Photochroms of the 1890s

The Photochrom photographic process was developed in Zürich, Switzerland in the 1880s by the printing firm Orell Füssli (apparently still in business as a producer of “highly secure banknotes” and “identity documents” — see link). The famous Detroit Publishing Company (née Detroit Photographic Company) purchased exclusive American rights to the process in 1897, which was […]

Early Victorian Ambrotypes

I had never heard of the ambrotype (from the Greek for “immortal impression”) photographic process until quite recently, but it seems to have been a very popular medium in the middle decades of the nineteenth century — cheaper than the more famous daguerrotype, and with a level of pictorial detail and richness of tone that […]

Photographs of Imperial India

I found these beautiful and evocative photographs of India under British rule on a remarkable website created by a consortium of research libraries called the Digital South Asia Library. The photographs themselves appear to be from the British Library’s Oriental and Indian Office Collection. I’ve added the original captions or collection titles when they’ve been […]

Color Photographs of Vanished Russia

I mentioned the brilliant Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky (or Gorskii, as his last name is sometimes spelled) the other week, with a promise to write more about his work at a later date.  In a sentence, Prokudin-Gorsky was a photographer commissioned by the Russian Tsar Nicholas II to document the vast dominions of the […]

Color Film from 1922

These beautiful screen tests from 1922 were posted to Kodak’s Thousand Words blog in March of this year. Although color motion pictures had been made earlier (see 1908’s “A Visit to the Seaside”) these tests used a new process that yielded some haunting results. There’s something disorienting about seeing the past in color that I […]