Saturday, March 16, 2019

Colorised Photos

These well-colored photos, in a backwards sort of way, illustrate my theory about the cultural change that resulted from the switch from black-and-white to colored photos. It was one of the first things I blogged about.  I used to have lots of original ideas back then.  I'm mostly just responding to my environment now, like a limpet that only feeds on what drifts past.

I don't claim it was the only factor that brought in the new way of looking at things.  But as the improvement in mirrors in northern Italy in the 13th C was a subtle yet powerful force in bringing on the Renaissance, so too did out perceptions change greatly from the early 20thC to late because of this little-noticed factor. When we look at the restored reality of photos about times we regard as less-than-real, it reminds us how inaccurately we regard the past, even a past we attended.

7 comments:

David Foster said...

There were some remarkable color photos of the Russian Empire...real color, not colorized...taken in the early 1900s by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, using a process he developed himself.

https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/gorskii.html

It's very unfortunate that this process never got adopted elsewhere, though easier to understand why given how cumbersome it was.

David Foster said...

Great collection of the Prokudin-Gorskii photos here:

https://twistedsifter.com/2015/04/rare-color-photos-of-the-russian-empire-from-100-years-ago/

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I remember those, and I think posted about them about a decade ago. thanks for the reminder.

Christopher B said...

In one of the articles I read about They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson said getting the old hand-cranked footage to project at the correct speed to produce smooth movement did a lot of the work to make the images look 'real'.

Edith Hook said...

I remember being profoundly shocked by colorized pictures of civil war battle fields. I don't know why, but maybe the black and white photos created a bit more emotional distance.

james said...

I suppose a lot of clothing and skin color cues go away, and our defaults are kind of dull or distant.

On a wild tangent: in Hal Clement's _Cycle of Fire_ one throw-away detail is that the alien is not able to recognize rocks from human photographs, until shown them in black and white, because his color spectrum differs from the human one.

Texan99 said...

What I find odd is how easy it is to produce an attractive B&W image, and how all but the most skillful color snapshots fail to appeal to me almost not at all. Ditto B&W vs. color movies. I don't have the same preference for B&W hand-made still art.