Who among us does not have a device that is capable of taking a picture?
Nowadays, it is rare if a person does not have a digital camera of some sort, or at the very least, a cell phone that can take a pretty decent shot.
A while back, I posted a short history of the world as it pertains to photography, especially the challenge of sorting, storing, and hopefully, someday finding the photos to look at. (More on that in a moment.)
As did many of the legitimate, and us wannabe, photographers back in the day, I carried around small, squat, plastic tubes of color slide film sold by Kodak. The film was known by its trade name, Kodachrome©, and had a reputation for quality.
“Vivid colors. Unique textures. Startling contrasts. It was Kodachrome film that first clearly captured these essential photographic elements in 1935.”
But, as an AP story on an end of an era reported, this iconic photographic palate of many famous photojournalists is available no more.
“The film, known for its rich saturation and archival durability of its slides, was discontinued last year to the dismay of photographers worldwide.”
While it was just today that I picked up on that AP story, we can’t say we weren’t warned. NPR broke the story over a year ago, and followed it up just last month to let us know that last roll has been exposed. The item included a story of one photographer, whose one particular picture you have almost assuredly seen.
“In 1984, photojournalist Steve McCurry was in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan. He followed the sound of voices to a tent where he found a group of girls. "I noticed this one little girl off to the side that had his incredible set of eyes that seemed almost haunted — or very piercing. McCurry snapped a picture that ended up on the cover of National Geographic’s June 1985 issue. "The Afghan Girl" became one of the magazine’s most widely recognized photographs.”
When he heard that the end was near, McCurry requested the final 36-exposure strip and Kodak gave him the last roll of Kodachrome ever produced.
“After nine months of planning, he embarked in June on a six-week odyssey. Trailing him was a TV crew from National Geographic Channel, which plans to broadcast a one-hour documentary early next year.
National Geographic magazine is considering doing a spread on McCurry’s trip that would include a handful of images.”
I look forward to seeing the results of what a master of film photography has created.
The reputation of Kodachrome was so well known in its time that it even became the subject of a well-known song of an era. “Music lovers came to admire it when Paul Simon sang about it in 1973, describing the beauty of a world that was not black and white:”
“They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away”
(You can hear the entire song in the YouTube clip, below.)
As most of us have not loaded a roll of film into a camera for many years, we have long ago entered the age of digital photography, where we no longer think about the high cost of film and processing as was in the days of yore, and we now unload jpegs by the dozens into virtual files, most of which are never to be heard from again.
But, if you wish to hone your skills in both your photography and travel writing at the same time, you might consider this nationally known upcoming conference in the San Francisco area.
Not only will you get to meet mentors of the trade, like my adventure literary hero Tim Cahill, but this year they have added food and wine to the curriculum. Who knows, if you pay attention you might be able to eat and drink your way into becoming the next Anthony Bourdain.
As to my slide and print film storage conundrum of my youth and current digital film storage issues, my computer savvy daughter tells me that my future film filing will neither be in stacks of stuff, nor hard-drive clogging jpegs, but out-of-sight in something—or somewhere—called cloud computing.
As we outgrow our terrestrial accumulations, I can certainly understand the concept of utilizing unused atmospheric real estate. McCurry, alone, is said to have a million Kodachrome images in his film library.
But what I don’t get, is where the stuff goes on clear, cloudless days.