Otto Pfenninger

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Otto Pfenninger
Pfenninger portrait.jpg
Born (1855-04-05)April 5, 1855
Died March 20, 1929(1929-03-20) (aged 73)
Mitcham, Surrey, England
Nationality Swiss
Known for Photography
Colour photograph taken by Pfenninger in Brighton and registered for copyright in 1910
Three colour lantern slide of children playing on a Brighton beach 6 August 1906

Otto Pfenninger (5 April 1855 – 20 March 1929)[1] was a founding member of the Swiss Photographers Association (1886) and a pioneer of colour photography. He moved to Brighton, England where he developed his career as a photographer.

In 1906, Pfenninger built a special camera to his own design using 3-colour separated plates from which full-colour photographic images could be created. That summer Pfenninger used this tri-colour, single exposure camera to create some of the first colour photographs, using the parks and beaches of Brighton as scenes.[2][3] His camera was based upon J.W. Bennetto's one-shot camera of 1897 in which three separation negatives were obtained at a single exposure. Pfenninger tried to use the same system but found that the refracted image was shorter from top to bottom,[4] his solution was to add a glass plate at the same angle, but opposite direction, to the Bennetto reflector.

In 1921,[5] under the pseudonym O. Reg, he wrote Byepaths of Colour Photography in which he discusses in technical detail, the history and theory of developments in subtractive colour photography.


  1. ^ GRO Croydon Vol. 2a Page 912
  2. ^ Sussex PhotoHistory, accessed 11 August 2011
  3. ^ Science & Society Picture library, accessed 21 August 2011
  4. ^ Brighton and Hove Natural History and Philosophical Society, Abstracts of Papers, Pfenninger lecture 6 December 1907, accessed 17 September 2011
  5. ^ E.P. Dutton & Co., New York. The book bears no publication date and other sources state 1924

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