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The Three-Color Photography

Adolf Miethe - A Pioneer of Photography

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Adolf Miethe was responsible for the three-color, or Autochrome photographic process. Today exhibition curator Mr. Seibt welcomes us to view the works and achievements of Miethe that have been collected throughout the years.

Seibt has a somewhat personal connection to Miethe in that his in-laws lived not far from the area where Käthe Miethe, Miethe’s daughter resided. This close knowledge sparked Seibt's interest to delve into the personal life of Miethe.

Miethe is known historically in photography for two achievements; he invented the magnesium photo flash along with his colleague Johannes Gädicke around 1889. And his most notable achievement being the completion of his transcending three-color process. Before Miethe’s process came along the term “natural colors” had not even been thought of in the world of photography. It was Miethe who constructed the interchangeable camera. The camera’s principle was that three 9x24cm separate photos were to be made one after the other on photo plates with red, green and blue filters over each photo. Using the three separate photos further to view them in full color happened in that they were either made into a slide transparency, viewed through a device called the Chromascope, enabling all three color filtered images to be viewed as one color photo. The last method was viewing the images through a projector, which consisted of three light channels and three lenses and a control mechanism on the back to control each individual color and project it onto the wall.

Miethe was also known for many other firsts. He made a total of three expeditions in his time a s a photographer. Being less a scientist he concentrated on capturing images in color. He took the first color image of the pyramids and valley of the kings in Egypt and the first color shot of an arctic glacier. Miethe was a also a hot air balloon pilot, capturing aerial images of landscape and towns that were to be used militarily during the world war.

Miethe was seemingly a “Jack of all trades” and being so won him friends as well as enemies, but the ones that knew him personally truly saw him as multi-faceted. This exhibition focuses on the personal aspect of Miethe, but another exhibition is forthcoming about Miethe the artist.