Old Pre War Color Look. I’m Impressed. Can it be done today?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Gatsby1923, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Location:
    Holyoke, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I just picked up a 1940 book of Kodachromes entitled “Kodachrome: and how to use it” by Ivan Dmitri. The colors in the book have impressed me. Heck all Pre ww2 color photography has impressed me at some level. The colors are just surreal in a way. I would like to do some photography as close as possible to that old Kodachrome of the late 30’s look. Aside from buying some Kodachrome 64 and maybe using an uncoated lens how can I come close to that classic Retro look?

    Dave M.
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Dear Dave,

    I have the same book.

    You're not gonna like the answer.

    D*g*t*l manipulation.

    And I speak as a committed B+W film user.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Westminster,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    First off remember the book is printed 4-color CMYK, so the look of the images might not match what the film actually recorded. To make the look of pre-war Kodachrome it is important to view an actual transparency.

    That said, no modern film will give you the look and feel of that era. The easiest way is by creating a set of actions in PhotoShop to adjust your image quality from a modern film stock to the "retro" look, and apply the actions to the scanned digital image.

    Good luck. I'm sure that other ways in camera but I don't have the energy to experiment.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Those old prints also had color correction and contrast masking as well. Actually, all magazine prints have both, even today but the masks are done digitally for the most part.

    PE
     
  5. avandesande

    avandesande Member

    Messages:
    1,246
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You might want to check out the photographer 'Outerbridge' if you are interested in early color. He did all of his as carbro prints.
     
  6. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Location:
    Holyoke, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes after thinking about the pictures in the book, and other books of that era, I realized a lot of that color look has to do with the way they where reproduced. Maybe I should shoot some kodachrome and see if I can find a local fine art printmaker to hook up with.
     
  7. glennfromwy

    glennfromwy Member

    Messages:
    278
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a lot of 1940s photo magazines with color reproductions. Indeed, very different from those we see today. The last time I saw anything that looked like the magazine photos was some color negative photos shot through a lens from sunglasses.
     
  8. marcsv

    marcsv Member

    Messages:
    61
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    has anyone tried bleach bypass for E6
     
  9. DBP

    DBP Member

    Messages:
    1,896
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Alexandria,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a book here from 1939 entitled Making Color Prints". Apparently the standard at the time was to do separation negatives, either in camera or from a chrome film, then employ any of a variety of processes such as carbro to creat the layers that were then sanwiched back together. That is not, of course, the precise method that a magazine would have used.
     
  10. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

    Messages:
    2,411
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Van Buren, A
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Not precisely, but very close. The orignal transparency (and Kodachrome could have been shot up to at least 5x7 at that time, I think), would have b/w separations made on b/w negative film, from which printing plates would have been made. The printing plates would be inked with color process inks. Cyan,Yellow, Magenta and black. and printed in succession to form the full color image.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bleach bypass for E6 will give you an almost totally black piece of film due to the presence of 100% of the silver plus dye.

    PE
     
  12. bart Nadeau

    bart Nadeau Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kodachrome came in sizes up to 11x14. I have a few 8x10 Kodachromes taken by or for Kodak in 1946 for camera ads. The color is still vibrant and they are about (as you would expect) as perfect a commercial product shot as you can imagine.
    Also, at least in their own publications such as Kodak's data book Kodachrome, I think the professional models have been made up by a pro and the lighting is perfect and even - lots of assistants and lots of reflectors.

    OTOH, I have seen lots of immediate pre and post WWII Kodachrome 35's that have all the problems of 1/50th at f5.6, taken with too strong shadows, no fill, soft focus from camera shake, and general unfamiliarity with what the film was and was not capable of.
     
  13. DBP

    DBP Member

    Messages:
    1,896
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Alexandria,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They also mention the use of dedicated color cameras with three sheets of film, or using one camera on a tripod to take successive color separation exposures.
     
  14. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

    Messages:
    2,411
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Van Buren, A
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    YES, the standard techcnique before the advent of Kodachrome was to use what was then refered to as a "One Shot" camera that held three sheets of b/w film, and a "beam splitter" behind the taking lens, to divide up the image into three primary colors, each color going to one sheet of film, and these "separation" negatives could be used as the basis for making the printing plates for color photo reproduction in magazines. This cumbersome process was basically limited to studio and professional use and in general "only" used when the intended end result was a printed image in a magazine or brochure. It is true, however that prior to the late 1920's, the Lumiere process was used to shoot images that were "separated" and used for color images in magazines. National Geographic used these some.
     
  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,093
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You mention Autochromes, I've sen quite a few and can say in all honesty they are the only colour images which have a realistic look.

    All modern films & processes enhance and exaggerate the colours

    Ian
     
  16. bart Nadeau

    bart Nadeau Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    But don't forget the Spektarette (sp?) 35mm one-shot colour separation camera -- there are two in the Narodny Technical Museum in Prague.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  18. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF

    Dear Ian,

    Disputable. All the research of which I am aware argues that your reaction (and mine -- I don't like exaggerated colours either) is learned, and that the vast majority of colour processes until very recently give much feebler colours than reality. We are so conditioned to this that we see even 50s colours as exaggerated when compared to Autochromes. And have you ever seen examples of the one objective colour process, Lippmann? The colours are eyeball-searing.

    As I say I'm not trying to be disputatious for the sake of it, but when I started thinking about the research in question, and doing the same as they did (comparing a pic directly with the original) I came to the conclusion, against my preconceptions, that they were right.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  19. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Color reversal films exaggerate color, color negative films do not do that significantly.

    The reason is this. When given stacks of prints, ordinary customers inevitably pick out the pictures with the most vivid colors. That is why films are designed that way. I've been present at such tests and seen the results tabluated. I've even done it myself when given set of prints and told "pick out the prints or slides that look most appealing to you".

    PE