Trichromic Photography

Making a colour image the Technicolor way

Technicolor and Kodachrome technologies were the finest technologies for capturing a colour image on film.  Kodachrome is lost to us now – but not forgotten. Technicolor lives on in the marvellous colourful movies from the middle of the twentieth Century. From Gone With The Wind to Singing in the Rain, these are films you don’t forget the look of.

It struck me, following a conversation in a pub with a young colleague, that the principles of Technicolor photography can still be applied to making colour pictures today.   Technicolour used a huge factory to dye film with primary colours – today can use photoshop to bring multiple black & white images together to make colour!

How does it work?  

The trick with technicolor was that it made a colour image by shooting on black& white film.  Each frame of the final colour print required three black & white images to construct it.  Each of the black & white images are shot through a primary colour filter – red, green and blue.  Then the colours are added back in as the images are combined to build an RGB image. 

My first experiments

I bought some primary colour filters that fitted my camera – and armed with a tripod and a roll of Ilford FP4 film I headed out looking for something colourful. 

Here are three images shot through red, green and blue filters:

Red Filter

Green Filter

Blue Filter

And – then putting all the images together and adding the colours back in…

Trichromic Planter!