Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Autochrome

1920s Autochrome, scanned and intensified
Could we produce an instant Autochrome?

The Autochrome is a positive transparency process involving the use of distributed color filters adjacent to a panchromatic emulsion that is reverse processed.  Autochromes were widely commercialized with the greatest concentration in France, where they were manufactured.  Starch grains, dyed various colors, were used for the color filters, and the color matrix and the emulsion were applied to glass plates.

There are various hints that color film production may cease in the future and it could be that the only color film in production would then be The Impossible Project's integral color product.  While this still seems a way off, some people are considering how we will accomplish color photography in large format in the future. There are a number of aspects to the Autochrome that are appealing and that could be useful in the post-digital period.

6 comments:

Peter Roos said...

That would be great - the only question is what do you use as a base - glass or film?

Swellastic said...

Polaroid used make an instant 35mm transparancy film, didn´t they? How did that work?

cafe selavy said...

My Kingdom for an autochrome. It is crazy weird that the process, like Polaroid, was so secret that it went to the grave. Gimme gimme gimme.

AgRho said...

I've read a bit about how they were constructed. The originals used colored starch grains. I was wondering to myself whether color laser toner would be too small/fine to work? I would imagine that in order to get separation of individual color spots/pixels, you'd have to make the layer thin enough that you don't get too many overlapping particles. I doubt that one could simply mix a bunch of toner into shellack and get it to spread thinly enough to do the trick. (unless someone could think of a jiffy way to get a micron thick coating without industrial tooling/machining.) I have also seen some talk online about printing out a randomized bayer pattern on inkjet transparency. Exact registration of the colored pattern so that it is identically placed on the negative(/slide) before and after development also becomes quite a major concern.

Antonio Boalis said...

Hi, I know it's not the same as original instant films, but what do you think about instant films digital emulation, as this for example: http://www.film-effect-photoshop.com/instant-film-effect-2/index.html

Bob Crowley said...

Emulation is just that: a simulated effect. Much like a drum synthesizer. But a video emulation of a photographic effect lacks step closeness no matter what. Digital is still video - and not a photograph. Photographs are physical objects that can be seen without a computer. I use effects and simulators and like them fine, but they do not produce a photo. Thanks for the interesting question!