Friday, July 23, 2010

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome Away

If you've never heard of Dwayne's Photo Service, no worries, but the small photo shop in Parsons, Kansas takes it's place in photographic history as the last place in the world to process Kodachrome.

Kodachrome, the slide film that inspired a song by Simon & Garfunkel, was discontinued by Kodak last year at 74 years of age. The color emulsion was a victim of its own weird processing requirements, which didn’t use the usual E6 chemistry designed for transparency film, and therefore wasn’t worth supporting in this digital age.

National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry shot the last 36 exposure roll of Kodachrome recently in New York, London, Bombay, Rajasthan and Istanbul (actually, the last three shots were exposed in Parsons before dropping off the film at Dwayne’s). The pictures will be part of a National Geographic piece in the near future.

McCurry, well-known for his 1984 photograph of Sharbat Gula, or the "Afghan Girl," published on the cover of National Geographic magazine, requested from Kodak to shoot the last roll of 36 frames it manufactured.

As a professional freelance photographer, McCurry has used Kodachrome film for 35 years. "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."

Since this is photographic history, the entire 36 frames shot by McCurry will be sent to the Eastman House in Rochester, New York, where Kodak is based, and become part of the collection there.

The National Geographic special covering the last roll of Kodachrome manufactured will likely air sometime in spring 2011.

Have any old ice encrusted Kodachrome hidden in your freezer? Pull it out and shoot away! Dwayne's Photo Service will be dumping their Kodachrome chemistry on December 10th of this year.

Now excuse me while I go defrost my freezer...

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