Saturday, January 1, 2011


Kodachrome is no more. Kodak stopped making the film and the chemistry a while ago. Many photographers had stockpiled film but are out of luck now if they haven't used it. Kodachrome was a complicated process using proprietary chemistry, not something you could mix up in the kitchen sink. The last Kodachrome processing machine was shut down last week and will be sold for scrap. For about 75 years this wonderful film was an industry standard, with processing labs worldwide. Introduced in the 1930's, there was nothing like it. True, it was slow and it was easy to overexpose but at a half stop underexposed the color was voluptuous and rich and beautiful. Almost nothing could take its place. Almost...

We'll miss our Kodachrome for a while but maybe not so much when we really think about what we can do today. Kodachrome was wonderful stuff but in this current digital age film in general has become a quaint anachronism, a relic of 19th and 20th century photographic technology. I'm sure it will have its fans for years to come and may even see a minor resurgence if somebody buys the rights to the technology from Kodak. There may be a niche market for it among fine art photographers like there is for platinum prints or wet plates and antique cameras. But Kodachrome is obsolete technology, as obsolete as other, one time, state of the art technologies like daguerreotypes, calotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, etc. It seems hard to believe that these ancient processes were once "state of the art". It seems harder to believe that in a few years we'll be saying the same thing about the current "state of the art".

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