The Magical Power of Early Color Photography

February 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

autochrome-maynard-owen-william-bateaux-sur-la-plage-par-temps-d-orage-rowboatson-beach-southern-franceI recently discovered the Autochrome: the world’s first color process photography. I imagined color photography prior to Techicolor (the visually rich world of mid-century films like Gone With The Wind and National Velvet), would represent an either extreme or muted version of reality. However, the Autochrome’s subtle texture and soft hues capture something so real and vivid about the world that I now see digital photography as a bit more stark and sterile. Over a hundred years since their capture, these autochromes still feel alive and vital.
I would love to fill a wall with these photographs. They would enrich any room, and the lives of it’s inhabitants.

autochrome DSK77-AUTOCHROME-1822 Louis Ducos du Hauron - Duhauron1877 Autochrome 13x18 v3A Brief History

(From npr.com) In 1903, the Lumiere brothers patented the first commercially successful color process, which they called the Autochrome Lumiere. It involved glass plates, a backlight, soot and (oddly) potato starch — and it revolutionized photography. Magazines like National Geographic started dispatching photographers to shoot with autochromes; documentary fieldwork became more feasible with this relatively portable medium. For about 30 years, it was the most widely used process for capturing color.

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