Thursday, February 3, 2011

The first ever colour 'Air Display' photograph

Certainly the first I'm aware of, being one of the first ever air 'shows' and a very early colour image. Although it's a trade show, rather than an outdoor event, it is no less historic, being taken on September 30, at the 1909 Paris Salon, and that's Blériot's monoplane, in which he flew the Channel, only months earlier, front and centre.

Taken by pioneer photographer Léon Gimpel, the process used was called Autochrome Lumière, and is occasionally mistaken for a 'colourising' process, but it is a genuine original colour image. Some of Gimpel's wartime photographs are seen in the AWM website here and some more on a French Great War photography website here (also yet more, including other pre-Great War shots here).

The Flight caption to their front page of the contemporary issue, although from a slightly different spot, identifies the machines in order. It said:
General view of the centre of the Grand Palais, showing the "Stands of Honour." In the middle, immediately under the spherical gas-bag, is the famous Bleriot cross-Channel machine. To its right is the "Rep" monoplane, in the extreme right foreground is the Farman biplane, to the left a French-made Wright flyer, and continuing round to the left the machines are respectively an Antoinette, a Voisin, and another Bleriot. The decorated spherical balloon in the distance is the Montgolfier.
Please send earlier colour photographs to the usual address. The shot above, although widely reproduced I originally found here.

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