Thursday, February 03, 2011

To Kodachrome

One well-known film I will never get to shoot is Kodachrome. It was still in production when I started venturing into film back in 2008.

If I had taken some initiative I might have purchased a few rolls off the net, shot them and mailed them all the way to the States to have them processed and mailed back to me. I would've thought nothing of the cost, because it would've been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak the same language as some of the greatest photographers in history, including one whom I very much admire, Steve McCurry.

But I did not have that sort of initiative then. Now things are different, and Eric's shutting down shop has spurred me to consider buying what I used to buy off him, off the net. One of these products is Tri-X, which he used to sell at RM11; B&H will mail it to me in bulk at the price of about RM15 a roll, which is still cheaper than most B&W films here. And besides, I really love Tri-X.

Even products like second-hand cameras can be purchased off the net cheaper than what we may find in shops here; the legendary Nikon N90s is available at the moment for no more than USD150 (including shipping to Malaysia) on B&H.

Sometime last year, I came across this 2008 USA Today article by Ben Dobbin, and I thought I'd like to share an excerpt:

Yet aficionados like [Magnum photographer Alex] Webb remain bewitched by Kodachrome's "vibrant but not oversaturated colors."

"It has an emotional punchiness that really always seemed right for me," especially in tropical urban locales he gravitates to in the Caribbean and in "mucky light" near dawn or dusk. Digital boasts "remarkable clarity," he says, but "it's almost too clear and doesn't seem to have depth and texture the way film does."

Webb was "incredibly distressed" when Kodachrome 200, his all-time favorite, bit the dust in November 2006. He stockpiled 600 rolls and is using up the last 150 to complete a photography book on Cuba this fall.

"It seems kind of appropriate because Cuba is a world of the '50s on some level," Webb says. "It has existed in a bubble outside the world of globalization now for 50 years, and Kodachrome goes hand-in-hand."

Steve McCurry paid tribute to Kodachrome in this article here.

And speaking of Cuba, McCurry followed up the Kodachrome tribute with a post on Havana, featuring pictures mostly, if not entirely, shot on Kodachrome.

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