Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kodachrome, 1935 – 2009

Steve McCurry, Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl,
at Nasir Bagh refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, 1984

Kodak announced yesterday that it is retiring Kodachrome, its oldest color film stock. The film, which now accounts for only 1% of Kodak's still film sales, was used to produce numerous iconic stills and moving films during the 20th century (including Abraham Zapruder's 8 mm film of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963). National Geographic, which published the image above on its June 1985 magzine cover, described it as "a photographic medium that changed the way we document the world."

Photo by Eric Meola

The film is apparently extremely complicated to develop – it is black and white when exposed and the color spectrum is produced by the addition of primary colors in three separate stages during the development process. Only one lab in the U.S., Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, still processes it (way to represent, Kansas).

B. Anthony Stewart, Trieste, Italy, 1956

On Thursday, the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. opens a show of more than 100 Kodachrome images of Europe from the 1950s and 60s. The exhibit, which is free, runs through September 7.

More info and images on the New York Times' website and Lens blog. Kodak also has a tribute to the film on its website, including a slideshow of Kodachrome photos.

R.I.P., Kodachrome.

1 comment:

Quinn said...

I saw the sad article in the NYT today.

Won't it be funny (in a sad way) that your children probably won't know what film was?