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Wednesday, February 9, 2011


There's a posting in the Vanity Fair website showcasing the last images shot by a photographer using Kodachrome film. Kodak killed the legendary film in 2009 amidst much hype.

But in a stark reality check, those last photos left me stunned in more ways than one.

I've a very old Nikkormat SLR that is now sitting on my coffee table, now more of a decoration than a functional camera, replaced by the digital Nikon I use these days. Now, don't get me wrong -- those digital images are fantastic, and the ways we can play with them are mind boggling.

Today, however, I again mourn an old friend. 

Kodachrome gave me surprises galore, spectacular pictures that resulted even when I made mistakes and either over or under exposed a frame. There were sunsets that were more glorious than I saw, freak halos that were not in the viewfinder when I pointed, and shot.

I looked through the viewfinder, took my readings, and held my breath pressing down the shutter, because at that moment, I never knew just exactly what I was going to get in the end.

Digital photography gives the ability to look at a photograph seconds after it is made, the opportunity to redo endlessly, without the worry that a single roll of film would run out.

But Kodachrome, that lovely strip winding its way in the interior of my camera with accompanying clicks and satisfying whirrs, that, my friends, is the stuff of legend.

I was a far better photographer because of Kodachrome's magic. There isn't a photographer on earth, no matter what level of experience and skill, that cannot make that statement, and I won't belittle this sentiment by quoting the old Paul Simon song.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

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