Color photos of WWI
February 28, 2005 7:24 PM   Subscribe

The color photo was invented in 1903 by the Lumiere brothers, and the French army was the only one taking color photos during the course of the war.
posted by NickDouglas (30 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As beautiful as these are, I think you may have a double post on your hands.
posted by malaprohibita at 7:32 PM on February 28, 2005

I'm sorry to lead off with what may come off sounding like a kvetch, but IMHO more would have been better in this case.
Something like: "Here's more information about les freres Lumiere, and a dissenting opinion as to the invention of color photography (which was discussed here previously)."

Wonderful pictures, though!
posted by yhbc at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2005

Well I'll be damned.
That's a lot of moustaches.

Lovely pictures!

So the Lumiere brothers beat this guy?

How about that?

posted by redteam at 7:45 PM on February 28, 2005

And now that I look more deeply, who the frick are BigD and Bubba, and why do they have this on their website in the first place? (don't go to the main page, unless you like lotsa embedded patriotic midi's and red-white-and-blue decor)
posted by yhbc at 7:47 PM on February 28, 2005

Agree with yhbc (particularly in light of the rest of Big D and Bubba's website), but those photos are intruiging and I'm glad to have seen them. Thanks.
posted by Miko at 7:48 PM on February 28, 2005

Wow. Impressive pics.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on February 28, 2005

very cool, i think i saw these posted on coudal partners a few years ago, pretty much forgot about em. Amazing to peak into the Great War with the clarity and presence of color photography. I forgot the world was in color back then,
posted by Kifer85 at 8:11 PM on February 28, 2005

Very nice pics, I have to remind myself that those pics aren't modern day.
posted by Wen at 8:11 PM on February 28, 2005

The color quality is really great - lots of faded blues and greys that design companies kill for now.
posted by torregrassa at 8:15 PM on February 28, 2005

Thanks for the warning on the rest of the site, I'll pass on the Midis and "extreme patriotism" theme.

These pictures are pretty surreal to look at and I kept looking for signs that they are faked in some way. I didn't see any but it just seems strange. Very interesting in any case.

And sad that blown up buildings look the same in pretty much any era.
posted by fenriq at 8:16 PM on February 28, 2005

Thanks, nice stuff. I was lucky enough to see some actual autochromes a couple years ago. They were beautiful, the color on them was so crisp and bright it looked like they were taken yesterday. The have to be viewed with a little gadget called a "diascope." More on autochromes and a picture of a diascope here.
posted by marxchivist at 8:36 PM on February 28, 2005

I think a lot of these photos came from here. Here are some more autochromes(weird navigation and in French). Both of these sites I came across because of this monkeyfilter post.

I love looking at these early color photographs. I like the color from the autochromes better than the standard color photographs for some reason.
posted by philcliff at 8:59 PM on February 28, 2005

Awesome. Spookily awesome. I got a very mild olfactory response from some of those photos.

(Definitely legit? Surprisingly good quality.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:15 PM on February 28, 2005

they look so current in a weird way. (and i think i've now seen more pics of ww1 soldiers than living US soldiers in the field today)
posted by amberglow at 9:30 PM on February 28, 2005

I posted about this about six months ago, but who cares. These photos are terribly beautiful and deserve to be brought up again.
posted by pandaharma at 9:44 PM on February 28, 2005

And if you enjoyed those, check these out (I'm certain this was posted before on MeFi, but it's quite relevant...and the photos really are astonishing.)

The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated
posted by davejay at 9:57 PM on February 28, 2005

Thanks davejay, I was about to post something to the effect of "These remind me of that Russian batch o' pics..." so you've saved me the trouble of finding the link.

I can relate to the people saying how "surreal" these are and looking for indications that they've been doctored. For me, old B&W pics have always had a sense of being somehow less than real, like they're not quite capturing the full moment due to the lack of colour. Of course this is a failing of mine and not the medium.

But to see this era in full colour is, for me, an eye-opener and truly remarkable. Thanks for the post NickDouglas, double or not.
posted by sharpener at 10:12 PM on February 28, 2005

It amazes me of the quality we have lost with the invention of the digital camera. They take good pics but thank god for German lenses!
posted by Viomeda at 11:26 PM on February 28, 2005

A few of my favorites.
posted by Viomeda at 11:34 PM on February 28, 2005

Original thread. Don't blame you, it was a different URL. I happened to be searching for the Depression color photos link from a while back moments after this thread was posted so I saw both in the results. I didn't find the original thread for that one, but it's here (some highlights).
posted by abcde at 12:12 AM on March 1, 2005

Thanks a lot for this. I recently saw some photos of this type exhibited in Paris and had tried in vain only a few days ago to find them online. Great link.
posted by fire&wings at 3:55 AM on March 1, 2005

startling shots, in color or b/w. but the color... wow... (speechless)
posted by moonbird at 4:40 AM on March 1, 2005

This is cool. Any idea where these were originally posted? It's presumably not here or the site in the other post.
posted by casu marzu at 7:39 AM on March 1, 2005

Further kvetch: forget the Lumiere Brothers and Prokudin-Gorskii. For the first colour photography, you need to look 30+ years earlier, like 1872.
posted by raygirvan at 8:17 AM on March 1, 2005

posted by tomplus2 at 9:26 AM on March 1, 2005

Those photos are so beautiful.

If you're interested in the Lumiere stuff, I'd recommend checking out a film called Lumiere & Company..

The synopsis:
Forty directors from around the world directed 52-second short films using a restored Lumiere camera in this homage to the pioneer filmmakers, the Lumiere brothers. Directors include John Boorman, Costa-Gavras, Andrei Konchalovsky, James Ivory, Spike Lee, Bigas Luna, Patrice Leconte, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Zhang Yimou, Fernando Trueba and Liv Ullmann.
If nothing else, it's an interesting experiment. David Lynch's is also pretty incredible. The Lumiere camera suits his style quite well.
posted by aGreatNotion at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2005

First photograph (not color) in 1827.
posted by Cassford at 9:49 AM on March 1, 2005

Hey, I did say they were beautiful. I'm glad to see them again myself.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:07 AM on March 1, 2005

Woah, some depth of field. Digital eat your heart out!
posted by stFire at 12:52 PM on March 1, 2005

From a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson:
Calvin: Dad, how come old photographs are always black and white? Didn't they have color film back then?
Dad: Sure they did. In fact, those old photographs ARE in color. It's just the WORLD was black and white then.
C: Really?
D: Yep. The world didn't turn color until sometime in the 1930s, and it was pretty grainy color for a while, too.
C: That's really weird.
D: Well, truth is stranger than fiction.
C: But then why are old PAINTINGS in color?! If the world was black and white, wouldn't artists have painted it that way?
D: Not necessarily. A lot of great artists were insane.
C: But... but how could they have painted in color anyway? Wouldn't their paints have been shades of gray back then?
D: Of course, but they turned colors like everything else in the '30s.
C: So why didn't old black and white photos turn color too?
D: Because they were color pictures of black and white, remember?
posted by Metauser at 11:59 PM on March 1, 2005

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