View Full Version : Old Parisian Autochromes

John Kasaian
12-Jan-2017, 23:21
Honestly I don't know for certain that these are LF, so mods, please move or delete this post as you see fit.
The devil is in the details as the portfolio is said to be 100 years old (1916-1917?) while the story tells that they were taken before WW1 (1913?)

12-Jan-2017, 23:32
Those are wonderful! It's fascinating to see what has and hasn't changed in a century.

Dustin McAmera
13-Jan-2017, 07:04
You can see a lot of pictures by Albert Kahn's photographers for Archives du Plančte at the collections site (http://collections.albert-kahn.hauts-de-seine.fr/) of the Albert Kahn Museum. They aren't all Autochrome. They aren't reproduced very large on screen, but you can narrow the search by photographer, location and theme, and the caption info includes the plate size in most cases. Kahn's project was overtaken by the First World War, and they documented that too.

13-Jan-2017, 07:05
I reckon...probably LF. I have some 9x12 autochrome holders for an ICA plate camera. And thanks for posting the link John.

Dustin McAmera
13-Jan-2017, 07:13
Most of what I've seen at the museum site is 9x12.

David Hedley
13-Jan-2017, 08:01
A few years back I tried making a filter to replicate the colours potato starch grains of Autochrome film - essentially a tri-colour filter - without any success. I've since seen this, which looks like an interesting digital approach;


Has anyone tried this, or can suggest another viable approach?

Will Frostmill
13-Jan-2017, 11:39
I had planned on trying this approach:

First, I was going to print a autochrome-like filter pattern on clear mylar or acetate in 4x5 size. Then I was going to sandwich it in a filmholder in front of a sheet of b&w film. After exposure and development, I was going to make a reversal of that negative - a b&w transparency. I'd then mount the original filter, the transparency, and a sheet of opal glass in a frame for backlit viewing.

I saw four problems:
1. Generating the autochrome filter colors and grain pattern in Photoshop.
2. Testing to find out which filter colors worked with the spectral response of the film.
3. Finding a b&w film with an adequately clear base
4. Learning how to create transparencies.

I think I've solved numbers 3 and 4: I could make a contact print of the original negative on ortho film. It's designed to have a clear base, I get as many tries as I want to figure out time and temp, and it's not a new process.

I'm pretty sure I could farm out the first problem to an expert. I'm pretty sure the second problem could be solved with a single sheet of film, with an absurdly large number of test swatches on it. Honestly, the main thing holding me back is the usual: time and money.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

13-Jan-2017, 15:06
The images may be historical, but as pictures go they sure aren't stunning, although they were probably so when they were the latest fad. (I only viewed the first 15, as they took forever to load on my MacBook Pro).

14-Jan-2017, 12:02
Albert Kahn was an interesting person - a wealth banker and philanthropist. He alone fully funded the Archive of the Planet project. The project employed dozens of photographers from 1909 to 1931. He thought that photographs of the everyday environment and lives of the world's peoples would contribute to world peace. He sent photographers to over 50 countries. Over 72,000 autochrome plates were exposed. The autochrome was introduced in June of 1907, so the medium was barely understood at the start of the project.

Medium format plates were common, but autochromes were available in a wide variety of sizes. I have examples of LF plates, with 5x7 being the largest; I believe even larger were available. My smallest are 4.5 x 6cm. Stereo formats were very common.

The project photographs are charming and historically informative. I think the project's images perfectly fit the definition of vernacular photography.

This was a truly amazing project.

The attached image is of a very early unopened box of 5x7 plates with an expiration date of August, 1908.