Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kodachrome is dead! Long live the film!

Today, my last 2 rolls ever of Kodachrome film are being processed by Dwayne's in Parsons, Kansas.
At least, I hope they are - I held out for as long as I could so I could use up every precious frame of that stuff and had to next-day it to the lab. Parsons is so small, however, that USPS doesn't have daily service there. That's what the gal at the counter told my anyway.

I know I've mostly posted about nail polish but this isn't a nail polish blog. I just happen to like nail polish.
I also happen to really like film photography. I've been a "soup and fixer" shooter since I was a freshman in high school, worked at a photolab for a while, went to a pretty high-class photography school, and was looking toward a job with Hedrich Blessing when life did a 180 on me and brought me to where I am now.

The end of Kodachrome is the end of an era. Kodachrome was far from the first colour film - but it was the BEST. Because of the *rolls eyes* difficult processing it had to undergo (seriously, anyone who processed it in a modern automated lab, chime in on the "difficulty") Kodachrome resulted in a highly stable negative.

My dad is a shooter, my grandmother was a shooter, and both her father and stepfather were shooters...
Have a peep at Great Grandpa II's Kodachrome and tell me why Kodak got rid of this:
Great Grandpa I's box of 1930's Kodachrome slides were passed on to me several years ago. Despite poor storage following his death in 1938, his stunning images of Cuba, Manhattan, and aerial views from a DC-3 are crisp and easily colour corrected.
Seeing the world at that time in colour film is a delight and draws us closer to the past.
What will our great grandchildren think when they look at poorly saved, pixelated mush that was our graduation photos and holiday snapshots?

For me, this discontinuation of Kodachrome processing is a huge smack in the collective face of photographers by the corporate hand of Kodak.
When it was announced in June of 2009 that Kodachrome would be no more, finally confirming the rumours everyone had been chasing for almost 5 years, we were assured that we would have several years of processing left. Photographers everywhere snatched up rolls to freeze and preserve so we would have it in those several years. Myself, I snagged 2 rolls from the last shipment in Chicago.
Seeing the love, savvy marketers put their shipments up on eBay and other storefronts for insane prices. I saw single, 36 shot rolls of Kodachrome go for as high as 30 dollars....
But, out of nowhere, Kodak changed their mind and gave photographers just over a year to shoot up and process all those caches of film.


For me, the end of Kodachrome is more than just the end of a film. It's the end of corporate honesty.
Yes, we're all familiar with "Truth" campaigns and everyone is pretty solid in their belief that Philip Morris, BP, Monsanto, and lord knows who else is lying to us. But film can't lie.
When a company says, "this film is 100 speed", it IS 100 speed.
When a company says, "this film is infrared sensitive", is IS infrared sensitive.
So when a company says, "you have a few years to enjoy this classic product", we expect a few years to enjoy that classic product.

Kodak lied to their photographers.

Perhaps the people that buy the piece of junk $60 digitals from Wal-Mart don't care.
Perhaps the people that enjoy the $100,000 scientific sensors don't care.

But to the thousands of photographers (Dwayne's - the only Kodachrome processor in the world - does did 700 rolls of Kodachrome a week) who watched Kodak discontinue large format Kodachrome.... Then 200 speed Kodachrome.... Then listened to some suit try to convince us that Ektachrome was just as good, Kodak is a bunch of lying snits.

I just hope Kodak doesn't pull a Tom Petters.
Almost immediately after scrapping all the machines that made Polaroid instant film, the market for instant photography SKYROCKETED! Now Fuji's instant cameras are being sold in clothing stores and on QVC for like 100 bucks.
Kodak has recently started production of new large format stocks.  They see there is an obvious need for professional films - one of which being Kodachrome - so I imagine we may see the production of Kodachrome films (or a direct copy as Fuji has done with their pull-apart instant) again.

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