Bringing back photographic techniques from the early 1900’s – Simon Puschmann

Award winning photographer and Phase One Ambassador Simon Puschmann has been creating unique and stunning imagery for over 30 years, working alongside high end brands such as McLaren, BMW, Porsche and many many more. Simon dabbles in a wide range of genres from automotive photography to fine art & still life shots, never shying away from a different style, technique or idea.

His unique outlook on the photographic process is what really brings one of his particular photo series to life. Using an early colour photography process called autochrome he combines this technique from the early 1900’s with modern day technology to produce stunning results.

So…what is autochrome?

Well, autochrome was one of the first ever viable methods of colour photography developed by the Lumiere brothers Auguste and Louis around 1907. The method involved covering a glass plate with a thin wash of potato starch grains dyed red, green and blue which created a filter. The result of this was an image that could be developed in colour.

Simon first became intrigued by this process when he noticed the colour channels on Photoshop and how they contained three different black and white images that when combined created the coloured version of an image.

Producing the autochrome technique with modern day technology

Simon produces the autochrome method using the Phase One Achromatic IQ3 150mp Digital Back along with incredibly strong red, green and blue filters, he captures three exposures of his subject. When the red, green and blue filtered images are combined we can get a coloured image out of something that initially was shot in black and white! It’s really quite an amazing process.

However Simon came to the realisation that the slightest change in environment across the three exposures, whether that be clouds moving across the sky or a bush swaying in the wind, created incredibly interesting and colourful results. This was intriguing to him.

“What if everything always moves and nothing is ever in the same spot during the three exposures?”

Simon Puschmann

Take the above image for instance, the droplets of water on the car had moved throughout the process of capturing the three exposures of the scene, meaning the red, blue and green layers didn’t quite match up in some areas. This is what has created the unique, colourful look across the car surface where certain areas are far more red/green/blue coloured than others.

In some instances this mismatched overlapping can be exaggerated and used as an intentional stylistic technique.

Why not just create the effect digitally?

As amazing as the science and history behind this method is, it cant be avoided how expensive and overall time consuming shooting with the autochrome method is. The visually stunning results could more-a-less be replicated digitally without the need for a black and white camera and multiple coloured filters.

But that’s not what its about for Simon, he appreciates the art, craft, history and science behind the photographic process. He has stated that he feels a truly great image can be captured in one shot (well, THREE shots if it happens to be an autochrome image!) and does not require substantial editing.

The more recent trend of extensive photo manipulation in order to manufacture the ‘perfect image’ isn’t something that appeals to a photographer like Simon. He loves the authenticity of the picture being perfect as taken and requiring only minor modification. At the same time he also embraces any imperfections, seeing them as opportunities to stumble upon something great.

“I am constantly looking for serendipity, for mistakes, for coincidences, for things that just happen.”

Simon Puschmann

So sure, you could take a photo on a regular colour camera and digitally replicate the aesthetic of this photographic method in Photoshop. But you’d loose the craft and art behind it, and you’d be removing the beautifully unpredictable nature of the results.

The photography equipment used by Simon to capture his ‘Autochrome Series’

See more of Simon Puschmann’s work on his website, and browse Phase One on our website today.

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