Color Photographs of the French Army in WW1
October 15, 2004 4:48 AM   Subscribe

Assuming I read the comments correctly, these photos were not digitally enhanced but used a rather interesting method for generating color.

"Louis Lumière, however, devised a method of filtering light by using a single three-colour screen made up of millions of grains of potato starch dyed in three different colours. This mixture was then laid out on a varnished glass plate, which would be ready for use once it was coated in a black and white emulsion. Developing the plate entailed applying the same process as was used for black and white photographs at the time, with the impression being processed to reversal."
posted by pandaharma at 4:50 AM on October 15, 2004

Where's the photo of Bruce Willis?
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:00 AM on October 15, 2004

Wow. Those are incredible. Thanks, pandaharma, that was an excellent find!
posted by psmealey at 5:05 AM on October 15, 2004

Very nice. Thanks for the post.
posted by a3matrix at 5:10 AM on October 15, 2004

Here's a gallery of photos done in the same way of Tsarist Russia : The Empire That Was Russia.
posted by PenDevil at 5:12 AM on October 15, 2004

Agreed, this is a wonderful link. Many thanks.
posted by Zonker at 5:50 AM on October 15, 2004

Pardon the self-links, but I collected a few more examples of early colour photography a while back: the work of Frank Hurley, various pre-WW1 and WW1 photos, early autochromes, and highlights of the Prokudin-Gorskii collection PenDevil mentioned.
posted by raygirvan at 5:52 AM on October 15, 2004

Awesome. The church with the fresh graves is now my wallpaper.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2004

[this is good!]
posted by tcp at 6:55 AM on October 15, 2004

I find these extremely moving. Odd, given my distance from the subject matter. I had the same reaction to the Prokudin-Gorskii photos when they were linked here.

My circular reasoning for why I think that happens: Our relationship to the past is mediated by the media available to understand it. Sure, WW1 didn't happen in black & white, but paintings, b & w photos, books, small portions of b & w film, artifacts, are the only access I've had to the era. This probably feels different to people living near the Argonne or Somme. These color photos feel more immediate than the other available media. Color photos aren't life. They are selectively composed, framed by a context created by our collectively mediated understanding of what we're looking at, boxed in by the narratives we'll personally read into them. But there is a jump, a jolt caused by a perceived immediacy of encountering color images of a time we don't typically have access to in color photography.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:29 AM on October 15, 2004

C'est formidable! And I totally agree there, putzface.
posted by picea at 7:49 AM on October 15, 2004

These are phenomenal photos. Never mind their historical importance or their sheer age, they're gorgeous.

Thanks for this, pandaharma (and ray). Seriously. Wow.
posted by chicobangs at 8:21 AM on October 15, 2004

What I can't get over (besides the time someone took to add some architectural niceties to the wooden latrine) is the fidelity — the colors in these photographs seem very close to true, certainly "truer" than the film from the 60s and 70s.
posted by silusGROK at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2004

I loved those Russian photos, but found that they made those places seem otherworldly. These photos, by contrast, are very humanizing and convey a sense of immediacy (as putzface says). Excellent.
posted by briank at 8:58 AM on October 15, 2004

I like the one of the soldier taking a wizz. Really humanises the war and the people who fought it.
posted by terrapin at 9:03 AM on October 15, 2004

that bearded man is in a dress
posted by Satapher at 10:41 AM on October 15, 2004

Very nice.
posted by sklero at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2004

This is great. Thanks.
posted by dazed_one at 3:32 PM on October 15, 2004

Nice find. :)
posted by dejah420 at 12:19 AM on October 16, 2004

« Older Poll reveals world anger at Bush   |   The frogs are fucked. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments