Color Photography – Photographic Processes Series – Chapter 11 of 12


When color photography comes out people think
of it as being very artificial at first. Serious, sincere, authentic images were in black
and white. After WWII film for making color prints became
available. People’s associations with photography began to
transform into color. All silver based photographic processes start off
as blue sensitive. Blue and white photograph as the same value. When you look at 19th century landscape
photographs, and you wonder why didn’t have any clouds in those days? It’s because the white of the sky and the blue of
the sky photograph as the same value. In order to have color film, you must have black
and white film that will record all colors. The sensitizing of emulsions was actually done by
adding dyes to the liquid emulsion. It is called dye sensitizing. Frederic Ives was instrumental in understanding
that black and white film had to be dye sensitized in order to get a record from which
you could make color images. It’s really complicated. One of the earliest ways to make
a color photograph was to make three negatives of the same scene. From the negatives, make a lantern slide. Now a lantern slide is a positive transparency, a slide. The positive slides were then put
into three different projectors. The filter that was used to take that original
negative was placed in front of the projector. When you projected these three different
colored images upon each other it produced a full color image. Another way of doing an additive color plate is by
having a transparency that is made up of either dots or lines, using the red, the violet and the green color. The dots that do the color mixing, they are
so fine that you don’t see them as dots. They are so close to each other they do their
color mixing virtually, by your eye. In England, James Clerk Maxwell experiments
with the perception of color in the 1850’s. He came up with an interesting way to
demonstrate additive color mixing. This is Maxwell’s color wheel. It’s an additive color mixing machine. If you look at your iPhone with a loupe, or your
television screen, or your computer screen with a loupe, if you get in really close, you will see
the same red, violet and green dots or lines. The autochrome was invented by
Auguste and Louis Lumière. The first color process that could be
manufactured and made available to the public. The Lumière brothers are best known for their
invention of the motion picture camera. The autochrome is, like the daguerreotype,
a process that produces a single, positive image. A one of a kind image. However, it is a transparency. You have to view it through transmitted light. The autochrome, the Joly plate, these early
additive screen plates enabled people to take a picture in their camera with a single plate. That allowed the finished product to be
something you hold in your hand hold up to a window, and see a full color image. The other way of making a color photograph
is by the subtractive method. Subtractive color processes are done by using
magenta, yellow and cyan images, which are layered on top of each other. Chromogenic color photography
was invented in the 1930’s. The process that really ushered in this entire
movement of color was the Kodachrome process. It really begins with the work of Mannes and
Godowski at the Kodak research labs. Chromogenic color prints are made
with a gelatin emulsion. It’s based on silver. And there are many layers. When the film or the paper is being developed,
each layer releases the dye that it needs on the cyan, yellow or magenta layer. During the processing the silver is actually
removed, leaving only the color behind. You end up with a full color picture that is
made with light going into the paper or onto the film, simultaneously. It is rocket science. The chromogenic color process becomes
the predominant process in the twentieth century, and it is still being used today. But those wheels are starting to slow down Once chromogenic color is gone, we will never,
ever, see it happen again. It requires incredible infrastructure. Once it’s gone, it is gone.

13 Replies to “Color Photography – Photographic Processes Series – Chapter 11 of 12”

  1. It isn't gone forever, Ferrania just started up again and Polaroid is back as well (Impossible film). Why are people so overromantic about colour film? Most of it is garbage anyway

  2. Totally enjoyed this video, am fascinated with the early days of colour photography and love the early methods used. I myself shoot vintage film as a hobby and have shot a couple of Lumiere Alticolor autochrome roll films from 1956 and B&W developed them as colour negatives, the emulsion has badly degraded but the colour came out great. I have also shot and processed Kodacolor and Ektachrome and Ektacolor films from the 40s-60s era with varying degrees of success cross processing them in C-41.

  3. The blue sensitivity of old film stock caused problems for Stan Laurel during close-ups because he had blue eyes, some good examples of this occur in "The Second Hundred Years"

  4. pity Kodak abandoned Kodachrome then E6 slide film. Thankfully I was part of the Kodachrome era and exposed miles of 16mm k25, nothing will ever surpass a Kodachrome 25 or Kodachrome II image. So sad Kodak has lost its way, there is still a market for an E6 film. especially in the 8mm, super 8 and 16mm format.

  5. starting with color photography that helped me a lot, thanks for sharing, also found a website with helpful info: precamera.com

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