R.I.P. Kodachrome (1935-2009)


Kodachrome was introduced 80 years ago by Eastman Kodak, first as a 16mm movie film, and later in still formats, notably 35mm slide film (anyone remember family slide shows?).  Prized by photographers for its color rendition and rich, deep blacks. Photographer Steve McCurry sums it up:  “If you have good light and you’re at a fairly high shutter speed, it’s going to be a brilliant color photograph. It had a great color palette.  It wasn’t too garish. Some films are like you’re on a drug or something. Kodachrome had more poetry in it, a softness, an elegance.  With digital photography, you gain many benefits in post production (but) with Kodachrome, you take it out of the box and the pictures are already brilliant.”


Kodachrome is also known for its archival stability, outlasting other types of color film, which, while easier to process, will noticeably fade over time.  My Uncle was an amateur photographer, he shot a lot of Kodachrome beginning in the 1940s, and into the 1980s.  A couple of years ago, my Aunt entrusted me with my Uncle’s slide collection to have it digitized.  For over 30 years, the carousels containing the slides had resided in a garage in the California desert, surviving 120 degree heat during the summers.  In all, over 9,000 slides were scanned, with stunning results, images that look as vibrant today as when they were shot, some over 65 hers ago.  Click here for a sample from my Uncle’s collection.