Color Photographs of the Early 1900's

It’s striking much more engaging a color photograph is than a black-and-white one. Look at these images of French WWI Soldiers, taken some time around or after 1915. They’re absolutely compelling. Black-and-whites of the same period don’t convey the nearly same sense of proximity: these were real people and real places.

The WWI images were all taken using the autochrome process, a very early and very expensive method for color photography. Google turns up many other interesting autochrome images. Of course, there were other contemporaneous techniques for creating color images, including taking simultaneous pictures through red, green and blue filters (and projecting back through those filters to display the image). Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii used that technique in the years before WWI to take some absolutely beautiful images of Russia. Various Internet folks have contributed other digital compositions of Projudin-Gorskii’s photos. Fascinating stuff there, too—both the people and the architecture.


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