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Steve McCurry’s 'Last Roll of Kodachrome' photos are now live on his blog

By dpreview staff on Feb 8, 2013 at 19:48 GMT

Award-winning photographer Steve McCurry has published the photos taken with the last roll of Kodakchrome to come off the production line on his Wordpress blog. McCurry has shot more than 800,000 photos including his iconic 'Afghan Girl' portrait, with the film. In an article posted by NPR in 2009 McCurry equated 'losing the medium to losing a dear friend.' 

In a video exploring the story behind the gallery, McCurry says, 'I wanted to have the last chapter on Kodachrome.'

Comments

Total comments: 149
12
ulfie
By ulfie (9 months ago)

Stan K,
New York, NY, USA isn't in north America anymore?

I have K64 slides that are over 30 years old. Colors still as fresh as then. A great film. RIP, K64.

0 upvotes
Stan K
By Stan K (Feb 23, 2013)

These are great image, but I for one am tired of always looking at asian, there poverty etc. Looking for the images that are different. What about staying in North America, do we not have anything to offer

0 upvotes
Tronhar
By Tronhar (Apr 6, 2013)

Apparently North America does not offer a high degree of literacy. Asia is spelt with a capital, and "there" should be "their"... :- )

Asia holds by far the majority of the world's population, and it offers diverse, exotic and highly colourful images to those who choose to engage with it. That said, North America is at times stunningly beautiful... you would know coming from Calgary! So perhaps his choice is not a failing on his part, rather an exercise in the photographer expressing himself...

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Stealthy Ninja
By Stealthy Ninja (Feb 18, 2013)

Now he's shooting with an iPhone? :P

1 upvote
magneto shot
By magneto shot (Feb 13, 2013)

ok ok don't fret, i found this posted by one of the user , it has Kodak Chrome 64
emulation for LightRoom....

http://sourceforge.net/projects/thefilmbot/files/?source=navbar

0 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (Feb 22, 2013)

And it looks nothing like Kodachrome.

0 upvotes
Maxfield_photo
By Maxfield_photo (Feb 12, 2013)

Every time I have problems with color from a roll of film these days, I can't help but think "If only I had loaded Kodachrome" Probably just selective memory, but what a great film it was, we shall never see it's equal again in this world.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
wkay
By wkay (Feb 12, 2013)

Having shot Kodachrome for 40 years I have to say that these all look push or post-processed, I dont see a 'Kodachrome' look in any of them.

2 upvotes
Macx
By Macx (Mar 30, 2013)

Problem is, the image we're seeing isn't the Kodachrome. It's from someone trying to reproduce that image in another medium.

0 upvotes
Photo Grapher
By Photo Grapher (Feb 12, 2013)

I miss the Kodachrome. Great film.

2 upvotes
funnelwebmaster
By funnelwebmaster (Feb 12, 2013)

He leaves quite a bit of space above the heads of his portrait subjects.

0 upvotes
Brian_Smith
By Brian_Smith (Feb 11, 2013)

Steve McCurry is an amazing artist. It's a shame to see the end of his favorite medium though I'm certain his artistry will be just as strong.

0 upvotes
David Bourke
By David Bourke (Feb 11, 2013)

I have a roll of Kodachrome that I shot 5 or 6 six years ago. I sent it to Kodak in an old mailer, but it was sent back. Is there anyplace that I can still get this processed?

0 upvotes
mister_roboto
By mister_roboto (Feb 11, 2013)

um... you're kind of out of luck, unless you plan to do it yourself.

I mean really? Haven't you heard about Kodak and what not?

1 upvote
The Customer
By The Customer (Feb 12, 2013)

The last roll was developed in the last facility to do such things at the end of December, 2010. As of now, there is not one place in the world you can send it for proper development, sad to say...

0 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Feb 12, 2013)

Yesterday I went to a store in Yokohama (Bic Camera) where there was still a lot of choice in photo-films sold: Fujifilm, Kodak (not everything though) and even... Agfa rolls, in their famous red little box (I hadn't seen any for maybe 15 or 20 years).

It means somewhere on this planet somebody is still able to develop rolls; in which manner I couldn't tell. Yet, there are still some players on the playground... at least in Japan !

0 upvotes
foto2021
By foto2021 (Feb 15, 2013)

There is a photo store in England that offers processing of Kodachrome but only as black and white slides. There is nowhere that Kodachrome can be processed in colour.

1 upvote
rsdofny
By rsdofny (Feb 11, 2013)

Amazing story. Wonder if I can actually buy the prints.

0 upvotes
pictureAngst
By pictureAngst (Feb 11, 2013)

Umm, the roll of K64 in my Olympus Mju ii has a serial number one higher than his - should I tell him?

I'm happy to send him my roll if he wants to use up the remaining 6 frames, as long as he returns my camera afterwards - it's the limited edition one with the dateback and silver wrist strap so I don't just loan it to anyone.

He'd need to publishes my pictures too - there's a really good one of my Aunt doing the conga, and some arty contre-jour shots of Fudgie and Patch our guinea pigs.

Frames 8-30 he can ignore as I forgot to switch the camera off before I put it in my jacket.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
John P.
By John P. (Feb 13, 2013)

I wouldn't tell him...you might burst his ego. :)

0 upvotes
beeguy956
By beeguy956 (Feb 17, 2013)

Umm...if you haven't developed it by now, there's no place left that can do it...

0 upvotes
SnapHappy32
By SnapHappy32 (Feb 11, 2013)

Can't express how much these pictures make me miss India.
Someone please get this man another roll if you have one to spare.

0 upvotes
JackM
By JackM (Feb 11, 2013)

Outstanding. However there are 30 images. This implies 6 or 7 were deleted. I would have also deleted the 2nd shot of De Niro. Such a dud compared to the first, and its existence devalues the first one slightly. I'm surprised it made the cut, especially considering he "proofed" all the shots with a digital camera first.

And the hotel room tv... huh?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Carl Crumley
By Carl Crumley (Feb 11, 2013)

McCurry used a digital camera BEFORE he clicked the shutter on that last role of Kodachrome: “I wanted that reinforcement, to be able to see it on a two-dimensional screen...” – Steve McCurry, National Geographic photographer, on shooting the last roll of Kodachrome film produced by Kodak, during which time he took each photograph first with a digital camera. From Shutterbug Magazine, October 2011: “McCurry took no chances shooting the last roll of Kodachrome. To make sure he had exactly the right moment for each photo, in focus and at the right exposure, he first used a digital camera.”

0 upvotes
Charrick
By Charrick (Feb 12, 2013)

Unfortunately for film enthusiasts, the fact that he used a digital camera first just goes to show how much more versatile and user-friendly digital cameras are.

0 upvotes
Eelco van Vliet
By Eelco van Vliet (Feb 11, 2013)

Another legend gone.....

I have used a lot of Kodakchrome, Ektar and T-max films with a lot of pleasure. Sad to see a great company like Kodak struggle...

3 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Feb 12, 2013)

Agreed ! I don't want to start a new discussion about Kodak, but I just wanted to say I never understood why this company didn't try to stay in the game earning money with its printing department, while making sure everybody knows the brand is around by selling SD cards/speedlight flashes like mads and - why not ? - shifting to making lenses like Tamron and Sigma. This would have been a big leap for sure, but everything was better than stupidily waiting for the end.

0 upvotes
PerL
By PerL (Feb 11, 2013)

@Alizarine
Sure you can, but if so, much less, if any, is needed. If you have shot Kodachrome or Velvia (or other films, but these are exceptional) you know you can get fantastic shots without any extra help from a computer.

1 upvote
PerL
By PerL (Feb 10, 2013)

Jeff,
I think the nuances and richness of the colors are outstanding without looking oversaturated. They are strong, yet natural. Look at the series of portraits, the red colors, the white colors, the skintones. And the amazing is that this just by clickling the shutter, no curves, no adjustment layers, no elaborate PP to fix the shortcomings of the digital image.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Alizarine
By Alizarine (Feb 11, 2013)

But couldn't that be done after scanning the film/positive?

2 upvotes
Jeff Peterman
By Jeff Peterman (Feb 10, 2013)

PerL,

But the issues is how much did using Kodachrome 64 impact the final result compared to if the same photographer had used a modern high-end digital under the same conditions for the same shot. Are they any better because they were taken with Kodachrome 64 than they would have been taken with digital? If the answer is "no" because of the "noise" (grain) and lack of contrast/saturation control, the this is just an exercise in nostalgia.
You appear to be implying that these shots ARE technically better. If so, in what way?

1 upvote
Flying Fish
By Flying Fish (Feb 11, 2013)

My thoughts exactly; there's no way, looking at those images, I'd have thought wow, those must have been made on film. Some aren't even that wonderful to me; they seem self-conscious and not particularly interesting; although others are wonderful.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 11, 2013)

Come on, tell me you know anyone who shoots 30/30 "wonderful" photos. Don't you think that your expectations are bit too high? And we never think "wow, those must have been made on film" because of the world shaped by Lightroom and Photoshop we live in as well as the amount of excellent shots created every day in the world. A truly excellent shot will defend itself even if made using cellphone. It doesn't mean though that film as such is a better medium for capturing life than digital.

0 upvotes
PerL
By PerL (Feb 10, 2013)

It is obvious all technical qualities of a photo cant be grasped by the fixation with the simple terms noise and resolution that reigns today.

4 upvotes
Jeff Peterman
By Jeff Peterman (Feb 10, 2013)

Amazing how our expectations have changed. To me, these are grainy and over saturated compared to modern digital images!

2 upvotes
hc44
By hc44 (Feb 11, 2013)

Some people prefer the noise of a vinyl record audio reproduction, though they call it "warmth".

2 upvotes
migsmig
By migsmig (Feb 11, 2013)

the difference can only be appreciated when the proper medium is at hand. In the case of vinyl it will be a good pressed and good sounding vinyl, record player+amp+speaker combo, in image it will be a proper print. digital is catching though up in terms of resolution, and you can always apply tone curves and color profiles to make your image look 'analogue', as you have plugins that will give 'warmth' to the sound. we can always debate if digital has or hasn't yet reached that level of resolution either in audio, video or still image... but its pretty close nowadays.

1 upvote
Charrick
By Charrick (Feb 12, 2013)

I feel the same way. It seems to me that the love of film is due more to nostalgia than actual quality. I'm sure film-lovers will say that's not the case, but I'm just throwing my opinion out there.

0 upvotes
Maxfield_photo
By Maxfield_photo (Feb 13, 2013)

Our expectations have indeed changed, though perhaps not for the better. I suppose you would have pounded that grain into submission with the noise reduction slider, turned down the saturation slider till the red blinkies went away, added a tone curve to get rid of some of that annoying contrast, and sharpened it up with some unsharp mask?

The beauty of film is that each one has it's own characteristics and quirks. Photographers call it the "look" of a film. Some are grainy, some are contrasty, some are colorful, and you choose the right look to match your artistic vision the way a sculptor would choose a block of marble to carve his masterpiece. And like a sculpture where the imperfections in color and texture in the rock contribute to the overall aesthetic of the work, so to does film grain add to the feel of an image.

I guess that's lost on some photographers these days.

2 upvotes
Seamuscamp
By Seamuscamp (Feb 22, 2013)

The difference between past and present praxis is that more people now process their own digital photos than ever processed film. The nostalgic remembrance of glory days past is a feature of comments by film-lovers that has not always been borne out by reality. I've recently read an interview with a great exponent of landscape photography. When asked whether he had become a Photoshop expert (having of necessity converted to digital), he said he just told the technician how he wanted it to look - just as he had when he shot with Velvia.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (Feb 10, 2013)

I wonder how many people look at that and wonder "what on earth was film?"!

1 upvote
PerL
By PerL (Feb 10, 2013)

The the portraits from India of the holy men, the women and the kids are fantastic.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Nikolaï
By Nikolaï (Feb 10, 2013)

God bless this man

0 upvotes
rogerhyam
By rogerhyam (Feb 10, 2013)

I used to love Kodachrome 64 but I did switched to mainly Fujifilm Velvia 100 before the end of film arrived. This was mainly for the (almost) extra stop and being able to get it processed cheaper, quicker and not mounted. In the UK you could only really get Kodachrome processed by post by Kodak.

I'm sure the Kodachrome slides will outlast any of the E6 slides I have. Looking through my old film stuff it is amazing how little is worth scanning - but then I'm not Steve McCurry!

BTW: Think of the financial cost of nipping off to India with a few hundred rolls of Kodachrome. The business model of photography has changed sooo much.

1 upvote
uuronl
By uuronl (Feb 10, 2013)

PKR-36...

I showed this to a friend who was a staff photographer at Newsweek for a few decades. He started chuckling and showed me the NYC Taxicab photo.

He explained that all the Kodachrome had a serial number starting with "PKR-36".

How cool is it that he found that cab with that license plate?

4 upvotes
pocketuniverse
By pocketuniverse (Feb 10, 2013)

last ever roll of Kodachrome

oh well, use curves in Photoshop or DXO Film Pack
no biggie

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 11, 2013)

*facepalm* I just can't wait for another smart idea like that: Use Instagram. lol

4 upvotes
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (Feb 10, 2013)

The agony this photographer must have felt every time he squeezed off a shot from his VERY LAST roll careful to not waste a single frame. Now he knows to some degree the agony of the unwashed masses who had to buy their own film and shot so few keepers. Thank God for digital. That being said, these images while a tad "grainy" are beautiful.

1 upvote
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Feb 10, 2013)

I far much prefer 'grain' over ugly digital noise, color banding and all those artifacts. Something totally unnatural feeling, where that analogue grain really gives an image texture, and some 'luminous noise' is often nice to have. As much as modern digital is clean in good light, unless you're making a massive print, which no one does these days...

3 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (Feb 10, 2013)

Of course it almost certainly was not in actuality the very last roll. There will be supplies in fridges here and there around the world for a while no doubt.

1 upvote
Alizarine
By Alizarine (Feb 11, 2013)

@MPA1

and sadly no one with the equipment to process them...

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
1 upvote
lylejk
By lylejk (Feb 10, 2013)

Only a litle over 8 minutes into this video and really enjoying it. Sad indeed, but paradigms do shift but fortunately memories will hold on. Thanks for sharing your experience with this wonderful yet now sad end of an era Steve. :)

3 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (Feb 10, 2013)

I have to say, I'm moved to tears at the end. It's hard to let go of beautiful things, people, or an era. Great way to see it off Steve, excellent work.

2 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (Feb 10, 2013)

Just imagine if more shooters started shooting as if they only had 36 shots left. They'd learn so much.

6 upvotes
hc44
By hc44 (Feb 10, 2013)

That is Robert DeNiro isn't it?

0 upvotes
Ed Ellks
By Ed Ellks (Feb 12, 2013)

Yes.

0 upvotes
JKP
By JKP (Feb 10, 2013)

(manually added) EXIF data would have been interesting. Especially ISO-value. Grain seems to be quite high in all shots. Dark areas miss detail. Sharpness could be better in modern standards.

The "feel" of the images is sure quite strong. Film camera increases "sadness" of the the subject.

Seeing these images, I miss old film ages less and less.

1 upvote
CHRLem
By CHRLem (Feb 10, 2013)

ISO-value? Look from 3:13 until he loads his camera. It's a Kodachrome 64!! The last of the breed...

1 upvote
Philip Goh
By Philip Goh (Feb 10, 2013)

Asking for the ISO value isn't that silly, especially as someone like Steve could have push processed some of the shots.

0 upvotes
zakk9
By zakk9 (Feb 10, 2013)

Push processing Kodachrome 64 would be very unusual and was not recommended by Kodak. Push processing single frames? How do you do that?

7 upvotes
SilentKh
By SilentKh (Feb 11, 2013)

-

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
evoprox
By evoprox (Feb 10, 2013)

One photographic climax. Kudos !

1 upvote
camerosity
By camerosity (Feb 10, 2013)

I very much enjoyed shooting this film. And my father shot dozens of rolls of it from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. Fortunately they all survived and look as brilliant as they did when they arrived in the mail after being processed in Palo Alto.

3 upvotes
Photo Grapher
By Photo Grapher (Feb 10, 2013)

This is great. And great film Kodachrome was.

2 upvotes
putomax
By putomax (Feb 9, 2013)

jajajaja aja aja ajajajaa jajaja

- hope my laugh will be seen as it is: constructive ;) -

gashô

0 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (Feb 9, 2013)

...in fact, I find it also a very moving project.

A photographer paying tribute to his "tool" of choice for such great moments in his career by shooting "the last roll" of Kodachrome could not be a more perfect final chapter for such a iconic image registering medium, one that even has the previous "honor" of having a song been written about it.

I love digital, but cannot but lament the dismissal of such a powerful photographic tool...I guess the tide of times just makes everything, sooner or later, obsolete, irrespective of its intrinsic and objective value.

It is also ironically sad while, at the same time, extremely reveling that he found fit to bring along his digital DSLR to test possible shots before actually expending the valuable Kodachrome frames.

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (Feb 9, 2013)

What a beautiful, beautiful project...

0 upvotes
John MacLean Photography
By John MacLean Photography (Feb 9, 2013)

Anyone know what service bureau or who scanned these for McCurry?

Thanks,
John
www.johnmaclean.com

0 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (Feb 10, 2013)

Get a Nikon Coolscan V ED ;)

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Feb 9, 2013)

Given that usually we take dozens, if not hundreds sometimes, of pictures, to get a few very good ones... I feel that having 36 out of 36 being a success, this was quite an achievement, that few of us could aspire to.

In this light, although I would have liked to see a wider range, subject wise, and geographically, on the last roll, I feel it was a nice closing. After all, the world is all about how it is seen, through various eyes. And those eyes, belong to the people.

5 upvotes
Adam Filipowicz
By Adam Filipowicz (Feb 9, 2013)

A few nice shots.. but considering his reputation and ability to basically travel anywhere this series wasn't very inspiring or really made me appreciate kodachrome,, colors were not that great

0 upvotes
pedroboe100
By pedroboe100 (Feb 9, 2013)

I miss Velvia.

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Feb 9, 2013)

Personally, I loved the vividness of fujifilm. There was something about it that I never experienced with any other film. Not intending to take anything away from Kodachrome - just saying.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (Feb 9, 2013)

If you like Velvia....go buy some and use it.

6 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Feb 10, 2013)

Yeah go buy some Velvia, every camera store with a film cool I check out has packs of them... or buy 'miss' do you mean you don't have it in you to 'bother' with analogue? :/

0 upvotes
Ed Ellks
By Ed Ellks (Feb 12, 2013)

I liked Velvia as well, although I used the 50. Reala was an excellent negative film as well.

While I liked them, I reluctantly have to say that digital gave me as much resolution and color that those did even in the 6mp days. But rolls of film will always hold a place dear in my heart.

0 upvotes
iseethelight
By iseethelight (Feb 9, 2013)

Ok, now where did I put my slide projector... Hope the lamp still works!

Very nice! Thanks for the nostalgic return.

3 upvotes
RGSteele
By RGSteele (Feb 9, 2013)

Great video of a wonderful film and an incredible photographer. I began my photography with Kodachrome and loved the warm tones. This video is well done and I appreciate those who put it together. We have friends who have degrees in film history/production who have always known and used digital. I will be curious about their response to this video. Thank you for letting us know about it and sharing it.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
snow14
By snow14 (Feb 9, 2013)

i don't miss it.

2 upvotes
kodachromeguy
By kodachromeguy (Feb 10, 2013)

Why? You did not have to use it if you did not want to.

3 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Feb 9, 2013)

Great Goodbye on the last roll, excellent shots all. I switched from Kodachrome to Fujichrome around 1984, but still can remember the Kodachrome's over-accented warm part of the spectrum. It was a pleasure to look at.

3 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (Feb 9, 2013)

36 bittersweet moments.

0 upvotes
Photog74
By Photog74 (Feb 9, 2013)

I did not find the photos on his Wordpress blog. Even your own link points to a gallery on his website instead, where these pictures have been available for ages. They are great of course but I fail to see what the news is.

0 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Feb 9, 2013)

Cue film bashers in 3...2...1...

2 upvotes
David Hurt
By David Hurt (Feb 9, 2013)

Looks Great, but my last years of shooting slide film - I shot Fujichrome Provia 100F & not much of anything else. I personally think Fujichrome Blew Kodachrome away! ! I have a roll in my EOS-3 - probably been in the camera going on 2 years. I'll finish it some day this spring or summer.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 149
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