy disks to flash drives, since 1982 and a hard drive would never have lasted that long, let alone an inkjet print. The fact these pictures survived in the condition that they did is testament to the quality and longevity of silver halide photography. As I tell my fellow photographers: try that with a hard drive.

Ilford Photo has been manufacturing photographic products, from film to darkroom chemicals, since 1879 and the company remains one of the few brands surviving from the halcyon days of darkroom photography.

Marketing Director, Steven Brierley believes that finds like the Dylan pictures are helping analogue photography experience a comeback of its own: “Images like these demonstrate the impact black and white pictures have to a new generation of photographers, as well as their capacity to last.

There is a romance and an verve to darkroom photography and real silver-gelatin prints that is actually heightened by the predominance of digital. It’s an ethereal quality that cannot be matched with digital prints,” he added.

The Bob Dylan film was kept in the original Ilford Photo tin alongside shots of seventies rock and roll band Little Feat. Now an airline pilot, Mark Estabrook was a noteworthy rock and roll photographer during the seventies and the pictures will be included in a new book of music photography planned for publication next year.
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John_Humphreys 16 69 2 Ireland
27 Nov 2009 5:49PM
Almost makes me regret that I bought so much digital gear in the last 5 years!!
Zydeco_Joe 15 84 1 England
27 Nov 2009 11:02PM
Fantastic find and a top class image of the Great Man. Dylan might of aged but his music is timeless, well not counting his christmas record.
Gavilan 12
3 Dec 2009 8:11PM
Love Dylan, love B&W film photography, but talk about an apples-to-oranges comparison! I don't disagree with the premise that film-silver print photography has certain qualities digital doesn't, but this comparison is not useful. As long as the ones and zeros of a digital image are moved forward through the advancing storage technologies (whose rapid advance has slowed considerably in recent years -- a CD I burned 10 years ago can still be read in a computer I buy today; not so with the 5 1/2 disk) then that "image" will long outlast even the best of its film-print counterparts. Especially color -- these images were black-and-white, which is far more stable. Yes, hard-drives and CD/DVDs fail, but that's what back-ups are for. The only reason a digital image shot 10 years ago won't be available 500 years from now with those exact same qualities intact will be carelessness in storage. The only way the same can be said about these negatives is if you scan them! Which is the first thing I would do with them!

Seems to me Ilford is just trying to sell some film.

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