Momma don’t take my kodachrome away!

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They give us those nice bright colors
Give us the greens of summer
Makes you think all the world’s a summer day, oh yeah
I’ve got a Nikon camera
I love to take photographs
Momma don’t take my Kodachrome away!

Paul Simon, 1973

When Eastman Kodak announced June 22 that after 74 years, they would no longer be producing Kodachrome film, it was truly the end of a long and colorful era.

Kodachrome was originally introduced back in 1935 as a color reversal 35mm movie film which was quickly adapted for new 35mm handheld Leica cameras.

Originally, each roll of film came packed with it’s own pre-paid mailer so picture takers could push the button, and let Kodak do the rest, at numerous Kodak labs around the country. A week or two later, a nice little yellow box would appear in the mail that contained two rows of neatly stacked slides with the date stamped on the back.

It was a daylight film. So photographers who wanted to use Kodachrome under studio lighting needed to balance their lights, with gels, or use strobes. Exposure was critical.

But over the years the K-14 process became tedious and expensive. The 14 step process was too critical for most home darkrooms. Then, with the advent of Ektachrome, which not only came in several flavors; some more sensitive to light, and some balanced for tungsten lighting, but more importantly, Ektachrome could also be processed by local E-6 color labs in as little as one or two hours, Kodachrome was relegated to the realm of professional photographers and serious amateurs who relished it’s fine grain, warm tones, and more archival qualities.

Not to worry if you still have a few rolls of Kodachrome in the fridge, or somewhere around the house in that old film camera, or if you managed to pick up a brick on eBay. Dwayne’s Photo Service, of Parsons, Kansas, the last remaining Kodachrome lab, will continue processing rolls through December 31st 2010.

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