Today is the announced end of an era. Kodak is retiring one of the most storied films of it’s stable, Kodachrome. It has succumbed to the digital age. It’s too costly, too hard to make and too difficult to process anymore and make any money at it. There is only a single lab processing Kodachrome now in the US and it’s not even a Kodak lab. According to Kodak, you have about a year to finish up shooting Kodachrome and get it processed. It was never a film you could process at home but man, did it look good even after some years of storage. Our digital “negatives” might look good if you could find a device to show them off. Slide film just needed the sun and your eyes for basic viewing. No batteries, no meg-clock cycle computer widget, no shifts in color due to un-calibrated monitors etc.
Sometimes change is for the good and sometimes it’s not. It remains to be seen how this will settle out. I know my own E6 Ektachrome slides look very good after twenty some odd years in storage so maybe it’s not such a hit. But you have to wonder when you see all the films that you grew up on like Polaroid and Kodachrome dying off to be replaced by a compact flash card. Not nearly as romantic holding up a flash card to the sun. Or the wonder of a image appearing like magic on a white card with a weird chemical smell, who remembers the pink “wand” of the earlier Polaroid film? Such a smell.. like smelling my dark room chemicals. It will take me straight back in time to the days of being cooped up in a dark room with a red light and getting maybe, if I was lucky, half dozen prints. Whereas nowadays, with Photoshop and my favorite printer, I can and have printed hundreds of prints in a day. Were my low rate prints better? I dont think so based on some of my older stuff I saved. My new prints (image AND techniques) are much, much better now.
But, I will still miss the real wet darkroom. It was the magic and while Photoshop is way cool, it really does not have any romance or magic to it. Such is change..