Almost every day I get stock image requests from various image libraries, and I either have something suitable to submit or I don’t – it is just luck of the draw. A few days ago one such request was for landscapes from the river Nile in Egypt, and back in 1997 I had the pleasure of a Nile cruise because my wife was mad about Egyptology and the Pharaohs, but in those day digital hadn’t been invented and I was shooting on a Leica M6 with no long lenses. My film stock of choice was my favourite Kodachrome 64, mainly because it was unaffected by the heat and produced accurate colours. The new(ish) kid on the block (Fuji Velvia) was pretty garish and had oversaturated greens so the choice of film wasn’t difficult for me. Besides which National Geographic used Kodachrome so that was good enough for me.
Now of course I have a filing cabinet full of transparencies which seldom see the light of day but I decided I was going to explore the possibility of scanning some slides if I could find anything that was suitable. I have a new Plustek 8200i scanner but up to this point I had only used it to scan black and white negatives, so there was a little bit of a learning curve involved. The scanner had to be calibrated using the supplied calibration slide, and then the special ‘Kodachrome’ setting had to be applied which took a bit of fathoming out but I got there after a while.
One of the reasons Kodachrome is so good is that it not a modern dye-based film but is an old-fashioned emulsion film with a high silver content. Great you may think, but it does lead to one major drawback when you are scanning – the dust and scratch software in scanners does not work on films with a silver content. The meant that the resultant scans needed a bit of extra work in Lightroom to clean them up, and it also showed that the images which were pretty sharp when looked at through a loupe were not quite as sharp when blown up 1:1 on my 27″ Mac!
I am pretty pleased with the results though and these are the ones that went off to the stock library for their clients consideration. It just goes to prove that there is life in old Kodachromes after all!