‘Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away’

Kodachrome is a brand name for a non-substantive, color reversal film introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935. It was one of the first successful color materials and was used for both cinematography and still photography. Because of its complex processing requirements, the film was sold process-paid in the United States until 1954 when a legal ruling prohibited this. Elsewhere, this arrangement continued. Kodachrome was the subject of a Paul Simon song and a US state park was named after it. For many years it was used for professional color photography, especially for images intended for publication in print media. Because of the uptake of alternative photographic materials, its complex processing requirements, and the widespread transition to digital photography, Kodachrome lost its market share, its manufacturing was discontinued in 2009 and its processing ended in 2010 (source).

Often imitated (and never moreso than today), never duplicated. Photography just doesn’t look like this anymore, when it was shot on Kodachrome.

Much more here. Hat tip to reader Chris R.!

~ by velofinds on March 14, 2013.

12 Responses to “‘Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away’”

  1. What a great blast from the past. Thanks for sharing. Paul Simon’s words and your pics…great combination.

  2. While you can’t get kodachrome any longer, Fuji makes a great slide film that’s very close. It’s called Velvia. It’s expensive to buy and it’s expensive to develop but boy does it look good.

    • I would argue that Velvia, while a venerated slide film in its own right, offers a look that’s contrastier and colors that are more saturated than Kodachrome’s. But that is a post for another blog 🙂

  3. Excellent write-up. Kodachrome was fantastic film. In some ways, digital is far better. In some ways, film (especially Kodachrome) is far better.

    I dislike these days how you almost never see a photo directly off the camera, like you used to with film. Everything has had some post-processing done. To me, while that can make some beautiful photographs, it doesn’t accurately represent the time and place the photo was taken.

    • Perfectly stated, Jon.

    • Well put Jon– digital isn’t without its merits. That said, I think post-processing within moderation (“moderation” being the key word) is okay– even the great film masters used the darkroom to alter their images. Post-process is just darkroom work done digitally (though often overdone, which is what I think we’re really reacting to).

    • The problem with digital, especially lately, is simply the increasing acceptance of its lack of latitude. Most amateur shops, and their post-camera processing eliminates grays from about 75% to black – turning them all into black. Even some places that should know better are allowing this to occur, and most consumers are simply accepting it as it considered as normal.

      As to Kodachrome, I find the soft shades of Ektar 100 a moderately acceptable alternative…

      These here though, are a glorious set indeed! Neko.

  4. Thank you for this post…I’m a big fan of these kind of pictures!
    You made my day!
    I’m very appreciate!

  5. I still believe cars and people look best with film and in black and white. Color works better for almost everything else. Yeah, I know, I’m a Luddite.

  6. Nice picture of Graham Hill airborn. The pic of the 2 Corvettes is my fav. brilliant.

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