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Monday, 22 June 2009

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Wow.
Should not be surprised. But still...
I used Kodachrome 25 more than any other color 35mm film, and enjoyed Kodachrome 200 for the short time it was available.

Soon, I will have to pour a glass of wine, and pull off the shelf "William Albert Allard: The Photographic Essay" (American Photographer Master Series)
http://www.amazon.com/William-Albert-Allard-Photographic-Photographer/dp/0821217356

Time to immerse myself in what an artist could do with that pallete.

Who was who? Leopold Godowsky was a very famous concert pianist...I always thought it remarkable that he invented Kodachrome as well. Sort of like Heddy Lamar (the actress), who also invented the spread-spectrum communication technique (now used in every cell phone amongst other systems).

"for many years around mid-century it relegated families to long sessions in darkened rooms with a slide projector and a screen"

Why relegated? This is still the best way to see colour images today. Millions of people shut themselves in dark rooms every week to look at images (cinemas), but this strange bias against slide projectors has resulted in us now sitting in front a monitor looking at many more lack luster images. Printing is fun, but a well edited tray of 50 slides is sublime.

dkreithen,
Actually the famous concert pianist was the Kodachrome inventor's father; the inventor was Leopold Godowsky Jr.

He was George and Ira Gershwin's brother-in-law, too!

Mike

Yes, I've spent many "long sessions in darkened rooms with a slide projector and a screen." I now have many boxes and carousels of Kodachrome slides that belonged to my parents. The majority were made with an Argus C3. I keep saying that someday I will scan the better ones for the family archives.

I learned to shoot color on Kodachrome II. Due to the narrow latitude, you either learned well or you blew your shots. Later, K25 and K64 were the only films besides Tri-X that I ever shot regularly. Later still, apparently like most photographers, I was seduced--first by Velvia, then Elitechrome and finally Provia and Sensia in a reaction to the fatigue of seeing overly saturated colors. I remember all these films well. I have several dozen rolls of each in the freezer right now. I haven't shot a roll of color film in years. Again, seduced. This time by digital.

It's sad to see the passing of Kodachrome but I can't mourn for it. Like the passing of a friend or relative who lived a long life and lived it well, I feel a lot of joy because they/it was with us for so long.

Sad to see it go. It's the end of an era.

Kodachrome truly was something special and the only thing that stopped me from shooting it in recent years was the cost. I was even willing to wait the two to three weeks it took to process.

It will be missed.


PS: I think the only photo product with a longer production run is Rodinal developer. Rodinal was patented January 27, 1891 and despite some recent trouble (AGFA going belly up) it is still in production.


Mike Jones, I agree with you.
It's a bit strange to newcomers, digital sons, when they're invited to my home slide projections sessions, but they always ask me for another "slide dinner" run.

Helcio
Bauru-BR

A sad loss indeed.

Valentín Sama, one of the most reputed photographic experts in Spain, deeply laments that Kodak purposedly strangled Kodakchrome's demand by means of closing labs, which translated to unacceptably-long processing times, stablishing 100 rolls as minimal orders, and so on...

For those who can read Spanish, the article is here:

http://www.dslrmagazine.com/breves/noticias-breves/adios-kodachrome-adios.html

My wife bought me a bunch of Kodachrome for my birthday this year. This summer will be the first with our new baby and my plan is to document our travels and visits with family on Kodachrome. My parents still have stacks of 40-50 year old Kodachromes of vacations and family barbeques. All look like they were taken yesterday.

Not to pick nits, but the Kodachrome 64 you can still buy today was introduced in 1974- which makes it younger than Tri-X Pan, to name one film. There were two generations of Koadchrome before K64; the 1935 original was something like ISO 10 in daylight. That should make you think about fast primes and limited DoF, to bring this up-to-date.

Leopold Godowsky Jr. is on the left, playing violin.
Greg

According to the Wall Street Journal the final rolls of film will be donated to the George Eastman House. Steve McCurry will shoot one of those last rolls, with the resulting images also being donated to the GEH.

No pressure there, eh? What would you shoot with the final 3 frames of Kodachrome?

It makes me wonder what God and Man could have created in our time period, given enough support from Kodak to move film forward into a different realm. Beyond K-14, E-6 and C-41. Perhaps it would be a different world....

It is such a thing of beauty to see God and Man in Mike's print playing music together. I think it hints at why Kodachrome was so successful.

I have a book called 'The Best Of Popular Photography' edited by H. V. Fondiller but was published by Ziff-Davis in 1979 and it has 390 pages. The book you reference at Amazon was published in 1980 by a different publisher and with only 340 pages.

I report this only because I went looking for the article on Kodachrome and couldn't find it in the book I have.

Question: Do you know where the name (Koda)chrome comes from?

See here for a great Kodachrome from the WW2 era. Pretty mindblowing quality for the time.

I feel like such a pallbearer, yes I shot many rolls of Kodachrome 25 and it was always good to me. Of course the last time might have been sometime in the 70's so it's not like we were fast friends. Yes it gave you a beautiful transparency which you could project to your hearts delight. Beyond the slide show it was pretty much useless. Cibachrome? that wasn't the same and no one fore saw the scanner. Shoot B&W and add the color later, great concept.

On my first trip to England when i was 18 i bought a big plie of Kodachrome before leaving home (Montreal) with the mail in processing envelopes. When i finished a roll i entrusted it to the Royal Post and at the end of my trip all my photos (except the last roll or two) were waiting for me back home.

As the number of comments on this post seems to indicate, not that many people care, do they? I do, however, as I've been using KR64 a bunch lately and still really love its sharpness and color. And its connection to the past, particularly my own past, which, in part, still lives on in the little yellow boxes of gorgeous transparencies my father left behind him.

In my opinion, this is another way that digital progress is making us poorer, culturally and aesthetically, by eliminating choices. Maybe KR would have been done in by Ektachrome sooner or later, but I doubt it.

Of course, you can always apply the "KR" filter in photoshop: it looks totally the same, dude!

Mmm.. what will happen to the Kodachrome Basin State Park, in Utah?
Ektachrome Basin State Park?

I have a tin box of slides my father took during the Korean war with the trusty family Argus C3. Those frames look like they were shot yesterday. Nice to know I'm not the only one with these kind of memories.
Certainly we were all expecting this but still it makes me a little sad. But really, when was the last time you spooled up a roll of K64?
I try not to take stuff like this personally. Back in the day I held a grudge for a decade over the loss of Varigam and Velour Black.
I'll try not be such a baby this time.

"No pressure there, eh? What would you shoot with the final 3 frames of Kodachrome?"

A flower? A sunset? A cat?

Just kiddin',

Mike

"Do you know where the name (Koda)chrome comes from?"

From Kodak and the Greek word for color, no?

Mike

Time to pull out my Simon and Garfunkel vinyl...
Jeff

"Mmm.. what will happen to the Kodachrome Basin State Park, in Utah?
Ektachrome Basin State Park?"

Bayer Array State Park.

Where you can CMOS grow.

And did you hear the one about Sonic Youth? They're changing their name to Sonic Middle Age.

Mike

Like many amateur photographers of (cough) a certain age, I learned my craft with Kodachrome 64. Color print film was a better option for many applications, but getting back a box of 3x5" drugstore prints—with all your careful exposure choices automatically zero'd out to middle grey oatmeal—made it impossible to learn anything. When you got back that little yellow box of cardboard mounted K64 slides, it was painfully obvious when you screwed up. After tossing enough over- or under-exposed slides in the trash, you learned how to expose properly.

There was a very particular æsthetic linked to Kodachrome, at least for nature and landscape photography. It rewarded careful metering and nominal underexposure. This gave you nicely saturated colors, particularly yellow/red/orange, and velvety deep shadows, without blowing out the highlights. The viewer's eye was immediately drawn to those apparently spot-lighted colors, and this rewarded thoughtful composition to exploit the effect. Some of the best color photo books of the 1970s and 1980s were well enough printed to reproduce this, and they still hold up pretty well.

The more obviously saturated Fujichromes eroded Kodachrome's market share, and the arrival of Velvia turned the retreat into a rout. Ironically the triumph of Velvia enforced a kind of numbing æsthetic conformity. Its neon color saturation and intolerance of subject luminance contrast force images into a kind of straightjacket that has dominated color landscape photography right into the digital era. Even with the endless malleability of digital capture, the Velvia æsthetic still rules.

Makes me feel nostalgic enough to start shooting digitally with that 'Kodachrome look' in mind.

I'm saddened by this news, as I have many valued photographs made on Kodachrome 64. Ten years ago I reviewed all my 35mm transparencies with a 10x loupe and concluded that the Kodachromes appeared sharpest, and some, depending on the subject matter, had the most stunning colour. The only reason I have not used it for the last 15 years is that it was not available in 120 rolls for medium format.

"Mmm.. what will happen to the Kodachrome Basin State Park, in Utah?"

Same thing that happened to Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. It will outlive its namesake.

Interestingly I just had a roll of Kodachrome II developed recently. Develop by date was May 1966. This roll of Kodachrome II had been sitting in my Dad's Agfa Super Sillette for possibly 45 years since the last photo was taken.

I first tried Dwaynes in Kansas, but they told me it was too old for them to process, and they put me on to Film Rescue International = http://www.filmrescue.com/.

Film Rescue odd/old process film on a monthly basis and I'm very satisfied with the images that they were able to recover from this film. The resulting images are black and white, as that achieves the best outcome from the nearly 50 year old undeveloped film.

The images show my Dad's first visit to Disneyland and two photos of my sister riding a horse on our uncle's farm in the Coromandal Peninsular, New Zealand. I'm glad that these photos have been recovered, and not just lost forever.

Chris Stone

I'm grieving, too. I gave up on Kodachrome when the labs that I routinely sent it to stopped caring, and started sending me roll after roll of dirty, scratched slides. I never liked Velvia, and while I liked some of the other Fuji films, I never loved them.

Kodachrome is dead. Long live Kodachrome!

Even though most of us knew this day would arrive, it's still a shock to learn that the end of the line is in sight. Kodak is to be commended for keeping Kodachrome in production as long as they have. Modern business has no place for specialized consumer films anymore. (I still miss Tech Pan!) I'm happy that my dad's slides were almost 100% Kodachrome. The scenes of Colorado in the '50s still have that deep, blue sky that you know is the true color. The only slides that are faded are the ones that were projected quite often. The colors are not as rich, but the various shades are still accurate. The few Ektachromes from the the same time frame are a hideous reddish shade.

Thank you Kodachrome for such beautiful colors and sharp, sharp slides.

You gotta admit, this is one of the handful of unique Kodak products that was driven into the ground by their seemingly constant mismanagement. Here you have a technically superior product compared to anything else on the market, and they don't a) update it in any way (including tweaking the colors to counter the onslaught of Fujichrome), b) make it easier to find good processing for it - in fact they make it tougher, by taking the strategic decision to sell the processing business (!), or c) market it (at all) for at least 25 years. Instead they chose to compete with a technically inferior product that everyone had and could produce (Ektachrome). Is it any wonder these guys are ever so slowly going out of business? I guess it doesn't really matter, because once digital hit the mass market it was the handwriting on the wall.

Long after your Ektachromes have fungus and fade, long after your digital works crash or move on to another medium and another medium and another medium ("Looks like I'll have to buy the White Album again!") all it will take in time is a light and a few lenses, and even lacking that, just hold it up to the sky and there the image will be, cast in the magnificent pigment that will live long after the photographer, the scene, the subjects.

Just shot four rolls of K-64 last week, and I'm waiting for it to come back from Dwayne's. K-25 was the only color film I really liked for a long time, until I started using bigger cameras. Here's a favorite K25 shot--

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/3651689314/

I tell myself I'll finish the remaining rolls I have in the fridge and move on, but knowing we've got 18 months to process it, I suspect I'll be buying more.

Dear Folks,

In the long view, one factor that led to Kodachrome's demise was that the film stood still while everything else advanced. By the late 1980's there were sharper and finer-grained color neg films. By the early-mid 1990's, there were sharper, finer-grained, and faster color slide films.

That left the 'look' as the only substantial reason for using Kodachrome. A flimsy base on which to retain market.

(As an aside, I'm not one who cares that Kodachrome is passing. I never happened to care for its 'look.')

It's truly fortunate for us that Kodachrome appeared so early, or we'd have few color photos from those years-- it took a long time for chromogenic slide films to get decent permanency. But that was then, and that was long ago.

I cannot speak for Kodak Spain policy, so I can't say that Valentin is incorrect in his part of the world. I will say his assertion does not apply to Kodak US.

Kodak US put considerable effort, extending over many years and many dollars, so produce what they called a "Kodachrome mini-lab"-- a relatively compact processing system that a single carefully-trained technician could maintain and run (a regular K-14 line is a process nightmare that requires several professional chemists to keep in trim, amongst others).

Kodak US knew this was their last chance to keep Kodachrome viable. They were unsuccessful. The process simply wasn't modernizable enough. That was when they knew Kodachrome was, sooner or later, a gonner. But it was definitely not what they wished for.

pax / Ctein

"Even with the endless malleability of digital capture, the Velvia æsthetic still rules."

Interesting that. When i first started doing digital capture, i enjoyed the Velvia look in the jpegs. But now, i am back to the Kodachrome "look", in camera settings for jpegs, and via PP in RAW.

Another thing i have to thank Kodachrome for, is it taught me how to nail an exposure.

Good on ya, Greg. Yes, Godowsky is on violin and Mannes is at the piano (it was Mannes' parents that founded Mannes College).

I have been a fan of Kodachrome for over 15 years and I hate to see it go. Like you mentioned Mike, it isn't entirely surprising but at least we will have Dwayne's in Kansas saying they'll continue to process for at least another decade. When I lived in Lawrence, KS I actually used them for all my Kodachrome. There's nothing quite like it mostly because of its unusual emulsion construction and development procedure.

Over the years I have come across a couple of low-contrast E-6 films that come somewhat close to the look of KR 64 and that's Kodak's E100G and Fuji's Astia 100F. I have a decent stock of Kodachrome left but I'm going to pick up some more before it dries up for good.

So long ol' mate. 'S been nice knowin' ya!

I used K64 exclusively from about 1978 to 1994. It had two advantages which made me stick with it.

1. Per shot, it was the least expensive color film of all if you bought it with included processing (usually grey market import stock into the US).

2. It's longevity and color stability (when dark stored) was greatly reassuring.

Additional benefits included teaching me how to nail exposure (the even more fine grained and altogether beautiful K25 was even less forgiving).

I remember reading an article in an old copy of Reader's Digest (from my Mom's cherised collection) on Mannes and Godowsky by Max Eastman when I was about 11.

Wonder of modern wonders, you can buy a copy today at eBay.

http://snipurl.com/kp5wi>RD 1950

"we will have Dwayne's in Kansas saying they'll continue to process for at least another decade." Um, no:

"Dwayne’s Photo plans to continue processing Kodachrome films through the end of December 2010." You can see this on their website.

That's a little over one year. Better get cracking on what's squirreled away in your fridge. The relentless march of technology. Time to buy Alien Skin Exposure 2.

We Europeans cried over this several years ago, when the Swiss lab for processing in Europe was closed. But now this beauty is surely at the end of the line :( RIP, mon amour

I keep saying that someday I will scan the better ones for the family archives.

I know that's the modern way of looking at images but I can almost guarantee that your Kodachrome slides will still be bright and colourful long after your scan files have disapeared.

The slide is the archive, the scan is a third rate copy.

Until the advent of the better Fuji slide films, I shot K64 professionally for several years. It was love/hate. I loved the moderate contrast and the warm, natural looking colors EXCEPT for the awful tendency for overcast skies to slide into cyan-green hues. And then there were the #%@!! "blue meanies" that would inevitably mar the sky of that one frame you just had to have.

One look at Fuji 100, and K64 was over for me. Fuji 100, though grainier and less sharp, had a color palate that I still long for. Plus, I could develop it with an in-house E-6 line, which was a huge advantage in terms of turnaround.

I bought and processed 2 rolls of K200 when I heard that they were discontinuing K25 and K200, as I was too late to the photography scene and only really shot with E6 and C41.

I always heard that if you wanted to shoot reds -- go with Kodachrome; and before even reading your article, just looking at the picture of the red rose I assume was a nod to this specific capability.

It strikes me that with digital and RAW capture, it's unlikely that we will ever have the notion of a "Kodachrome Look" or a "Velvia Look", as it is so dependent on post-process.

Technology just marches on ...

Pak

From Mani Sitaraman "I used K64 exclusively from about 1978 to 1994. It had two advantages which made me stick with it.

1. Per shot, it was the least expensive color film of all if you bought it with included processing (usually grey market import stock into the US).

2. It's longevity and color stability (when dark stored) was greatly reassuring.

Additional benefits included teaching me how to nail exposure (the even more fine grained and altogether beautiful K25 was even less forgiving)."

The above is a better way to learn photography then buying Leica's or any other Particular camera. Of course there is also the art of seeing and this you can only get by interaction with others and practicing your craft. If not for the expense, I would still be shooting Chrome. I still have two projectors and a slide dissolve unit. And the more realistic and understated palette of Agfachrome is one I was gradually leaning toward. Kadachrome, especially 25, albeit superb in many ways, is hard to describe, but a denseness subdued by BW is what comes to mind. This of course should be seen as aprt of the demise of all chrome films. If film of any kind survives, my guess is that it will be because of artistic photographers. Good bye Kadachrome!

"No pressure there, eh? What would you shoot with the final 3 frames of Kodachrome?"

I think I'd shoot a portrait of Paul Simon, holding the empty box....

Kodachrome, the only film that existed in the minds of millions for years and years.
I started at the end of the original Kodachrome, ASA 10,
then along came KII with an amazing 25 ASA. Kodachrome II kept me happy except for some stupid forays into Ansco because it was cheaper to purchase and process. Kodak sold its primary colour slide film with processing.

The local owner of a camera shop here in Burlington, Ontario went to Photokina one year and returned with the first three or four rolls of K64. He gave me a roll and within a month it was back, from a special lab
in Rochester. Enlarged on the screen the detail was amazing. And that same slide resulted in a large eleven inch by fourteen inch print which to this day is framed and hanging on my bedroom wall.

We who take photographs of trains and trade slides will often not accept images on film other than Kodachrome, it is the longevity factor that counts, as much as the subject.

These days I still use K64, and Dwaynes does the processing. Sure it is expensive by the time the postage and monetary exchange is factored. But so is any form of history.
Expensive, timeless and also real.

Digital to me is still a will of the wisp, not real, you can't feel digital, as you can feel film, film mounted in cardboard holders for viewing in a projector; a Kodak slide
projector.

I tried to purchase a couple of rolls of Kodachrome today. Seems that all the usual sources -- including Dwayne's -- is out of stock.

Yeah, total brain fart on my part. My subconscious was just went overboard in its optimism. :D

"The more obviously saturated Fujichromes eroded Kodachrome's market share, and the arrival of Velvia turned the retreat into a rout. Ironically the triumph of Velvia enforced a kind of numbing aesthetic conformity. Its neon color saturation and intolerance of subject luminance contrast force images into a kind of straightjacket that has dominated color landscape photography right into the digital era. Even with the endless malleability of digital capture, the Velvia æsthetic still rules."

I was highly disappointed when Fuji's blatantly false color became the [then current, now permanent] obsession, over the clearly more correct false color of Kodachrome 25.

Personally, I started to get off the bus when Kodak stopped processing it; the independents (A&I here in L.A.) never made it look right, plus they ALWAYS had more scratches and handling damage than Kodak ever did.

I still have all of my father's mounted Kodachrome 25 slides from the 1950s through the 1990s, all exposed with his Leica M2 camera and 35mm Summicron lens, and all of them are still in outstanding condition and easy to scan.

All this talk gave me a bad case of nostalgia.
As I said in an earlier post I have a bunch of chromes my late father shot, some during the Korean war. I shot a fair amount of K-25 before going digital.
My son is now a photographer but while he makes a mean palladium print he has never shot a frame of Kodachrome.
I just ordered a couple of rolls of K-64, one for me and one for him. Might as well make it three generations while we still can.

Steve Smith: Well, we'll see. For me, it's not real until it's in digital form. Digital for video and audio and text has been a realization of childhood dreams that actually came real in my lifetime.

I think Alex Webb will have to move to digital. Having a large stock of film will not save him, if we consider Dwaynes is procesing only until Dicember 2010.

I just picked up the last couple rolls Camera Co. had in Madison. Supposedly more was in the pipeline to come in, but there are doubts it will actually happen. I haven't shot K-chrome in many years, so these two rolls will be a farewell to an old friend I haven't seen in ages. Years ago I used to rifle the expired-film bins at the Meijer store in Battle Creek, MI to scarf up expired K64 and K200 for a buck or two a roll. I often had a nice cache of the stuff in the freezer. Ah, memories...Kodachrome, you will be sorely missed.

Todd in Cheesecurdistan

David B-B:

I too have been waiting for digital all my life (well most of it). And I am still waiting! Try finding a digital projector that will get anywhere near a modern slide film (or K64 for that matter) for resolution, stability let alone colour. Yours for $100 (Kodak projector) and a roll or two of film.

Why no mention of the Kodachrome Project in the article? Everyone keeps speaking of days gone by when there are a group of people passionately engaged in shooting the film now for a book / exhibition. This baffles me...do you have any idea now many hundreds of thousands of photographs are about to be made in the next 18 months? This is information that is readily available, should matter and this should not have been overlooked Mike. This is no hobby dream, this is the real thing orchestrated by a passionate professional.

Oh well, at least other publications like the Wall Street Journal and the Toronto Star are taking it seriously...

Sincerely,

Daniel Bayer, Creator / Director of the Kodachrome Project

Alex Webb used primarily Kodachrome 200, bought 600 rolls when it was discontinued. I spoke to him a couple days ago, he is trying on several different ways of shooting, including digital and cited that he may use a variety of mediums to shoot with.

Not all pros are going 100% digital, it does not make sense when as it turns out, digital is not better than film, just different. The photographer in his use of the medium makes the shot, not the medium it self.

Forgive me, Daniel, but this is the first I've heard of it. I'll be sure to check the link you provided.

All best,

Mike

Thanks Mike, I am trying to secure enough film for other shooters in the project that have not stocked up like I have. I feel bad because so many have been caught off guard and I feel they should have the film they need.

But the site, all one has to do is google Kodachrome and it comes up on the first page, about 8th out of 3 million results..:-)

Thanks for posting this Mike and get your Kodachrome on!

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