Kodachrome Beach

To be completely honest, I don’t know a lot about Kodachrome film. One evening a few years ago Courtney and I were watching television and scrolled through some titles on Netflix. Up came a movie, assumably from our recommended list, with the namesake of this very famous film. A film about film. I didn’t know what Kodachrome was at the time and little did I realize I had probably seen it before in my youth, but as they say: ignorance is bliss. Netflix told us that the movie starred Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris, and Elizabeth Olsen, it looked interesting enough so we threw it on the tele.

I fucking love road movies.

Anyway, we really enjoyed the film and on a side note, I took a liking to the main character Matt Ryder’s awesome canvas messenger bag. Tried to find it over the years, but no luck! This isn’t what this blog entry is about, though.

This weekend we spent some time on Whyte Avenue, which is a common weekend outing for us. Remedy Cafe for a chai and window shopping. This particular trip, we paid a visit to The Junque Cellar antique shop. We’ve been there before numerous times to check out their selection of books, trinkets, etc. A couple of trips ago, I noticed they had a stack of Kodachrome slides for sale, $1.50 each.

Not sure what drew me into them this go around, but I decided to hold a few up to the light. They looked like basic vacation shots, some shots of houses, some old feller in near darkness. I found a few flower shots with beautiful colour and set them aside. There were over a hundred or so slides. Before I sat down and went through them all, I wondered if I would find anything. Well, turns out I found something amazing.

Of course, these slides are old. Would they scan? Would they be scratched? Dirty? I wound up selecting nine of them. Some of them weren’t great, but the flower shots turned out amazing! (I may post them later.) Of course, these are not my photos, these are just slides I bought – I wasn’t even sure if I would post them. I may own the physical slide with the film, but the copyright is likely still with the original photographer, whoever they are. Are they still alive? Are they still taking photos?

Here is the photo that I’m excited to share with you. I knew in the shop that it was a beautifully composed shot even when I held it up to the light, but little did I know it would turn out so great…

Photographer Unknown – ‘Kodachrome Beach’, Waikiki Hawaii, Summer 1976.

What a beautiful shot. I especially love the beams of light cutting through the clouds. Look closely in the distant shadowy area of the beach and you can see someone else lounging, looking out to the water. Who is the couple? She is wearing light shorts and what appears to be a bikini top. He is shirtless in dark shorts, carrying a pair of sunglasses in his one hand. Was this their first time in Hawaii? Are they locals or vacationers? I love how they are captured in mid-stride, walking through the waves crashing on the sand.

The Kodachrome slide is labeled with a stamp AUG 76V4 and handwritten in pen WAIKIKI BEACH which has helped me identify a rough timeframe and location when and where the photo was taken. Of course, the film could have been processed days, weeks, or years after the shutter-release button was pressed. There were other photos by the same photographer (I assume) with Kodachrome slide labels from 1974, 1976, and 1978.

I scanned the slide using SilverFast 9 with the Kodachrome transparency preset. It came out pretty dirty even after blowing the dust off of it. So I tried again, this time gently wiping the slide with a lint-free cloth that I usually use on my filters or my lenses. Since I didn’t remove the film from the cardboard casing, the edges of the photo were still dirty in the scan. I figured I would crop the edges anyway, so I didn’t try to wipe them off. The second scan was really nice, but the photo had some scratches and dust that I removed manually in Photoshop. Every time I try and use automated tools like Digital ICE, SRDx, or the Dust & Scratches tool, I am never happy with the results. (Probably just my inexperience.) I usually just throw on some music to help concentrate, zoom in real close like, and paint away the scratches using the Healing Brush Tool.

There were some scratches and dust I left in the photo, but the glaring ones are gone. A tiny little bit of colour correction in post, a slight curves adjustment to add some contrast, and that’s it.

Whoever took that photo, great job. Excellent work. I don’t know if you’ll ever see this blog post, but please note that I love your photo a lot and want to share it with the world, or at least the few people who actually read this blog.

Oh, and dear readers: if you haven’t seen Kodachrome, give it a whirl.