Farewell to thee Kodachrome. Today is the last day for photographers to have gotten their Kodachrome film in to be developed on the mainland.
When I started in photography this was THE slide film to shoot if you dared. The film was unforgiving in the demands upon the photographer for proper exposure, focus, sharpness of lenses, lighting and color composition.
Kodachrome wasn’t very light sensitive by today’s standards with an ASA of 25 or 64 which meant you had to shoot it in excellent lighting, use a tripod, use hand-hold photo skills like a bronze statue or any combination of the above.
What you were rewarded with were slide photos of incredible color saturation, depth, razor-like sharpness that pushed the absolute limits of your lens’ resolving power and longevity like no other slide film I know of. You could hold a well composed, lit and sharp Kodachrome slide at arm’s length up to a light source and it would practically jump off the slide at you since it was so striking.
From my foggy old memory I believe the film was invented at Kodak by two engineers/chemists who also happen to be pretty gifted musicians (see how music helps form the mind for other fields?) It’s actually Black & White film that has the color dyes attached to it during the development process called K-12.
What this gave you was a film with a very thin emulsion since the dyes were not on the original film. The emulsion is the substance of the image on the clear plastic film surface. Anyone who has held a Kodachrome slide will know that if you looked at the backside surface (the emulsion side) from an angle you would actually see the build-up of of dyes for the image like a 3-D topographic map surface so yeah, the film not only looked like it had depth, it literally had depth.
I believe the sharpness was attributed to the fact that light didn’t have to travel through and scatter through dyes on the film itself during exposure.
Thinking about Kodachrome instantly brings to mind photographers Pete Turner and Eric Meola. Their use of Kodachrome and color was always striking. And although their photos look great on the web there’s nothing like seeing them printed on good paper stock in a book or better yet on photo paper.
Yeah, I’ve shot Kodachrome, plenty of Ektachrome, lots of Fujichrome and even nasty stuff like Polachrome. Rest in Peace Kodachrome as you will be missed.
Here’s a Kodachrome shot I took of Nancy Wilson of Heart, note that I shot the slide with a crappy slide-copier with a digital camera so it doesn’t the do the original justice.
p.s. I never cared for the Simon & Garfunkel song ‘Kodachrome’ since they could never pronounce the camera name ‘Nikon’ correctly. Most folks, and Nikon users, can’t either.