The Colors of Kodachrome, East and West

This picture was taken at Rheinsberger Strasse in East Berlin, facing the Berlin wall in the background. The houses on the other side of the wall are in West Berlin. This area certainly has a different color scheme today, and is one of the most popular areas in the former East Berlin. Text and images by Johan Larsson.

A few years back, I took the lead from Derrick and tried digitizing color slides using my DSLR. I picked up a box of Kodachrome slides, shot most of them as RAW files, imported them to Lightroom, then pretty much forgot about the whole thing.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when we were preparing for a trip to Switzerland to attend a friend's 60th birthday party. Prior to departing, we had received mail from his wife asking for old pictures of her husband. There wasn't time to do something elaborate, as we were to leave in two days, but I did remember my digitized color slides that were shot during a trip to Germany and Switzerland back in 1987.

I was lucky. I found some great shots of our friends and made some prints. Then it struck me that it may be useful to bring all of those photos with me. So I uploaded the pictures to the cloud and made sure that they were available on my iPad. 

This image shows the waiting line at Konnopke's Imbiss in Schönhäuser Alle. The well-known and popular wurst place still exists today.

While on the road, I looked again at those Kodachrome 64 slides and was amazed by the colors. The look of those slides are very different than what comes out of my digital cameras. The pictures that really stood out were the ones from East Germany, as the colors in the German Democratic Republic were much different from western Europe. So here we have two leaps at the same time: Kodachrome 64 vs. digital, and Eastern vs. Western Europe. 

I had captured the pictures with my Pentax MX and a 35 or 50 mm lens (those were my only two).

Having re-discovered my old shots, I started to wonder if I should get an old SLR and try a few rolls of film. But therein lies the challenge; the film days were as much about the film itself as the camera gear, if I remember correctly. 

Kodachrome is gone. I remember using Fujifilm of some kind in the late nineties before getting my first digital camera, to get a more neutral coloring. But if the colors of Kodachrome are what made me start thinking about analog photo again, should I not go for something more extreme?

And the Pentax MX? Long gone...

Text and images by Johan Larsson, who is based in Stockholm, Sweden.  You can see more of his images on Instagram.

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