With images, it is surprising how much we use colour as a quick yardstick to determine age. Originally, sepia photographs were sepia because they were old (the early chemicals used to produce the positive image gave the warm sepia brown tones we are familiar with), but once new techniques had been developed to create rich and lasting black tones, photographers would use special dyes to turn the blacks back into sepia in order to make the photographs appear old. In a similar way we tend to assume that colour photographs post-date monochrome images. Have a quick glance at the following two images :
|Commercial Street, Brighouse. Circa 1970 : Alan Burnett|
|Mother and Child by Henry Essenhigh Corke. Circa 1910 (National Media Museum Collection)|
The second image predates the first by some 60 years, although you would be more likely to think it was a modern photograph making use of antique clothing. The process used was known as "autochrome", and it made use of a glass plate covered in microscopic, red, green and blue grains of potato starch. It is a beautiful picture. Rarely have potatoes been used to more beautiful ends.