I used my last roll of Ektachrome VS this week. It was a bittersweet ending to a great film. I have to profess that I did love Ektachrome G more than VS, but the super-saturated Ektachrome VS, the last Kodak slide film that we will ever see, was a whole lot of fun to shoot.
As film shooters in the modern era, we’re constantly watching the new digital cameras, looking to see how they stack up to the films that we love. The truth is – they’ve caught up. The newest DSLRs will challenge any film shooter’s ability to squeeze out the most dynamic range from their image, and they do it at higher resolution and with less noise.
But they do it with noise. Film shooters, we have grain. Glorious, beautiful grain. We have grain, and we have thos propriatary colors that come with the emulsions unique to each film. Sadly, one by one, these films are becoming extinct. Kodachrome, Astia, Sensia, Ektachrome. I have to wonder what’s next. As the digital cameras finally close the quality gap, and films slowly die off, becoming a relic, there will be a few people hanging onto film until the bitter end.
Black and white will last longer, because we can do that at home – but even there, there’s attrition. Ansel Adams and I have something in common: Our favorite developer, Kodak’s HC-110, is on the endangered species list. I can only hope that I can snag one last bottle before it’s gone forever. Film isn’t going away just yet, but it’s going away.
Japan being Japan, they pulled all of the Ektachrome off the shelves as soon as it hit it’s expiration date, catching me by surprise and leaving me with my small stash, which I’ve exhausted now. I’m sure that rare film resellers will have their stashes, but I won’t be looking too closely for it. Everything comes to it’s proper ending, and here is Ektachrome’s.
NPR’s All Things Considered did a story this week on the sounds of old technology, and they talked about film shooters. Maybe the Leica guys can tell you all about their sexy silent clicks, and buttery winding levers. My F90x’s noisy clack-whir! is nothing to write home about, even in comparison to my Fuji GW690III’s loud sproing! But then, you don’t hear the shutter in a photo, and I’ve always looked at the finished product, the fantastic colors and tones that each unique film brings to the table.
I intentionally chose to shoot sakura with this roll because of the symbolism behind the cherry blossoms. Traditionally, they’re seen as fleeting burst of beauty and then a graceful ending as the petals drift to the ground. They often represent the end of things, and the beginning of something else. So my Ektachrome ending is the cherry blossoms. Maybe that’s me in the first photo, the blossom desperately clinging to it’s last petal, knowing that it’s only a matter of time, and yet hoping to squeeze out one last moment.