"damn interesting": Color Photography from long ago...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by jovo, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    My son sent me this link. It describes a process entirely unknown to me, although I've certainly heard of and seen Autochromes. The thing is, I now have to entirely reimagine the turn of the previous century...I thought the world was completely monochromatic at that time. ;-)

    http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=245
     
  2. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    What an amazing resource! What particularly suprises me is how odd the WW1 photos look in colour.
     
  3. John_Brewer

    John_Brewer Member

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    Interesting link John. Just recently I bought a book published in 1904 on colour photography. In fact there were several methods of making colour pictures, slides and prints: The Lippmann process, The Ives process, The Joly process, the collotype and the Sanger Shepherd process. I hope to try one or two of these methods when time (!) permits.
     
  4. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Technicolor movies were made the same way, "Gone with the Wind" to name one.

    Then came the Kodachrome and Ektachrome color films with simpler cameras and projectors and Technicolor went away. Now the old color movies are mostly faded and gone, but I bet the Technicolor stock still remains if it was on safety film. Of course you need a Technicolor projector to view it.

    Sounds just like digital vs film debate some are having today!
     
  5. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

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    There's a book "The Birth of a Century: Early Color Photographs of America" that is similar. The photographer is William Henry Jackson, and they used something called the Photochrom process. But the color is introduced in the printing process; the actual photographs were still on b&w. The description of the process in the book is rather vague, but apparently it only involved one negative, and then the printers would make printing stones (similar to lithographs?) for each color. Guess you couldn't call it a true color photo, but a lot of the pictures in the book are very interesting.
     
  6. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    There was also a Land Color process, which (for projection) used only two negatives -- one grayscale and the other with a single color filter. When superposed, the eye will recreate the scene in illusory full color. Works suprisingly well, given that a (say) red filtered color negative doesn't make a distinction between blue and green in the original scene...
     
  7. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I hadn't heard of the process being used that early, or of the three exposures ("separations") being done side by side on one long plate, but the color-separation process was in common use between the World Wars. One amazing practitioner in Britain was Madame Yevonde:
    http://www.benhamgallery.com/artists/yevonde.html
    The technique could be used with an ordinary camera, taking three plates in succession through different filters, but it was faster to use a "one-shot" camera which had one lens, several internal semi-transparent mirrors and filters and three backs for three plateholders, which allowed you to take color pictures onto 3 pieces of black-and-white film or plates with one exposure (as long as you had very powerful lights).
    PS: There are apparently no less than 63 prints by Madame Yevonde in the National Portrait Gallery London:
    http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/portrait.asp?LinkID=mp06547&role=art&rNo=0
     
  8. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

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    In my research on old color, I've never heard of the Ives process that you mention. What is it? The others i believe are screen - plate or tri-plate separation processes. yes?
     
  9. John_Brewer

    John_Brewer Member

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    I've not had time to read the book properly yet but it relies on a photochromoscope to view the image, i.e. it isn't a print. http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/cameras/index.htm?item146
     
  10. Michael Talbert

    Michael Talbert Member

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    Autochrome was the third (chronologically) additive plate colour transparency process to be marketed. J. Joly's (1st 1895) McDonough's(2nd 1896). Both acheived little sucess due to the difficulty of making the plates- high reject rate. Although the first Autochrome s were obviously glass plates, the materials became available in sheet film and roll film, Alticolor roll film/ Filmcolor sheet film.10 ASA. Both lasted until 1958.Processing was B/W reversal.I have processing sequences dating from 1908 although the processing sequence changed little during the lifetime of the process.Can give more information if interested.
     
  11. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I remember seeing those Russian empire pictures somewhere else ("Smithsonian"??) in an article in connection with an exhibition. The important thing to note is the quality. First, this guy was a great photographer. Second, the color is true, saturated, and beautiful. In fact, the color is better than what we get from most films today. Compare them to the autochromes also shown in the web page. For an early technology, this work is almost unbelievable. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the photographer's hard work and uncompromising quality control, but still. I wonder what the technical details of the work were. (Has someone seen the exhibit catalog or other documentation? Maybe the LOC web site has something.) Just thinking: the photographer had to calibrate his plates to get a decent separation with the poor red sensitivity of the emulsions of that era.
     
  12. szazs

    szazs Member

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  13. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning,

    The Russian color photos referred to in the posts immediately above were also published in a book probably about twenty years ago. It might be out of print now, but is probably available from used-book sources. The book contains a lot of background information about the photographer and his methods.

    Konical
     
  14. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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  15. jason314159

    jason314159 Member

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    I went to see this exhibition at the library of congress when it was there...2000? 2001 I forget. The pictures were really stunning. The blue in particular on the Prince of Bukhara's outfit was spectacular. I was disappointed that there was not an exhibition book or I would have bought it. Anyway, see this link to see how he did it: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/making.html It also goes into how the pictures were restored. The other thing to keep in mind is that the lenses he used were not apochromatic, so the color fringing can be due to registration as well as objects moving in the frame.

    The other thing is
     
  16. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Good morning,

    Thank you Jason for the link, too bad the camera doesn't exist anymore. 3 chambers with 3 lenses would build the 'stereo' effect BUT it might be interesting.

    I still would like to know how he had panchro glass plates OR if this can be done with plain film (UV/blue sensitive). Sounds like another project.

    Thanks for the links.
     
  17. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    The first color process (which, by its nature, had to have at least some red sensitivity) was patented in, IIRC, 1869. Dry gelatin plates had some red sensitivity unless care was taken to prevent it; even a pure silver chloride emulsion has a little (very little) response to red light. The products available in the 1890s weren't what we'd now call panchromatic, but there was enough red response to record images that would read as full color to the eye.
     
  18. Brac

    Brac Member

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    I bought a copy of the book and still have it. The photos are amazing. I recall there was a thread about this about a year or so ago.