My Altered View On Vintage Photograph Colorization


I had originally planned on sharing a post today on this same topic, however, it was a bit different than this post because I was more in opposition. That is until my brother, Tom, ironically forwarded me an email over the weekend containing some incredible vintage photographs that had been colorized. Thanks, Tom! And for some reason, they altered my view because these photographs were so beautifully processed.

To be honest, I have always preferred vintage photographs in their original black and white or sepia tone because it gives the images a 'times gone by' look and feel.

And that's also how I feel about old black and white movies and TV shows like, I Love Lucy.

I know Lucille Ball had red hair that was referenced to quite often in the sitcom, yet it didn’t ever bother me that I couldn’t see the red. In fact, when I looked at her hair in this colorized photograph which I found online earlier in the week and then placed it next to a black and white photograph, it seemed odd because I always saw her looking more like the Lucy Ricardo on the left.


Even to this day, I still prefer watching I Love Lucy and all my favorite old movies in black and white.

But all that aside, allow me to take you on a photographic journey into the past, where black and white meets colorization.

"Color helps to give a little bit of a glimpse into the world as it was from long ago, an opportunity to see perhaps something like what the photographer himself saw through his lens. 

Color can force us to instantly see an old photograph with a new perspective, and make it seem as if the past it portrays wasn't that long ago after all." Dana Keller

Please enjoy...


Monet, 1923


Helen Keller meeting comedian Charlie Chaplin, 1918


British soldiers returning from the front, 1939


Country store in Gordonton, North Carolina, 1939


Girls delivering ice, 1918


Boys buying flowers, 1908


Red Hawk of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on horseback, 1905.


Albert Einstein, 1921


Brooklyn Bridge, 1904


A car crash in Washington D.C., around 1921.


President Lincoln with Major General McClernand and Allan Pinkerton at Antietam in 1862.


Have a colorful Monday, y'all!
X


45 comments

  1. You are absolutely right Ron! The pictures with the color added to them just do not have that VINTAGE feel to them! It is lost...gone. Hope you are enjoying your long weekend!! Well...I hope you have a long weekend...not sure...due to the retail thing!! xo Jeanne and the girls

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  2. I rather like the picture of the ice carriers. Sometimes colour detracts from the actual photograph and is not always easy on the eye. I remember a treasured black and white family photograph being subjected to the addition of colour and I hated it. Modern colorization is more professional but I still think the original is always the best. Interesting topic, Ron, as always x

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  3. Wow, Ron, these photos are incredible! I, too, prefer old B&W movies to be left in their original state. But these images let us look through time to see how close and connected we are to the past.

    Everyone thinks their particular era is unique, but looking at these photos from different times, you can see that we're all the same--and that's just fine!



    Thanks for sharing, buddy! Have a picture perfect week!

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  4. Ron, my faves are the ones of the girls delivering ice and the boys buying flowers. I love the expressions on their faces! Why is that people in vintage photographs seem to have such character in their faces? And they tend to look older than what they are.


    I, too, prefer old photographs left in their original black and white state, but I have to say that these colorized ones are beautiful. There is just enough color added to keep them vintage.


    Interesting topic, Ron. Have a wonderful week and Happy Labor Day x

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  5. "My fave is the country store, even though it looks more like a painting than a photo."

    Yes, isn't that one FABULOUS? There is so much to look at in that photograph. And you're right, it does look more like a painting than a photo.

    " I do prefer the Lucy photos in B&W. The color makes them look fake to me. Did people really wear colors that bright back then?"



    I agree, and that's exactly what I thought too. Colorization has come a long way since it was first created because if you look these photographs, the color seems more natural.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a great week and Happy Labor Day!


    X

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  6. Hey there Jeanne!

    "The pictures with the color added to them just do not have that VINTAGE feel to them! It is lost...gone."



    I agree. However, there is something about these colorized photographs in particular that I like. The seem to be colorized with just the right amount of color and still remain vintage.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a great week and a Happy Labor Day. Yes, I have to work later today but that's okay because I had yesterday off.


    X to you and the girlz!

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  7. As a web designer, I LOVE color, so colorized photos, to me, really stand out. I remember watching The Wizard of Oz as a little kid and being totally enamored when the black-and-white changes over to COLOR!

    I know those old black-and-white "I Love Lucy" shows are classic, and I wouldn't want to change that. However, adding color to them really makes the characters and scenery POP, if you know what I mean. I think most of us today are used to seeing things in color -- movies, magazines, TV -- and for that reason, the black-and-white, while nostalgic, appears almost bland. Can you see what I mean?

    Great post topic today -- love the photo of Red Hawk and the car crash. Hope you're having a super weekend and don't have to work!

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  8. Good morning Valerie!

    "I rather like the picture of the ice carriers."

    Me too! Isn't that photograph awesome? I remember my mother telling me about how when she was a young girl that refrigerators back then all used ice to keep them cold.

    " I remember a treasured black and white family photograph being subjected to the addition of colour and I hated it. Modern colorization is more professional but I still think the original is always the best."



    You're right, modern colorization is more professional and realistic. And there was something about these photographs in particular that I thought was done very well. But I must say, overall I prefer the original.


    Have a lovely week, dear lady. And thanks so much for stopping by!


    X to you and Joe!

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  9. Hey there Rob!

    "I, too, prefer old B&W movies to be left in their original state. But these images let us look through time to see how close and connected we are to the past."

    I agree and I love how you said that. And I also feel that these photographs are colorized so beautifully.


    Btw, I thought of you when I saw the one of the Brooklyn Bridge!

    "Everyone thinks their particular era is unique, but looking at these photos from different times, you can see that we're all the same--and that's just fine!"



    Great point!


    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a super week and Happy Labor Day!

    X

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  10. Hola Denise!

    Aren't those two photographs stellar?

    " Why is that people in vintage photographs seem to have such character in their faces? And they tend to look older than what they are."

    HA! I know exactly what you mean because whenever I look at vintage photographs of my family, I think the same thing. Everyone seemed to look older than what they were - even the children!

    "I, too, prefer old photographs left in their original black and white state, but I have to say that these colorized ones are beautiful. There is just enough color added to keep them vintage."



    I agree. The colorization in these photographs has been done with such a fine touch.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Happy Labor Day and have a super week!


    X

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  11. Hey there Debbie!

    " I remember watching The Wizard of Oz as a little kid and being totally enamored when the black-and-white changes over to COLOR!"

    OMG, me tooooo! When Dorothy opened the door to her house and entered OZ, I remember thinking, WOW! And that's when colorization first started in films so it was so impressive.

    " I think most of us today are used to seeing things in color -- movies, magazines, TV -- and for that reason, the black-and-white, while nostalgic, appears almost bland. Can you see what I mean?"

    Yes, I do what you mean. Great point!

    And I also think that colorization has come a long way since it was first created because now it looks more natural.

    "love the photo of Red Hawk and the car crash."

    Aren't they super? If you're interested, please visit the link I shared on Dana Keller because you can view her before and after photographs.



    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a great week and Happy Labor Day! Yes, I have to work today but that's okay because I had yesterday off.


    X

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  12. I don't get the snobbery surrounding colourisation, as long as it's done sensitively.
    Photographers of all types take photos in black and white all the time, which is portraying the world in a dishonest way, (if you really want to be picky) and yet that is seen as "arty". So how can it be that adding back in the colours that were actually present when a picture was taken can be seen as in some way "fake"?
    These are really nicely done, I especially like the car crash and the shot of Einstein.

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  13. Wow....talk about bridging that gap. Amazing photos. There's just the right touch of softness to preserve the vintage feel. I particularly liked the girls with the ice. They got the ice just right...without the glaring shine that ice didn't possess and with just enough of the soft, muted hues. Fantastic photo. And I liked Albert....and the general store, mostly cuz I had no idea the Chesterfield ad was that lovely colour. NowI'll have to research to see that it's accurate! LOL. Awesome craftmanship, the work on these, though.

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  14. "Photographers of all types take photos in black and white all the time, which is portraying the world in a dishonest way, (if you really want to be picky) and yet that is seen as "arty". "

    Awesome point, Dale! And it's funny you mentioned that because I was thinking the same thing. We can take color and change it into black and white, so why can't we do the opposite?

    "These are really nicely done, I especially like the car crash and the shot of Einstein."

    Aren't these stunning? I'll tell you, seeing these colorized photographs really changed my view on colorization. And these are done so well, with just the right about of color. As you said...."sensitively."

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a super week!

    X

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  15. " Amazing photos. There's just the right touch of softness to preserve the vintage feel."

    I totally agree, Mel! The colorization in these photographs is flawlessly done.

    " I particularly liked the girls with the ice. They got the ice just right...without the glaring shine that ice didn't possess and with just enough of the soft, muted hues. Fantastic photo."



    Yes, that's one of my favorites as well!



    If you're interested, please visit the website link I shared on Dana Keller because you can view the "before" photographs of the ones I shared here.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, dear lady. Have a fabulous week and Happy Labor Day!


    X

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  16. Ron, these photographs are amazing! I am particularly drawn to the one of the country store. I love the rocks holding up the porch. The whole photograph tells a story. I also like the photograph of President Lincoln. I don't know whether it's because of that hat, but he was one tall guy.


    I see nothing wrong in colorization as long as it's done well. And these are exceptional!


    Cool post, dude!

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  17. " I am particularly drawn to the one of the country store. I love the rocks holding up the porch. The whole photograph tells a story."

    Matt, I agree...the whole photograph tells a story. When I first saw that photograph, I sat there looking at all the detail. Yes, not only the rocks holding up the porch, but also the tree trunk pillars holding up the roof. Are they not faaaaaabulous?

    " I also like the photograph of President Lincoln. I don't know whether it's because of that hat, but he was one tall guy."

    HA! I just looked it up online....he was 6'4" Tall indeed!

    "I see nothing wrong in colorization as long as it's done well. And these are exceptional!"

    I agree, exceptional!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, buddy. Have a super week. And Happy Labor Day!

    X

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  18. i dislike colorization of original b/w photos and films because the beauty of b/w is depth and detail; the manipulation of light and shadow - it requires artistry and well as technique, both behind the lens and in the darkroom. With colorization photos and film look flat, and fake. Way back in 1842 (photography as we know it only dates back to 1839 or so...) a way to color photographs was patented - it was done by hand - no surprise. I've seen some old photos that were colorized at the time the photo was taken and they retain all their charm...in most case the entire photo was not done but certain details were highlighted.

    While I like the convenience of digital photos, and the ability to manipulate the photos after the fact, this old lady is still more wowed by the masters of the darkroom.

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  19. It's funny, because I didn't think I would like old black and white photos colour tinted, but I have to say, these look really good. They are very well done and it does bring a whole new life to the photos :)

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  20. I love this! And its funny when i started reading I really felt I would be on the black and white side of this. I love my black and white photos. But by the end I realized that color really does breathe some life into the photos that I did not expect. I love the boys buying flowers photo! Great post Ronnie :)

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  21. " I didn't think I would like old black and white photos colour tinted, but I have to say, these look really good. They are very well done and it does bring a whole new life to the photos :)"

    My feelings exactly, Babs! When I first decided to share this post it was going to be about how much I disliked colorization. But then, after my brother ironically sent me these photographs in an email, I have to say that I was very impressed by how well they were done and how realistic the color looked.

    Aren't they great photographs?

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a lovely week!

    X to you and Mo!

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  22. " I love my black and white photos. But by the end I realized that color really does breathe some life into the photos that I did not expect. "


    My sentiments exactly, Shae! I was very impressed by how well these photographs were colorized. It 's the perfect amount of color that still keeps them looking vintage.


    Isn't the photograph of the boys buying flowers PRICELESS?


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a super week and I hope you had a great Labor Day.


    X

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  23. Hey there Grace!

    " the beauty of b/w is depth and detail; the manipulation of light and shadow - it requires artistry and well as technique, both behind the lens and in the darkroom."

    Yes, black and white takes much more talent because it's much harder to shoot than color (both in photographs and films).

    And I shared, I MUCH prefer black and white over color, however, I have to say that I was very impressed by how well these photographs were colorized. I think it's just the right amount of color to keep them looking vintage.

    "I've seen some old photos that were colorized at the time the photo was taken and they retain all their charm...in most case the entire photo was not done but certain details were highlighted."

    Yes, in fact, I have a photograph of my mother that was colorized that way. Only certain details where highlighted.

    "While I like the convenience of digital photos, and the ability to manipulate the photos after the fact, this old lady is still more wowed by the masters of the darkroom."



    Me as well. Photographers like, Ansel Adams, who did all his manipulation in a darkroom.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, Grace. Have a great week. Hope your Labor Day was faaaaaabulous!

    X

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  24. Ron, I am not one for colorized photographs or movies because very often they look fake. But I have to say that I really like the way these photographs were done. Even though some of them date back to the early 1900's, they still hold their vintage feel with the color added. I love the one of the car crash in DC. The color in that is so beautiful.


    Great topic, Ron. You always come up with such interesting things to share. I don't know how you do it.

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  25. Hey ho Robert!

    "I am not one for colorized photographs or movies because very often they look fake. But I have to say that I really like the way these photographs were done. "

    I thought the same thing, yet aren't these photographs done so well? Seeing these really altered my view on colorization.

    "Even though some of them date back to the early 1900's, they still hold their vintage feel with the color added."

    My sentiments exactly. I don't think the colorization of these photos distracts from their original form. In fact, I think it adds something to them because the colors look like vintage colors.

    If you're interested in viewing some of the 'before' shots of these, please click on the Dana Keller link where you will find them. You can also view many others. She does such beautiful work.

    Thanks a bunch for stopping by, buddy. Have a terrific week. Happy Labor Day!

    X

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  26. I do like all of these photographs. Yes, many of them in vintage form would be amazing too, but the Monet and country stores ones just seem to need color... right? I think so. Generally, I don't like 'colorized' versions of t.v. shows and films. We saw a few minutes of a Gilligan's Island episode the other night and it just wasn't interesting at all. The washed out fake color was distracting. Some of the first episodes were B&W, and even though they aren't my favorite ones, they still should have left them alone because having the new episodes with all the bright colors to compare them too just left the other version feeling so flat.
    Have a great week, Ron.

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  27. Hiya Mary!

    " Yes, many of them in vintage form would be amazing too, but the Monet and country stores ones just seem to need color... right? I think so."

    Yes, I agree. I think the color added to the Monet is brilliant because it makes the paintings come alive. It blows me away by how accurately she colorized those two paintings. And the one of the country store is just so faaaaaaaaaabulous!

    "Generally, I don't like 'colorized' versions of t.v. shows and films. We saw a few minutes of a Gilligan's Island episode the other night and it just wasn't interesting at all."

    That's exactly how I feel about the I Love Lucy show. The color added to some of the episodes I've seen, seemed very fake - kind of like the color in the above 'after' photo of Lucy Ricardo.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, neighbor. Have a maaahvelous week!

    X

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  28. Some things are just better in black and white-I Love Lucy is one of them! I admit it is interesting to see some things in color, but they just don't emit the same feeling as black and white.

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  29. petra michelleSeptember 02, 2014

    These photos are stunning, Ron! Monet, Lincoln, Einstein, Sioux Indian...I don't think I can say I have a favorite because each has its own beautiful and unique place in history. The photo of Helen Keller touching Charlie Chaplin's face is extremely moving.
    Although I know, intellectually, that these were not taken in color time periods, my brain is accepting them and embracing them. I'm not fighting it with the "purist" attitude of b&w remaining b&w.
    Thank you so for sharing, Ron! Absolutely beautiful! :))

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  30. "Some things are just better in black and white-I Love Lucy is one of them!"

    Yup, I'd have to agree with you, Suzi.

    Thanks a bunch for stopping by, my friend. Hope you had a super holiday weekend!

    X

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  31. Hello there Petra!

    You're so right, each one of these has its own beautiful and unique place in history and colorized exquisitely!

    " The photo of Helen Keller touching Charlie Chaplin's face is extremely moving."

    OMG, yes, isn't it extremely moving? I remember watching a documentary on Charlie Chaplin in which it shared about the time he met Helen Keller and said that he was SO moved to meet her.

    "Although I know, intellectually, that these were not taken in color time periods, my brain is accepting them and embracing them. I'm not fighting it with the "purist" attitude of b&w remaining b&w."



    You know, that's exactly how I felt when I looked at these photo as well. As I said, I had originally planned on sharing a post in heavy opposition to colorization, however, these photographs altered my perception. I think these images are just beautiful.


    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Hope your holiday weekend was faaaabulous.


    X

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  32. Mark PetruskaSeptember 02, 2014

    I honestly don't know how I feel about these, Ron. I really like the country store - all those vintage signs just *pop* with the addition of color! But I think many of the other photos lose that timeless quality you talked about. As for Lucy, I believe her later sitcoms were in color, so that doesn't bother me as much. But like you, I agree - I never NEEDED to see her red hair.


    Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day weekend!

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  33. Mark, isn't the one of the country store stunning? And as Bijoux shared, it looks more like a painting than a photograph.

    What's been so interesting about this post is reading everyone's feelings on how they view these photographs. In all honesty, I'm surprise that I like them because I didn't I think I would.

    "As for Lucy, I believe her later sitcoms were in color, so that doesn't bother me as much."

    Yes, that's right...her later sitcoms were in color. But it's funny, because as much as I was a Lucille Ball fan, I didn't care for her later sitcoms so I didn't watch them much. I was such a huge I Love Lucy fan; not only because of Lucy, but also Ethel, Fred and Ricky. OMG...what a great cast!

    Much thanks for stopping by, bud. Have a fantabulous week!

    X to you and Tara!

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  34. "...do you know I actually like the black and white ones from I Love Lucy much more than the colorized? BUT... the ones under that I LOVE. I wonder why the b/w Lucy one is my favorite over the color one."

    Katherine, I feel the exact same way! Perhaps it's because we REMEMBER her on I Love Lucy being in black and white so strongly, that the colorized one looks freaky. Also too, I think colorization has come a long way since then, and the ones under that are done with a more natural look.

    " I think they show us history in a way that is almost bringing the dead back to life. It is like using a time machine... you always see those pictures in black and white and then all of the sudden your eyes are able to see something almost impossible."



    I feakin' LOVE how you said that...."like using a time machine." Brilliant! And it's true!


    Much thanks for stopping by, my friend. Hope you had a terrific holiday weekend. Happy Belated Labor Day!


    X

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  35. Thomas (AbbiesTreeHouse)September 03, 2014

    The pictures from my childhood are like my memories: faded, grainy, mostly in black-and white.

    It's going to be different for the next generation. They're memories are preserved in digital clarity- with audio and video- and will never become worn or faded.

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  36. I love these! You found some incredible photographs. I think B&W and color tell different stories and not one is better than the other...just different. :-) Sorry I haven't been around. I really do hope to get back to a normal(ish) schedule soon. Miss you!!

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  37. Greetings Thomas!

    Welcome, and thank you for stopping by. Nice to meet you!

    "The pictures from my childhood are like my memories: faded, grainy, mostly in black-and white."

    Yes, mine too. I was born in 1955, so all the photos I have of my early childhood are in black and white.

    "It's going to be different for the next generation. They're memories are preserved in digital clarity- with audio and video- and will never become worn or faded."



    Yup, you are so right. In as much as I first resisted going 'digital', I can really see some of the HUGE advantages. And preservation is one of them.


    Have a great week and please stop by anytime. Also, if you have a blog, please leave your URL so that I can visit.

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  38. Hey there Angelia!

    I think you pretty much nailed it in saying...

    " I think B&W and color tell different stories and not one is better than the other...just different. :-)"



    You're right!


    It's been a very busy summer for so many bloggers, so I understand, my friend!


    Thanks so much for stopping by and have a great rest of your week! Hope you and your family had a Happy Labor Day!


    X

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  39. This is a hard decision. As one who loves color, sometimes I think the color in old BW shots is too saturated and lends to look fake. But some of these are very well done and while I LUV black and white shots, these still retain their vintage charm…probably because of the subject matter. I like I Love Lucy in it's original black and white as well.

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  40. Ron, I wanted to let you know that I visited Dana Keller's site and was very impressed by the before and afters. I really liked the one of the newspaper boy selling papers with the headline about the Titanic. And you're right, she does beautiful work!

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  41. "I really liked the one of the newspaper boy selling papers with the headline about the Titanic."


    Robert, it is so freaking ironic you mentioned that photograph because it was one of my favorites of the group. Isn't she very talented?


    Glad you enjoyed and thanks for stopping back to let me know.

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  42. Those pictures were colored very well. Technology marches on. When they first started "coloring" movies, etc. they sucked! LIke Lucy's hair in that one picture!

    The ones you've shown are truly beautiful but in a way, they have been brought to the present and it seems unnatural to me. I guess I'm an old fart! The chiaroscuro that comes from vintage black & white always makes the pictures so interesting, in my opinion.

    The photo of Helen Keller with Charlie Chaplin is very moving, I've never seen it before. As always, thanks for sharing!

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  43. "Technology marches on. When they first started "coloring" movies, etc. they sucked! LIke Lucy's hair in that one picture!"'

    You are sooooo right. Back then is was too saturated, which make the photographs look so fake.

    "I guess I'm an old fart! The chiaroscuro that comes from vintage black & white always makes the pictures so interesting, in my opinion."

    Yes, and I can totally understand your feelings because I feel that way about black and white films, I think they look much better in their original form. Isn't it funny how just by adding color, it brings a photo up to the present? Before seeing these photographs, I was totally on the side of being opposed. However, seeing these altered my view. And I think it's because they are done SO WELL. And natural-looking.

    "The photo of Helen Keller with Charlie Chaplin is very moving, I've never seen it before."

    Isn't that photo touching? I had never seen it before either, yet I did see a documentary about Chaplin which mentioned something about him being so moved at meeting Helen Keller.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Sis! Have a super weekend!

    X ya!

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  44. Ron, I'm so interested in anything that has to do with the Titanic which is why that photograph caught my attention.

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  45. Meeeeeeeee too! I love anything that has to do with the Titanic. I've seen several documentaries and have enjoyed them all. I also like the earlier Hollywood films made about the ship, "A Night to Remember."

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