Tasmania’s spectacular Russell Falls, in Mount Field National Park are deservedly famous, and are visited by thousands of local or overseas visitors every year. I’m lucky enough to live just over a half an hour drive from the park and try to get up there a few times every year if I can.
In mid-2010, I bought two rolls of Kodachrome 64 transparency film. Kodachrome was the world’s first commercially viable and successful colour film, introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935. I had just a few months, to expose and then send the films off to Dwaynes Photo in Parsons, Kansas. They operated the last Kodak K-14 process film laboratory in the world.
In early 2010, Dwaynes announced that on or around 30th December that year, due to Kodak’s decision to cease Kodachrome manufacture, as well as the production of the dyes needed to process it, they would shut down K-14 development, in the process killing off Kodak’s most famous colour film—perhaps the world’s most famous— forever. I finished the rolls and got them mailed over to Dwaynes, just in time to make their deadline. As far as I’ve been able to establish, I was the last photographer in Tasmania, and perhaps the last in Australia, to make some shots on Kodachrome. This image was made with that final roll.
It was loaded in a classic 1959 Voigtländer Bessamatic 35mm leaf shutter SLR.
I’m fairly pleased with the shot. Considering the narrow exposure latitude and limited dynamic range of the film, I think the exposure settings were quite good. What is more remarkable is that, on the day, I was obtuse enough to forget my trusty Minolta digital light meter, and was forced to rely on the Bessamatics built in fifty year old selenium meter to set the exposure. It’s a massive tribute to the quality of Voigtländer’s product that, over fifty years after it was made, it works well enough to correctly expose such an unforgiving transparency film! The quality of the best Voigtländer product was unbelievably good in the 1950s, and my own Bessamatic still looks almost new.
The lens was a Voigtländer 135mm f/4 Super Dynarex telephoto, an incredibly compact 135mm lens with the most beautiful machining and leather finish.
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