Last month I came to learn about the Kromskop (pronounced chrome-scope). A nifty but perhaps clunky device by today's standards created by one Frederic Eugene Ives, a U.S. inventor back in the late 1890s. The technology simply leveraged 'additive light' to combine multiple images to produce a single colour image.
The process starts with three transparent positives of the same subject that are shot consecutively. Each shot is filtered using either a red, green or blue filter. This can be tricky because if your subject moves you'll end up with either red, green or blue fringing in the combined image.
I created what I refer to as my 'digital' Kromskop in Photoshop to reconstitute the RGB channels for a digital image I pulled apart. Through a series of layers and blending modes I was able to add colour back to the image close to how the original looked. But I wanted to take this one step further. Could I shoot an image in black and white using RGB filters and reconstruct its colour later in Photoshop? This weekend I decided to put it to the test.
I used 120mm Ilford Delta 100 black and white film in my vintage Rolliecord TLR. I don't have filters that fit the Rolliecord, so I packed 52mm screw-ons. I simply placed and held the filter over the lens, trying to be careful not to knock the camera. It wasn't until I was on location that I realised I had packed the orange filter by mistake! I thought 'disaster'! I needn't of worried though, because the final image came out fine.
I dropped the images into my digital Kromskop and used the following settings:
- Blending mode set to 'Lighten' for each negative.
- In the blending mode for each image set the colour overlay to match the filter used i.e. for the image taken with the red filter, I applied a red colour overlay using 'soft light' as the blend mode.
- I had to make some adjustments to my original file where I had used RGB channels from a digital image. For this example I dropped the red layer and reduced the opacity of the green layer to get colours that are realistic.
And here are the results of combining filtered black and white images. It's far from perfect due to obvious movement but I was amazed to see how well the experiment turned out. Why not have a go yourself and share the results in the comments below.