When I started to use [Kodachrome], its stability was well known (and still unique), and was a strong consideration in my choosing it: the little rectangles into which I poured such labour would still be readable in 50 or 100 years’ time. The commercial look of Kodachrome was also important for I was trying to turn the most advanced visual means of commerce against itself in recording the ruins of Thatcher’s first recession: the boarded-up shop fronts, derelict workplaces and unswept streets. Outdoors, under gloomy British skies, Kodachrome’s deep blacks – its shadow layer – became, with a touch of underexposure that also saturated the colours, wells of melancholy. Should we mourn the passing of a commercial product, particularly one with such a mixed history? Most cultural works are made with such products. Duchamp pointed out that even paintings could be thought of as ‘ready made’, being mere reorganisations of material squeezed from off-the-shelf tubes. Just as it takes practice and time to learn how to use a camera or a lens, so it does to know how both will interact with a type of film. The technical conservatism of professional photographers is purposeful. They are defending their hard-won knowledge: in what circumstances is a film best used, how does it bear detail in highlight and shadow, how does it behave in different lighting conditions? So the end of Kodachrome may be regretted as an abrupt extinction of techniques, practices and knowledge.