Making Photographs In Color (Jan, 1938)
Making Photographs In Color
by Keith Henney
Easy to “shoot”, color films open new opportunities for camera fans.
ALTHOUGH color photography for the amateur has been possible for many years, it is only recently that advantage has been taken of the several processes available. Advertisers have been conscious of the attention-getting value of color for some time; magazine editors have lately begun to use full-color photographs as cover illustrations and have been paying enormous sums of money ($500 to $1,000) for good “shots.” Perhaps this increasing use of color photography in the graphic arts is what has focused the attention of the amateur on the fact that he, too, may take pictures in color.
The amateur may make two kinds of colored photographs: transparencies and prints on paper. A transparency is a film or plate which is exposed in a camera and then processed to give the colors of the original subject. It is like a lantern slide in that it is a positive and it is transparent. It must be viewed by holding it up to a source of light or projected upon a screen in a lantern. It is like a motion picture positive except that it is in color and does not show motion. When one uses Kodachrome or Dufaycolor or one of the several color plates, he has, after processing, the original film or plate on which the exposure was made.
While it is perfectly easy to make good transparencies, it is still very difficult to make prints. Many amateurs are doing it, however. First it is necessary to make three ex- posures of the object on three films through three different filters. These are called separation negatives. Positives are made from each negative. These positives may be on other film or on special paper, and each must then be dyed, toned, or pigmented. The dyes or pigments used must be exactly related to the colors of the filters through which the negatives were made. The positives must be superimposed on one another in exact register. This means that the camera must not move during the negative-making process. For correct color balance in the final print, it is imperative that the three negatives be correctly exposed and developed. One cannot shoot with the abandon possible in making black and white prints.
Transparencies can be made almost as easily as shooting off black and white film, and they are marvelously beautiful to look at. They are so beautiful that many amateurs have foresworn black and white photography completely, have bought themselves a good projector and, instead of passing black and white prints among their friends to look at, entertain them with natural size images of their vacation spots, their babies, their pets or their hobbies, thrown on a screen., Still photographers are therefore following the trend of movie makers. So beautiful are the color movies, and because of color so full of apparent depth—a sort of third dimension—that those who can afford it take nothing but color. Sales of color film have gone up over two thousand per cent in the last year!
There are several forms of color film available for the amateur. Dufaycolor has been available for several years both in cut film and in roll film for practically all cameras. Agfacolor plates have been on the market for years. Recently Eastman made available to owners of 35-mm still cameras its beautiful Kodachrome, which has done more to convert movie makers to color than any other factor.
All one has to do is load his camera, or his plate holders, with these materials and shoot it off—taking care that he observes the fact that these sensitive materials must be carefully exposed. They do not have the latitude of black and white; they must be correctly exposed if time color values are desired. One cannot go barging about shooting right and left with color! The amateur must know what he is doing. Dufaycolor is an additive process in which true color values are secured by the light passing through an enormous number of minute colored filters embedded in the support on which the sensitive silver emulsion is placed. Dufaycolor can be processed at home, is good fun and not difficult. Anyone who develops his own black and white films can handle Dufaycolor, provided he is willing and capable of working in absolute darkness during the early part of the developirg process. In this, Dufaycolor does not differ from the use of any highly sensitive panchromatic film. It must be developed by time and temperature and not by inspection—unless the materials are desensitized before development. Dufaycolor, however, will process your films for you if you wish, and the charges are not high.
Kodachrome is a subtractive process in which colors are obtained by a very complicated mechanism. The amateur, however, is more interested in how to use these materials than in the theory upon which they are based. Kodachrome is available, now, only in 35 mm roll film for Leica, Contax, Retina, Bantam, Argus, and similar cameras. Larger sizes will undoubtedly be on the market before long. Kodachrome must be returned to Eastman for processing, which is included in the price of the film, resembling movie film in this respect.
Individual frames of Kodachrome and Dufaycolor films may be mounted between glass plates and thereby protected against finger prints, dust, etc. In this form it is easy to project them.
Color films are somewhat slower than fast panchromatic black and white materials, Dufaycolor can be exposed correctly using a Weston speed of 8 or a Scheiner rating of 18; Kodachrome will turn out beautifully if a basic exposure of /’6.3 and 1/60 second in bright sunlight is used. The following table has been worked out for Kodachrome: Basic stop on full cloudy day = f/1.9 Basic stop on bright day = f/3.5 Basic stop on hazy sunny day = f/5.6 Basic stop on bright sunny day = f/6.3 Using these stop openings:
1. For light subjects, close diaphragm 1/2 stop.
2. For dark subjects, open diaphragm 1/2 stop.
3. For extreme distance close diaphragm 1/2 Stop.
4. For closeups, open diphragm 1/2 stop.
Two types of Kodachrome are avilable, regular film for outdoor use and Kodachrome A for use with incandescent lights. Regular film may be used at night with photoflood lights provided the proper filter is used. On the other hand the Kodachrome A may be used outdoors if a special filter is used. If the amateur desires to use but one type of film, he should use Kodachrome A and buy the filter which enables him to use this material in daylight. In this manner he will not lose the indoor speed caused by using a filter with Regular, and the sunlight speed of the A variety is sufficient.
When taking color photographs, it is wise to remember that what makes the picture beautiful, or worth taking at all, is color. There is no use shooting up expensive film at deep black shadows. The amateur wants color—and at some periods of the year it is surprising how difficult it is to find good outdoor color. The illumination should be flat, that is, the amateur should obey the old formula that says, “stand with your back to the sun.” If the foreground is very dark with shadow, it will detract from the beauty of your picture. If a still-life set-up is not fully illumi- nated, if it has deep dark shadows in it, it will not be so beautiful. The fact is that a dark corner is, by contrast, more attention-getting than the color; and therefore the eye travels away from the color and toward the unsightly black shadow. Contrast in a picture is obtained by proper placement and usage of color. One will soon become extremely color conscious after making color photographs. He will learn what color combinations are harmonious, and which are bad.
Dufaycolor is processed as follows: The film is first developed in a metol-hydroquinone formula supplied by the manufacturer. Then this developed film is bleached; exposed to light; developed again to reduce the remaining silver, and then it is fixed.
Prints can be made from both Kodachrome and Dufaycolor. The amateur can do it, but it is a long, complex process and full of difficulty. Furthermore, it is very expensive. Current prices for prints are about $10 for a full color print 8 x 10 inches, and less, of course, for small sizes. It is a fact, however, that size lends a great deal to color. It is for this reason that the projected images are so beautiful. A small color print is not much more beautiful than a black and white—but an 8 x 10 gains depth tremendously and makes one very much dissatisfied with black and white photography.