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Thread: Autochromes...

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    htmlguru4242's Avatar
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    Autochromes...

    I have recently discovered the fascinating autochrome process, but I have not been able to find any relatively current examples of it. Has anyone tried to re-create the autochrome process since the plates were discontinued in hte 1930s?

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    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    I know of one person who has tried it and has read extensively on the subject. I have heard of another who is contemplating making a stab at it. It will be a difficult task from what I have heard and read.

    I personally would never try that approach. A dye bleach material is much more feasible with hobbyist technology.

    PE

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    htmlguru4242's Avatar
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    I certianly know that this is a difficult task, though it sounds [deceptively] simple. It would be interesting to see how the person who tried the process got it to turn out. Do you have any information as to who he is?

    You mention a dye bleach process, and you're proably correct that it would be easier, although, i'd imagine that the required materials are quite expensive...

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    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    I would have to check with the individuals concerned to see if they are willing to join this discussion. I have not personally met either, but only exchanged information via e-mail or a 3rd party.

    Autochromes are difficult to make, and there are articles about Polaroid's attempts to use something similar for a color system years ago. It just didn't work well. For hobbyists, coating all of those layers in any color system becomes a pain in total darkness.

    As for dye bleach, the dyes are surprisingly inexpensive, it is again the coating that is difficult and getting the right emulsions. It requires up to 6 layers coated in total darkness, or infra red. It also requires exact matches in dyes and emulsions to achieve a balanced neutral. I have done it one time. That was enough!

    As a photographic engineer, I can say this "he who claims to be a qualified photo systems engineer and has never hand coated a color multilayer is a fool, but he who does it twice is twice the fool". That is a joke BTW and not to be taken seriously as calling any good photo engineer a fool. You can be a good one without ever having made a hand coating. It did seem to be appropriate to remark on it here though given the difficulties you will face making an Autochrome.

    PE

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    jd callow's Avatar
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    Here are 200+ examples from WW1 :
    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/public/mi...8%20ET%20Aisne
    They look absolutly wonderful!

    *

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcallow
    Here are 200+ examples from WW1 :
    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/public/mi...8%20ET%20Aisne
    They look absolutly wonderful!
    They are wonderful....

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    htmlguru4242's Avatar
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    The quality of thos WWI autochromes are amazing ... I love the look of the soft, pastel colors. It's odd that on the ones on the website, the grain is so visible, the ones i have seen before have been much clearer ... still amazing, though...

    Would making an autochrome plate / film necessarily involve all of that coating? I was thinking that it would be possible to remove the anti-halo layer from a piece of b&w film (or find film withough one), and put a separatealy prepared screen onto the back of the film, thereby eliminating total-darkness coating...

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    The Kodacolor Lenticular film did what you describe, and Dufay color did much the same thing. The problem would be the resolution.

    All three of these produces (Dufay, Kodacolor Lenticluar and Autochrome as well as a host of others) had a 'digital' look before there even was such a thing.

    I have no argument about the beauty of these films. I saw that site quite a while back and was suitably amazed by how well they depicted the color even then, but coating that would be very hard. It involved dyed starch grains and coal dust suspended in honey or amber and then coated and hardened by some appropriate means.

    This caused a large speed loss and required a very even neutral coating of grains at an exact coverage per square meter. The manufacturing notebooks on this product exist in the French Archives and are available for reading, from what I hear.

    PE

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    jd callow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
    All three of these produces (Dufay, Kodacolor Lenticluar and Autochrome as well as a host of others) had a 'digital' look before there even was such a thing.
    I wouldn't doubt for a second any of what you say. On the flip side, I would bet at a minimum, I wouldn't care and more likely I would enjoy the artifacts as much as the colour.

    One of the beautys, in my mind, of 'natural' media is that often the warts often integrate to make for a greater whole.

    Hmmm I wonder if that only makes sense to me

    *

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    I thought I said it above.

    I agree that the look of those pictures is great. I have no argument with them, and I fully understand the pain that the makers of the film went through to produce a quality product back then.

    In fact, from many aspects, I can appreciate the difficulty and dedication more than many here, having done it myself in the darkroom. I just spent most of my day making coatings and processing prints as a matter of fact, so it is still part of my life today. Nothing would please me more than to make a color film, but alas I feel that I am limited to B&W due to the rarity of some of the chemicals I need, the cost, and the difficulty of working in the dark. But, I am drooling over IR goggles, so someday.......

    The first time I found that site of WWI pix, I spent an evening in awe at the results. Belive me, it was and still is a real achievment from both the manufacturing and the taking side of the process.

    PE

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