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Historic photos should sepia or black and white or colour?

“It is the modern age, we are all aware of colour, why look on the past with a sepia tinged fog? lets colour it like it should be, vibrant and fun!”

 

All of our Homo sapien lives we have lived life in colour, up until the invention of photography, where all of a sudden it started to be recorded in black and white, or rather sepia.
What was it about the Sepia that people loved so much?

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The negatives and plates and various other media that captured the images, mainly showed a grey, and black and white image. One way or another these were made into positive images and were more often than not tinted sepia!

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It seemed right from the beginning of photographic time, we were doctoring our images to make them brown. Why? The yellow brown seems to lift the image from the page and warm it up giving a more pleasing look. I’ve tested this and added my own version, warming the tones and by adding a blue tint to the blacks and a warm tint to the white. This does lift the image from the page. All brown I’m not so sure about.

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Question. So should we change all the old photos we restore to black and white to be authentic?

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Question. Or should we colour them all to be accurate?

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It’s my opinion that we should colour all the old photos as we never lived in black and white. Colouring them would require research and access to archives of artifacts, clothing and paints, traditional colours and colour pallets. It would educate many about how colourful life was and the we didn’t live in black and white. Granted there were some very dark times, where everything could have looked all brown during the industrial revolution but even there was still colour!

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It is the modern age, we are all aware of colour, why look on the past with a sepia tinged fog? lets colour it like it should be, vibrant and fun!

old photos in colour

Old photos in colour, ruins or revives?

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The school is out whether colouring photos make them better or make them worse. It is my view the scene that would have been captured, would have been in colour, we didn’t live in black and white! So why not colour it?

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This image is 5 Sailors dressed in USS New York outfits 1896.

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Th colouring should be done with as much research as possible and not just guess colours. I looked up the brand the sewing machine, sailor suits, ship colour (grey) sorry it looks a little blue, plain board deck, no paint there.

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Calling all ancient gun experts  The only thing i could not find any information on was the big gun in the background. If anyone knows what it was or what colour it would have been, please let me know. I tried wiki and “ships guns USS New York” but nothing of great substance came about.

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Old photo in colour. 1896 USS New York Sailors

Old photo in colour. 1896 USS New York Sailors

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Image credit to Shorpy.com

Clarissa Harlow Barton 1865 in colour (Clara)

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I found this very high resolution image of Clara Barton and could not resist colouring it. I produced a quick illustration to show the colours I applied and what order. There are 3 shades of green in the dress to give it punch, 3 shades of brown in her hair, the clock also has three shades of gold too.

Clara Barton according to Wikipedia

Clarissa Harlowe “Clara” Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian. At a time when relatively few women worked outside the home, Barton built a career helping others. One of her greatest accomplishments was founding the American Red Cross. This organization helps victims of war and disasters. She was never married, but had a relationship with John J. Elwell.

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Clara Barton 1865 now in colour, old photos coloured bring history to life!

Clara Barton 1865 now in colour, old photos coloured bring history to life!

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Having examined the black and white plate positive, it seems to me that there is no way her dress was black. On the net you see it restored to a very dark tone, but here it features a definite lighter grey, indicating a lighter colour. Green was another option, so that’s the colour i opted for.

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Clara Barton according to Wikipedia

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Clarissa Harlowe “Clara” Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian. At a time when relatively few women worked outside the home, Barton built a career helping others. One of her greatest accomplishments was founding the American Red Cross. This organization helps victims of war and disasters. She was never married, but had a relationship with John J. Elwell.

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Clara Barton 1865 progress of colouring the image

Clara Barton 1865. Left image – just he coloured layers without the image underneath.

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During the making of this image 34 colours were used on separate layers. If  there is anyone who is a historian or knows about period clothing and colours, please get in touch and correct anything you see is wrong.

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Colour Paulette used to make the image

Colour Paulette used to make the image “Clara Barton Coloured” 34 colours in all.

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