Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kodachrome 1935 - 2009

Sad to learn Kodachrome, the storied colour slide film, will disappear this year. It was born two years before me and would have made it possible for my dad to snap me in colour, but his camera was a trusty Kodak Junior Six-20 which he loaded with Verichrome B&W film. In the 1950s, when I finally bought my first 35mm camera, we had a choice of the expensive and slow Kodachrome colour slide film and the faster process-it-yourself Anscochrome slide film based on the Agfa patents. I soon learned to favour the Kodachrome for colour. Most of my Anscochrome slides from the late 50s are now faded magenta while most of the Kodachromes are still usable. Slow speed and high contrast were a nuisance. I think by the time I bought Kodachrome, it was rated asa 10 and prone to blown highlights or dense shadows unless the lighting was relatively flat.

The Kodachromes are marvels of colour accuracy and fine detail. I shot this old Buick wheel 40 years ago this September at a museum near Plattsburg NY. Even today the colour and detail are there. In our leap to embrace digital we have left behind a revolutionary invention that brought quality colour initially to 16mm home movies and a year later to the 35 mm “minicams” that were capturing consumer attention world-wide.