Tech

Photochroms of Ireland

c. 1890

The Emerald Isle, from one end of the rainbow to the other

These postcards of the sweeping hills, cliffs, and towns of Ireland were created using the Photochrom process, a complex method of imbuing black-and-white photographs with relatively realistic color.

The closely-guarded process was invented in the 1880s by an employee of a Swiss printing company. It entailed coating a tablet of lithographic limestone with a light-sensitive emulsion, then exposing it to sunlight under a photo negative.

After several hours, the emulsion would harden in proportion to the tones of the negative, leaving a fixed lithographic image on the stone.

Additional litho stones would then be produced for each tint to be used in the final color composite — a single image could require well over a dozen different tint stones.

Though delicate and time-consuming, the Photochrom process resulted in color images of striking verisimilitude for a time when true color photography was in the earliest stages of development.

Dungarvan Bridge and Harbor, County Waterford. Glenoe Village, County Antrim. Dargle Bridge, County Wicklow. Bray, County Wicklow. Vale of Avoca, County Wicklow. Rope bridge, Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim. The Honeycombs, Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim. Portrush, County Antrim. Dunluce Castle, County Antrim. Royal Avenue, Belfast, County Antrim. Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, County Cork. Tunnel near Glengarriff, County Cork. Patrick Street, Cork, County Cork. Blackrock Castle, County Cork. Glengarriff Harbor, County Cork. Powerscourt Waterfall, County Wicklow. Queenstown, County Cork. Queenstown Harbor, County Cork. Newcastle, County Down. Bank of Ireland, Dublin, County Dublin. Lower Lough Erne, County Fermanagh. Ruins, Devenish Island, Lough Erne, County Fermanagh. Killary Bay, Connemara, County Galway. Valentia, County Kerry. Ross Castle, Killarney, County Kerry. The quays, Waterford, County Waterford. Muckross Abbey, Killarney, County Kerry. Menawn Cliffs, Achill, County Mayo. Spinner and spinning wheel, County Galway.

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    Alex Q. Arbuckle

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