January 1, 2011

Mama, don't take my...

ironically shot with my iPhone
What a sad sad image...on a visit to Central Camera to pick up some film (yes I still shoot film) for a holiday trip out west with family, salesperson and fellow camera geek Dan and I were shooting the breeze when he mentioned that Kodachrome was no longer being accepted for development after the 17th of December.  

I remember reading in PDN a while back that the worlds most perfect film was soon to make it's last hurrah at the only lab still processing Kodachrome, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons Kansas, December 30th 2010.

It wasn't Dwayne's choice, they would still be processing Kodachrome, but in a cost cutting measure, Kodak gave Dwayne's notice early in 2010 that they would no longer be producing and selling the elaborate chemistry needed to process the film into 2011. 

Where normal E6 transparency film takes six different baths to process (a 3 bath process is possible but generally regarded as not ideal) the Kodachrome process takes a staggering 14 baths, each needing to be within a quarter of a degree in temperature to create proper results.  This is where the process gets the name, K14.

With all due respect to Kodak, how does a company whose products were available in every drug store, gas station and camera store in the country (and half way across the world for that matter), a company that practically invented the industry end up in the position they are in, struggling to remain in the same breath as the major players.  Digital cameras, sensors, consumer ink jet printing, commercial printing, no matter what you are looking at, Kodak rarely, if ever is the first manufacturer mentioned. 

What makes this sad is Kodachrome, with its amazing color and contrast, and unprecedented color stability over time, should be Kodak’s gift to the world.  A charity if you will, sure film lost its foothold, but it will always have a loyal following in the fine art and enthusiast world.  As long as it's available, there will be people shooting it; just look at what the Impossible Project has accomplished with just a small initial following. Losing Kodachrome is a major loss for all photographers.

I had intended to write a post prior to the holidays titled 'The Best Holiday Film’ and tell the story of my mother in laws camera and my childrens introduction to shooting film.  My mother in law, in her time, an avid photographer and visual historian of our family’s history, passed before the holidays last year.  At Thanksgiving this year, my father in law brought up her trusty K1000.  Having never really played with a film camera, my boys were completely enamored with it, clicking away like crazy until it froze.  Not a screen freeze, the rewind stopped.  In slow motion, I lunged across the living room and grabbed the camera to wind out the film before they figured out how to pop open the back to see what was inside. After a quick trip to Sam's club, I was holding pictures of my now seven-year-old son, both as an infant and a seven year old.  Brilliant really...eerie, sad and comforting all at the same time. 

So what's the best film for the holidays?  Just that...any film, just shoot some.  With it's built in future proofing, you will never lose the images on a laptop that falls overboard, you will never have to move your pictures from a CD, to DVD, to blu-ray to whatever is next.  Never once.  Anytime you need to take a peek at your pictures, they are there waiting for you, whether in the family album or tucked away in a box in the attic, your pictures and your family history is preserved. 

So keep shooting with your digital cameras, heck keep shooting with your iPhone, just don't forget to shoot a roll of film or two at important events.  Don't have a film camera? They have never been cheaper, I been shooting with a Canonet QL17 GIII and a super cool Demi EE17.   Crazy affordable and fantastic quality, modern films look incredible. 

Just shoot some film while you can; it may be the only pictures of you, your childrens childrens will ever see.

Happy New Year.


  1. Here's shots from the last roll, which Steve McCurry was given the privilege of shooting. I never had the pleasure myself, alas, despite how much I love shooting film.

    I wish I had.

  2. (reposted to actually include the link...)


    Here's shots from the last roll, which Steve McCurry was given the privilege of shooting. I never had the pleasure myself, alas, despite how much I love shooting film.

    I wish I had.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I love the shot of Grand Central Station, what is your favorite film and format?