Christina In Red and 1913 in Color

By Grace Hetfield

Color photography has existed since 1861, but it took many years for the process of creating color photos to be perfected and popularized. Thus, we tend to view the past through a lens of black and white. It’s hard to believe that following series of photographs, with its vibrant hues and contemporary look, is over a century old.

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This modern looking close up from 1913 has been (perhaps unfairly) compared to today’s Instagram photos by various media outlets

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Slow shutter speeds required by the early color process gives these photos dreamy, hazy appearance

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If you look closely, you can see the row boat from the second photo in the background.

In 1913, Mervyn O Gorman, an aeronautical engineer and amateur photographer, took these photos of 16-year-old Christina at Lulworth’s Cove in Dorset, England. Christina’s full identity was originally a mystery when the photographs were  rediscovered. She was misidentified as Gorman’s daughter until it was revealed that her full name was Christina Bevan and she was the daughter of one of his friends. Gorman used a color process called the autochrome which had only been patented a decade prior. Invented by the Lumiére brothers, the autochrome was the first commercially viable color photography process. It worked through glass plates coated in potato starch and dyes that acted as a color filter. The process required a lengthy exposure period even in bright sunlight. This is why the sea looks dreamy and glass-like in the photos.

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This photograph and the photograph below it were taken at location that is currently unknown.

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Sources:

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