Brimming with Joy
Three women living in an alpine village near Salzburg, Austria, pose for photographer Hans Hildenbrand in a 1929 autochrome. This photo ran in National Geographic’s September 1988 centennial issue.
- 8 From The Archive
Our Most Stunning Antique Photos of Women Around the World
An early form of color photography called autochrome gave pictures a "wonderful luminosity."
In 1907, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière developed the first commercially viable form of color photography. Their process, called autochrome, used glass plates coated with millions of microscopic color filters, each one consisting of—believe it or not—a dyed, powdered grain of potato starch.
The starch grains essentially transformed the plate into a stained-glass window made of red, green, and blue dots, which filtered the light shining onto a light-sensitive emulsion. Up close, the resulting photographs looked like dots of various shades of red, blue, and green. But from a distance, viewers’ eyes blended the colors into muted, dreamlike tones—making autochromes look like pointillist paintings.
"That's one thing that's unique about the autochromes that you don't see with modern photos—that