Archive for Saturday, January 1, 2011

Behind the Lens: Working with Kodachrome

The last roll of Kodak's Kodachrome film was processed this week at Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons, the last lab in the world capable of developing the film. Once considered the premier color film in the world, the evolution of digital photography led to the demise of the classic film.

The last roll of Kodak's Kodachrome film was processed this week at Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons, the last lab in the world capable of developing the film. Once considered the premier color film in the world, the evolution of digital photography led to the demise of the classic film.

January 1, 2011, 12:00 a.m. Updated 12:00 a.m.

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The last roll of Kodak's Kodachrome film was processed this week at Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons, the last lab in the world capable of developing the film. Once considered the premier color film in the world, the evolution of digital photography led to the demise of the classic film.

The last roll of Kodak's Kodachrome film was processed this week at Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons, the last lab in the world capable of developing the film. Once considered the premier color film in the world, the evolution of digital photography led to the demise of the classic film.

On or shortly after Dec. 30, 2010, the world’s last roll of Kodachrome film was processed. It happened at Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, the last lab in the world to process the film. Manufactured by Eastman Kodak from 1935 to 2009, the film had gone out of fashion, resulting in lower sales and fewer processing labs. For years, Kodachrome was considered the premier color film in the world, favored by photographers for publication in print media. National Geographic photographers built their careers on the film known for its rich saturation and archival durability. Hobbyists loved it, too. If you haven’t photographed with it yourself, maybe you’ve sat through your grandparent’s slideshow featuring you or your parents growing up. I’d wager that many homes still have slide-trays full of Kodachrome memories somewhere in the basement.

When Kodak stopped making the film in 2009 they gave the last roll to photojournalist Steve McCurry. National Geographic documented McCurry and the roll’s journey including processing by Dwayne’s Photo in 2009. Look for a National Geographic TV special to air in spring 2011.

Our photo staff purchased 10 rolls of expired 2007 Kodachrome off eBay recently. Once we had it in hand, we scratched our heads trying to remember if we had film cameras in working condition and up to the task. But the funny thing was how our whole staff treated the film like it was coated in gold. No subject was deserving of this precious film. I decided it didn’t really matter, and I started directing my camera at common objects around the house whether they were colorful or not. A drying lotus plant, my grey cat, even a roll of old black-and-white negatives curled on a red floor became an interesting subject.

If we correctly exposed the film and created anything of interest, we’ll show samples in a future article.

Comments

Flap Doodle 4 years, 8 months ago

To be more specific, I meant the color negative film Kodak made in the 1970s, not the KODAK Creative Production Software (CPS) program.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

This fairly begs for the lyrics to this song--

Kodachrome by Paul Simon

When I think back On all the crap I learned in high school It's a wonder I can think at all And though my lack of education Hasn't hurt me none I can read the writing on the wall

Kodachrome You give us those nice bright colors You 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, don't take my Kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew When I was single And brought them all together for one night I know they'd never match My sweet imagination And everything looks worse in black and white

Kodachrome You give us those nice bright colors You 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, don't take my Kodachrome away

Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

Mama, don't take my Kodachrome Mama, don't take my Kodachrome Mama, don't take my Kodachrome (away)

Mama, don't take my Kodachrome Mama, don't take my Kodachrome Mama, don't take my Kodachrome (away)

Mama, don't take my Kodachrome (Leave your boy so far from home) Mama, don't take my Kodachrome (away)

riverdrifter 4 years, 8 months ago

I've got Kodachrome slides that my Dad took in the 50-60's in rural Douglas county that I'm going to have digitized. Mike, I guess you could have an 'all Lawrence-Douglas county Kodachrome revue' and you'd probably get swamped with slides. Memo to the older folks out there with a trove of slides: you might not know it but you can have your slides digitized into images on your (or your kids') computer.

Brad Maestas 4 years, 8 months ago

I still do the majority of my work with film and develop and scan at home. I mainly shoot Kodak Tri-X but every so often I'll shoot with color negative portrait film or, as in years past, the beloved and unparalleled Kodachrome.

One thing worth mentioning is the completely unique way in which the film is processed and its unparalleled archival stability. What is left out of recent articles is how much it differs from normal transparency film and how much more difficult and time-consuming processing it is. In normal slide film the color dyes are integrated into the emulsion whereas with Kodachrome, the dyes are added one at a time during processing.

Those looking for modern alternatives to Kodachrome should consider Kodak Ektachrome E100G and Fuji Provia and Astia. So far I am liking Astia the most.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodachrome http://www.shorpy.com/image/tid/179 (Kodachrome 4x5s)

This is a well-known Kodachrome shot of Piccadilly CIrcus c.1949. This recent scan shows the amazing archival stability of the Kodachrome dyes. This 60-year-old slide could have been taken yesterday! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Featured_picture_candidates/Shaftesbury_Avenue

RIP Kodachrome

Brad Maestas 4 years, 8 months ago

BTW, those looking to scan their Kodachrome (or have it scanned) should be aware of some of its quirks. If you don't want a nasty blue cast to your output you will either have to use a specific Kodachrome color profile provided by your scanning software or by using an IT8 profile obtained by using a special Kodachrome calibration target. There are also limitations to using infrared channel dust removal tools like Digital ICE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodachrome#Digital_scanning_and_resolution

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