I don’t remember exactly when I first tried it, exactly, but I think I got it from my Dad. I don’t even remember what happened the first time I used it. All I remember is, I was hooked. I had to have it. Had to use it as often as possible. Sometimes I used it 12 times in a row, sometimes 24. And sometimes I really got on a roll and used it 36 times in a row. It gave me such a high – made my eyes and my brain dance with vivid images filled with brilliant colors.
Once I was exposed to it, I was hooked. A junkie. Addicted to Kodachrome.
The basic stuff – Kodachrome 64 – was great. But I really got hooked on the good stuff. Kodachrome 25.
I used a lot of it. I shot roll after roll of it through my first “real” camera, an Agfa Karat 36 that was 12 years old when I was born, a simple mechanical range-finder that required me to carry and use a light meter. It took 35mm film and I ran a lot of Kodachrome through it. I soon moved up to a more “modern” camera, a Pentax K-1000 SLR that had a light-meter built in. My appetite for film only grew, and while I sometimes shot Ektachrome, various print films, and – when I wanted to see things in black and white – Plus-X and Tri-X, it was always the Kodachrome that I craved.
My addiction to Kodachrome continued when I traded the K-1000 for a Pentax ME-Super, which had auto-exposure settings, and when I later bought a Nikon SLR. And somewhere along the way I added Fujichrome Velvia to the mix. I found I loved it almost as much as Kodachrome, and even more in some settings.
Sadly, Kodak began to discontinue its Kodachrome film products several years ago. They stopped making the ISO 25 version in 2002, and the ISO 64 version in 2009. The last lab that processed Kodachrome stopped doing it at the end of 2010, although there are a few labs that will process it in black-and-white. Fuji discontinued Fujichrome Velvia in 2005, although they still sell newer versions called Velvia 50 and Velvia 100
The rise of digital photography saved me from severe Kodachrome withdrawals. About the time Kodachrome was passing into history, I got my first digital SLR, a Canon EOS Rebel with 6.3 megapixels of vivid, color-saturated goodness. Today, I shoot digital with a Canon 5D Mark iii.
But from time to time I still look at my old film cameras sitting on a shelf, and I find myself longing to load one of them up with Kodachrome 64 or Kodachrome 25 just one more time.
Maybe I’ll get a few rolls of Velvia. Just a few.