A Century Ago in Color

SUBHEAD: There are few true color photographs from 100 years ago. To see them is to see a different and vivid world.

By Franny Wentzel on 6 May 2010 in City Noise - 

Image above: Vietnamese girl lays on floor with her treasures. All photos from article source.

In the early part of the 20th century French-Jewish capitalist Albert Kahn set about to collect a photographic record of the world, the images were held in an 'Archive of the Planet'. Before the 1929 stock market crash he was able to amass a collection of 180,000 metres of b/w film and more than 72,000 autochrome plates, the first industrial process for true color photography.
Image above: Group poses in sands of Algeria.

Autochrome was the first industrial process for true colour photography. When the Lumière brothers launched it commercially in June 1907, it was a photograhic revolution - black and white came to life in colour.

Autochromes consist of fine layers of microscopic grains of potato starch – dyed either red-orange, green or violet blue – combined with black carbon particles, spread over a glass plate where it is combined with a black and white photographic emulsion. All colors can be reproduced from three primary colors.

Image above: Girl sits alone in Italy.

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