Lab flooded with last-minute Kodachrome orders

Notice to any photographer hanging on to their old rolls of exposed but undeveloped Kodachrome film: Act fast! Thursday is the last day to get it developed before the iconic film passes into history.

Processing deadline is Thursday

This file photo shows a roll of Kodachrome 64. Betting its future on digital photography, Kodak discontinued the slide and motion-picture film with a final production run in August 2009. ((David Duprey/Associated Press))
Notice to any photographer hanging on to old rolls of exposed but undeveloped Kodachrome film: Act fast! Thursday is the last day to get it developed before the iconic film passes into history.

The last photo lab in the world equipped to process Kodachrome — Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas — says it won't accept any more Kodachrome film canisters for processing after Thursday.

"We have gotten an incredible deluge of film in today," Dwayne's vice-president Grant Steinle told CBC News on Thursday. "In the last couple of days, we've got 500 packages from Federal Express, 250 from UPS, and probably 18 to 20 bags of mail from the post office.

"It's come from all over the world."

Despite that last minute flood of orders, Steinle said the "no-processing-after-Thursday" edict is firm. The store is fast running out of the material it needs to carry out the processing of the film. 

A notice posted on the store's website says it is not accepting any rush orders "due to the exceptional amounts of Kodachrome" it's been handling.   

Photogs go digital

Kodak announced last year it would phase out Kodachrome because of plunging demand as customers switched to digital cameras.

For many photographers, that was a sad day. For 75 years, Kodachrome won praise from professional and amateur shutterbugs alike for the richness of its colours, the realism of its tones, and the archival durability of the images it produced.

The film achieved a bit of cultural immortality in Paul Simon's suitably titled 1973 hit song, Kodachrome
In this file photo, photographer Steve McCurry poses for a portrait in New York with a poster of his iconic photo of an Afghan girl. McCurry has been entrusted with the very last roll of Kodachrome. A National Geographic special featuring the 36 pictures he took with that last roll will be broadcast next year. ((Mary Altaffer/Associated Press))

"They give us those nice bright colours. They give us the greens of summers. Makes you think all the world's a sunny day," he sang. "So, mama don't take my Kodachrome away."

From the beginning, Kodachrome was a different product. Unlike any other colour film, the three primary colours are added in three steps rather than being built into its layers. The vibrancy that complexity produced helped to win Kodachrome a legion of fans.

Its heyday was in the 1950s and '60s, when it was the medium for some of the most famous film and still photography of the time — including the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination in 1963. 

Photojournalist Steve McCurry used Kodachrome to capture his widely recognized portrait of an Afghan refugee girl, which appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985.

McCurry was given the last roll of Kodachrome ever produced and was tasked with the job of circling the globe to take a roll of 36 pictures that would do the film brand proud.

He will donate the images to the George Eastman House museum in Rochester, N.Y.

With files from The Associated Press