Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Color Photographs - History and Background

Walk into any home and you’ll see color photographs on display, either standing in frames or
hanging on walls. The photos depict graduations, family vacations and other events of
significance to the owner.

The transition from all black and white photography to commercially available color took close to a
century. Daguerre and others tried to invent a color photographic process by experimenting with
different chemicals. But they were largely unsuccessful in their quest for permanent color images. In
1850, a New York state Baptist minister, Levi Hill, announced that he’d found a way to reproduce
natural color in daguerreotypes, but he refused to reveal his methods. He called his process
Heliochromy and his plates were called hillotypes. Many photographers labeled him a fraud. Yet in
2007, researchers working under the auspices of the Smithsonian Museum of American History
found that Hill had indeed been able to capture blue and red hues.

To learn more about the history and background of color photographs, check out my book Preserving Your Family Photographs.

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