Colorized photos are more "humanized" to me.

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Apr 21, 2008
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#1
A short time ago I posted colourized photos of the inside of the Hindenburg, and I was at a loss at how "real" the whole thing now felt. Well, today I stumbled upon this gallery courtesy of a lot of the fine folks over at /r/ColorizedHistory at Reddit. It's a collection of quite a few "well-known" historical photos that have been colorized. Check it out here:

http://imgur.com/a/Qb8Ts?gallery

Some of these literally give the pictures new life and paint them in a new light. The past doesn't seem so detached any more when I see these. Is it because color is so closely associated with life? When someone dies, they go pale, for example.









Sharon Tate (actress murdered by Manson family)


View from capitol (Nashville, TN) during civil war


Cab Stand @ Madison Square Garden (c.1900)


Broadway in Saratoga Springs (c.1915)


Protest against integration of African-American students in Little Rock (1958)


Many, many, many more at the link.
Some descriptions and colorization credit here: http://www.reddit.com/r/interesting...known_black_and_white_historical_photographs/

What do you guys feel when you see these? Does it feel any different at all? Is the colorization too jarring? I know the paleness makes it feel artificial, but the colorization somehow allows me to relate to these people as fellow humans, not just "historical figures."
 
Feb 11, 2007
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#7
I have like the complete opposite opinion. I find it really fake and off-putting. Same thing with when they do it to films.
Exactly. The first one is the best out of the group yo posted, but the others all suffer from seeming more like paintings than reality to me. Black and white photos feel real to me even if an aspect of the information isn't captured on film.
 
Mar 3, 2012
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#9
Even though they've added colour they are still pretty flat. People's skin tones are not all one colour and they don't consider colour from reflected light. Its so unatural looking.
 

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Feb 24, 2009
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#16
Nah....give me the original over these "enhanced" versions any day. I can relate just fine to B&W.

Also, adding the Sharon Tate one is so weird...you know she was alive when color photography/film were around right?
 
Sep 12, 2013
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#31
I find it fascinating to see colorized photos, but I'll always prefer the black and white version. It is interesting to see the olden times in color, but from an artistic standpoint, I like the original photos more. For those who also feel like these photos seem "off", Tarkovsky shared a similar opinion. Though in his case he was against color completely, not just the process of colorization.

From Wikipedia:
Several of Tarkovsky's films have color or black and white sequences. This first occurs in the otherwise monochrome Andrei Rublev, which features a color epilogue of Rublev's authentic religious icon paintings. All of his films afterwards contain monochrome, and in Stalker's case sepia sequences, while otherwise being in color. In 1966, in an interview conducted shortly after finishing Andrei Rublev, Tarkovsky dismissed color film as a "commercial gimmick" and cast doubt on the idea that contemporary films meaningfully use color. He claimed that in everyday life one does not consciously notice colors most of the time, and that color should therefore be used in film mainly to emphasize certain moments, but not all the time, as this distracts the viewer. To him, films in color were like moving paintings or photographs, which are too beautiful to be a realistic depiction of life.
IIRC, Ebert shared a similar opinion. I find that quite interesting since many of the people I know detest black and white film and photographs.
 
Jun 4, 2011
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#35
Change "race mixing" to "gay marriage" and it would be bang up to date.

Some of these are nice, others look fake. Others look oddly futuristic. The Broadway in Saratoga Springs one looks both old (the carts) and futuristic to me, maybe it's the colours as well as how clean and new everything appears.
 
Mar 10, 2013
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#47
I find some colorization to be pretty cool. For example, colorized WWII photographs give a better sense of how things looked. Even if the colors aren't precisely accurate, they can't still evoke the feel of place and time. On the other hand, black and white portraiture should never be colorized. They depend so much on the careful balance of light and shadow that modifying them would be akin to ruining them. I mean, does anyone think that something like Karsh's portrait of Churchill would be improved by giving it color?
 
Aug 25, 2009
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#48
Love this with older pictures. It really humanizes it for me. I wasn't disconnected really, but it helps my brain make a connection to the reality of it all. The JFK one especially. It's all B&W photos in a history book, but when I see it colorized, it seems more familiar, more human.

It's tough to explain, but it works on some level.

For example (not colorized, but an old bar in NYC I went to)

And then a modern picture

I just can relate to the color photo a lot more. Even modern pictures taken in B&W are harder to relate. I appreciate their artistic view, but I am a little disconnected.
 
Aug 25, 2009
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#50
I find some colorization to be pretty cool. For example, colorized WWII photographs give a better sense of how things looked. Even if the colors aren't precisely accurate, they can't still evoke the feel of place and time. On the other hand, black and white portraiture should never be colorized. They depend so much on the careful balance of light and shadow that modifying them would be akin to ruining them. I mean, does anyone think that something like Karsh's portrait of Churchill would be improved by giving it color?
I think it changes the perspective. But as I mentioned above, it adds a human factor to it (for me) that a B&W can sometimes negate (partially).

 
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