17th May 2011- Happy 150th Birthday to colour photography!

One of James Clerk Maxwell's lesser world-beating firsts was this full colour image of a tartan ribbon, which he displayed during a talk at London's Royal Institution on May 17th 1861. Really Maxwell's goal was to verify the 3-colour theory of human sight, and the colour image just a means to that end......nevertheless, a VERY impressive achievement DECADES before colour film was invented!

How did he manage it with only monochrome plates and coloured filters?.......check out the animations!

Given that Maxwell's Equations make him the true father of our modern world, this colour image is a great metaphor for the changes which he brought about., so a good opportunity to reflect on the man and all that we owe him, and on how we use all his great science.... as well as the meaning of photographic and filmic images in our lives.

Consider- we have only black and white photos of the great man, and he had no photo at all of his mother who'd died when he was just 8 years old.

Embracing all the above, here's the first half of a song at the centre of my ongoing work on Maxwell and his work....working title "In Time of Light"


(Vocal by Andrew Mitchell)

Photographed in black and white
The world in shades of grey
Was life so much simpler then,
Back in the day?

A few old frames of Super 8
Light riding on the wall
When I saw how we looked back then it blew me away

A lot like the movies....

A Tartan Ribbon I chose for you here
Just some way i could show
My colour trick to catch the rainbow

Red, Green and Blue
Yes, it's just like they do
When they're shooting the movies
When they're shooting the movies…...

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