Monday, October 18, 2004

Early Color Photographs

The other day, I stumbled across an interesting link from Metafilter about early color photography, from the World War I and Tsarist-Russian eras. Photographers used three color plates, took an exposure, and could then combine them to create a color image. Most of these plates were lost to time, as the process then was too lengthy to be effecient, but thanks to digital technology, people have begun to restore these pictures, often with no more materials than a home PC and a copy of Photarshop. Even better, the Library of Congress has made many of the plates available as digital files free of charge, so you can engage in your own home restoration work, if you have the time and inclination.

The results, in many cases, are breathtaking. Whether images of French soldiers from World War I, other images from World War I, galleries from Tsarist Russia (and another, and another), or stunning pictures from Shackleton's Antarctic expedition, the images are amazingly crisp and bring to life the world from a hundred years ago in ways that traditional color pictures from fifty years ago never can. Check 'em out, they are beautiful.

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