Editor's note: the following is a tongue-in-cheek, often irreverent, question and answer column published in the ASMP News solely for the entertainment of our readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of ASMP, the local chapter or other ASMP members. All opinions and answers are solely those of the author, and he is welcome to them.

Readers' questions about any aspect of photography, or life in general, are welcome and Dr. Photography will answer them in future columns, if he happens to feel like it. Send mail to:
Dear Dr. Photography

Dear Dr. Photography,

HELP! I've been a Kodachrome shooter for 20 years and all of a sudden, Kodachrome processing disappears from the Bay Area. Kodalux (Palo Alto) has closed down, The New Lab has discontinued Kodachrome processing, Newell Colour Lab has gone out of business. Panic City! My life, for as long as I can remember, has revolved around weekly doses of little yellow boxes. If Kodachrome dies, I don't think I could go on living. Last night, I pointed an F4 to my head and fired. Fortunately, it wasn't loaded and I'm still here today. What should I do? Help me before I shoot again!

Panicked in Pinole


DP: Whoa! Ease off the coffee, guy. There's more to life than a Kodachrome slide mount. You need to calm down and get your life back together -- maybe stay home and watch TV for a few days. Get a grip!

The Great Yellow Father has repeatedly insisted that he has no plans to discontinue production of Kodachrome film, despite possible evidence to the contrary. However, Kodachrome processing has become, quite frankly, a pain in the butt when compared to the E-6 process. Both Kodak and Fuji have developed some wonderful new E-6 films in recent years that rival the color, resolution and archival stability of Kodachrome. Kodalux's decision to close their Palo Alto plant along with New Lab's discontinuation of their Kodachrome line have dealt a temporary, but serious, blow to photographers like you, who must now pick up the pieces of their sorry, shattered lives. Yes, it's a little harder to use Kodachrome now, but try to cope with it and think of it as a minor inconvenience. It's really not worth blowing silver halides through your brain with a perfectly good Nikon.

Taking a favorite film from professional photographers is akin to taking a security blanket away from a two-year-old -- there are bound to be a few tantrums. Kodak/Kodalux should know that making photographers wait four days to get their film back is similar to telling your two-year-old that every time he uses his favorite blanket, you're going to take it away for four days while you wash it. This is not going to make you very popular and is likely to turn your home life into a minor hell for a while.

This correlation between photographers and young children is not completely absurd. We tend to get very attached to the things that have always been there for us. Imagine how we'd feel if Nikon said they didn't think 35mm cameras were worth their while anymore... if Vivitar decided the portable strobe market was passé... if Bogen and Gitzo told us that they never really liked photographers who relied on tripods. In the case of Kodachrome and its processing, some photographers might be tempted to say "I don't care about the environment or the fact that these companies can't make money providing this service to me." Life goes on. Kodachrome is still here if you really want it. If you absolutely need 2-hour turnaround, E-6 isn't a bad alternative.

Besides, Kodak could never get away with discontinuing Kodachrome. That would be like trying to do away with all our other old favorites like Panatomic-X, Plus-X, Tri-X or the E-4 process and infrared Ektachrome. It would be as unimaginable as Pan Am going bankrupt... it could never happen!

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©1992 Scott Highton
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