This image was shot by Steve McCurry in 1984 entitled "Afghan Girl", it has become one of the most recognized images.
Digital photography has pretty much pushed film the way of the Dodo bird. Professional photographers shooting high quality magazine covers or art typically selected Kodachrome as the Gold Standard in days gone by. It was a relatively slow film, which had a color saturation unmatched by any of it’s contemporary rivals.
The other advantage to Kodachrome was it’s archival quality. If kept in a cool, dry place it wouldn’t lose any of it’s richness for 50 or more years.
Essentially, what high end camera manufacturers are tying to do with their 20 Megapixel plus cameras is match the image quality of Kodachrome though digital manipulation.
Yeah – it was that good.
The end of Kodachrome means the end of the old saying “The camera never lies”. There is very little relationship between what is actually in front of the camera and the digital image. And even the image content is not sacrosanct. Like a lot of things in this world, the passing of film and emergence of digital is a loss of honesty.
A lot of pros and serious amateurs would keep Kodachrome in the freezer, which would preserve the film long beyond it’s expiration date. There might still be a few rolls of the stuff sitting in the back of a freezer somewhere – just waiting for that rich saturated image…
Bad news… The last shops processing Kodachrome are shutting down Dec 30 of this year. Use it or loose it time, guys!
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,” he tells NPR’s Audie Cornish.
Photographer Steve McCurry, 2002
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 — and one of the century’s most iconic. To get that shot, McCurry used a type of film that has become iconic in its own right: Kodachrome.
The film, known for its rich saturation and archival durability of its slides, was discontinued last year to the dismay of photographers worldwide. But Kodak gave the last roll ever produced to McCurry. He has just processed that coveted roll at Dwayne’s Photo Service in Parsons, Kan. — the last remaining location that processes the once-popular slide film.
What’s on that landmark roll of film is still under wraps. It will be the subject of an upcoming documentary by National Geographic. What is known is that the first and last images are in New York City, McCurry’s home base. And between those frames are photographs from India, where McCurry established his career as a master of color photography.
Although he has almost a million images spanning 35 years in his Kodachrome library, he still felt the pressure of this assignment. Every one of the 36 frames on that final roll was precious. “Am I getting the right moment?” he wonders. “Is it in focus? Is the exposure right?”
So before he took one of those shots, he used a digital camera to hone in on the perfect exposure. “To have that reinforcement, to be able to see that on a two-dimensional screen … it was a big help,” he says.
And he’s got a piece of advice for amateur photographers with unused Kodachrome film lying around: Get it to Dwayne’s! The Kansas photo shop will stop processing Kodachrome rolls on Dec. 30. And while that will mark the end of an era of photography, the memories created with Kodachrome — like that Afghan girl’s green eyes — will live on.
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