Color images from the 20's and 30's
I was looking at some color images from the 20's and early 30's.
Specifically, I was looking at some images in a book of National Geographic photos titled "wide angle" or something similar. (the book has photos from the entire history of national geographic, but I am just talking about certain ones)
I was surprised to see color images from that time period, and a quick search of the web turned up that Kodachrome was first produced in 1936.
I assumed that some of the images may have been hand-painted black and white images. But I must say that if the color was painted, the artist was damn good! The colors were allmost exactly what I would expect from the scenes. And to think of all the time i spend trying to get the stinkin color balance right on my scanned negs. So I must give my hats off to those early pioneers!
Originally Posted by darinwc
Autochrome predated colour film and was used extensively by Albert Kahn and were shown in a recent BBC programme on his work.
The quality of some of the images is quite amazing.
Yep, there were actually a few different color processes at the time, in addition to hand coloring.
There was autochrome, DufayColor, a short-lived system by Paget, an early version of AGFAcolor, and likely some others. They were all screen-plate additive color systems,which differ drastically from the color films of today. The results are really quite striking, especially with Autochrome.
Kinemacolor was a two color motion picture process invented in 1913. National Cash Register, in Dayton, Ohio, shot training films in full color 35mm in the teens. Sadly, none survive to this day...
Autochromes can be truly beautiful. Thanks for the link to the Kahn project. I'm going to lobby my PBS station to air that program. Great stuff.
Last edited by erikg; 06-06-2007 at 07:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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Wow interesting stuff. The autochrome process looks really cool! Though im a little confused about the emulsion layers.. main question being, the ordering goes like this: glass, adhesive, potato starch with carbon black, sealer, B+W emulsion... so i imagine you put the plate in the camera with the emulsion side facing backward? This is opposite of a film process where you put the emulsion side forward.
Also, how in the world would they get the grains of starch to be the desired size?
The last time I gave a literature advice on a similar post like yours a was deeply insulted by another member, so I leave it this time. Look at my posts.
Autochromes make part of the group of additive films with a filter grid, more specific: an unregulary mosaic.
The typical structure of these are base, (ortho-)panchromatic emulsion, grid.
To my knowledge the details of the manufacture of the Autochrome starch grains are not published. It would have been a grinding process. The objective was to make a range of sizes as narrow as possible. Other materials as resin would enable other sorts of processing.
The last use of a (regular) mosaic was done by the Polaroid company.
Last edited by AgX; 06-06-2007 at 03:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
The UK National Media Museum in Bradford currently has an exhibition of Autochromes. The accompanying website is worth a read:
There are some informative old threads here at APUG which give other links and information. Most interesting to me is the way that the process has proven almost impossible to revive, despite having the original equipment available for use. Obviously, the Lumiere brothers kept some things out of the Patent.
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
My APUG Portfolio
The Autochrome grains were definetely not all the same size. Though, as mentioned, they were sorted to be close to the same size. Examination of the plates or viewing micrographs reveals that the grains vary somewhat in size. I read that sorting during testing was done in baths of water; the lighter, smaller grains floated to the top, while the larger ones sank. I believe that this was later changed, as it caused issue with the grains swelling.
The process is fascinating technically, and beautiful photographically.
I set out about a year back to attempt to replicate the wonderful results of this process. Needless to say, my success has been [incredibly] limited, though I have learned a few things. The Lumieres definetely left out a significant amount of information, as specifics about the sizing, dying and coating of the starch grains are not available from any source that I know of.
I have a pair of unexposed autochrome plates, which I bought from another APUG member. They are quite interesting, and will likely provide some insight into how everything was done specifically.
I plan to work on this again this summer!