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Edition #143, February 1, 2011


Photographer: James Ruffing

                                                                                                             Photo by James Ruffing


As I’m sure you already know December 30, 2010 was the last chance to get your Kodachrome processed.  Talk about the end of an era!  One that lasted 75 years since its introduction in 1935.  The film that Kodak created spanned generations and genres - from family mementos, to Paul Simon’s song, to the pages of National Geographic, to countless railfan slide shows, and so much more.

You actually used to be able to tell the best railfanning spots by how many empty Kodachrome boxes were on the ground.  And the more serious the railfan, the more likely they accumulated slide projectors and bulbs, screens, carousel trays, sorting tables and loupes, storage boxes, and empty film canisters.

My first rolls of film were Kodachrome 25 which was plenty slow and made you wonder how anyone shot using the ASA 8 Kodachrome from years earlier.  Kodachrome 64 made things a lot more manageable and become nearly everyone’s staple.  Eventually there was Kodachrome 200 for the grungy days.  As impressed as I was with the development and fidelity of the film, it wasn’t until I was in the Photographic Science program at RIT that I understood why its hues were so true and why they lasted so long.

Although most of you have probably already made the change to digital, I held on to the very end.   After Kodak announced the cessation of production in June 2009, it wasn’t long before I wasn’t able to find Kodachrome on the shelves of photo shops any more.  In fact, my last purchase was made on eBay.  But I kept shooting frame after frame, finishing up my last roll on Christmas Eve.  I mailed it to Dwayne’s Photo shortly thereafter.

Will there be another Kodachrome some day?  Something as commonplace and necessary to the photographer as it once was.  Perhaps there already is – Photoshop Elements.

Alas, Kodachrome is no more.  Long will live its colors.

James Ruffing

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