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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
tarnumf
By tarnumf (Feb 9, 2013)

So much about lenses sharpness, high ISO and bokeh - no, they don't really matter.

5 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Feb 9, 2013)

Yep, you said it. If people pixel-peeped these images the way they do with digital images, they probably would not fair too well compared to today's very high resolution, low noise sensors. But that's not the point of photography! Photos aren't meant to be viewed at 100% pixel level magnification in Photoshop!

6 upvotes
SiliconVoid
By SiliconVoid (Feb 9, 2013)

Well they do matter, but not in the context that many today believe. It is not important that those dynamics originate from the equipment, but that they can be influenced by the eye of the photographer.
You need not be concerned with capturing any more detail than could be seen with your eye.
Noise free ISO performance is to allow you to maintain shutter speed, not to take pictures in the dark.
If you do not want something distracting in the background of a shot, don't position the subject in front of something distracting.
...and if people would output their images at a resolution they are meant to be viewed, by printing them or downsampling them for digital presentation, then there will never be a situation where someone else can zoom in beyond what was presented to them.. ;=)

2 upvotes
jorgeysusa
By jorgeysusa (Feb 9, 2013)

You can't compare Kodachrome to pixels, what you see on your monitors is only a digital interpretation of Kodachrome., not the real slide. Project these on a screen, then we can compare.

4 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (Feb 9, 2013)

Remembering that the best slide projectors (Leitz, Kodak) with best lenses never did better than 40 line pairs/mm in the center and 25 in the corners...

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

well if all that didn't matter 'back in the days' then Medium format, or even larger formats wouldn't have had much of a place among professionals and enthusiasts. But again, it doesn't 'matter' with artistic value, a good photo is a good photo~

0 upvotes
StanRogers
By StanRogers (Feb 11, 2013)

Projecting Kodachrome is a good way to kill it. It will last nearly forever in dark storage and prints very well, but it can't take projection well. (Ektachrome was nearly the opposite -- poor dark storage, but projection didn't accelerate the aging much.) Kodachrome was great for shooting for reproduction, not so great for the carousel.

0 upvotes
leewardism
By leewardism (Mar 29, 2013)

We are not happy unless we can see the micro detail, with virtually no noise, at an Iso of 64million(or soon will be). It disappoints that technology can be stealing the power to make us all better photographers.
The film images, didn't have image stabilisation, didn't have variable iso, and didn't have the luxury of bracketing. They weren't taken into Lightroom, or Photoshop, or had there contrast, colour or range played with, to the point where they look nothing like what was shot on the day. The "chromes" were filled with additional light to help exposure, framed well, developed and stuck on a digital scanner and converted.
To sum it up, the camera was put on a tripod, metered, previewed (albeit) digitally and processed. We have come so far with digital photography, but the urgency to get it right up front, has been diluted to the point where it is, I feel, making us less capable to get the best out of photographic skills and slaves to fixing everything in post.

0 upvotes
deep7
By deep7 (Feb 9, 2013)

Nice to see that roll didn't get wasted. It was an absolute pleasure looking though those.

6 upvotes
Woodlink
By Woodlink (Feb 9, 2013)

any coincidence that Steve took a photo of a statue with the right hand missing?

pretty poetic and pretty cool actually.

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
mischivo
By mischivo (Feb 9, 2013)

Shrug. Although I'm quite fond of McCurry's photography in general, I don't really care for his travel portraits. Whether or not he started the craze, it's overdone.

2 upvotes
skimble
By skimble (Feb 9, 2013)

what a blessed life he has and what a inspiring person to go out and get shooting. Good on him, he managed to make that saying become reality a picture can say more than 1000 words.

0 upvotes
40daystogo
By 40daystogo (Feb 9, 2013)

That's an outrageously high proportion of "keepers" from one 36-roll of Kodachrome. Shows the quality of Steve McCurry's ability to see -- although, I guess, using the last roll of Kodachrome might have heightened the sense of gravity before clicking the button.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 28 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Feb 9, 2013)

You also gotta remember that he took test shots on a DSLR first. So in actuality, there were a lot more shots (including non-"keepers") taken than what you see here. It's just that those other shots were taken with the DSLR, before finally shooting the "keeper" with the film camera. This certainly doesn't mean that McCurry isn't a great photographer. But it definitely wasn't a situation where he was only out shooting solely with this one roll of film.

4 upvotes
JT_FD
By JT_FD (Feb 9, 2013)

Sure, but even a pre-test on a DSLR isn't going to stop your subject from blinking. He's a dude.

3 upvotes
RoelHendrickx
By RoelHendrickx (Feb 10, 2013)

OK, pre-shooting with digital explains why he gets settings spot-on for every exposure and it has undoubtedly helped with composition. So yes, that makes it a little less magical.
But still : amazing use of the exact moments in a few of those images.

0 upvotes
leewardism
By leewardism (Mar 29, 2013)

Using a digital camera as a light meter/chimp device, wow! who wouldn't!, the ultimate light/ hindsight meter, sorry! supposedly only 30 shots left in the known universe, tick,tick,tick

0 upvotes
poorfatjames
By poorfatjames (Feb 9, 2013)

I just shared this with a girl in whom I'm interested that worked in Afghanistan for a few years and totally got a date out of it! Thanks, Dpreview.com!

22 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Feb 9, 2013)

My job here is done.

22 upvotes
LTZ470
By LTZ470 (Feb 9, 2013)

Lol...way to go BB...

1 upvote
tarnumf
By tarnumf (Feb 9, 2013)

Don't waste your roll! :))

2 upvotes
SilentKh
By SilentKh (Feb 9, 2013)

Dan- I made the three hour drive down from Kansas City to Dwayne's that day, arriving just before close. Took the tour (and watched as USPS AND UPS AND FedEx arrived minutes before five with enormous pallates of huge bags of packaged film). I walked outside a few minutes after five (with my commemorative yellow Kodachrome t-shirt) and stepped across the street to shoot Dwayne's from the side with the drive-through window- the one that said "KODACHROME LAB" in bold letters across the top. I was the only person standing there when one of Dwayne's staff members came to the window and flipped the sign to "closed". I have the shot of her walking away, the sign reading closed underneath the big Kodachrome Lab decal. Yes, a completely random story, but everytime I see the file I feel like I have a little piece of history as I was the only person standing there in that moment.

9 upvotes
Ignat Solovey
By Ignat Solovey (Feb 9, 2013)

Share that pics somewhere please.

5 upvotes
herbymel
By herbymel (Feb 9, 2013)

Makes me cherish the kodachrome slides I have even more. One of these decades I'll have to get back to scanning.

0 upvotes
xrdbear
By xrdbear (Feb 9, 2013)

Amazing use of the colours or Kodachrome. Have just bought a slide copier off Ebay to digitize my mere 4000 chromes and then there's my fathers lot from the 50's. Labour of love.

0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Feb 9, 2013)

Send me a personal message and I share a secret that will get you through them faster.

0 upvotes
S B McCue
By S B McCue (Feb 9, 2013)

Steve's Wordpress blog has a production line?

0 upvotes
Kongtotoro
By Kongtotoro (Feb 9, 2013)

I makes me recall the feeling of looking at slide films.

2 upvotes
Jack_D
By Jack_D (Feb 9, 2013)

I would have liked to seen a portrait of Paul Simon included in the final roll.

2 upvotes
Dan Nikon
By Dan Nikon (Feb 9, 2013)

Paul was contacted by me and most likely by Steve but he was not to oblige his likeness and it might have to do with the whole branding / copyright thing that happened when "Kodachrome" hit the airwaves.

A shame really, he would have had some great PR out of it...

3 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (Feb 9, 2013)

I agree Dan. That would have been awesome.

1 upvote
maboule123
By maboule123 (Feb 9, 2013)

Really? You, the last Kodachrome to be processed?
I was coming back from the Canyon lands, Arches Park to be exact on my way home to Montreal. I dropped 5 Kodachrome films to be sent for processing on January 25th, at a photo store in Salt Lake City. Since I wasn't to wait the customary 7 days I left my home address written on the envelopes. I received ALL my slides in plastic boxes at my door two weeks later.
The clerk mentioned that there wasn't any more Kodachrome for sale, but that Kodak was still honoring their prepaid Kodachrome.
What? You were there when The Beatles broke up?
:)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Dan Nikon
By Dan Nikon (Feb 9, 2013)

Not to be processed but to be shot in the timeline of when the clock ran out. I watched Dwayne shoot his last roll that day as I had 12 frames left to go in one camera and 7 in another.

In early 2005, I contact Dwayne's son at the lab about this project. I told him I wanted to shoot the film until the very last moment and he said it was a long ways off but OK. So over the years, we kept in touch, I went out to visit with him and my project gained steam:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/videos/2011/01/04/kodachrome-a-little-stained-glass-window-of-truth.html

So on December 30th at the end of the day when it was obvious that Dwayne's was not going to get through the 15,000++ rolls that had come in, I asked Grant, "OK, so what now?"

He simply replied with a smirk, "Keep shooting!"

So I did and the rest is history....

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dan Nikon
By Dan Nikon (Feb 8, 2013)

Steve shot the last roll to come off of the production line, Dwayne of Dwayne's Photo shot the last roll to be processed and I shot the last roll before the machine was shut down, had 50 rolls come out of the last 100 roll batch along with Dwayne's roll on January 17th at 1:00 PM when Kodachrome officially passed into the history books.

If you want to see what was on the **very** last roll to of the film to be shot and processed as actual Kodachrome, I uploaded frame number 8 from that roll here:

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/302190586/photos/2423000/last_roll

This was out of 1,285 rolls I shot for my project over a 6 year span, about 65 well past the lab cut off date of December 30th, 2010. The edit is nearly done, I have about 300 top images for the book and a couple of publishers on the line...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (Feb 9, 2013)

Let us know when the book is ready for sale. Hope you announce it on your FB as well.

0 upvotes
crsantin
By crsantin (Feb 8, 2013)

I'm glad I watched this, nice to see a master at work. Some wonderful photos on this roll. Must be nice to be able to call up celebrities to have them sit for a portrait. Film really is wonderful.

3 upvotes
IAMINFOCUS
By IAMINFOCUS (Feb 8, 2013)

Very interesting, and well done Steve I might add. I am sad to see such a long ledgend come to a close for so many! I to shot a few rolls of Kodachrome. But what really makes me respond and take time out to watch this 30 minute segment come to an end...was the memories of my Grandpa, who, a professional Photographer himself shot thousands of kodachrome pictures through out his life as a photographer. He was fond of his work, and was really into Kodak. Thanks Steve, Good work.

1 upvote
RoelHendrickx
By RoelHendrickx (Feb 8, 2013)

Let me add one more thing: the roll yields at least one image that is truly fabulous; that the portraits are excellent is to be expected from McCurry, but that one with bridge-like constructions, and the persons and shadows and chandeliers and ...., is breathtaking.

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Feb 9, 2013)

that was the NYC Grand Central Station shot you are referring to, I believe.

0 upvotes
Marek Rucinski
By Marek Rucinski (Feb 8, 2013)

What we learn is that even giants like Steve McCurry can miss 1 out of every 6 photos despite shooting such an important roll as "the last roll of Kodachrome".

2 upvotes
J Parker
By J Parker (Feb 8, 2013)

Great images from a master photographer. McCurry is clearly one of the great portraitists of our time. I learn something every time I see his work.

2 upvotes
RGiskard
By RGiskard (Feb 8, 2013)

It's amazing how great those shots are, totally separate and apart from the Kodachrome aspects...

2 upvotes
RoelHendrickx
By RoelHendrickx (Feb 8, 2013)

a lot of good shots from one roll of film: that is probably the most amazing aspect of this experiment.

3 upvotes
Gabor Gasztonyi
By Gabor Gasztonyi (Feb 8, 2013)

One of the greatest photographers of our time. His images are breathtaking particularly on his blog.

1 upvote
facedodge
By facedodge (Feb 8, 2013)

You can buy still Kodachrome on ebay and amazon.... just saying. Not the last roll.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Feb 8, 2013)

That's exactly why we said 'the last roll ... to come off the production line.'

3 upvotes
Woodlink
By Woodlink (Feb 8, 2013)

I bet you it's the freshest roll since its the last off the production line.

Buying "unused" film of EBay is just a way for someone to profit off nostalgia.

Not for me.

1 upvote
PLShutterbug
By PLShutterbug (Feb 11, 2013)

You may be able to buy it, but you won't be able to get it processed. I just checked the Dwayne's Photo web site and they stopped processing Kodachrome Dec 31, 2010.

0 upvotes
babola
By babola (Feb 8, 2013)

Ahh the grain...the hi-contrast and saturation...love it!

1 upvote
makofoto
By makofoto (Feb 8, 2013)

Why are the shots so grainy?

1 upvote
Jan Kritzinger
By Jan Kritzinger (Feb 9, 2013)

Noob forgot to turn NR on in camera

3 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Feb 8, 2013)

Wake me when we get to the last roll of Velvia ;)

5 upvotes
herbymel
By herbymel (Feb 9, 2013)

It's funny when Velvia first came out there was a negative reaction to it by so many photographers. It was often referred to as having "cartoon colors". :)

2 upvotes
absentaneous
By absentaneous (Feb 8, 2013)

nothing to write home about.

1 upvote
mike kobal
By mike kobal (Feb 8, 2013)

It's hard to beat Steve McCurry...

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
1 upvote
John Crawley
By John Crawley (Feb 8, 2013)

It is hard to beat film...

6 upvotes
Clint Dunn
By Clint Dunn (Feb 8, 2013)

You're right. The problem though, is that it's hard to beat the convenience of digital....which is why film is slowly being relegated to a niche product.

7 upvotes
SirSeth
By SirSeth (Feb 8, 2013)

It's hard to beat both imo. Nice film equipment is cheap because of digital and digital is cheap because of the march of technology with upgrading driving down prices of nice equipment. There is no better time because there are so many choices.

1 upvote
Woodlink
By Woodlink (Feb 8, 2013)

it's really easy to beat film given that its dead.

2 upvotes
Dan Nikon
By Dan Nikon (Feb 9, 2013)

Woodlink, I am not sure I understand...

You can buy thousands of rolls of fresh color and black and white film from B&H, Adorama and Freestyle and pros like my self are using it more and more for niche work, especially hand printed black and white fine art. Not sure why you think film is dead when people still use it, even 20-something's who are not part of the Lomo crowd...

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
rcapra
By rcapra (Feb 9, 2013)

National Geographic announced that a documentary was being made about the history of Kodachrome and Steve McCurry's project of shooting the last role. It was mentioned in several articles written about the end of Kodak's production of the film and Dwayne's discontinuation of processing.

So what happened to NatGeo's Kodachrome Documentary? I've written and emailed NatGeo to ask but I've not received a response. I would love to see a great documentary on McCurry's final role project and the Kodachrome story and history!

0 upvotes
Woodlink
By Woodlink (Feb 9, 2013)

dead to the overwhelming majority of photographers. thats all. i'm certainly aware that you can still buy film.

sold and used thousands of rolls myself from my pops pharmacy. :)

thats all

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Kirk Thompson
By Kirk Thompson (Feb 9, 2013)

"... nothing to write home about."

I'm glad not to be the only nay-sayer. I really don't enjoy the high contrast, limited shadow detail, and hyper-saturation.

Comment edited 51 seconds after posting
1 upvote
DOF Vader
By DOF Vader (Feb 9, 2013)

Rcapra: it's on Vimeo, visit petapixel and search for 'Kodachrome'

2 upvotes
Total comments: 149
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