And Three Alone

One of the earliest attempts at rendering color images on film was the tri-chrome process. In 1861, London physicist James Clerk Maxwell figured out a way to do it by using three separate black & white photographs of the same subject.

By using various mineral salts, he created some basic filters – red, green and blue. He (or rather, an actual photographer) took three photographs of an object. The first with the red filter, the second with the green, and the last with the blue.

Taken with a red filter.

The images were printed as positives and made into translucent glass plates – basically slides. The slides were then projected in a darkened room from three separate projectors. The first with a red gel, the second with a green, and the last with the blue.

Taken with a green filter.

When aligned perfectly, the three projected images combined to form what appeared to be a true color picture. It was, of course, not even a little practical considering that the viewer had to be in the presence of the projected slides to experience the effect. Still, it was a pretty huge deal.

Taken with a blue filter.

We can recreate this same idea by following Clerk Maxwell’s lead, taking three black & white shots of the same subject using a red, green, and blue filter. Then, through the use of photo editing software, we can apply a red, green and blue colorization to the images and superimpose them over each other. This creates the color image seen in this post.

The film is old Soviet black & white film from the 70s. The developer was your basic HC-110. The only difference was the filters.


‘And Three Alone’

Camera: Bolsey Jubilee (c1950s)
Film: Tasma Mikrat 300 (x-06/1974)
Process: HC-110; 1+200; 120min

Krupp, Washington


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