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Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Vintage color photography and the amazing tri-color carbro process

I know most “vintage” people loves black & white photography, but although I love it very much, I totally fall for antique color photos. So, after reading a post about Nickolas Muray on Lucky Lucille's by dear Rochelle, I had to write on a very summarized way about color photographs of the old times. Or better, about my favorite color process, the Tri-color carbro process! These colors inspire me so much...

Eu sei que a maltinha “vintage” adora fotografia a preto & branco, mas embora eu goste muito desta, eu fico caidínha por fotografias antigas a cor. Por isso, depois de ler o post sobre Nickolas Muray no Lucky Lucille pela querida Rochelle, eu tinha de escrever, de forma muito sumarizada, sobre fotografia a cores dos velhos tempos. Ou melhor, sobre o meu favorito processo a cor, o processo carbro a 3 cores! Estas cores inspiram-me tanto...  
http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/naai/05-challenge-of-color.html
Print by James N. Doolittle, 1934

In spite of some people that seam to ignore it or never noticed, photography in color exists for a long time now.  For example, Kodachrome color film was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935! First in film and months later in photography. But about Kodachrome I will talk about on another time. Shall we talk about the three color carbro process! Well, more than a decade before 1935, accordingly with Paul Martineau, a subtractive color process was developed which created vivid prints from black & white negatives. This process was very expensive and technical demanding, and not many people could master it, but that produced highly saturated and permanent color prints that achieved an unbeatable quality that lasts till now.


Apesar de algumas pessoas parecerem ignorar ou nunca terem reparado, fotografia a cores já existe há muito tempo. Por exemplo, o filme a cores da Kodachrome foi introduzido por Eastman Kodak em 1935! Primeiro em filme e meses depois em fotografia. Mas sobre Kodachrome falarei numa outra altura. Falaremos sobre o processo carbro a três cores! Bem, mais de uma década antes de 1935, de acordo com Paul Martineau, um processo a cores subtrativo foi desenvolvido que criava impressões vividas a partir de negativos a preto & branco. Este processo era muito caro e exigente tecnicamente, e não eram muitas pessoas que o dominavam, mas que produzia impressões permanentes a cores altamente saturadas que alcançaram uma qualidade imbatível que dura até hoje.

Nickolas Muray
Print by Nickolas Muray, 1930s

This process consisted in photographing three negatives through red, green and blue filters. Then these were printed on three carbon tissues made of pigmented gelatin, each one containing the colors cyan, magenta and yellow. They dissolved that gelatin from the tissue in warm water, leaving a colored relief image that is thickest where it received the strongest exposure. Then the three images were transferred, one at a time, on the final paper. This is very summarized, because the process is far too complicated for us, simple humans, to understand. To whom has been in the dark room, knows that technique, precise timing, calculations, and profound knowledge about color, requests skill, knowledge and a lot of experience.

Este processo consistia em fotografar três negativos através dos filtros vermelho, verde e azul. Depois estes eram impressos em três papeis de carbono feitos de gelatina pigmentada, cada um contendo as respetivas cores, ciano, magenta e amarelo. Dissolviam então a gelatina do papel em água morna, deixando um relevo colorido que era mais grosso onde tinha recebido uma exposição mais forte. Então, estas três imagens eram finalmente transferidas, uma de cada vez, para o suporte final. Isto, muito sumarizado, porque o processo é deveras complicado para nós, simples humanos, de compreender. Quem já revelou fotografias sabe que a técnica, os tempos precisos, os cálculos, e o conhecimento profundo da cor, requer perícia, conhecimento e muita experiência.
http://www.be-hold.com/themes/color/jean-cagney/
Jean Cagney by Harry Warnecke, 1943

Some photographers, such as Richard C. Miller, assumed to take an entire day to produce one print. So this type of color photos weren't for amateurs. These beautiful prints were mostly seen in magazines such as Vogue, museum exhibitions, celebrity photographs and expensive advertise. The initial costs were around $125/$150 per photo, but many of the top photographers in the 30s and 40s could ask for final prices from $300 to $1000 per print.

Alguns fotógrafos, assim como Richard C. Miller, assumiram que levava um dia inteiro para produzir uma única impressão. Por isso, este tipo de fotografias a cor não eram para amadores. Estas impressões maravilhosas eram vistas principalmente em revistas como a Vogue, em exibições em museus, fotografias de celebridades e anúncios caríssimos. Os custos iniciais eram de $125/$150 por fotografia, mas muitos dos grandes fotógrafos nos anos 30s e dos anos 40s podiam pedir por preço final valores de $300 a $1000 por imagem.
http://tarahanks.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/mm22128000445.jpg
Marilyn Monroe by Richard C. Miller, 1946

It was so expensive, and needed so much technical skill to control the color that many times people thought was unrealistic color.  Kodachrome color photography was more realistic and affordable. But dear gals, is this unrealistic color that makes the magic for me! Very artistic. Enjoy the amazing works of some of the masters of tri-color carbro process in the 30s and 40s!

Era tão dispendioso, e necessitava tanto de habilidade técnica para controlar a cor, que muitas vezes achavam que essa cor era irrealista. A fotografia por filme da Kodachrome era bem mais realista e acessível. Mas queridas meninas, é esta cor irrealista que faz a mágica para mim! Muito artístico. Apreciem estes trabalhos fantásticos de alguns dos grandes mestres do processo carbro a três-cores dos anos 30s e 40s!
http://tarahanks.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/marilyn_k4x5_redsuitinsurf_16x20.jpg
Marilyn Monroe by Richard C. Miller, 1946
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FKceCi9eKGg/TjBfSVB4k1I/AAAAAAABd_U/9SN3Bqd0qYA/s1600/Marilyn+Monroe+by+Richard+C.+Miller
Marilyn Monroe by Richard C. Miller, 1946

https://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/sets/72157611386593623/with/3122875541/
Print by Nickolas Muray, 1941

http://www.timeoutistanbul.com/en/artculture/article/2539/Pera-Museum-shows-the-colourful-career-of-Nickolas-Muray
Print by Nickolas Muray

http://chantonssouslapluie.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ginger-rogersjpg.jpg
Ginger Rogers (not sure if it by Nickolas Muray)

http://www.all-art.org/20ct_photo/Muray5.htm
Gene Tierney by Nickolas Muray, 1949

http://www.luminous-lint.com/imagevault/html_41501_42000/41552_std.jpg
Frida Kahlo by Nickolas Muray, 1946

http://www.be-hold.com/themes/color/marie-wilson/
Marie Wilson by Harry Warnecke, 1946

https://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/sets/72157611386593623/with/3122875541/
Print by Nickolas Muray for McCall Magazine, 1939

In the XIX century if someone wanted a colored photograph, asked to do it by hand on a good black & white photo, something that lasted till the XX century. I remember to see gorgeous photos when I was 16 when I went to Germany to spend my Christmas there. My sweet Helga showed me beautiful pictures colored by hand by her father. These images from the beginning of the 30s were simply amazing. I wish I could share them with you! Anyway, nothing compared with the color of these amazing photographs shown here today.

No século XIX quem queria uma fotografia colorida, mandava colorir à mão uma boa cópia de uma fotografia de preto & branco, algo que durou até ao século XX. Lembro-me de ver fotografias lindas quando nos meus 16 anos fui passar um Natal à Alemanha. A minha querida Helga, mostrou-me lindas fotografias coloridas à mão pelo pai dela. Estas imagens do inicio dos anos 30 eram simplesmente espetaculares. Quem me dera poder partilha-las com vocês! De qualquer modo, nada comparado com a cor das incríveis fotografias mostradas aqui hoje.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/sets/72157611386593623/with/3122875541/
Print by Nickolas Muray for McCall Magazine, 1940

I hope that these color pictures that translate so much beauty had inspired you so much as they inspired me! :-)

Espero que estas imagens a cores, que traduzem tanta beleza, vos tenham inspirado tanto quanto a mim! :-)

Miss Beta

 {click on each photo for images source}

13 comments:

  1. What a fascinating and complicated process! We really take colour photography for granted, don't we?

    Thanks for sharing these lovely photos.

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    1. Indeed, dear Tanith, there is so much to know on vintage photography. I really got impressed with de passion and dedication of those photographers. Have you noticed the edges of some photos? You can see the different colour layers applied, you only get that on colour carbro process.

      Thank you so much for your kind comment! I enjoyed so much your visit :-)

      Miss Beta

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  2. These photos are absolutely amazing, thank you so much for sharing! I love old color photography; usually when you see it, it's the hand tinted variety, and these are just so much more vivid and realistic. It sounds like it was a tremendously complicated process, so I'm glad that some of the examples are still around. Gene Tierney is one of my favorite old Hollywood actresses, and I got a kick out of seeing her in color. The photograph of Frieda Kahlo is also fantastic.

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    1. Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for your terrific comment. I'm so glad to find more people that loves vintage color photography! Indeed, there is a big difference by photos colored by hand and these amazing bright and vivid photos. I don't know, but the sensation when I see them is like something comes alive in a really strong way! Has a huge impact on me. Specially when I see some of my favorite celebrities of the past, like you did with Gene Tierney. I also love to see Frida Kahlo, she had such a STRONG personality, this type of photo really goes well with her.

      I wish I posted more photos, there are amazing pictures out there. But the article was getting huge! :-)

      Miss Beta

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  3. Goodness, what a splendidly lovely, memorable post. These vividly hued images seem to bring the past right back to life before our very eyes.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. That's exactly what I feel looking at these photographs dear Jessica. You describe much better than I do, you talented dear friend! :-)

      Miss Beta

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  4. Que belo post, cheio de informações sobre a fotografia e fotógrafos que eu ainda não conhecia. As fotos são simplesmente incríveis e essas cores "Old" são preciosas e enigmáticas na minha opinião. Elas possuem uma história e um charme único! Muito bom, parabéns! =)

    Bom fim de semana <3

    XoXo
    vintagepri.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Obrigada minha querida Pri! Fico muito contente que tenhas gostado do artigo. Amo sempre as histórias únicas que tiras da cartola "vintage" do mágico! hehe :-)

      Um beijão! xxx

      Miss Beta

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  5. This collection of photographs is absolutely beautiful, Beta! My personal favorite is the one with the mother reading the Christmas story to her daughter--it's adorable! I used to look at non-colorized photos and think that the people must have been so sad to live in a world without color! Even today, I still have to remind myself that color most definitely DID exist! :O)

    Take care,
    Danielle

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    Replies
    1. Dear Danielle, thank you so much. Indeed, color brings so much alive. And sometimes looking at Black & White vintage photos can give a rather wrong sensation about the old times and life itself. If we want to know more about the old times, we must look at Black & White pictures but most important at the color ones, because they tell us so much about history and culture. It's pretty amazing how color can affect our perception about life itself. Did you know that a rare condition can make some people see in black and white? Those people many times suffer from depression because they only see black, white and a lot of grey. Color is so important, don't you think? :-)

      Thank you so much,
      Miss Beta xx

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  6. Replies
    1. Thank you so much Thaís!

      Miss Beta

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Thank you so much for your comments and thoughts. I appreciate each word and I look forward to read more about you. Come to visit more times! ;-)
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Muito obrigada pelos teus comentários e pensamentos. Cada palavra é apreciada e espero lêr mais sobre ti. Vem visitar-me mais vezes! :-)

Miss Beta