Conrail Local at Dunkirk: Kodachrome and Color-Correction.


Working with Kodachrome 25, I exposed this view of a Conrail local freight on the Water Level Route at Dunkirk, New York on March 10, 1989.

Although Kodachrome was among my favorite films, it was by no means perfect. The film tended to be unusually sensitive to aging and temperature which could affect its color balance and overall color bias.

When it was too fresh from the manufacturer the film tended toward a cyan (blue-green) bias; as it aged and/or endured storage in hot environments the film shifted toward a red/magenta bias.

This slide suffers from a cyan bias, so I made some nominal corrections using Lightroom to better balance the color for a daylight setting.

I’m not using a perfectly calibrated computer screen, so my adjustments are still less than perfect, but I feel these restore the scene to more or less how it looked to my eye on the day.

Since everyone viewing this image will see it on different screens and with different eyes, and because it is impossible to know how each screen is biased, I cannot know if my corrections will improve the image for the individual viewer or not. Such are the challenges with color photography! There is no one correct answer.

Slide scanned with a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 using VueScan software; color output settings set to Kodachrome K14, with color balance set for ‘White Balance’ which appear to offer the best overall balance at the time of the scan. No adjustments in post processing.


Working from the same slide scan, I made color adjustments in Lightroom aiming to achieve a more neutral overall balance, while retaining a rich blue sky. Additional adjustments were implemented to lower contrast and slight boost shadow areas while retaining a rich black in the deepest shadow areas..


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One thought on “Conrail Local at Dunkirk: Kodachrome and Color-Correction.”

  1. Looks good and a definite improvement. Most slides scans need some kind of post process color adjustment but I have found many can’t tell if they have a yellow or cyan or magenta color cast.

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