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The Greatest Film in the Galaxy


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The Greatest Film in the Galaxy

25 Apr 2020 10:44AM   Views : 436 Unique : 342

What else could I be referring to but Kodachrome, the first and arguably the greatest colour transparency film. Invented in the Kodak laboratories in 1936, Kodachrome is unique amongst colour films. Most have the colour dyes in the film emulsion and are covered by colour processes such as E-4 and E-6 (transparencies or "slides" or even "trannies") or C-41 for negative films for prints. Kodachrome uses a much more expensive and complex developing system where the colour dyes are in the processing chemicals. I think the latest process was K-14 and was carried out in Kodak labs all over the world. The advantage is superb colour, very fine grain and absolute colour stability. Whereas our colour negatives and prints from say the 1980s (my grandson calls this the "olden days" - ouch!) and even our colour slides of the Ektachrome (E-6 or earlier) variety will be fading or changing colour as the dyes decay at different rates. Colour images on Kodachrome from the 1930s will still be stable, with one proviso. They should be kept cool and in the dark.

The practicalities were that films were bought process paid, so each box contained a small yellow envelope to return the film in for processing. In the UK we sent them to the hallowed halls of PO Box 14 at Hemel Hempstead and then an age later (2 or 3 weeks perhaps) a small yellow box with mounted slides (unmounted if you nipped the corner off the envelope) would drop through the letterbox. There were different speeds of Kodachrome and latterly they came as Kodachrome 25, Kodachrome 64 and Kodachrome 200. All were fantastic films, but for the ultimate in landscape and fashion photography we needed to look no further than Kodachrome 25. Just think, ISO (ASA then) 25......

Of course even Kodachrome progressed (I nearly said developed) over the years and what a kerfuffle there was when the glorious Kodachrome II gave way to the not-quite-so-glorious-till-it-settled-down Kodachrome 25. Of course it did settle down, and Kodachrome 25 proved itself in the end. Read all about it in the photo press of the early 1980s. You know, the days of the dinosaurs.....

So, I have dusted off my rough and ready small slide scanner and had a look at some old colour slides. As there is some interesting stuff on them I'll be looking at more, but from a photographic point of view here's a selection. All are shot using a Pentax Spotmatic, MX or ME Super with either Pentax, Vivitar or Soligor lenses.

The greatest film in the Galaxy!

Slides old and not quite so old

Red is the purview of Kodachrome, November 1980

A very early shot on the Manchester, Bolton and Bury canal, January 1972

Triumph Herald, November 1972

Sue, February 1977

Pretending to be Vandals, April 1977

Waiting at a bus stop, March 1977

Glorious Red! 1977

There are so many slides, and the ones I am looking for are interesting memorabilia of where I was brought up, in Irlams o' th' Height, Salford. These may be very early shots of mine, and not particularly good technically, but they are of interest anyway to the right audience. meanwhile, I've enjoyed having a look back at Kodachrome!

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