a Jolly Irishman makes photography colourful

Flower photo taken with the Joly process filters

Toronto. One of the goals of photography was to let light create natural colour. All the methods possible were recorded by the Frenchman, Louis Ducos du Hauron and based on the experiments of James Clerk Maxwell.

Of course today with digital technology and especially with smartphones, it is hard to believe that monochrome photography was the norm, or that the media was so insensitive that colour was impractical for most shots. Imagine!

So it was no wonder that inventors strived to create natural colour photographs. After many years of experimenting, the first commercial colour process went on sale in 1895 using a process that was patented a year earlier by professor John Joly of Dublin.

The website, filmcolors.org, says in part, “In 1894 Professor John Joly of Dublin patented a process for producing a screen of red, green and blue-violet lines by ruling them on a gelatin-coated glass plate. … The Joly process was introduced commercially in 1895, and was the first additive screen-plate process to appear on the market. …”.

The text and some images are from the late Brian Coe’s 1978 book: Colour Photography. The First Hundred Years 1840-1940. London: Ash & Grant, (pp. 46-48).

After a few years this process was superseded by a plethora of colour processes culminating in 1907 with the famous Autochrome process by Auguste and Louis Lumière.

And a happy St Patrick’s day to all you viewers!

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