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India on last Kodachrome

Rochester (New York), Aug. 2 (AP): What should a photographer shoot when he is entrusted with the very last roll of Kodachrome?

American photojournalist Steve McCurry took aim at the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Terminal and a few human icons, too. Paul Simon, the crooner synonymous with the fabled film’s richly saturated colours, shied away. But Robert De Niro stood in for the world of filmmaking.

Then McCurry headed from his base in New York city to southern Asia, where in 1984 he shot a famous portrait of a green-eyed Afghan refugee girl that made the cover of National Geographic. In India, he snapped a tribe whose nomadic way of life is disappearing — just as Kodachrome is.

The world’s first commercially successful colour film, extolled since the Great Depression for its sharpness, archival durability and vibrant yet realistic hues, “makes you think”, as Simon sings, “all the world’s a sunny day”. Kodachrome enjoyed its mass-market heyday in the 1960s and ’70s before being eclipsed by video and easy-to-process colour negative films, the kind that prints are made from.

McCurry felt the tug of nostalgia even as he loaded Eastman Kodak Co’s last manufactured roll into his Nikon F6.

From that moment on, “there’s a certain amount of observation and walking around — exploring, hunting, moving,” McCurry said of his craft. “It’s not all about taking pictures. It’s about appreciating this world we live in for such a brief amount of time.”

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