The photography process that would change the world

The story

Autochrome is a photography process developed by Lumiere Brothers(Lumière, one might note) company, patented on 1903 and released to public on 1907. The autochrome process was the first viable colour photography process, since earlier process required extremely careful preparation and treatment, such as image superposing, besides having long exposure times(Although autochrome required a "long" exposure for today standards - annals of photography history even tells us of a photographer who, after taking a picture of Denmark majesties, asked excuses - he told the emperor to remain still until he finished the exposure).

Louis Lumière was the head of the experiences on autochrome. He was the one who developed the process of photography plates excitation. Finally, in 1932, after Lumière had sold in an excess of 1 million plates, the autochrome photographic film was released.

How it worked

Louis Lumière developed the concept of selection filter. It worked in the following manner: The photographic plate would be covered with little grains of potato starch, dyed in orange, green and violet(many say it as red, blue and green) in equal proportions. The plate was then vamished and emulsioned with silver gelatin-bromide, a Black & White photosensitive emulsion. This way it was ready for exposure

Autochrome best performance was reached when the plate was projected However, very good results were obtained with photograph paper impression. The colors had fidelity but were a bit darker than the common for today standards

Latter information

Pictures taken with autochrome are in exposition at Centre Albert Kahn, Société Française de Photographie, Institut Lumière and at the Library of Congress.

There are also reproduced chromes available at the book Les Autochromes Lumière : collection privée de la famille, by Alain Scheibli.

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