Early 1913 Autochrome Portraits Give Rare Glimpse Into Life 100 Years Ago.
The National Media Museum in the UK is celebrating the centenary of the Autochrome process and the birth of colour photography as part of the ‘Drawn By Light’ exhibition currently running.
Displaying work selected from The Royal Photographic Society Collection, the ‘Drawn By Light’ exhibition is displaying work from the entire history of photography including, “Serene landscapes to haunting portraits, this exhibition brings together over 200 extraordinary highlights from the collection of the world’s oldest surviving photographic society – iconic images taken by some of the greatest names in photography.”
One of the highlights of the ‘Drawn By Light’ exhibition is the work of photographer Mervyn Joseph Pius O’Gorman who was a pioneer Autochrome practitioner and whose work gives a rare glimpse into life over 100 years ago in full, vibrant colour. His photographs of his daughter, Christina, are an interesting blend of documentary practice of the day and surreal portrait photography. This is due in part to her red clothes and the comparatively long exposures and large aperture.
Autochrome: The Past Was Not Black And White.
Sometimes it is hard to think of the past in colour and not in black and white. The Autochrome process essentially used RGB to capture and fix such vibrant colours. The National Media Museum describes the process as, “Autochrome plates are covered in microscopic red, green and blue-violet coloured potato starch grains (about four million per square inch). When the photograph is taken, light passes through these colour filters to the photographic emulsion. The plate is processed to produce a positive transparency. Light, passing through the coloured starch grains, combines to recreate a full colour image of the original subject.”
About Mervyn Joseph Pius O’Gorman.
Mervyn Joseph Pius O’Gorman was born in Ireland and was known as ‘O.G.’ among friends. Although a keen photographer, O’Gorman was one of Britain’s greatest aeronautical engineers. He was also a motoring pioneer and wrote ‘OGorman’s Motoring Pocket Book in 1904 and also played a role in the introduction of the ‘Highway Code’.
Source: National Media Museum