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Behold the Past come to life! Thanks to the work of such amazing digital artists like Jordan Lloyd, Dana Keller and Sanna Dullaway, you now can experience famous historical (black & white) photographs in a wholly fresh new way.

Visit 22 Words, where you’ll find plenty more examples, along with some other links to similar content.

Let’s see how many Grailers get a sense of deja-vú with these 😉

Link: Realistically colorized historical photos make the past seem incredibly real [36 pictures]


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  • wavecepter56

    Colorized Historical Photos
    There is a world of difference between the colorization of Photographs and Films. I agree 90% that films produced in B&W need not be colorized. Exceptions,in my mind, include the original “King Kong”, “Things to Come” and “She”, all filmed in B&W but benefit when viewed in a colorized edition. At the same time, no one that I am aware of thinks, “The Wizard of OZ” or “Gone with the Wind” would look better if viewed in B&W. The predominance of B&W photographs however, was a technical limitation, imposed by the limitations of the film stock and printing reproduction capabilities of the period. When color photography and printing reproduction became cheap enough, B&W photographs became the reserve of those who chose to show the “Art” of B&W, and chose B&W because it was a conscious decision. I assert that those who colorize historical photographs give us the ability to see their photographic world new again and make us bring their vision to our 21st century eyes.

    • emlong

      How does a B/W photograph
      How does a B/W photograph specifically shot within the parameters available differ from say a B/W lithograph or a pencil drawing? Would you be so blase’ about colorizing a Winslow Homer lithograph?

  • wavecepter56

    Colorized Historical Photographs
    To answer emlong’s question,”Would you be so blase’ about colorizing a Winslow Homer lithograph?”, my answer is, “Yes” as Winslow Homer did it himself in taking his own sketches of: Sharpshooter on Picket Duty (1862), Home, Sweet Home (1863), and Prisoners from the Front (1866) from his own wartime sketches to finished paintings,(or colorize,if I may be so bold). In fact, Homers’ Home Sweet Home, was taken from Sketch, to lithograph, to painting (colorized), and back to to a lithograph of the painting. Regardless, I like colorized pictures, and others don’t, so be it. I just think they are neat.

    • emlong

      If you asked Homer if he
      If you asked Homer if he didn’t mind you colorizing his lithographs he would turn over in his grave. Using sketches as the basis for later color works is not at all the same thing as colorizing a sketch. B/W work uses a very different technique for casting shadows for instance and for composition.. No museum would have an exhibition of colorized black and white work unless it was something the artist himself did, and even then the two bodies of work would stand separately.

      I Remember Mama in Color



      “I am a movie lover, not a “purist” and also a film maker. I have worked in both color and black and white as cinematographer/Director of Photography (DP). it is from my experience and knowledge as a DP that I address the “colorization issue.” interestingly, a lot of people (mostly the younger technological generations who may not know what an 8-track is) don’t realize that black and white films are not like color films that’ve been color shifted to monochrome, like people can do today with editing programs.

      Please bear with me here…I’ll begin with a little breakdown behind the camera. there are several key positions in making a film. the 2 most important behind the camera are the Director and the DP. The director is essentially in charge of pulling a performance from the actors, keeping a cohesive story, maintaining a pace, and communicating the “feeling” of a scene desired to the DP. a director has a story he/she wants to tell, but how that story *visually appears* on the screen is a direct result of not the director but the DP. if not for that key position, there would be _no lights_ to show the actors or the scene (and no camera, but since this is mostly about lighting, i’ll leave the camera skill out). lighting is vital to every film. that lighting is also different for b/w films than for color. it is the DP’s job to know that difference, and make each and every shot as close to believable as possible. 99% of everything you see in a film that looks like believable light (sunlight, candles, firelight, moonlight, or lamplight) is not. It is a skilled DP injecting or throwing light into a scene in a believable way, in a way that the viewers don’t wonder “hey, where’s that light coming from?” viewer’s are supposed to accept what they see as real. when shooting b/w, shadows fall differently because scenes have to be over-lit to show the different shades of grey and deep shadows and light. constructing a visually interesting shot in black and white is literally an art form. (As is shooting in color, but that is not what I am addressing in this post.)

      it is not easy to light a film for black and white. take a moment to pause the film and look at a scene of a black and white film. do you see just black and white? no. there are areas of light and dark, multiple shades of white to black, most in the grey zone. but it’s not just 1 shade of grey, it’s many shades of grey. coloring all those different shades of grey will result in an odd appearing result because it would be hard to match color saturation to the grey scale. take a few minutes to look where the shadows for the characters fall. often you will see several shadows per character. the reason is, in order to achieve a physically detailed face and body full of implied texture and movement to suggest a living being on the screen (not actual body movement, but the life implied on the skin and in the eyes and the glisten of moisture on the lips, etc), on a black and white canvas there have to be lights on everything in order to make them look the way they do. if someone was to light everything equally or evenly, there would be no depth to the scene and quite frankly, it would look flat, like older cartoons, or be too washed out or the opposite, too dark. while films are actually 2-D, the goal of the film makers are to make films appear to have depth, an implied 3rd dimension. totally flat lighting would make the scene look flat, the actors would not seem as “alive”, the shot would have no visual interest, and be a failure on the part of the DP, unless that was what the director had in mind for the shot.

      so, to not sound like a purist, but rather an artist, colorizing black and white films would be the equivalent of someone saying they want to re-do the mona lisa or Sistine chapel in neon colors. they don’t have the “visual image” that the DP had in their mind, nor do they have a fitting canvas to color because the lighting is wrong for it. colorizing a film is literally screwing with someone else’s work that they tried very very hard to perfect.

      we’ve all heard the argument for widescreen versus pan and scan, with the directors of the films saying that pan and scan is an editor, who doesn’t “see” what the director sees mentally, and essentially re-editing the director’s vision of the film, chopping off part of the shot that the director intended the viewer to see as a complete shot experience. the same applies to colorization. it changes what the director had in mind, but it also crosses into *another* artist’s work, the cinematographer/director of photography (DP). Regardless of how “clear” someone has managed to make it, in comparison to the age of early colorization with gray halos and green teeth, the colorization of a film is still, in all actuality, changing the director and DP’s art/work. In many cases, films were *intentionally* made in black and white, even though color was readily available, because the story visually told in black in white often strikes the viewer differently than that of color. Hitchcock’s Psycho is an example of this, as is Paper Moon, and more modern films Dead Man, Good Night and Good Luck.

      to those who feel that B/W classics should be presented “in color” in order to appeal to younger audiences, i believe that thought is short sighted. the reason is because a colorized film originally shot in black and white will always look awkward. that awkwardness, blended with changes in culture, and time, and actors, and action and general content of films, will often deter viewers. i know…i was one of them. i was young when colorized films came out and i remember the first time i saw “it’s a wonderful life”. i sat there and was appalled by what i saw. i couldn’t quit looking at their weirdly colored teeth, or the grey halos, or how the shadows were strange and oddly colored. i felt the whole thing looked stupid and disliked the film because of how it looked! i couldn’t imagine what it was supposed to look like. it ruined a genuinely wonderful classic film for me and i eschewed classics for years because of that experience. only with the birth of vhs rentals, (early) amc and tcm a few years later did i begin to see *real* classic films in the way they were meant to be seen. that’s when i started developing a respect for the craft of film making, and i built a foundation on classic films. i began to notice how black and white films looked different one from another and was able to spot those skilled DPs who truly made masterpieces. (To name a few who perfected B/W film making: Sven Nykvist, Boris Kaufman, Joseph LaShelle, Gregg Toland, Asakazu Nakai, John F. Seitz, Robert Burks, Harry Stradling Sr., Rudolph Maté. There are more, but no need to list all “the greats”, but notice many also made color films as well.)

      there, i’ve spoken my peace. i’ve tried not to sound like a classic prude or purist, because i am not. i am simply a lover of film and a deep respecter of every person behind the camera or maker of what we see who had an image in their mind on how they wanted their work to be seen, from director to director of photography, daVinci to Michelangelo.

      For those interested in seeing great examples of B/W film making done exceptionally well to learn or further your appreciation of B/W films, I’d suggest: The Third Man, Psycho, Baby Doll, 12 Angry Men, Notorious, Streetcar Named Desire, The Devil and Daniel Webster, 8 1/2, Winter Light, Through a Glass Darkly, and Good Night and Good Luck.”

  • wavecepter56

    Colorized Historical Photographs
    I feel that both emlong and I have strayed far from the point that “Realistically colorized historical photos make the past seem incredibly real”. There will always be those individuals who see the past as something sacred that cannot be touched by future generations.I see these pictures of our past once colorized as an opening to our present and future generations to explore how their predecessors saw and dealt with the problems of their day, allowing we of the present to be as the title says “It’s just like Time Traveling” Every other aspect about Motion picture Film Colorization or coloring lithographs is totally jejune to this topic and should not be discussed again.(Although I feel someone else will feel they have to have the last word on this subject.) Thank you red pill junkie for providing a link to these pictures, it is one of the reasons I like to read dailygrail.com.

  • Doug Skinner

    a caveat from Satie
    To me, the photos look colorized, rather than in color. They don’t bring the past more alive to me; they add another barrier, since the color doesn’t look real. I don’t really care if photos are colorized, as long as the originals are still available, but I do think b & w photos look better in b & w, and color in color.

    In the 1890s, the composer Erik Satie was photographed in what looked like a gray velvet suit. His biographers mentioned it, and a record of his music was even called “The Gray Velvet Gentleman.” Later, historians discovered paintings from the time that show the suit was mustard yellow — it just photographed gray. A caveat against trusting tinted photos!

    • emlong

      I have nothing against
      I have nothing against colorization per se as long as it is made clear that the photos have been doctored from the originals and have departed from whatever art or artifice was intended in the originals. Colorization may be an “improvement” in one narrow sense, but most pre-color photographers would not be happy about what was being done unless they themselves did it or supervised the doing of it.

  • Xibalba

    Colorised photos
    Wow – really makes them more ‘real’ somehow. Makes you wonder why they didn’t invent colour photography sooner. Or smart phones for that matter.

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