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Thursday, 30 December 2010

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Yup. I managed to finish shooting the last of a 31-roll stock I accumulated during the past year. Sent the last 3 rolls to Dwaynes last week. Ordered the "commemorative" t-shirt last night.

K64 was fun to have in the arsenal for a real change of pace. But no tears. Onward and upward!

Well, as the Brits say: "The King is dead;long live the King."

On the very last possible day for posting Kodachrome to Switzerland for European photographers I went back to Winslow in Buckinghamshire where I grew up and had exposed many rolls of K64. The address in Switzerland forwarded films to Dwayne's.

I had to hurry because I had overslept. I exposed my last roll of (outdated) K200 that morning and put it with seven more rolls of K64 and K200 with their red and yellow processing envelopes in a parcel. I got to the post office with twenty minutes to spare. I had moved in February and found the rolls while I was sorting and packing.

I had no idea what was on the other reels. They were returned by Dwayne's just before Christmas. One was unexposed, three were faded to nothing by years of poor storage. Four had images, from 1982, 2003, 2008, and November this year.

The oldest roll with images showed the Motorcycle Grand Prix at Silverstone, also in Bucks. Barry Sheene was on number seven. I don't remember taking a camera that day, but I do remember the all day hangover in the hot sun. The frames that survived are all faded, but I can scan them and apply the advice in Ctein's Digital Restoration book. I was a bit disappointed by the blank films, but I'm glad I did it.

It was nice to use a film camera again. Must do it more often.

I miss Kodachrome as much as anybody (awaiting the return of a dozen rolls from Dwayne's as we speak). But if I hear that Paul Simon song on the radio *one more time* today, I'm gonna hurl.

I just got my three rolls of K64 back last month and then could not find my light table and loupe until now (house renovations).

Looking at the pictures brings a mix of feelings. On a pure technical level I don't think the film beats out even the better digicams that we serious photographers like to run down. A lot of grain (noise) and not the best sharpness. But the best frames unquestionably look different than anything else you can get on other films or digital.

The reality is that I'd never use it even if it wasn't gone. But I'll miss it intellectually anyway.

Sigh.

At least we'll have Ektar 100?

A very, very sad day.

Fare well old friend, you will be missed.

I was lucky: a friend at the local photo-club brought some along, the second week in November. Having never taken Kodak seriously, I reckoned the end of an era was worth a free roll of process-paid film, so shot it urgently... sent it off, feeling like I was discovering a path thousands before me had trod, and got it back just a couple of days before Christmas. So I have done my one and only ever roll, just in the nick of time!

I used Agfachrome for a long time in preference to Kodachrome but then I went to live in Europe and found Ektachrome 32 (and later 64) that worked wonderfully in that northern light. Neither Agfachrome nor Kodachrome equalled it in my view.

Hello darkness, my old friend.

I never much liked shooting on any 35 mm film, being a child of the digital era born 15 years too early, but the pictures in my dad's collection of old National Geographis were part of what first inspired me. While I may prefer riding the TGV or the Eurostar, I am a little sad to see, in my time, the passing of the beautiful old steam locomotives.

Older bones

Memory fading

Kodachrome

Had my chance to shoot a couple of rolls of K64 before The End.

My first roll was developed a few weeks ago, and the moment I threw it onto the light table I'd previously never used, I knew what the fuss was about. Enough that I grabbed another roll and got it shot and sent off ASAP.

My employer's father has been shooting nothing but Kodachrome for at least 50 years. I've never seen them, but I'm told the earliest slides look every bit as good now as they did back when they were first developed.

A deal killer? Maybe not. However, a great loss. Kodachrome 25 was my dream film, but even as I discovered it, it was too slow (I'm 48). The move from Hemel Hempstead (UK) to Switzerland then the USA was all just too much for me, and the film. By the time I moved to the USA in 2000, it was all over. Two or more weeks processing and variable quality killed the concept. Today Provia 100F or E100 (too expensive) are fine substitutes, but don't reflect all those years of so called progress.

That is, until I compare it to the variable results of digital imaging. My slide projector still rules.

"Hello darkness, my old friend." Good comment, Semilog. And some good work at your site; you have an eye, particularly for high contrast b&w.

Most of us have not used film of any sort for a time, but even if we are no longer part of a past, that is no reason not to stop for a moment and respectfully mark its passing. (Hello, Turner Classic Movies, my old friend.)

As for Kodachrome, its demise is part of a big shift that involves electronic capture, technical obsession, superb software, and excessive post-processing. Probably the human element will prevail (Hello, Faulkner), the new technology--and its users--will settle down and mature, and the emphasis will return to the great work that photographers can do, whether using Kodachrome, Tri-X, sensors, etc.

Shot Kodachrome (mostly 25, some 64) from 1975 through 2005, at which time I finally embraced digital and never really looked back. I still get immense joy from the special look of a properly exposed K25 slide. And with about 25,000 of them in my files, I'll have plenty of opportunity for enjoyment. Realistically, though, none of them can compete technically with today's optics teamed with a current DSLR. At least I snagged the memorial T-shirt!

64.
Blue of mornings,
Pink hue in the east,
The ruddy sunsets and sharp shadows,
The wanderings in busy streets,
Looking for the moment,
Searching the elusive light, and per chance
The confluence of form and splendor.

The yellow red box,
Tenderly opened, noise of celluloid
Rubbing against the reel,
Smell that pungent aroma.
Long after the press of the finger,
The memory of the moment faded,
The hunt stale,
At long last comes the squat box of 36 cards,
Perhaps a few more if I'm frugal.

Then the surprise.
How did I see it then?

The moment forgotten, framed forever again.
Different, yes, but it was there.

And with luck....the famous glow.

As it was, they kept it on for 15-20 years past its useful, practical worth. I won't miss the cyan skies and green skin too much.

My favorite was K200, especially when pushed to 500. Practically as grainy as Seurat but still remarkably sharp, like a color version of Tri-X. Sadly had to give it up due to its infamous magenta shift, which could happen in just days here in the tropics.

Beautiful Steve!

Rod G.

One interesting side effect of all this nostalgia is that at midday today Dwaynes Photo of Kansas USA was featured on the local news in Newcastle, NSW Australia. I kind of like the clash of the old and new in that idea.

I never did shoot much Kodachrome - I was born into the generation of shooters that used E6 based films (Velvia et al.). When I did get around to shooting Kodachrome, it was process by post only, and really in its decline. I do, however lament that it's a choice that we're no longer going to have as a photo taking medium. Hopefully 400TX can hold out a little longer...

My parent's wedding photos however, were in K64. Lovely.

Pak

My own personal memory of Kodachrome occurred in 1972 when I went as a spectator to the Olympics in Munich. I had some exposed film to be processed, so I put it in the yellow envelope and paid for the international postage back to the United Kingdom. Imagine my surprise a week or so later when the slides arrived from Germany. So ubiquitous was that yellow envelope back then that the postal workers there did not bother to look at the address when they delivered it.

My first recollection was shooting 4X5 Kodachrome back in 1960 -- I think it was ASA 10 Not sure though looks like they discontinued it in 1951. I was at RIT at the time so they might have gotten some from Kodak.
Shot a few rolls of 120 when it first came out, but being a commercial photog. just took to long to process.
Sorry but Fuji Chrome was my film of choice.

And I never got around to shooting Kodachrome, and now it's gone.

For some reason (probably expense) I never got around to shooting Kodachrome. I wish I had made the sacrifice to do so, seeing as those NatGeo mags were part of what sparked my interest in photography all those years ago.

Now I'll never get the chance, even though I can now afford it.

(BTW, there's a completely accidental old song reference in there, that isn't Paul Simon.)

Never used it very much. Processing was too inconsistent. Even from the great yellow father.The only pro I knew that used it regularly sent his to San Francisco, the only lab he tried that could process it correctly on a regular basis. We preferred Ektachrome 64 and later E100, which we could process ourselves, also available in all size formats.

The last three rolls I had shot were delivered yesterday morning, just in time. I had a Kodachrome Farewell project planned for last summer, to shoot all remaining rolls at Pukaskwa National Park, Lake Superior. But events intervened and the project died.

Now I have several rolls of K64 and two of K25 that will never wind their way through Dwayne's remaining K14 machine.

It's disappointing, but I am thinking of a post-Kodachrome project. They will be hand-processed as b&w. Fitting -- Kodachrome drained of its glory.

Kodachrome film was awesome. Now it is extinct as a dinosaur but will long be remembered. I shot many rolls in the mid to late 50s with a Voightlander Vito B. The exposure lattitude (Now called Dynamic Range I suppose)was what really helped getting good shots with this film. I still have most of those slides and they are still colorful and now archived using a slide scanner/archival storage. Well most of the relevant ones are. If my memory is still working, I think the first rolls were of ASA 10 or 11 and you needed to only remember three or four exposure settings to get decent shots...Ah....Thanks for the memories...

Making Damascus steel was once a lost art, now by trial and error the process has been resurrected and you can buy modern blades made with Damascus steel. Why not take the last Kodachrome coating and processing machines and donate the to some institution like the George Eastman House or the Smithsonian. Visitors could watch them operate much like visiting a micro-brewery. After watching the film be made you could visit the gift shop and buy a roll with processing. It might cost you $25.00 but how cool would it be to run a roll of Kodachrome 25 through you old Leica II.

"Why not take the last Kodachrome coating and processing machines and donate the to some institution"

Rudy,
For the same reason Kodak shut it down. There's not enough volume to make it cost effective. It wouldn't cost a little more per roll to do a few rolls now and then, it would cost a great deal more per roll.

Mike

Seriously... Kodachrome always looked identical to Fuji Sensia to me. Dont know where the point in this film was? There is a big range of E6, C41 and bw films readily available today.

So go shoot some film, take pictures, enjoy! The future is bright.

For those lamenting Kodachrome, yet at the same time dismissing film as something of the past, they should really go and see a photo exhibition in a good gallery/museum. The best prints you'll see will be labeled "chromogenic". These are prints made in the traditional way with film and photographic paper. At LACMA (Los Angeles), SFMOMA (San Francisco) and the recent Brighton Biennial (UK) these prints have simply knocked the socks off anything purported to be done on an "inkjet". At LACMA there were some "lightjet" prints, using digital images, which were quite good- but ironically a bit grainy!

@ Seth:

The only pro I knew that used it regularly sent his to San Francisco, the only lab he tried that could process it correctly on a regular basis.

That was The New Lab, I'm sure. I was working in a camera store 60 miles north of San Francisco in those days, and I remember when the owners of The New Lab were going around signing up retail agents like us. We were soon sending them the majority of our customers' Kodachrome.

They were among a handful of labs around the world that invested in a then new process for developing Kodachrome, using a converted Cine processor and (I think) newly developed chemistry. It greatly simplified the processing of Kodachrome and made it possible for independent labs to develop the film. (Of course, The New Lab made this investment at exactly the wrong time, unfortunately.)

Previous to that time (1990 or so), I believe that only Kodak itself could process the film, and they used a process with (working from fallible memory here) scores, maybe hundreds, of separate steps and machinery that took up about two city busses worth of space. I saw an original, old-style Kodachrome processing line at the now long gone and forgotten Kodak Palo Alto Lab (35 miles south of San Francisco) on a tour for camera store employees. The Kodachrome line was easily the largest, most complex film processing system I've ever seen.

And that giant KPL lab--a factory by any reasonable definition--built in the era before mini-labs revolutionized film processing, was itself an amazing edifice, taking in film of every type from thousands of camera stores, drug stores, supermarkets, stationery stores etc. all over the western United States using a system of daily couriers and turning it around, delivered back to its place of origin, in two days. Tens of thousands of rolls of film developed every day.

I finished my Kodachrome Autumn/Winter shooting project with a trip to Montmartre in the snow. Courier collection for a speedy 2 1/2 day delivery was scheduled for 24th. December - they missed it. On 27th.December it was collected and on the 29th. the box was still in Europe as they had somehow ripped off the customs-documents pouch.

No more Kodachrome slides for me, and it seems difficult even to get the the packet back from the courier as a souvenir, without paying another (98 euro) shipment as I sent it while on holiday so my home address is not on the shipping label. Needless to say, no more UPS either.

How is (was?) the Remjet backing removed in the actual Kodachrome process?

Eamon, I think you are right re: The New Lab. Ours used to go to the KPL lab in New Jersey. The film was great but processing was tricky. I remember rolls from a fashion shoot coming back with half the frame magenta, the other half green!

If money was no object and one had
unlimited funds, you could still have
Kodachrome developed. If the heirs
of Henri Cartier-Bresson found a freezer
full of exposed but undeveloped K25
by the master, I'm sure something
would be done.

I shot Kodachrome 64 from 1993 to 2003, mainly in the Pyrenees and the Alps, and it was perfect :)
RIP, my favorite film
Kodachromes.com

I shot a lot of K25 anf K64 over the years. It was lovely but slow speed made it challenging to shoot and a lot of contrast made printing it a chore.
I never did quite master the art of masking for cibachromes.
Sad to see it go but so it goes. I still have a tin case of kodachromes my pop shot in the Korean war, little treasures that look like they were taken yesterday.
I wonder how Velvia 50 will hold up?

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