Thursday, December 30, 2010

Farewell to Kodachrome days

Tonight's end-of-an-era tribute -- Paul Simon's 1973 hit, Kodachrome. Via Denninger, we learn from CBS News that the last film lab in the world to process Kodachrome, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, is processing its last roll of Kodak's legendary color transparency film today. Kodak had announced last year, in June 2009, that it was discontinuing the film after 74 years. Dwayne's Photo is apparently the last lab -- anywhere -- to process it.

From the CBS Story:
"It's going to be really sad day, it was an important part of our business and Kodachrome was an important part of the history of all of photography," Grant Steinle said. "To know it was the first consumer color film that was available. Lots of really iconic images of the 20th century were captured on Kodachrome."

Steve McCurry captured one - the 12-year Afghan girl on the cover of National Geographic in 1984. Actually, he captured two, when he returned to Afghanistan and found her 17 years later.

"Kodachrome was my mainstay film, this was the main film I used for 30 year," McCurry said. "I have about 800,000 Kodachrome transparencies in my archive, maybe more, and this was probably the greatest film ever made."

When Kodak announced it was discontinuing Kodachrome last year, he had an idea.

"I called my contacts, my friends at Kodak and said you know I'd really like to get the last roll and do a project with it to kind of honor this passing of this iconic film," he said.

He picked a region in India where he'd come across the perfect subjects.

"I decided to pick a community which was disappearing," he said. "It was a nomadic community which I spent a week with and traveled with them and photographed their way of live because again, like Kodachrome their way of life is vanishing."

He used most of the last roll of Kodachrome ever made, but saved just a couple of frames, which he shot in parsons just before dropping the film off at Dwayne's.

The very last image ever made with Kodachrome is a civil war cemetery in Parsons, Kan.

"I was going to the lab in the next 15 or 20 minutes and I drove past the cemetery and I thought this would be a sort of perfect ending to the roll of Kodachrome - a cemetery," McCurry said. "It's a passing of an era." ...

The end of an era, indeed.

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