Magic Memories


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Photo Slides – A Fascinating Story

We’ve all seen photo slides in our grandparents’ houses or in school classrooms. It was so fun to sit and watch each photo pop up on a wall as they clicked through a carousel projector. You might remember another version of photo slides, View master goggles. These goggles would be strapped to your head, and you could scroll through a set of backlit photographs one at a time as they would appear in the goggle lenses.

Slides were pretty cool back in the day!
Before movies, before television, all we had were still photos. For entertainment purposes, people would gather around and watch a slideshow of photo slides projected onto the nearest wall. A genius idea, right? But how did those little photos surrounded in cardboard frames come to be? Dive in with us as we look at the history of photo slides, slide projectors, and photographic colouring processes.

Magic lanterns
In the 17th century, glass slides and magic lanterns were used as a prominent method of entertainment. Glass slides with images painted on them would be projected by magic lanterns, an early form of a slide projector, and showed to audiences. These magic lanterns and slides are the earliest known forms of photo slides and slide projectors. For over 100 years, these magic lanterns and slides were the only projection style machinery available.

The Hyaltype
In 1850, brothers William and Frederick Langenheim developed a new form of slide technology called the Hyalotype. A Hyalotype was a glass side that contained a positive photographic image copied from a negative. This was the first photographic slide, rather than a painted slide like what was originally used for the magic lanterns. The Langenheims’ Hyalotype could be projected via lantern and showed to audiences. It was the first time photographic images could be projected.

The first colour slides
The earliest commercially known photographic colouring process was called the Lumiere Autochrome process. This was an additive process that used a panchromatic emulsion on a thin glass plate that had been previously coated with dyed potato starch grains. German company Agfa and British company Dufaycolour also used similar processes to create colour photographs in slides. These colour slides were a major update compared to the black-and-white Haplotypes of the 1800s.

The decline in popularity
In the 1960s and 1970s, colour slide film became more widely available, and this led to a surge in popularity for photographic slides. They were commonly used for family vacations, travel photography, and educational presentations.

However, with the rise of digital photography in the 1990s and 2000s, photographic slides began to decline in popularity. Many photographers switched to digital cameras and stopped using film altogether, and digital projectors replaced traditional slide projectors.

Today, photographic slides are still used by some photographers and artists, but they are less common than they once were. However, they remain an important part of photographic history, and they continue to be studied and appreciated by collectors and historians.

So when it comes to displaying your photo slides, there’s no better way than to create a photo slide show! If you have a difficulty with this, then we recommend getting your old slides digitised with our slide scanning service to immortalise your memories.

Give us a call to help you with your needs!