SHOOTING FORMATS #0.6: the three-colour-method

1850’s attempts at colour did not work out due to a stuck way of thinking that there was a need to find chemicals that would react to coloured light and recreate – much like chameleon skin.

What actually ended up being the solution was having a colour theorist – James Clerk Maxwell, who had discovered the eye has cone shaped cells, three kinds with each more reactive to different spectrums of light giving humans the perception of colour. Here is a photograph of the cones also with rods (but lets ignore those for now) under the microscope.

These cells contain chemicals that are able to sense light – humans have three different types of cones…

Each type of the three cones is more sensitive to a different band on the spectrum of light

So using this theory of three sets of sensitivity to blue green and red that the human eye uses – James Clerk Maxwell took an image three times using coloured filters to block that colour of light, the latent image would for each would not include that information on the black and white image. Combining the three negative images by putting them on slides and projecting them to the same spot with the same colour filtration that was blocked created a fairly accurate three tone colour image – here is the first one ever recorded…

This monochromatic data can then be processed with chemicals and dyes to create a final photograph, as illustrated below…



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