Autochromes Lumière
The technological process > Method of Use > Finishing Touches


Finishing Touches

After development, the Autochrome plate was generally protected by a varnish made up of a solution of 20% dammar gum in benzine. These solutions could be personally prepared according to a formula provided by the Lumière company or purchased.

The Autochrome plate was then lined with another glass plate and held together by strips of black paper. A special clamp, preheated with an alcohol lamp, held the paper tightly against the glass ensuring a good adhesion.

Small imperfections in the final image were occasionally repaired by hand using a paintbrush. In this case, photographers retouched the image with watercolours to find the most natural match.

Frames and cases were also produced commercially by the Lumière factories in the standard dimensions of the Autochrome plates. To create a pleasing aesthetic effect, an oval might have been cut out of black paper and inserted between the glass lining and the image, highlighting a portrait or a landscape.

Small captions were often made with a white pencil on the black adhesive backing or in black on a white label. Today, these captions provide us with invaluable information for dating and identifying the places and persons photographed.

White Stickers
A small white sticker can sometimes be found fixed to the corner of a plate. These stickers often indicate the direction a plate is to be viewed or may note the place of a particular plate in a series of photographs. For professionals, projecting their images with a pedagogic purpose, a number could correspond to the order of projection. In this case, stuck to the bottom right corner and held between the thumb and the index finger, the sticker could also mark the direction of the image for an operator working in darkness.

Some Autochromes were authenticated with an appended signature. Photographers might also give such a final touch to their works with a specially engraved stamp or a printed label.