Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kodachrome Gone... big deal.

Sentimental BS. Kodachrome is gone because Kodak did not evolve it. The development process is straight out of mad science, each run prone to color shifts, the machines were beasts to calibrate, and let's face it, Fuji has been making better color film for 20 years now. And they do it in everything from 35mm to 8x10.

Most of the people waxing poetic about Kodachrome are photojournalists who did some amazing work with it, and at the time, it was the best for 35mm.

When I worked at a lab that did pro work in NYC in the 80's, most of the Kodachrome we got was from tourists wanting "that look" the pros in advertising and fashion had already moved on to E6 because they were shooting 120, 4x5, and 8x10s. Those that did ran test strips to see what the process was like on that run. They would then come back and ask for the next run to pull 1/2 or push 1/3. It was a nightmare.

When your whole world is black and white, like it was for newspaper photographers like me in those days, shooting color was special. You might get one color Sunday supplement shot in, maybe 4-5 times a year, if you were motivated you could freelance to a magazine in those days, or shoot stock--but Tri-X was where you lived, how your mind worked.

Over the years I took some memorable shots on Kodachrome. The cracked wood and daises is, I believe, one of the first kodachrome pictures I took while I was in High School in 1973. The photo of the USS Belleau Wood in San Francisco is from 1979. I have a whole box of slides, mostly Kodachrome here, every now and then it is fun to go back and look through them.

Maybe that might be more fun now.

So as Kodachrome sails off into the sunset, let's keep it all in perspective. It was market share and Kodak's hubris that killed Kodachrome, a failure to recognize and respond to years of demands from working professionals to make the film in larger sizes, make development more stable and recognize that Fuji was closing the gap.


Anonymous said...

Very insightful, yet flawed post. Kodachrome was the best film ever made.
You sound bitter.

Anonymous said...

How does he sound bitter?
Sounds like someone who is not afraid to tell the truth.
Kodachrome had it's day. it has passed, like many others

Somehow I doubt you, and many others ever used it

Anonymous said...

Hedy! That's Alcatraz!!

-Adso's Letter

Anonymous said...

Actually...that should read "Hey" that's Alcatraz...

I blame the Heineken.

-Adso's Letter