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Is your perception of the past defined by grainy shades of grey?

By cbatt in MLP
Mon May 07, 2001 at 08:26:30 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

If so, you will want to take a look a this colorful display currently at the United States Library of Congress.

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Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, photographer to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia around the turn of last century (1900-1915), "developed an ingenious photographic technique in order for these images to be captured in black and white on glass plate negatives, using red, green and blue filters." The photographs were originally meant to be projected as color slides, but the Library of Congress (which purchased the collection from the photographer's heirs) has reconstructed the original color images and has put them on display in digital and printed form.


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Is your perception of the past defined by grainy shades of grey? | 12 comments (10 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
That's amazing. (3.37 / 8) (#3)
by rebelcool on Sun May 06, 2001 at 10:48:20 PM EST

Every pic of WWII and before ive seen is in B&W. amazing how beautiful and simple looking russia was before the communists took it over.

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well (4.00 / 2) (#4)
by spacejack on Sun May 06, 2001 at 11:00:13 PM EST

He was funded by the Czar...

[ Parent ]
beg my pardon fo politics in /etc... (none / 0) (#12)
by silpol on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 02:59:43 PM EST

... but I can't resist. Have you ever been in Russia during Soviet time? Have you ever seen what it is now, after that fall of USSR? Do you know how many people has been suffering on that fall, or even died from that? I'm not selling communism here, rather trying to ask you about facts. And, yes, I was born and grown in USSR, and, yes, I've never seen that ugly-looking-Soviet-Russia during that time, rather see it now.

[ Parent ]
+1 (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by axxeman on Mon May 07, 2001 at 05:50:37 AM EST

Now THAT's what I call a hack!

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest

The gray past (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by Alias on Mon May 07, 2001 at 05:52:55 AM EST

Recently (June 6, 2000), the French TV broadcasted a two-hour documentary on WWII. The documentary was entirely made of live footage dating from the pre-war and the war times, most of it shot by amateurs.

All of it was in colour.

The whole point was to show that, images in colour convey a sense of "now", whereas black and white is a thing of the past. Very impressive.


Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon
Very very very cool. (5.00 / 4) (#7)
by WWWWolf on Mon May 07, 2001 at 09:38:34 AM EST

When I was a kid, I watched moves starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy... and one day, I asked my parents if the world really was black and white when they made those movies. Of course, it wasn't, they replied - but I still couldn't get it.

I wasn't alone. One day, my little sister asked the same question from them.

I saw this article in The Other Site and Memepool... and this was stunning. My first thought? "Okay, those are actors, this couldn't possibly be photographed in 1910s!" ... but... it was. No level of acting, costuming and staging can recreate the past at this level!

This sort of stuff cannot be described in words. This was probably the most moving experience I've had recently!

Paintings from the era or modern color movies set in the time just don't have this sort of... depth.

So, is anyone working on the time machine? Producing more detailed color photos like this would be greatly needed! =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

Some more colourful history (4.50 / 2) (#8)
by horslin on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:22:50 AM EST

I came across more colorized pictures a while ago, however they are not done in the same process as these ones. These photos were done in photoshop, and I assume they must have deduced the colours for clothes and such. The site navigation is horrible however, and in no time I had a slew of browser windows open, but it's still worth a look:

"To be born a gentleman is an accident. To die one, an achievement."
Pretty crappy (none / 0) (#9)
by fluffy grue on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:36:22 PM EST

I looked at some of those, and they were horrible. They reeked of just being sloppily colorized in Photoshop, and that, IMO, only makes a mockery of the history they're trying to "revitalize." It's like bad Ted Turner movie colorizations.

FWIW, there was already some conversation about this stuff in a diary entry.
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[ Parent ]

I am that sites owner (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by 333maxwell on Mon May 07, 2001 at 08:46:22 PM EST

First off, I would like to thank the feller with this site for the link and kind words.. the navagation could and will be better, but I am not a web guy.. I am just winging it the best I know how. If he visited it awhile ago, he might be suprised to see that I have made it much more easy to get around since may 5th. So thanks for the link man, appreciate it.

That being said...

Well, darn the critics anyways. Perhaps I should explain a few things. The site encompases every colorization I have done. some are really good, some are my very first ones, and well, live and learn. That being said, I should elaborate a bit perhaps.

What I do is not to "revitalize" history. But a double take never hurt anyone, especialy kids who find black and white distracting (I personaly like the beauty of black and whites, and in no way think I make them "better" by colorizing. What I do is an obsesive neurotic compulsive fixation to just be a fly on the wall of history, and interpet it in color as best as possible. I use no guidlines, just feelings and my novice academics in history. I only look at the picture, let it speak to me, and work it from there. No big technical secrets, no magic, no filters, pretty painstaking process actualy.. but bottom line, I am just a guy who likes to color historical pictures. I only put the site up because I figured I would share the stuff because I was getting quite an archive, as a result I have been contracted to restore and colorize for a few schools and one museum.

See, it isnt as easy as "coloring" a picture. First off you have to restore most of them. Some of these photos were in such bad shape so as to be almost completly rebuilt including arms, hands, eyes ect.

Now you could go to one of my first pictures, like Lincoln at gettysburg, or Red Baron and ground crew.. and think "these kinda suck" (but I wasnt about to exclude them, in fact as a result of the baron picture, I have met a wonderful woman from Germany whos father flew with him, and she has these fantastic never before seen, invaluable photos of the two and I am helping her restore them).. but go in and look at the more recent ones (I have only been doing this color thing for 4 months now... gimmie a bit of space) Like Dwight David Eisenhower, or big 3 at Yalta.. and if the critics think they could be better, then by all means, have at it. I wasnt contracted by the History of Photography Museum to do the Eisnehower because they thought we would all waste each others time. (the original 20 x25 I did now hangs in a government building in new york). It is some of my best work, if you think it stinks, then go no further.

That being said, many people do enjoy the work, and it is all just for fun.. if you dont like them cool, if you do like them, cool.. if the critics can do better, then put em up.. hell, I will feature them on the site, give em top billing, I already feature 2 other colorists, one a lil girl from Australia whos Lincoln is featured on my front page.. the more the merrier.... Teachers and librarians have contacted me for permission to use the photos as visual aids in their studys, kids dig em. Have the critics even looked at Chief Joseph, or indians on horseback, charlie chaplin and edna Purviance? Very easy to pick out the bad and ignore the good perhaps? I mean if I was getting paid for this, I expect the critique would come more easy for me, than someone telling me my little hobby is crappy.

Well, thats where I am coming from.. I know if I honestly thought they "sucked" anything I just wrote wouldnt change my mind. But I would probably dig into the volume of work before I was so rash with my judgment of how someone spends their free time.. I do know you could do a lot worse off in the random website pick.

I am no historian, I am no artist, I am no graphics professional (a few side jobs but hey), I am just a guy who likes to color historical photos, (The man driving the tank in the 756th tank battalion is one contacts father who asked me to colorize it, and the sailor on the monitor ship in 1916 was a mans father, and he asked me to colorize it.. it makes em happy, helps keep it alive) and until now, never heard a bad word about it.. oh well, I guess I should be more tough, but it is only for cheap thrills.

chas_holman@yahoo.com http://homestead.com/333maxwell/history.html http://sites.netscape.net/statesgovernment

[ Parent ]
I applaud the effort. (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by cbatt on Tue May 08, 2001 at 12:16:16 PM EST

However, I want to point out that the colorizations look like colorizations. I'm not trying to bring you down or anything, because I can only guess at how difficult it is to even achieve that sort of effect, and there's no way I could do it. It's just that there's a world of difference between a colorization of black and white photos, even a very good one, and the sort of color restoration of photographs originally meant to be displayed in color.

The difference is in the details. The flesh tones. The light and shadow. Color saturation. Lots of tiny things.

However, your Eisenhower picture really is fantastic.

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[ Parent ]

Is your perception of the past defined by grainy shades of grey? | 12 comments (10 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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