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The Last Roll of Kodachrome Film

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Getty Images

In 2009, Kodak announced that it would stop producing its iconic Kodachrome film after nearly 75 years in production. Kodachrome is a big deal: it's so popular that a state park is named after it, and of course Paul Simon wrote a song about it. But why was Kodachrome so beloved? It was good, color slide film that held up well in the field and in archives. And in the first twenty-ish years, the cost of processing (developing and mounting the slides) was included in the purchase price. It was good stuff.*

Famed photographer Steve McCurry (the man who photographed the Afghan Girl for National Geographic — on Kodachrome!) asked to be given the last roll of Kodachrome off the assembly line. Kodak agreed. Then National Geographic followed McCurry as he shot those last 36 exposures. Here's what happened:

The last Kodak lab processing Kodachrome shut down in 2010, so Kodachrome is well and truly finished. You can see McCurry's last roll in a slideshow on his website.

* = Nerdy photography footnote. As a teenager, I learned photography using endless rolls of expired Agfachrome, and only rarely shot Kodachrome (the latter always looked yellow/orange to me). At my local camera shop, you could get five rolls of slightly expired, carefully refrigerated Agfachrome for three bucks (!), though processing still cost a fortune.

(Via PetaPixel.)

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Courtesy Sotheby's
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You Can Buy the Oldest Surviving Photo of a U.S. President
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Courtesy Sotheby's

The descendent of a 19th-century U.S. Congressman has discovered a previously unknown presidential portrait that is likely the oldest surviving photograph of a U.S. president, The New York Times reports.

Previously, two 1843 portraits of John Quincy Adams were thought to be the oldest photographs of a president still around. Currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, one of them was found on sale at an antique shop in 1970 for a mere 50 cents. Now, an even older photo of the sixth president has been uncovered, and it’ll cost you more than 50 cents to buy it.

Adams sat for dozens of photographs throughout his life, so it’s not entirely surprising that a few more surviving portraits would be uncovered. At the time this newly discovered half-plate daguerreotype was taken in March 1843, Adams had already served out his term as president and had returned to Congress as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. The photo was taken by Philip Haas, who in August of that same year would take other daguerreotypes that we previously thought were the oldest surviving photos. (Despite his apparent willingness to be photographed, Adams called them “all hideous.”)

John Quincy Adams sits in a portrait studio in 1843.
Courtesy Sotheby's

After having three daguerreotypes taken that day in March, Adams gave one of them to his friend and fellow Congressman Horace Everett, inscribing it with both their names. Everett’s great-great-grandson eventually found it in his family’s belongings and is now putting it up for sale through Sotheby’s.

It isn't the oldest picture of a U.S. president ever taken, though. The first-ever was actually a portrait of William Henry Harrison made in 1841, but unlike this one, the original has not survived. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a copy of it, which was made in 1850.)

The head of the Sotheby’s department for photographs, Emily Bierman, told The New York Times that the newly discovered image is “without a doubt the most important historical photo portrait to be offered at auction in the last 20 years.” (She also noted that the former POTUS is wearing “cute socks” in it.)

The daguerreotype will be on sale as part of a photography auction at Sotheby’s in October and is expected to sell for an estimated $150,000 to $250,000. Start saving.

[h/t The New York Times]

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9 Exhilarating Close-Up Photos of Sharks
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Dive into the world of Shark, a new book by award-winning photographer Brian Skerry.

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