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Authentic colorizations?

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  • Authentic colorizations?

    Another question on my mind has to do with how much (if any) research you do to determine appropriate colors for the time period of the photo you're working on. Re: my grandparents' wedding photo, I like the blue version for the same reason others mentioned: it brings out their eyes and skintones. HOWEVER, it doesn't look like an old photo. In fact, it looks quite modern. The burgundy version appears more appropriate for the time. In fact, if I think about the frame that I have the original photo in right now, I could slip the burgundy version right in and it would look great. I couldn't do that with the blue version.

    So, that brings up the question as to how true to real life you try to make your colorizations. Have any of you done research to know the appropriate colors of the costumes, walls, etc. of the various time periods? And if so, do you attempt to be as "true" to the period as possible, even if another color might be more visually appealing?

    Thanks for any thoughts you might have on this.


  • #2
    Jeaniesa, Speaking strictly for myself, I do not see any thing particularly wrong with colorization as long as, (as you so excellently expressed), it is authentic. I spend alot of time looking at old photos, both BW and colorized. Also researching style and fashion trends by going to the library and digging out info for the 1850 thru to present as to styles, what was "in" and what was "out" at various times. I always insist that the client who wishes a colorization done tell me what colors come closest to what they remember the individuals in the photo wearing as a general rule. For example, did Grandad prefer a dark brown/black suit color with a dark tie or was he "on" for a bit of color? That sort of thing. Jogging the memory a bit can prevent something like giving him a blue suit when in reality he never wore anything but brown or grey tweed. We cant forget that when doing a restore the value lies in accuracy--not what we think would look nice. Your comments about the Burgandy vs. Blue express this idea exquisitly. Also, research on the minutiae of details is, I feel, mandatory. Besides protecting you from possible backlash from an angry client(rare but possible as most folks are just happy to recieve a restore in which they can see something instead of indistinct blurs or faded,cracked images), having that knowledge at your fingertips ,as it were, allows you to share the details with your client as to dating the photo, the type of clothing style and so on. Most folks are thrilled, in my experience, to find out these little details and it sure doesnot hurt your reputation as a knowledgable and reliable business person either. Consider; who would you want to work on a picture of yours--someone who displays a knowledge of the period the photo was taken in and can discuss it with you or someone who says "Funky clothes dude."? Tom


    • #3
      Sometimes I lower the saturation levels on old photos I've colored and that seems to help bring a better look. Bright vivid colors are characteristic of todays photos but the early colorings or hand colorings are more subtle. You might still be able to use the blue you like but more toned down. Give it a try and see if it appears more in line with the age of the photo. Remember, if it's your photo, it only has to please you.


      • #4
        Tom, Thanks for your perspective. I wondered if anyone had done research, and it certainly seems as though you have! Certainly an inspiration! I agree that it's essential to talk with a client to find out what colors they remember and/or prefer. And, I think it's very helpful to be able to provide them with some historical info.

        DJ, I tried lowering the saturation of the blue, but it didn't seem to help make the photo look more "vintage" in this case. Thanks for the tip though. I'm sure I'll have reason to use it in the future!