Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chicago in Kodachrome ...

Kodachrome is a very special film. I've always had a soft spot for it, even though I don't shoot it much. I'm having a final fling with it, since the consensus is that it will be going away, totally, within the next few years. :(

Contrary to what Paul Simon says, Kodachrome does not really have the "Nice Bright Colors" at all. It's actually muted when compared to today's color films.

It does have natural colors when exposed properly, but it doesn't have that "Fuji Blue" sky or the punchy greens and yellows of the common films (or digital images) of these days.

The tonality of the bricks and stone is very indicative of Kodachrome in this scene.

(For some perverse reason, Tom Lehrer's Poisoning Pigeons In The Park lyrics run through my head when I look at this one.) :)

Despite the natural color rendition, Kodachrome, as well as most other reversal (slide) films, does not handle high-contrast scenes well. Notice that you really can't see details in the shadows in front of the building here. Adjusting for more shadow detail would have overexposed (stark white) the railings in the foreground.

This is one of Kodachrome's shortcomings, which it does share with other films, and to an extent with many of today's digital sensors.

Kodachrome will tell you the way it is, not the way somebody might wish it to be with colors reminiscent of an explosion in a paint shop!

Yes, you are! :)

Kodachrome's days are numbered, unfortunately, and it's not really a question of "if" but one of "when" it will be discontinued. Kodachrome's sales are down, and only one lab in the world (Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, US) still does daily processing runs of Kodachrome.

Kodachrome was the first commercially successful full-color roll film, appearing first in the 1930s. It's somewhat unique that it was invented by two musicians (Godowsky and Mannes) and not by photo chemists. It's the longest-lived color film family on record, being available in various versions for over 70 years!

Speculation is that the Kodachrome era will come to an end within the next five years, with obligatory talking-head epitaphs, punctuated, of course, by the Paul Simon tune.