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June 30, 2017

These Autochrome Photos from the 1920s and '30s Resulted in a Painting-Like Quality That Not Even Today's Best Instagram Filters Can Replicate

The method used to make these dreamy photographs resulted in a painting-like quality that not even today's best Instagram filters can replicate.

Auguste and Louis Lumière were pioneers in photography. Legend has it that in 1895, when they premiered their first motion picture film of a train entering a station, audiences fled in terror, fearing they would be flattened by a "moving" train.

By 1907 they had turned their sights to color photography, inventing the first camera capable of capturing life in color—the Autochrome Lumière.

Autochromes owe much of this stylized look to the method in which photos were made. Using a glass plate coated with dyed red, green, and blue potato starches, a layer of emulsion was then added to the plate. These plates were then inserted into the camera, which had a lens that filtered the light that passed through the glass.

Because autochrome photography required a much longer exposure time than the film used to capture black-and-white images, subjects had to be still or slow moving.

The technique became popular at National Geographic for its ability to showcase different parts of the world in vibrant color. Autochromes were so widely used that the magazine now has one of the largest collections in the world, second only to Albert Kahn's Archive of the Planet.

(via National Geographic)



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