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Latest news on my Kodachrome project

Phil Coomes | 11:45 UK time, Friday, 8 January 2010

Day 89 on Kodachrome 64It's been a while since I reported on my Kodachrome 64 project. Regular readers of this blog might remember that back in October I began a photo-a-day project to mark the end of Kodachrome whose demise was announced by Kodak in June 2009.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of that film and Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, is the only remaining laboratory processing the film, and even that line will shut down at the end of 2010.

My project is set to run for 64 weeks, the time linked to the film speed, 64 ISO.

Today I have published day 89, which you can see above. It's a typical shot in the series, found scenes, shapes and patterns, almost anything that catches my eye.

It's very much a personal project, something to ensure I continue to shoot film and to take pictures for myself, not just for work or shots of the family.

In that respect it is working. Some photographs are undoubtedly stronger than others but probably the best feature of the project is that it's helped open up a world of photography I'd drifted away from as I spend much of my time looking at news pictures.

This project has meant that I have been able to enjoy so many great pictures and personal projects by other photographers, many amateurs just doing it for the love of their hobby.

There are vast numbers of inspiring pictures out there, for me though it's also the context of the shot that helps to keep my interest, a jaw dropping picture soon loses its appeal if there is no substance.

One example of someone committed to their photography is Lewis Bush who has also been shooting a photo-a-day project that started in 2008 and continues now.

We exchanged a few e-mails and comments on Flickr and the upshot was that for one month of his project he had the idea of limiting himself to really shooting one picture-a-day on film, so a 36 exposure film would last him the month with a few frames to spare. The results are intriguing.

Photo by Lewis BushThe shot to the right is one example. So simple, something that if you weren't forcing yourself to look for a picture each day you'd probably never raise the camera to your eye to capture. Yet it works.

I asked him to comment on the month he spent using just one roll:

Lewis said:

"The project had good days and bad days. Sometimes I was certain I had taken something quite boring, at other times I had the feeling I might have captured something exciting and on others it was completely unknown. I'm not sure I've been so excited about developing a film for years because I had so little idea about the photos, or how they'd work as a set.

"It was always a balancing act with time, partly because there was always the temptation to shoot the first eye catching subject encountered, but also because the time of year means you have so few hours of light to work in."

You can see the shots Lewis took in November last year here, or you can follow his photostream on Flickr.

Given my use of Kodachrome I was interested to hear from Paul Schlesinger who sent me a link to small set of pictures he shot on an old roll of Kodachrome 25 that expired in 1986.

The film must have been stored well as the colours are as bright as ever. It's not the only roll of Kodachrome Paul has shot; an old 200 ISO example seems to have been past its best.

I asked Paul where he got his film from:

"I received expired stock in different ways, some were bought from eBay, some were bought at my local camera stores, online from camera stores across the country, and from other photographers through film swaps. The batches of stock are different; the quality of the pictures you get depends on how they were stored, and the age of the film."

Paul's work led me to a pool on Flickr that shoots on expired film. An odd idea you might think as you could lose that great shot if the film turns out to be beyond saving, but then again at a time when we are swamped with thousands of digital pictures maybe this is a way to stand out from the crowd, like this one.

The Brooklyn Stoop 1977 70s Kodachrome 25 Slide by Anthony CatalanoFinally Anthony Catalano from Brooklyn sent me a link to a picture taken by him of him and friends in the 1970s. I'd imagine there are thousands of pictures shot on Kodachrome of anyone growing up in the 60s and 70s hiding away in drawers. The film's stability is well known and the pictures look as fresh today as they did when taken. If you have any, dig them out, scan them and give them the light they deserve.

You can follow my Kodachrome project on Flickr.


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