Re: Restoration of the tri-color camera. An update.

From: Michael Briggs ^lt;>
Date: 03/20/05-07:36:51 PM Z
Message-id: <>

-----Original Message-----
From: Katharine Thayer <>
Sent: Mar 20, 2005 2:49 AM
Subject: Re: Restoration of the tri-color camera. An update.

Ed Stander wrote:
> Thanks, Allan -
> The prints show exactly what I tried to write - the colors are much more
> vibrant than anything possible with a layered substrate (such as
> colorfilm). Almost makes it worthwhile carting around a 20 pound tri-color
> camera... Best - Ed

These images are indeed beautiful, but I don't understand the reference
to "prints" above. These negatives were intended to be seen in RGB
color, according to the information on the site, by projecting them
using a lantern projector that had three turrets to project the three
negatives. (What I hope someone can explain to me is that if it was the
negatives that were projected, how the image could have been seen in
positive color?) What the library of congress has is not prints, but
glass plate negatives. To re-create the images, the triparte negatives
were scanned and composited into one image and then the composite image
underwent significant Photoshop adjustment "to create the proper
contrast, appropriate highlight and shadow detail, and optimal color
balance." The result is the vibrant images you see on these pages. At no
point do I see any reference to prints being made from these images, but
perhaps I'm just missing something obvious. (It wouldn't be the first

The webpage on the method is unclear on this, but prints and web images were made at the same time. I suspect that prints were the main target of the digital effort by the LOC, and the web pages secondary, but that is only a guess. I saw the exhibit, which was circa 2000. The prints were rather large, roughly 30 inches on a side. The effort to make good looking prints that size, such as aligning the digital scans of the glass plate separation negatives, would have been more larger than required just to make the images for the web.

As evidence for Kathrine's suggestion that the digital restoration process had a large role in creating the colors that we see on the LOC webpages, a book with many of the same images was published in 1980: "Photographs for the Tsar" by Robert Allshouse. The images in that book have muted colors of low saturation.

The original appearence would have depended on the light sources and filters used in the projector.

Received on Sun Mar 20 19:37:40 2005

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