Autochromes contemporains
Work in progress
The photographs shown in this site are a recreation of the colour process, the Autochrome plate, as described by the Lumière brothers more than one century ago.

The Autochrome plate was initially a glass plate covered with a matrix of very thin colored particles (extracted from potato starch, sieved to a mean size of 15 microns, dyed in green, red-orange and violet) and then coated with a black and white emulsion sensitive to the visible spectrum. Once exposed, the plate became a trichromatic transparency, with very realistic shades of colours.

Its industrial production, as well as the enthusiasm of amateur and experimented photographers, give us a unique representation of that time. Moreover its pointillist and natural look remains pleasant to modern photographers.

The attempt at doing autochrome images again began with my reading of a detailed scientific article of Bertrand Lavédrine and Jean-Paul Gandolfo, dealing with the components of the plates and their aging. A manufacturer of photographic emulsion made the full recreation possible by giving me raw sensitized gelatine, and Ronan Guinée from the Albert Kahn Museum (the largest collection of autochrome plates in the world) gave a technical and friendly support.

For practical reasons, the photographs are on a thin polyester base, which makes them closer to Filmcolor sheet films, a following process. But the hand-crafted spirit of doing a autochrome plate is intact: selection of starch particles, dyeing with pigments, laying manually the emulsion. The several flaws of these images are part of this work-in-progress and give a fascinating perspective of how such a simple photographic idea leads to a complex and demanding project.