Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's definitely the end of an era ...

Last Kodachrome roll processed in Parsons
(click on headline for story)

I think film will continue to play a role in the future of photography, mostly with those artists who wish to distinguish their work from the masses. The process of shooting, developing, and printing black and white film, especially. There's an organic quality that digital just can't replicate, sort of like the difference between a movie and a live theatrical performance. Or the difference between listening to jazz music on an iPod and witnessing a hot trio in a smokey club.

If you've ever flipped through the pages of a National Geographic magazine published before the 1990s, you are familiar with Kodachrome. The combination of a legendary film and state of the art printing just can't be matched by today's digital images viewed on computer screens.

Heck, you have to drop at least $30K for a digital camera that even comes close to the resolving power and detail Kodachrome brought to the table.

Says Steve McCurry, who shot the iconic portrait of an Afghan refugee in 1985 on Kodachrome:

"It's definitely the end of an era," he said of Kodachrome. "It has such a wonderful color palette ... a poetic look, not particularly garish or cartoonish, but wonderful, true colors that were vibrant, but true to what you were shooting."

Yeah, I'm showing my age, but those of you that didn't pick up a camera until the digital era just don't know what you missed.

Steve McCurry's website


  1. I have to admit, I went looking to buy one last roll of Kodachrome ... and couldn't find any. Would like to make at least one photo of my kids on it, seeing as how every photo from my youth was on K25 or K64.

  2. Mark,

    I bet those chromes of you still look as good as the day they were first processed, too.

    One of the things I love about film is that you are looking at a chemical reaction from the light reflected directly from the subject of your photographs. To me, it's more of a direct physical connection than digital, which must convert the light photons collected by micro sensors into ones and zeroes, which are then interpreted by a processor, which then converts the information into brightness and color values and assembles them into an image.

    To many folks, an image is an image. Me? I guess I'm a romantic - albeit one who hasn't shot any film or listened to an LP in many years. Guess that makes me sentimental, too.


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