zoe collins

Three-color process

1845 - Hand colored dageurreotype

In 1861, the studies of color photography finally began. James Clerk Maxwell, a physicist, conducted experiments with colored light to show how all colors can be made with a combination of red, green, and blue light.

Maxwell took three images of a plaid ribbon, each with a filter of red, green, or blue applied. Then, he put them all on top of each other to create a fully colored and accurate image of the ribbon.

The dyed images overlapping each other formed the basis for all color photography, even today. While this was incredibly impactful on the development of film and photography, the process was slow and tedious. Development and dying was slow, and the whole range of colors was not available.

Studies of color photography began, and the concept of RGB color combining was born.

1861 - Three color exposures
1861 - First three color process
1860's - Three color process