Colour separation images by Bernard F. Eilers

A collection of the Stadsarchief Amsterdam

Bernard F. Eilers was a colour magician. Around 1935, he created the photographic colour separation technique foto-chroma Eilers, which would make him world famous. In a time when experiments with colour photography were abundant, he succeeded in producing colour prints that far surpassed those of other fellow pioneers in terms of colour intensity and depth.

Kalverstraat 84 in Amsterdam, Albert Hein store with fully dressed display window, Bernard Eilers

The Great Depression of the 1930s was not a good time for Eilers; few people could afford to enlist the services of a photographer. In these years, he decided to devote his leisure time to perfecting three-colour photography. His aim was to expose and print three shots on paper in a single turn. For more than a year and a half, he worked at improving the camera, the filters and the printing foils. Finally, Eilers succeeded in producing perfect colour prints. He named his technique: foto-chroma eilers. The difficult feat he had accomplished brought Eilers praise and honour, but the big photographic industries of the day soon caught up with him; around the same time, Kodak and Agfa introduced the first modern colour films.

For this site, Eilers’s old analogue technique was simulated digitally. The result is a collection of spectacular colour prints originating from a period that is mostly associated with black-and-white photography.

Examples from this collection Colour separation images by Bernard F. Eilers

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