Friday, December 31, 2010

Living Color

I had a great aunt who lived in Rochester, New York, home of Kodak. I only visited her home once as a boy, and I remember being disappointed that she didn't take me to tour the great temple of the photography gods. Aunt Angeline is gone now. And so is Kodachrome.

All things must pass, and seldom do I lament their passing, but today is a little different as we mourn the crossing of Kodachrome to the great beyond. Cassette tapes? Yeah - goodbye, glad you're gone. VCRs? I cringe at your bulky antiquity. Same goes for most outdated technology (except reel-to-reel multi-track decks). But Kodachrome had no equal.

I long ago switched to digital and haven't shot on film in years, much less Kodachrome, but it WAS a magical film. (And any REAL photographer will tell you that digital cannot be held in the same class as film.) And how, WHY would we hang on to that technology in the face of the digital SLR?  It just didn't make sense anymore to PAY for film, PAY to have it developed, and then HOPE that half your images didn't suck when they finally arrived.

Kodachrome was to still images what Technicolor was to moving pictures. Why do you suppose we love the apps that turn our iPhone pictures into neo-retro relics of another era? Just do an image search for Kodachrome and see what all these old-timers are crying about. That little yellow box turned color photography into art.

And since so many people in marking its passing will quote Paul Simon's 1973 song of the same name, I will post an old ad for Kodachrome with the body copy replaced by the poetic highlights of Mr. Simon's lyrics that captured the magic of the product. (Click it, like a shutter button.)


I half expect a camera crew to accost Paul Simon soon as he leaves his New York apartment, begging for a comment on the death of his old friend and collaborator.   

(Original ad found here at THE technical source for what made Kodachrome great. Also, the original ad's copy will let you kids know what it was like to actually have to WAIT to see your pictures.)

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