Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Charles Edward Kenneth Mees

The Biography of Dr MeesBy Walter Clark FPSA, 1943
Dr Mees Biography Part 3

Under Dr. Mees' direction, much of the world's research on the theory of photography has been carried out in the Laboratory at Rochester. It can reasonably be claimed that much of the stimulus for the work of others has come from it. This is due in large part to the broad-minded policy of publishing the results of much of the research. The so-called "Communications" to the photographic and scientific journals now number more than nine hundred and fifty. Dr. Mees has a well-developed sense of simplicity of expression and a desire to make the results of photographic knowledge available to as wide a group as possible. When he was at Wratten and Wainwright, he pioneered the publication of instructional booklets, an example which has been developed widely not only by the Eastman Kodak Company but by other photographic manufacturers as well. The results of the research in the Kodak Research Laboratories are brought together annually in somewhat abridged form in the "Abridged Scientific Publications of the Kodak Research Laboratories", which has a wide distribution. The Laboratory also issues a "Monthly Abstract Bulletin", which consists of abstracts of the world's photographic and pertinent scientific literature. Originally produced for the benefit of the scientific and technical workers inside the Kodak organization, it is now distributed widely to people outside the Company who have a bona fide interest in the technical literature of photography.

In recent years, the staff of the Laboratory has increased to nearly five hundred scientists and photographic technicians. The work is divided more or less equally into three types: research on the fundamental problems of the subject; development of new processes and the improvement of existing ones; and service work for the Company and the trade.

It was about ten years after Dr. Mees founded the Research Laboratory that the Eastman Kodak Company was able to place on the market the first large development of the Laboratory finding world-wide commercial application. This was the 16-mm. reversal process of amateur cinematography, largely due to the work of J. G. Capstaff and introduced in 1923, which led to the establishment of a worldwide series of stations for processing the film. It was later followed by a corresponding 8-mm. film program. The organization of a lengthy research leading to a development such as this involves qualities with which Dr. Mees is singularly endowed. Not only does it require scientific ability and the faculty of selecting the right men for the work, but it involves vision and imaginative approach, a lot of common sense, forceful drive and sympathetic encouragement, and, by no means least, the ability to "sell" the idea to others.

Dr. Mees had always been interested in color photography, and some of the earliest work of the Laboratory had been devoted to it. After the introduction of amateur motion pictures, Capstaff specialized in this field. The result was the marketing in 1928 of the first Kodacolor process, which was an amateur system of 16mm motion pictures in color using lenticular film. In 1935 the Kodachrome process of color motion pictures was developed by L. D. Mannes, APSiA, and Leopold Godowsky, APSA, and from it later came the 35mm miniature Kodachrome film, the 8mm Kodachrome motion picture film, Kodachrome in cut sheet form, and Kotavachrome and Minicolor prints.

The most recent development in the field of color photography, the Kodacolor process for color negatives and prints for the amateur, was made available at the beginning of 1942. At about the same time, there was produced Kodacolor Aero Reversal Film, made exclusively for the aerial photographic branches of the Army and Navy, and permitting the user to process the film himself.

These advances in color photography and in the many other photographic fields in which great progress has been made were the result of close cooperation with the manufacturing departments and the establishment under Dr. Mees' direction in 1931 of an emulsion research laboratory. Out of this have come great advances in sensitizing dyes and emulsions, and dyes for color photography. It has led to the appearance in recent years of a wide range of special plates and films, including the modern very fast materials, plates for spectrography and astronomy, infrared-sensitive materials, and many others.