Monday, August 01, 2005

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome Away


Nikon is running print ads for its new Nikon D50 digital SLR camera with the headline "It Gives You the Greens of Summer." An obvious (to anyone over 30 anyway) reference to Paul Simon's 1973 hit song "Kodachrome."

It's pretty ironic that a camera company would use a song about traditional film to sell a digital camera, considering you can't use Kodachrome in the camera. Kodak discontinued Kodachrome 25 in 2001, but Kodachrome 64 is still available.

All of which leads me to my point (bet you didn't think there was one!)

Whenever I hear Paul Simon's song, I don't "think back on all the crap I learned in high school," but rather, I think back to a day in the early '70s right after the song came out. My friend John and I were in his garage working on his motorcycle (actually, John was working on his bike, I was just handing him tools).

While taking a break, we noticed a roll of undeveloped black and white film on his workbench. Since we were curious to see what, if anything, was on the film, we dug out an old film reel and can mixed up some developer in his basement. We plopped the film into the developer (most likely it was D-76) and then realized that since neither of us had a watch, we had no way to time the development.

But then one of us had a brilliant idea. I'd like to be able to say it was my idea, but I can't. I can't remember who thought of it. Since "Kodachrome" had just come out and John had the 45 (that's 45 RPM record) near the record player, we decided to use the song as the timer. Since the song runs 3 minutes and 35 seconds and we probably needed 7 minutes or so for development, we played the record twice and then took the film out of the developer.

The negatives were a bit flat, but nothing to bad. I wish I could remember what was on that roll of film. Obviously nothing so remarkable, or I would have remembered it.

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