Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away

06Jul09

Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colors
They 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 please don’t take my Kodachrome away
—Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Kodachrome

After almost 75 years, Kodak is discontinuing production of its Kodachrome color film.

I now shoot only digital, but the news still saddened me. The departure of this extraordinary film signals the end of an era.

Kodachrome has a rich history. Some of the most iconic images of our time have been captured on this film, including Steve McCurry’s stunning 1985 National Geographic cover shot.

Still, perhaps it’s inevitable that Kodachrome should succumb to progress, and the resulting lack of public demand. It’s a uniquely sensitive film. It has a very fine grain and can produce stunning results, but it also demands excruciatingly careful processing.

Perhaps that’s why I abandoned it after a brief period of flirtation in the late 80s. (Then, I blamed the film and/or the processing. In hindsight, I blame my technique.)

If you’re still shooting with Kodachrome, don’t despair: Dwayne’s Photo Service (415 S. 32nd Street, Parsons, KS 67357, 800-522-3940) plans to stock it through December 2010.

And if you’ve never shot with Kodachrome, here’s a lovely tribute, to show you what you’ve been missing.



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