Beware fake autochrome

With the popularity of autochrome, there are scamming artists who are trying to pass their colorized images off as autochrome. Some will touch up original autochrome images (brighten, sharpen, etc.), then claim they transformed the photo into a work of art.  A few photographers are saying they found autochrome images, when the photos were taken last week.  Don’t fall for any of this.

One important thing to remember is original autochrome development used potato starch, and that’s why the photos came out so grainy. Digital or even film developed photos can’t come up with the look seen in autochrome photos. Digital is more refined and clean, where the starch was extremely course. Film’s grainy texture became less over the years.  Back in the late Edwardian – 1920s there weren’t filters like what is used on social media now, the lighting technique was entirely natural. These days people want their photos to look retro, or the over saturated 1960s theme – so a filter is placed over the image to make the entire image glow. That’s not what you see in autochrome, they are vibrant and certain colors pop which is what the creators wanted. Finally, the content in these photos is everyday life; photography was still new and people were documenting life as it happened. WWI soldiers visiting villages, kids at play, street life, women showing off their flower gardens, and still life.

There are tutorials showing how to place tears/scratches on a photo to make it look old.  These tutorials have been popular since a woman turned famous with her tintype photoshoot (which excuse my rant but there was nothing tintype about that photoshoot).  There are also people who make a living out of cosplaying from Victorian – 1920s eras.  Things to consider before accepting that the autochrome you’re looking at is genuine.

Fake vintage

I received a message from someone that one of my restorations had been tampered with.  Turned out the original had been altered by someone, and then me not paying attention had restored and colorized it.

With billions of tutorials released by Adobe, it’s not surprising this would happen. I spent an entire day removing the photoshopped version of this bearded man, and then re-colorized him. This is the second image I’ve found in my collection that’s not authentic. In all honesty, the work done is seamless so whoever did it knew their way around photoshop.  I had to track down a photo of Marvel’s Odin to realize the eye cover was the same – not looking for that I’d not realize.

There are thousands of people who release fun creative work like the old time baseball players with lightsabers, or turning cabinet cards into retro science fiction images.  There are photographers now who are turning their style into the photo style of the Victorian Era, and doing a professional job of it.  Just be aware. Not all vintage photos online are from the 1850s.