Rewind to my childhood, somewhere around 1998 when I was about 12 years old. I had become a huge fan of Nintendo’s Gameboy system, one of my first real video game experiences. For this little handheld videogame system Nintendo released a most interesting accessory: a black & white (four shades of grey) 0.1 megapixel camera capable of storing 30 photos. This was my very first digital camera.
What did the photos look like? Well, I still have the thing! Through a complex series of steps and peripherals, you could get the thing to “print” to a parallel port on a computer and saved as an image, just like this one:
As a 12 year old, I got a very creative idea. How would I be able to take a colour photo from a black and white camera? Hmm. I remember around this age getting really close to a TV to try and figure out how it worked. Dad told me that each bit of colour was made up of red, blue, and green of different intensities, which sparked the whole idea. I also had tons of fun playing with those “3D” pages in certain magazines that required you to use the glasses with one blue lens and one red lens, isolating colours for each eye and producing an image with perceived depth. Blue things showed up black through the red lens, and red things showed up black through the blue lens!
So then, what would happen if I put a filter over the lens of the camera, one red, one blue, and one green to try and make a colour image?
I couldn’t figure out how. I got the three images, but I had no idea how to merge them into one image. It wasn’t until a number of years later that I fully understood image editing on computers and learned how to edit individual colour channels of an image. So, simply using each “filtered” image as a specific red, blue, and green colour channel produces…
Neat, eh? So that’s how you take a colour photograph with a camera that isn’t capable of it. Even though the original images were only four shades of grey, when combined they can produce a wide variety of colours. Once I figured out how to do it, I had some fun and tried a few others. Check them out!