America at Home 2: The 1960s Kodachromes & Ektachromes

America at Home

2:  The 1960s.  Kodachromes and Ektachromes.

“Fabian Teen Idol”, 1959,  Kodachrome.  No photographer I.D.  From Kodachrome: The American Invention of our World 1939 – 1959. Edited by Els Rijper.  Delano Greenidge Editions, New York, 2002.

The 1950s, in some ways, were the high point of amateur Kodachrome slides (transparencies) taken in the United States.  Things were changing in the 1960s.  Foremost was that the US Government took Kodak to court in the 1950s under  “Anti-Trust” laws and won a case that meant that Kodak had to relinquish the exclusive right to develop their own Kodachrome film.  As was pointed out in America at Home Part One, the chemicals that went into Kodachrome were complex – it was what gave the film its richness and its stability.  Unlike Kodak’s Ektachrome (less stable in storage), up until the US court ruling Kodak’s Kodachrome had to be processed in Kodak only photo laboratories.

Kodachrome Kodak processed transparency, 1962.   Source Pete Grafton Collection.

This was not preserving a monopoly – it was preserving the superior qualities of Kodachrome.  After the US court ruling Kodachrome film could be processed in any film laboratory.  This could mean the colour rich quality of Kodachrome was not always fully realised during processing.  In addition, some photo labs were sloppy when drying the film, so that dust stuck to it.

Kodachrome transparencies processed by non Kodak U.S. photo labs, 1960s.    Source Pete Grafton Collection.

Secondly, because of the US court ruling the price of Kodachrome dropped, as the price of Kodak photo lab processing was no longer included. The lower price meant it was more attractive to a greater section of the non-hobbyist photo snapping population.

Another factor that effected the colour quality of many Kodachromes from the 1960s onwards was that Kodak introduced a Kodachrome film that could work in poor or indifferent light: Kodachrome 11. It was a good film, but it  meant the film could be used in cheaper cameras  that had a limited range of shutter speeds.   They also had poorer quality, less sharp lenses.

The budget priced and very popular Kodak Instamatic camera, introduced in 1963 that used 126 format film.  Kodak produced Kodachrome and Ektachrome film in the 126 format for their Instamatic cameras.

UK packaging of Kodachrome 11.    Source Pete Grafton Collection.

Reverse of UK Kodachrome packaging of Kodachrome 11.  Note that US Anti-Trust decision did not apply to Kodachromes in Europe.   Kodachromes in the UK were processed by the Kodak film lab in outer London.  Source Pete Grafton Collection.

Of course, hobbyists with quality cameras continued to produce sharp, colour rich slides during the 1960s and into the 1990s, but there are more U.S. processed slides that turn up from those decades that are below par in terms of colour and sharpness, compared to the 1950s.  Maybe it is no accident that Kodachrome: The American Invention of Our World chooses to finish its selection in 1959, just at the point that the 1960s were starting.

However, the 1960s US Kodachromes and Ektachromes introduce a wider range of social and racial groups captured on film, and also chronicles an increasing interest in American Heritage, plus the invasion of the German VW Beetle.


All slides (transparencies) reproduced below are from the Pete Grafton Collection.  By the 1960s all Kodak processed slides were date stamped on the mount, and this date is shown beneath the photo. Bear in mind that slides were sometimes processed a month or two, or longer, after the photos were taken.  Non Kodak photo labs mostly, but not always, did likewise.  Any annotation on the slide mount is reproduced beneath the photo, in quotes.  Because of their occasional colour shifts, and dodgy colour balance caused by poor processing or poor storage conditions Kodak Ektachrome slides (transparencies) are identified to distinguish them from the Kodachromes reproduced below.


Family & Friends

No date, but probably early 1960s.   The parked Sunbeam Alpine was first manufactured in 1959, the parent company Rootes aiming it at the US market.  Ektachrome.

August, 1960.

July, 1961. Fungus damage, either caused by poor storage, or accenctuated by non-Kodak processing.

January 1962.  Non-Kodak lab processing.

October, 1962.

October, 1962.  A wonderful example of a Kodachrome at its best.  Taken with a quality camera.

April, 1963.

April, 1963.

July, 1963.

August, 1963.  Ektachrome.

“Barbara & Neil’s wedding, Nov 1, 1964.”   A VW Beetle noseying up against a home grown product.

July, 1965.  Extachrome.

July, 1968.



February, 1967.  Ektachrome.  The location is Tampa – see the Falk’s of Tampa sign, and the occasion is the week of the Florida State Fair.  Even though it is Florida, some seated watchers have rugs over their laps.  Above them, Julie Andrews stars in ‘Hawaii’.

June, 1968. Unknown location. American Legion members are marching with the Stars and Stripes, but a German VW Beetle is ambushing them to their left. Although this is a Kodachrome it has been processed in a non Kodak photo lab.  Note the uncharacteristic blue tinge and the vertical tram lines off centre, probably caused by acccelerated mechanical or hand drying.


Excursions and Vacation

June, 1960.  Non Kodak processing photo lab.

January, 1961.

March, 1961.

December, 1962.

July, 1963.

September, 1963.  Antelope Valley is in Los Angeles County, California.

September, 1963.

December, 1964.  The lady is Lori, who will appear later. 

July 1965.

July, 1965.

July, 1965.

August, 1965.

August, 1965.  

October, 1966.

October, 1966.

August, 1967.  Ektachrome.  

August, 1967.  Ektachrome.  

October, 1967.

October, 1967.

May, 1968.

July, 1969.  Eagle River is in Keweenaw County, Michigan.


Work & Service

March, 1961.  Presumed to be Forest Rangers in the El Cariso Park, Los Angeles County.

March, 1961.   El Cariso Park area, Los Angeles County. 

March, 1961.  El Cariso Park area, Los Angeles County.

September, 1961.  

December, 1962.  The headline on the top board reads “Predicted Fire Behaviour”.  Presumed to be El Cariso Park area, Los Angeles County,

December, 1962.  Presumed to be the El Cariso Park area, Los Angeles County.

April, 1963.

October, 1965.

August, 1967.  John Moses Memorial Hospital was located in Minota, North Dakota.

August, 1967.  From the same source as the John Moses Memorial Hospital above.

November, 1968.


Portraits of Women

June, 1960.

July, 1960.    Jackie Kennedy styling?

January, 1962.

April, 1963.

April, 1963.

July, 1968.

“Lori”. No slide mount date.

“Lori – Matador hat.”   No slide mount date.

“Lori.”  July, 1964.

“Lori.” May, 1966.


My Pet

March, 1961.  

March, 1963.


Christmas & Birthdays

“Joyce’s 12-25-61”.   Slide processed March, 1962.

December, 1968.   Ektachrone.

December, 1968.  Ektachrome.  Flippy Frogman.

December, 1968.  Ektachrome.

Slide processed August, 1969.


The Next Generation (Passing the Baton On)

July, 1961.

June, 1965.  Ektachrome.

No slide mount date, non-Kodak film lab.  Believed to be early 1960s.

February, 1964.

Despite the winter coats the slide mount is stamped August, 1965.  Ektachrome.   Kodak Instamatic 126 format.

June, 1965.  Ektachrome

January, 1962.

July, 1961.

October, 1968.

November, 1965.

July, 1968. Ektachrome.

“L.L. Baseball.”   July, 1968.


Coming next,  mid June, 2017

Paris By Night.

photos by Pete Grafton.

Scooterist looking at Audrey Tatou poster, Paris , November, 2010.   photo Pete Grafton.

Audrey Tatou and De Vrais Mensonges poster (Beautiful Lies).  Paris, November 2010.   photo Pete Grafton.

Les Petits Chevaux du Moulin Rouge,  February, 2010.   photo Pete Grafton

Moulin Rouge at night, February, 2010.   photo Pete Grafton.


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2 Responses to America at Home 2: The 1960s Kodachromes & Ektachromes

  1. putilovets says:

    What device do you use to scan your slides? I recently bought an apparatus to transfer our old slides from the 1960s to digital format, and the result was so crappy I immediately returned it to the dealer. Maybe I was doing something wrong, but I was astonished by how poorly the images turned out. I’m just wondering if I’m going to have to spring for a high-end machine to do the job.


    • petegrafton says:

      I use an Epson Perfection V500 Photo scanner. In the UK they are about £180, and they used to come bundled with an excellent free Photoshop Elements version. I use the Photoshop Elements to tweek the photo for brightness, or clean up dust spots etc. Hope this info helps. Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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