Images Made With History In Mind Page 2
It is possible (though very difficult) to create timeless color pictures. It is somewhat easier to re-create specific color renditions from the past. Lumiere Autochromes were introduced in 1907, a bit after the Album vom Rhein was published, but you can re-create their distinctive "look" relatively easy in Adobe Photoshop or similar image-manipulation programs: in Photoshop, you'd use the "noise" and possibly "film grain" filters, and desaturate somewhat as well. But they would not be timeless in the same way as monochrome. They would be tied to a specific time almost as closely as a photograph with a newspaper headline about the Russo-Japanese War.
I say "monochrome" because "black and white" is not
the half of it. Vintage pictures were often heavily toned, usually sepia, but
sometimes with selenium, tellurium, gold, or even with platinum emulsion. Do
the same. In a way, sepia is a cliché for "timeless," but
do not always despise clichés. As Terry Pratchett said, they are the
well-worn screwdrivers and hammers in the toolbox of communication. All the
pictures accompanying this article were printed on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone
toned in Tetenal Triponaltoner or Tetenal Schwefeltoner.
Of course, timeless photography won't suit everyone or everywhere. Bright, colorful, action shots may suit you or your subjects better. That's fine. But if timeless shots do appeal to you, they are even easier to create today than they were 100 years ago. We have more choice of film, greater control over processing, and better materials for printing.
And here is what I hope. My great-niece Lilith is just over a year old. But one day, with any luck, 100 or more years after I first became fascinated with the Album vom Rhein, another little 5-year-old girl will be looking at the Album vom Rhein and perhaps at my pictures, too. She will be fascinated, and decide that she wants to travel and to take pictures. Then her Grandma Lilith will tell her about Grandma's great-aunt Frances who made the same choice. And my great-great-great niece will see the Rhein; and maybe Mars.