Thursday, December 30, 2010

RIP Kodachrome, 1935-2010

The last rolls of Kodachrome, the most revered film for color slides for the past 75 years, are being developed today at Dwayne's Photo, a small family business in Parsons, Kansas. Then the last Kodachrome processing machine will be shut down and sold for scrap, rendered obsolete by digital technology.

[SEE PREVIOUS KOBRECHANNEL posts for related info, images and links:

* Last Roll of Kodachrome
* Mama, They Took Our Kodachrome Away]

Read the New York Times' on-location report,"For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas."

Eastman Kodak gave the last roll of Kodachrome to Steve McCurry, the noted National Geographic photojournalist. He shot the last three frames of that roll in Parsons before dropping it off at Dwayne’s, and you can see them on the Times' Lens blog, "A Color-Saturated Sun Sets on Kodachrome."

It's the end of an era, and judging from the myriad readers' comments, on the Times Website and elsewhere, many will miss the film's legendary rich colors ... while others happily prefer the relative ease and convenience (not to mention instant certainty) of digital shooting.

Don't miss the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's excellent short video, The Last Roll of Kodachrome, as featured on KobreGuide. In a story within a story, photographer Robert Cohen describes how he dug a final roll of expired Kodachrome 200 out of the back of his freezer, carefully and lovingly shot 36 frames at the colorful Missouri State Fair… and then drove the film hundreds of miles to Parsons, Kansas to have it developed. All the while he was not sure how, or if, any of the images would turn out – a reminder of life in pre-digital camera days. The story cleverly combines beautiful images and a folksy storyline complete with suspense and a climactic payoff.

[UPDATE: Here's the Los Angeles Times' elegy, "Goodbye Kodachrome," with a reproduction of a 1936 May Company ad that included the paper's first mention of the film. "A 100-foot roll of 16mm Kodachrome film, regular price of $9, was on sale for $6.98. After adjusting for inflation, the 1936 sales price would be $107 today." There's also a reprint of a 1938 "Camera Corner" column about the film, its first editorial mention in the paper.]

For those of you who have used Kodachrome, please share with us your thoughts about its demise. Nostalgic for "the greens of summer" -- or is all the world a sunny day with digital?

(Photo by Steve Hebert / New York Times)

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