colour photography in WW1

WW1 colour aircraft Sept 1916

. We seldom think of colour photography dating back to the earliest days, but it did. Louis Ducos du Heron born in 1837 predicted all the colour processes ever used. We (I) never think of colour photography before the late 1930s when Kodachrome was invented. Earlier processes existed beginning with the autochrome in the very late 1800s and early 1900s. The first commercial processes were additive, slow, grainy and costly.

Subtractive process improved the speed and set the scene for colour prints in the 1940s and later. By the 1970s easy home processing of prints took off for a short while.  Today, we wouldn’t even think of black and white other than a niche product give the huge number of TVs, computer monitors, digital cameras and smart phones with high resolution colour screens.

Shannon Perry first spoke to us on WW2 colour photographs back in late 2011. Thanks to Russ Forfar who alerted me of a Daily Mail article on WW1 colour photography.

The cut line on the aircraft photograph I used here reads,”French Captain Robert de Beauchamp stands alongside his British Sopwith fighter in September 1916, after returning from a bombing raid on Essen in Germany.

The picture was taken shortly before his death at Verdun. According to Le Souvenir Français, an organisation which remembers France’s war dead, Beauchamp ‘was the first to organize and execute long-range bombing, showing, in the accomplishment of these missions, an energy, a tenacity and a daring that was unparalleled’.

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