Every one knew how laborious the usual Method is of attaining to Arts and Sciences; whereas by his Contrivance, the most ignorant Person at a reasonable Charge, and with a little bodily Labour, may write Books in Philosophy, Poetry, Politicks, Law, Mathematicks and Theology, without the least Assistance from Genius or Study.

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Gulliver's Travels:
Voyage to Laputa

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Laputan Logic*
Fanciful. Preposterous. Absurd.
Mark Twain in Colour

Posted on Wednesday 5 October 2005

"Some day they will have color photography," predicted Mark Twain to a friend in 1907. It was a prediction that was bang on the money, in fact a little late, because Auguste and Louis Lumière had already invented the Autochrome process back in 1904.

In December 1908, Twain was photographed using this process by a young photographer by the name of Alvin Langdon Coburn. Twain died eighteen months later in 1910.

The Autochrome method, which I have posted about briefly before, dominated colour photography right up to the 1930's when it was replaced by the superior Kodachrome1 process. It differed from modern photographic film in that it was an additive process more a kin to the process used in colour printing presses and television screens. Kodachrome, on the other hand, uses a multi-layer subtractive process which was invented by Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros.

Autochromes tend to have a soft, diffuse, almost misty quality about them that I think gives them appeal all of its own.



1 - Incidentally Kodak has recently stopped production of Kodachrome in Australia as part of the company's world-wide push into the digital realm.