View Full Version : Amateur photos of CBS color from 1951


old_tv_nut
12-19-2016, 09:29 PM
This article from July 1951 shows photos made by amateurs at the National Photographic show in February of a closed-circuit demo of CBS color. This article has been published elsewhere on the web, but with poorly-descreened images.

The pictures, which are some of the few successful ones, were made on Kodachrome Type A (tungsten color balance), which surprised me, as I would have expected the color balance to be closer to daylight. The article goes on to recommend type A film for this exercise. It's not stated how much color correction was applied for the magazine article.

http://www.bretl.com/tvarticles/documents/PopPhotJUL51CBScolor.pdf

etype2
12-19-2016, 09:46 PM
This article from July 1951 shows photos made by amateurs at the National Photographic show in February of a closed-circuit demo of CBS color. This article has been published elsewhere on the web, but with poorly-descreened images.

The pictures, which are some of the few successful ones, were made on Kodachrome Type A (tungsten color balance), which surprised me, as I would have expected the color balance to be closer to daylight. The article goes on to recommend type A film for this exercise. It's not stated how much color correction was applied for the magazine article.

http://www.bretl.com/tvarticles/documents/PopPhotJUL51CBScolor.pdf

Thanks for posting. I have this article on my website here:http://www.visions4.net/journal/chromatron/

If you scroll further down, you will see a series of screenshots from the first color broadcast in the U.S. Do you know what field sequential television these were shot from?

old_tv_nut
12-19-2016, 09:52 PM
Those look like Gray Research monitors (like the one at ETF) in the article.

etype2
12-19-2016, 09:54 PM
Those look like Gray Research monitors (like the one at ETF) in the article.

No, I'm talking about the screenshots from the first color television show. It's further down.

Electronic M
12-19-2016, 10:04 PM
First two pages are not loading for me...

old_tv_nut
12-19-2016, 10:07 PM
No, I'm talking about the screenshots from the first color television show. It's further down.

Oh - sorry, I don't know. By the way, the transparencies obviously faded toward purple/magenta over the years before they were scanned; it's too bad, because the color would have been much better originally. The field sequential camera at ETF shows some color shift due to image orthicon lag, but it's not like these shots.

etype2
12-19-2016, 10:07 PM
First two pages are not loading for me...

It's a big page, sorry about that. I have a medium/fast internet connection.

etype2
12-19-2016, 10:13 PM
[QUOTE=old_tv_nut;3175175]Oh - sorry, I don't know. By the way, the transparencies obviously faded toward purple/magenta over the years before they were scanned; it's too bad, because the color would have been much better originally. The field sequential camera at ETF shows some color shift due to image orthicon lag, but it's not like these shots.[/QUOTE

The shots came from the Life website. I'm curiosus to know what television produced the shots, professional monitor like the Cray Research or the CBS set like Ed Reitan's owned.

Steve D.
12-20-2016, 04:30 PM
Thanks for posting. I have this article on my website here:http://www.visions4.net/journal/chromatron/

If you scroll further down, you will see a series of screenshots from the first color broadcast in the U.S. Do you know what field sequential television these were shot from?

Hi Marshall,

In response to your question. The attached photo shows a Gray Research monitor in use on the CBS studio floor during their 1st field sequential color broadcast "Premier" in June 1951. This photo along w/the Gray monitors CBS provided for off screen photos may indicate what color monitors CBS generally used during that time.

-Steve D.

etype2
12-20-2016, 07:54 PM
Many thanks for that Steve. I think it's safe to say the LIFE screenshots of the Premier color program were taken from the Gray Research monitor.

old_tv_nut
12-20-2016, 09:09 PM
Here are some attempts at correcting some of the published slides.
In each case, there's the original faded slide, then a version with levels corrected in Photoshop. Finally, there's a version with the levels corrected plus a hue correction. The success of the hue correction on the test pattern and Bisquik box indicates to me that CBS did indeed have a hue shift problem due to lag in the image orthicon, as the color sequence was RBG, and red is shifted toward blue, yellow towards red, green toward yellow (not so obvious) and blue toward green.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/540/31774709365_c337a98d06_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/464/31774709195_bc220612f1_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/355/31774709325_044b7a2757_n.jpg

old_tv_nut
12-20-2016, 09:18 PM
Bisquick

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/357/31658795921_bca036cc51_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/620/31658795851_cb58dd9e6e_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/367/31402452430_af2373e060_n.jpg

old_tv_nut
12-20-2016, 09:21 PM
couple

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/445/31774709605_fe3aa76a05_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/333/31774709585_5202a58d80_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/434/31402452340_2fc06966c3_n.jpg

old_tv_nut
12-20-2016, 09:24 PM
Doublemint

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/698/31774709515_61cf295404_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/732/31774709435_0200d0033e_n.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/1/479/31774709455_ba4c6ff8b1_n.jpg

etype2
12-21-2016, 02:28 AM
old tv nut,

The fading we see in the published screenshots photos looks very similar to old Kodachrome 35mm color prints.

This is most interesting. I agree, only the test pattern and the Bisquick look "right". I still see an alteration in yellow within the test pattern. What color and hue correction did you use in Photoshop, RGB, or?

May I publish your comment and photos on my site?

old_tv_nut
12-21-2016, 11:26 AM
I used a "levels" correction layer and clicked on the background of the Bisquick set with the "gray" eyedropper. This over-exposed the slides a bit, so I added a lower (preceding) levels adjustment layer to bring down the levels so the highlights were not overexposed/clipped. I then added a hue/saturation adjustment layer on the top of the stack and adjusted the hue by 20 degrees, which may be a little too much. However, because of film characteristics, it may be impossible to get exactly correct results in the highlights as well as the mid tones. The Doublemint and Couple images seemed to especially need the first over-all level adjustment, as they appear a bit over-exposed and washed out to start with.

The color blockiness in the original scans due to the jpeg compression was emphasized in the yellow when I made the hue adjustment. This is because the Photoshop hue adjustment rotates the proportions of red, green, and blue, which means the brightness also changes when the hue is changed. Maybe working in Lab space instead of RGB space would fix this - I haven't tried it.

Please feel free to use these images on your site.

dtvmcdonald
12-21-2016, 11:59 AM
Kodachrome doesn't do that sort of fading. Its Ektachrome that does.

And for correct correction you can't just hue rotate in Photoshop.
You have to mix the R, B, and G channels, some with + signs and
some with - signs. This is, if I remember correctly, "Channels".

I've succeeded twice doing this, both with very valuable slides
(one being the only photo of the only eruption ever of one "pool"
in the Yellowstone geyser basins, in the 1950's grest earthquake.)
It was painfully hard ... took hours
due to inexperience, which I have long since lost.

etype2
12-21-2016, 12:18 PM
I used a "levels" correction layer and clicked on the background of the Bisquick set with the "gray" eyedropper. This over-exposed the slides a bit, so I added a lower (preceding) levels adjustment layer to bring down the levels so the highlights were not overexposed/clipped. I then added a hue/saturation adjustment layer on the top of the stack and adjusted the hue by 20 degrees, which may be a little too much. However, because of film characteristics, it may be impossible to get exactly correct results in the highlights as well as the mid tones. The Doublemint and Couple images seemed to especially need the first over-all level adjustment, as they appear a bit over-exposed and washed out to start with.

The color blockiness in the original scans due to the jpeg compression was emphasized in the yellow when I made the hue adjustment. This is because the Photoshop hue adjustment rotates the proportions of red, green, and blue, which means the brightness also changes when the hue is changed. Maybe working in Lab space instead of RGB space would fix this - I haven't tried it.

Please feel free to use these images on your site.

Thank you for the explanation. Photoshop is an excellent tool and can reveal much as well as improve images, and what you did is a very good "guess" as to what the originals may have looked like. I believe something is "wrong" with the other images that have too much green cast. Can't believe they were transmitted that way originally. (Taking into account the degradation of the published LIFE images)

Thank you for the permission.

benman94
12-21-2016, 04:02 PM
Kodachrome doesn't do that sort of fading. Its Ektachrome that does.


The chemistry changed a lot over the years for Kodachrome. I would be hesitant to say that Kodachrome doesn't fade the way Wayne described; some slides can and do seem to fade terribly, though not nearly as bad as Ektachrome of the same period.

FWIW, my Great-Grandmother died back in September, and we found that her Kotavachrome prints from immediately after WWII through 1953 are quite faded. My Grandmother's wedding photos (also on Kotavachrome, this time circa 1957) are fine.

Does anyone know what Kodachrome chemistry was in use circa 1951?, when the Life magazine slides were shot? It's much too early for K-14. Maybe K-12?

old_tv_nut
12-21-2016, 05:27 PM
...
Does anyone know what Kodachrome chemistry was in use circa 1951?, when the Life magazine slides were shot? It's much too early for K-14. Maybe K-12?

From what I can find, the process was K10 at that time, with K11 arriving in 1955, K12 in 1961, and K14 in 1974.

All the Kodachrome that I have personally handled did not fade this way, even stuff shot by my father in the early 50's. So, I'm thinking that while some earlier Kodachrome may have faded, any used in 1951 probably did not. I would love to see some dated examples from 1951 that prove or disprove this.

The later versions of Kodachrome for sure had excellent dark stability, but actually poorer light stability than Ektachrome. We had to make duplicate test slides for the Zenith lab because using them daily in a slide projector / vidicon telecine for TV test material would produce noticeable fading (and mostly neutral, not towards pink) within a week. Fresh duplicates would be used for critical one-time/final video tests. Slides could be used in a flying spot scanner for long periods without fading, but the only use of a FSS was in the video disk lab, not for TV development. Plus, I don't believe the FSS had an automatic slide changer.

benman94
12-21-2016, 06:03 PM
From what I can find, the process was K10 at that time, with K11 arriving in 1955, K12 in 1961, and K14 in 1974.

All the Kodachrome that I have personally handled did not fade this way, even stuff shot by my father in the early 50's. So, I'm thinking that while some earlier Kodachrome may have faded, any used in 1951 probably did not. I would love to see some dated examples from 1951 that prove or disprove this.


I'll find an example from 1951 and upload it. That said, perhaps the Kotavachrome chemistry (Kodachrome "prints" on a funny little opaque sheet of white plastic) is slightly different than the "normal" slide chmenistry. Who knows...

Our 16mm home movies are in fine shape, having been projected only a handful of times. They do have truly excellent dark stability. My Great-Grandfather even coughed up the dough for a little RCA sound-on-film camera. The audio quality is terrible, but it is neat seeing amateur motion pictures with sound from a man who died in 1971.

old_tv_nut
12-21-2016, 11:15 PM
Something to take note of: the Viewmaster 3D transparencies were Kodachrome dupes, and even the early ones did not fade. Not sure if there might have been a later period when they would have, or if manufacture was curtailed during the same time (WWII). So, this fading Kodachrome may be a case of a period when development chemistry was being modified, was still compatible with the same version of the film, but resulted in dies that were less stable for a particular version of the chemistry.

Viewmaster much later went to Ektachrome or other similar processes (especially as it was used more and more as a cartoon toy rather than travel pictures), and did suffer from pink fading.

Jack Coote, in The Illustrated History of Color Photography, mentions that Kodachrome II (process K12) introduced in 1961, had improved sharpness, grain, and permanence; but he doesn't say anything about variations in the earlier process after 1938.

He also says that the Kodachrome print processes were:
Minicolor: 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 or 5 x 7 1/2;
Kotavachrome: any size from 8x10 to 30x40, and used a contrast mask to improve image quality.

He says that these prints were not made after 1946, but similar prints dubbed Kodachrome Prints were made until 1955.

old_tv_nut
12-21-2016, 11:44 PM
The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs (by Wilhelm and Brower, 1993) says that the early version of Kodachrome, used from 1935 to about 1940, used a controlled-diffusion bleach development, and had poorer dark stability. They show an example from 1939 that has faded toward magenta, and has almost no yellow dye. They say the later selective exposure development process introduced in 1938 had excellent dark stability. They also say that both Kodachrome based print processes had excellent dark stability. After 1955, the name Kodachrome print was still used, but the print process was done via a Kodacolor type of internegative and negative printing paper, so stability was no better than color negative prints.

benman94
12-22-2016, 12:30 AM
Is it possible that the dyes just aren't as stable as perhaps they were once thought to be? If you noticed a badly faded slide from 1939 in 1993 (54 years elapsed time) it's not really a stretch to imagine that someone (such as myself) could find Kodachrome photographs from 1947 or so to 1953 that are faded now, in 2016.

If I had to make a wild ass guess as to why I have faded Kodachrome, I'd say it's more likely an issue of quality control. Kodachrome, in any of the iterations, was a very difficult film to properly develop. I've spoken to a retired chemist from Kodak who said they LOATHED working on experimental Kodachrome film because someone would have to attempt, usually in vain, to develop small batches by hand. My understanding is that Kodachrome development for the masses was done with large machines in regional Kodak facilities. These machines had electromechanical and electronic timers to control the various stages. Couple the possibility of a timer failure with a bad batch of some chemical, and a notoriously exacting devlopment process, and you could theoretically wind up with a group of less stable slides or prints. No process being done on an industrial type scale is going to be done perfectly, one hundred percent of the time...

old_tv_nut
12-22-2016, 11:03 AM
Difficulty in quality control is a very reasonable speculation. Unlike later color films, in which the stages after development were driven to completion, Kodachrome had multiple stages in which hypothetically one layer could be driven to completion at a time, but practically they could not because the process would start to affect other stages. The last Kodachrome I shot and had developed at Dwayne's (for comparison to digital) has always looked to me like not all the silver was removed, although I can't prove it.

However, improper processing of film usually results in staining over time from residual chemicals rather than fading of one dye layer compared to the others. It's hard to imagine a mistake that would selectively affect the life of just one or two dye layers, but maybe.

Question: how are the blacks in your images? If they are still black and not colored, that indicates staining rather than dye fading.

benman94
12-22-2016, 12:59 PM
Question: how are the blacks in your images? If they are still black and not colored, that indicates staining rather than dye fading.

Quite faded toward a weird brown/magenta color.

I too think it would be odd to have a color film with fading in only a single layer, but as you aluded to, Kodachrome is essentially just three black and white emulsions, each sensitive to a different portion of the visible spectrum, and stacked. I can't see quality control being an issue during manufacture; the film is just too simple.

Edit: I actually can think of a QC issue in manufacture that could cause what might LOOK like fading. If one of the three emulsions was mixed improperly, you could end up with a situation in which the record for that layer isn't "contrasty" enough compared to the other two. The processing would then continue normally, but the dye layer for the emulsion with the defect would be "weak" by comparison. The slide would look faded right out of the box, and any subsequent prints (like the Kotavachrome prints) would look the same. Now I wish I could go back to 1953 and see the slides when they were new.

I can see Kodachrome being more likely to have layer-specific QC issues during development than say Ektachrome or Fujichrome with the integral dye couplers.

old_tv_nut
12-22-2016, 07:32 PM
Quite faded toward a weird brown/magenta color.
So, it's definitely dye fading.

I too think it would be odd to have a color film with fading in only a single layer, ...
Actually, this is exactly what happens - the fading is worse in the yellow dye and cyan dye, for example, leaving more magenta.

Edit: I actually can think of a QC issue in manufacture that could cause what might LOOK like fading. If one of the three emulsions was mixed improperly, you could end up with a situation in which the record for that layer isn't "contrasty" enough compared to the other two. The processing would then continue normally, but the dye layer for the emulsion with the defect would be "weak" by comparison. The slide would look faded right out of the box, and any subsequent prints (like the Kotavachrome prints) would look the same. Now I wish I could go back to 1953 and see the slides when they were new.
Kodachrome quality control would never let such unbalanced film escape the factory. For professional versions, filter suggestions to get exact gray balance were provided.

I can see Kodachrome being more likely to have layer-specific QC issues during development than say Ektachrome or Fujichrome with the integral dye couplers.
Exactly correct. Test strips would be run through the processor and measured to see which way things were drifting, and corrections would be made before variations exceeded accepted limits, to keep the process within certain specs.

Since the color-determining part of the reaction is in the Kodachrome developers and is different for each layer, the thing that makes most sense to cause a fading problem is that they changed the chemistry of the dye forming for one or more of the layers, not in the film, but in the processing, producing a less stable dye. In the case of all the other Ektachromes, Kodacolor, etc., the color-determining part is in the film and a common reactant is in the color developer. Therefore, the differences of composition of each dye is baked into the film rather than the developing solution. But, bad dyes could be created by either method. It's just very hard to find documentation of variants of Kodachrome chemistry, whereas Ektachrome and its cousins as well as color negative process shortcomings over the years are illustrated and bemoaned in books on process history and preservation. The loudest weeping and gnashing of teeth involves the Eastmacolor negative/print processes for movies that have often dark-faded to where restoration is nearly impossible.

benman94
12-22-2016, 09:03 PM
So, it's definitely dye fading.


Actually, this is exactly what happens

You're right of course. In my mind, I was thinking extreme fading due to a QC issue from development. You would expect it, at least in an E-6 process slide (or something similar) to effect more than one layer. It's been a long day...

benman94
12-22-2016, 09:08 PM
Kodachrome quality control would never let such unbalanced film escape the factory. For professional versions, filter suggestions to get exact gray balance were provided.

I'm less convinced of this. QC with the new Ektar 100 stock has been hit and miss, at least for those of us buying 120 and 4x5. Ektar is definitely horse of a different color though. Perhaps the Kodak of yesteryear was a bit more reputable...

old_tv_nut
12-22-2016, 09:35 PM
I'm less convinced of this. QC with the new Ektar 100 stock has been hit and miss, at least for those of us buying 120 and 4x5. Ektar is definitely horse of a different color though. Perhaps the Kodak of yesteryear was a bit more reputable...

Interesting - but I can't believe that any variations you are seeing in Ektar100 are as bad as your faded prints from 1951. Please tell me it isn't!

benman94
12-22-2016, 10:27 PM
No, it isn't. The overall color balance shifts rapidly depending on age, and seems to be linked to certain batches. The older the film gets before development, the more the blue hues will drift toward a cyan/green/teal blue. It's not as bad as faded 50s slides, but it was enough of a problem to make me pause before taking it to Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I really like Ektar when it behaves predictably, and I loathe Fuji Velvia. With the QC issues of Ektar, I really wish I had some new Ektachrome or Kodachrome to shoot.

old_tv_nut
12-22-2016, 10:39 PM
Wow, that's crazy. Are other colors affected, or mainly blues?
Edit: also wondering - do you judge as photographic (silver/dye) prints or as scans?

benman94
12-22-2016, 10:59 PM
Only blue. Some folks have even gone so far as to say that Ektar simply can't render blue properly. I wouldn't go that far. If you have a roll from a good batch and it's processed immediately, it turns out fine. I *always* judge from optical prints made by Blue Moon Camera in Oregon, the same folks who develop my 120. I develop my 4x5s at home. I'm still experimenting with large format, so the bulk of my experience with Ektar, and the only experience I feel it fair to judge the film by, is on 120.

Ektar has similar color rendition to Kodachrome. I think it looks like a really good single-shot separation with narrow "cutting" filters; the still equivalent to a Technicolor film, well, when it isn't turning teal...
If I could afford a turn of the century 8x10 single shot separation camera, I'd go that route, layer the negatives in photoshop, and ditch the color film altogether.

old_tv_nut
12-23-2016, 11:38 AM
Narrow cut filters are one technique that has been used in color separation to increase saturation since the beginning of color graphics art. Masking using a negative of one color separation to modify one of the others was a common technique to compensate for the deficiencies in printing inks. (The magenta ink was usually the worst, having far too little blue reflectance.) The amount of masking could be reduced over the years as printing techniques and inks evolved closer to pure primary cyan, yellow, and magenta.

Technicolor depended both on sharp cut filters and printing to high contrast to enhance saturation, but provided no inter-separation masking. When they went from filters to dichroic mirrors in the late 1940s, the bandwidths were much greater, but the crossover regions were very steep.

Multilayer film has added inter-layer inhibition - the products of development in one layer inhibit development in an adjacent layer, thus enhancing the difference between them. I know Kodak has used this in some versions of color negative material in the past to produce a high-saturation version of a product range, and I'd guess probably uses it in Ektar. I wonder if what you describe is due to unwanted variation in the strength of interlayer interaction. This seems to align with the observation that it is batch related.

Electronic M
12-23-2016, 07:22 PM
It's threads like this that make me wonder if we should have a forum section dedicated to cameras and film. :scratch2:

KentTeffeteller
12-30-2016, 02:37 PM
Good point, especially since we have a lot of Film photographers here. I like this idea.

old_tv_nut
12-30-2016, 04:02 PM
I thought everyone knew there's a photography section over on our sister site, audiokarma.org?

Electronic M
12-30-2016, 09:50 PM
I'm barely ever on AK and most sections I've not visited.

benman94
01-07-2017, 10:40 AM
Just an FYI for anybody who followed Wayne and I's discussion of slide film: Kodak is bringing back Ektachrome 100 slide film, and preproduction work is underway, and Kodak is considering revival of K-14M process Kodachrome by 2019. A buddy of mine from my undergrad program is a physical chemist with Kodak Alaris or whatever the film division is called nowadays.