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magikbilly

My First Autochrome/Dufay Color Slides

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Hi All,

here is a quick scan of one of my first original Autochrome/Dufay color slides - this one is a near 35MM format transparency of the Astronomer taken from the Helicline - something I have been looking for for over 10 years the color is pretty good for an additive process, and the screening is really not visible up close or when projected. I am a happy camper - no one seemed to photograph this sculpture - especially not while walking down the Helicline. I looked for over 10 years for just a good 5x7 b/w print that showed the scultpure well from base up - so I am happy to add this earlier color process slide to my collection. I included a scan below the Dufay color slide of a smaller b/w print that is my true favorite. I posted it here once before - but it is worth a second look.

Best,
Billy

autochrome3PTU.jpg

The Astronomer and Theme Center photographed from the Helicline, May 1939 New York World's Fair © EL Image Collection

 

ptuTHEMECENTER1939cEL2005.jpg

The Astronomer by Carl Milles New York World's Fair 1939 © EL Image Collection

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Nice find MB!

The Astronomer's head appears to be mounted crooked. Or maybe he's looking down wondering where his fig leaf went. Hmmm.....

How 'bout a postcard?

F2069_Visitors_Around_Trylon_and_Perisphere_and_The_Astronomer.jpg

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Hi Randy,

I know that card well - the sepia series by The Exposition Souvenir Corporation I think. It was taken, as were almost all images of this sculpture, from the Observation Bridge. I always thought this view did not show him to advantage, he looks stooped - but it allows a peek at the compass. I believe this postcard is an opening day image. The card by the Miller Art Publishing Company - a sepia type printed card of murals and sculptures - that shows him to advantage - I think I have the publisher right. I have not collected postcards for over 15 years. I think you posted an image or two from that series when Bill was asking about the various artists when he was posting some b/w negs of the '39 Fair.

Best and thanks

Billy

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The sculptor of The Astronomer, Marshall Fredericks, returned 25 years later to contribute something that is still in the park today....

DSCN9478.jpg

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Hi Randy,

Nice slide - but nope - the sculptor of the Astronomer was Carl Milles. Look at the back of the card you just posted. Those figures you just posted remind me of the style of the figures on the IBM Building in 1939 - on the other sundial - by the Rose Court.

Billy

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Oops- you're right. Milles was one of Fredericks' instructors when Fredericks was a young artist traveling in Europe to learn sculpting. So there's a connection between the two, but they're not the same person.

Unfortunately I don't have the postcard in my '39-40 postcard collection- just this picture of it.

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Great photograph of the Astromomer--and thank you for sharing it. Perhaps the location of the photograph adds to the unusual appearance of the sculpture. It also looks to be a beautiful summer day in 1939.

What, exactly, is autochrome? I mean, how is it different from color photography today?

It is also interesting to spot the 1939 Soviet pavilion in the background with the worker hoisting the red star. It gives one a sense of the size of that structure.

I just thought that we are only 33 years from the centennial of the 1939 NYWF. That is amazing to consider. Perhaps, by 2039, the idea of another great fair will again appeal to New Yorkers.

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Hi Jim,

I am glad you like it. I agree - this angle is unusual and it is neat to see Russia from here. USSR was the second or third tallest structure and it looks it. Among the other slides I purchased was a detail of "Big Joe". As far as the film - here is some data on Dufaycolor:

http://www.oldandsold.com/articles21/color-photography-10.shtml

Best,
Billy

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Hi All,

Does anyone else have any Dufaycolor Autochromes to share - Fair or not? I am curious to see what they generally look like. From what I read, I am lucky to have as much color as I got. The others are even more colorful but not of this subject. One is a portrait of the Astronomer close-up but the Dufay screening is very apparent (a dark stripe at bottom) and ruins the image for me, although once cleaned up it will be the best image of him I have ever seen but not in my "A" collection for sure. This vantage coming down the Helicline is so unusual I prefer it anyway - and it is so very important to see him in his context. He is actually gazing upward in wonder with his instruments in hand and "realizing" his placement on the compass and the responsibility that comes with that knowledge...leaving him in awe of the spectacle of the future. In the early literature I think he was said to be gazing AT the Perisphere but this seems to have gone awry somewhere along the line....I tweaked the scan of course - it's all there with a touch of pink that might be from the process and/or the dyes used etc..

Best,

magikbilly

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Hey magikbilly, if you blow up a small part of the scan, can you see the color grid mentioned in the article? (Example, please, if you can) - Wayne B

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Hi,

Yes - you can. Give me a bit and I will post an example - and another Dufay slide which I need help identifying as Fair or not.

Best,

Billy

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Hello again,

Here is a blown up section of the Astronomer slide. If I had more time I bet "more" of the screen is visible. I am also posting another Autochrome that is of the same date and from the same batch - it would be the only non-Fair subjects. I am hoping someone will recognize them from some Amusements Zone show or something - they are charming and excellent color. I'll post that next in another thread to get more exposure.

Best,
magikbilly

astronomerSCREEN.jpg

Detail of screen on original 1939 Dufay Autochrome, New York World's Fair 1939 © EL Image Collection

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Hello again,

Here is a blown up section of the Astronomer slide.

Thanks - that is very interesting, and the pattern is stronger than I thought it might be.

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Hi again,

I think it is an amazing process. The slides look pretty good alongside Kodachrome considering the different process. The screen should not be visible when either viewed in a Dufay color slide viewer (I don't see any screening in my slide viewer - a 1940 Chromato-scope that I use for viewing my slides) or when projected at some 25 feet. The earliest color print in my collection is from 1907 - another early French additive process called collotype that produced smooth tonal transitions despite a screen - very labor intensive and very beautiful. I'll post a scan if anyone wants to see it.

Best,

magikbilly

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The most astounding color photos I've seen from the first decade of the 20th Century are these from Russia- there are cossacks, peasants, you name it- all in beautiful color!

All the result of a rather painstaking 3 color process, which produced very accurate results.

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/

(be sure and click on each picture to see it full size)

here's a sample from 1910:

p87_7065__01532_.jpg

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Hi Randy,

From what I just read, quickly, the results seen above are current modern acheivements from his negatives, yes? I mean, he intended his images to be projected and in a different manner completely- the sample of the boy near the water at the site you mentioned does not begin to compare with the image posted above from 1910 - which I am guessing was made with modern technology applied to his negatives?

Best,

magikbilly

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Randy, you beat me to it - I had seen these before and couldn't find it again fast enough to post. The amazing thing to me is that the negatives appear to have been made with proper panchromatic film and good filters, to allow such high quality results to be pulled out of them. Although there is a lot of processing to balance the color, it does not appear that the excellent hue discrimination is in any way "made up".

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The Russian photographer captured three images in rapid succession, each using a different color filter, exposing each onto a separate section of a black & white glass plate, using a special camera that apparently he built himself.

He really had no way to accurately reassemble the result in beautiful color, but he did build a rudimentary slide projector that could focus each of the three images simultaneously through the original color filters onto a wall or screen, and a color image could be seen, although dark and muddy looking because his projector system was quite lacking technically.

Until the technology came along a century later, there was no way to precisely align and reassemble the 3 images into a 3-color process photo. So practically no one even realized what the 3-photo plates even represented- they looked like three almost identical black & white images in a strip.

Once it dawned on somebody that these were actually color separations, the basic reassembling could be done with a computer (I suspect the technicians had to reverse-engineer the exact shades of the 3 original filters which no longer exist (the camera doesn't exist any more either). The Library of Congress technical people said they did do some cleanups and adjustments- but that's no different than any of us do with World's Fair slides that are sometimes dusty and shadowy.

I don't think the LoC people "colorized" or "tinted" anything that was really black & white- they used what was already there and just adjusted saturation & brightness levels as needed.

I think there was a big story on this discovery in National Geographic a few years back.

The most amazing thing to me, besides the astounding images, is that this photographer had the classic mind of an inventor- he could visualize the basics of the concept of what makes up the color spectrum, and built something to capture it in those basic elements- he just didn't have the tools at hand to build something to accurately reassemble those elements. But he went ahead and recorded history anyway, and it was left to people in the next century to reassemble the result- something that he couldn't quite do- and show us what he had captured. He wasn't able to see his own result like we can.

There are few people out there who would take steps to do something like that, even knowing you may never be able to see the result- it will be left to future generations to figure out and appreciate. Many inventors only want to pursue things they can profit from in their own lifetime.

The entire collection of 2,607 early Russian photographs (the first 1,902 are color) is available on-line in both medium and high- definition.

http://www.oldandsold.com/articles21/color-photography-10.shtml 

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Hi Randy,

you wrote "He really had no way to accurately reassemble the result in beautiful color, but he did build a rudimentary slide projector that could focus each of the three images simultaneously through the original color filters onto a wall or screen, and a color image could be seen, although dark and muddy looking because his projector system was quite lacking technically.

Until the technology came along a century later, there was no way to precisely align and [re?]assemble the 3 images into a 3-color process photo. So practically no one even realized what the 3-photo plates even represented- they looked like three almost identical black & white images in a strip."

That is all I meant - that the image as you posted it was never seen by the photographer and does not necessarily reflect his intentions for a finished product in terms of his artistry.

Best,

magikbilly

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I guess that gets into the argument of whether photography is an art or a journalistic record of history.

It can be both, and in some cases even today with digital photography some photographers manipulate the result- some quite drastic- to make it more 'artsy' or 'moody'.

I've always leaned toward a photograph of a historical event or person should be as historically accurate as possible- i.e. what a person would have seen with the naked eye had they been standing there.

And leave the artsy manipulations to landscapes and objects that are not that important as to time or historical record.

The dilemma comes in to trying to figure out whether the person trying to capture a historical event was limited in their knowledge of how best to use their equipment. They didn't set the f-settings right, or made a poor choice of a filter. Should we correct those flaws as best we can?

Some say yes, and some say no.

I lean toward yes, because we're more interested in the historical event, or the architecture, or the person pictured, and not a historical record of the photographer's skill (or lack of....).

As long as the modern restorer does not introduce things that were NOT actually present at the instant the photo was taken.

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I was going to post this the other day that I had scanned..but you guys beat me to it.

Yes,Ive been tuned in also

Billy and Randy,Thanks for those Great Photos!

Regards,Dave

courtesy Miami Herald

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Hi All,

I STILL can't get these darn thumbnails to open! Anyone care to help me out and tell me why? I am no PC genius.

Billy

Hi Billy,

I'm no computer geek either, but if you have an Internet Security program on your computer it could be that you have a "Pop-Up" blocker turned on. I know that sometimes gives me trouble.

Hope this helps...

Best Regards,

Kevin

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Hi All.

Autochromes have popped up here before - I have some but the images are gone from this thread. I'll see if I can repost them (assuming I still have the scans on my PC).

Bill, I am unable to post to the thread abt 1915 color images. Not sure why. The box for my response only wants me to drag items/files - I can't type in it. Maybe it is in my end.

 

Best wishes to all for a happy safe holiday!

 

Eric

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