Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mama, they took my Kodachrome away

Image Credit:
Thursday, December 30, 2010 marked the end of an era in photography: the world's last Kodachrome processing machine was shut down.

Created in 1935, Kodachrome was the first film to effectively render colour and the first successfully mass-marketed color still film. It was for many years used for professional colour photography, especially for images intended for publication in print media.

Afghan Girl, Steve McCurry, 1984
Professional photographer Steve McCurry used Kodachrome for his well-known 1984 portrait of Sharbat Gula, the "Afghan Girl" for the National Geographic magazine. It was also used by Walton Sound and Film Services in the UK in 1953 for the only official 16mm film of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

As digital photography reduced the demand for films in the 2000's, Kodachrome sales declined and on June 22, 2009, Kodak announced Kodachrome would no longer be manufactured. On 14 July 2010, the last produced roll of Kodachrome was developed by Dwayne's Photoin Parsons, Kansas, USA, last Kodak certified facility remained. The developed 36 slides belonged to nobody else, but for Steve McCurry!

Click here to see some photos from the last roll.

Dwayne's Photo announced that they will process all Kodachrome received at the lab by the end of December 2010. New York Times reports the incidents following the announcement:

"In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced here... Jim DeNike, 53, a railroad worker had driven from Arkansas to pick up 1,580 rolls of film that he had just paid $15,798 to develop... He explained every picture inside was of railroad trains and that he had borrowed money from his father’s retirement account to pay for developing them.
Aliceson Carter, 42, an artist, had driven directly here after flying from London to Wichita, Kansas, on her first trip to the United States to turn in three rolls of film and shoot five more before the processing deadline."

On Thursday, December 30, 2010 the world's last K-14 Kodachrome processing machine was shut down here to be sold for scrap. The last roll processed by the machine belonged to Dwayne Steinle, the owner. "The last frame was a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne’s wearing shirts with the epitaph: “The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010.” reports New York Times. You can get the T-Shirt for $13 over at Dwayne’s Photo.

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, 
Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away..."

sang Paul Simon in his 1973 song "Kodachrome", which he named after the Kodak 35mm film. In the late 1990s, Kodak used the song in commercials to sell film. 

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