Bye-bye Kodachrome

I must admit that over the years I shot far more Ektachrome than Kodachrome because so much of my photography was done with lower levels of light and Ektachrome could be push processed.

But the last roll of Kodachrome…  Film had and still has qualities digital doesn’t and Kodachrome was just so perfect for certain kinds of light.

I wake up some sunny winter mornings in LA and think, “My what a beautiful Kodachrome day.”  I’d stick my 28mm or 35mm on the Nikkormat I kept loaded with Kodachrome, shove it into my bag and head out for the day….

From The New York Times:

For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas

Published: December 29, 2010

PARSONS, Kan. — An unlikely pilgrimage is under way to Dwayne’s Photo, a small family business that has through luck and persistence become the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful color film and still the most beloved.

That celebrated 75-year run from mainstream to niche photography is scheduled to come to an end on Thursday when the last processing machine is shut down here to be sold for scrap.

In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced here, transforming this small prairie-bound city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not in the sterile frame of a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides.

In the span of minutes this week, two such visitors arrived. The first was a railroad worker who had driven from Arkansas to pick up 1,580 rolls of film that he had just paid $15,798 to develop. The second was an artist who had driven directly here after flying from London to Wichita, Kan., on her first trip to the United States to turn in three rolls of film and shoot five more before the processing deadline.

The artist, Aliceson Carter, 42, was incredulous as she watched the railroad worker, Jim DeNike, 53, loading a dozen boxes that contained nearly 50,000 slides into his old maroon Pontiac. He explained that every picture inside was of railroad trains and that he had borrowed money from his father’s retirement account to pay for developing them.

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One Response to “Bye-bye Kodachrome”

  1. Caroline Says:

    Well that put a lump in my throat!

    Electronic image gathering has it’s moments but everything from the joy of a big viewfinder screen image and subtle bokeh of well made lenses working on a camera which could be used at a moments notice like a well loved musical instrument down to the choice of image style by film choice.

    Kodachrome was my film of choice in my formative years. I liked it’s lack of speed if not it’s horrible reciprocity characteristics but it’s gorgeous smooth sharp saturated images were unique since the process removed all the silver and substituted ultra fine dyes.

    Once I had use of a darkroom again I stopped using colour except to photograph artworks usually in tungsten light and the results were fine but without that special feeling Kodachrome gave.

    I miss the making of an image in camera with all the decisions of focus composition and exposure committed to a moment and few images failed. Digital has me exposing so many variables then as now I get home to find junk has found it’s way on to the sensor ruining a days work and I rarely change a lens to try and avoid this to no avail. As for the bottle glass lenses of small aperture and little correction for a straight line in a building or picture frame which you have to use to avoid letting dust into the camera! I am so glad that I am virtually retired, the joy has gone and today nailed in the few remaining nails in the coffin of photography for me.

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