With the price of colour film being as it is, I thought I’d re-invent the wheel and go back 150 years! It’s a 150 year old process called Trichromy. The basic idea is that three different black and white images are made, each through a different colour filter. One in Red, Green and Blue. I set out into the back garden with 4 shots left on a roll of FP4, tripod, Nikon F3, three filters and 3 bits of paper – three hands would have also been good if I’d had them!
I was interested to see in practice, the differences in the B/W’s. I should say that I didn’t have a “true” green filter or at least not what I call green. I used the Hoya G (XO) filter, that is as much yellow as green, although I’ve owned it for years it might be the first time I’ve used it! I suspect that is why the green was a little lacking. I included the visual note R G B as there was no hope of me remembering which was which later. I set the exposure and changed it for the filter factor by changing the shutter speed rather than the aperture, so it didn’t effect the focus. The film was processed and scanned in my usual manner.
Once done I stacked the three images in photoshop, making each one it’s own layer and setting the colour to match the original filter. I named them just for my ease, although once coloured it’s obvious! Only the green layer need to be nudged up a tiny bit to align, blue and red were in perfect registration already!
The “normal” that can be seen above the red image, was changed to “lighten” for the red and green layer – no need to bother with the blue. Having done that the magic happened!
I flattened the image, tinkered a little and cropped off the right hand side – job done! I have to say I’m pleased with the result for a first attempt – I might try it again sometime, if I can think of a creative use for it.
As a footnote, this is a technique I’ve been thinking of trying for years! Maybe 20 – 25 years ago the late great, Oliver Sacks, famously and movingly portrayed in the 1990 film “Awakenings” by Robin Williams, made a TV series and included in it, was a 5 minute section about colour, he did what I’ve just done with three slide projectors. The idea stuck with me. More recently, maybe 10 years ago, I saw a photography documentary which included some very early colour work by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. Some of those images were simply stunning! Again the idea stuck. Just recently I happened upon the Ilford blog, a post there reminded me of all this and kicked me into action! If you are interested here are some links…
Trichromes on the Ilford Photo Blog
Photography by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
3 thoughts on “Colour Play”
I expect that, even using three black and white frames for a single final image, it’s still more cost effective than dedicated colour film these days! 😀
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Hi, The way things are going you could well be right! If you can find it, Ektar in 35mm now seems to go for £15:99 a roll and a 5 pack of 120 is £67! I’m full circle making every frame count, just like Kodachrome when I was 13 years old all over again! Loved your photo of the red Merc by the way! Cheers Andy
I was fortunate* enough to pick up a slightly out of date 120 Pro Pack for £25 recently. If only it was always that price!
* I say fortunate, but the guy I got it from was selling two packs and said that one of them had been through a number of airports with him, but he was unsure which. Someone else bought the other pack so I’ve a 50/50 chance of having the good one! That said, I went to New York a few years ago and pretty much every visitor attraction had an x-ray scanner and the films I shot during that trip showed no signs of problems, so fingers crossed for this Ektar.
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