Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bringing the Past to Life

When we look at all of the old black and white photos in our collections, they seem so flat and lifeless, even if they include lots of people. In our minds, these aren't real people, because they don't look like the people we see every day. 

But when you add color to the image, it instantly comes to life. I am the resident photoshop wizard, so have played around with colorizing some of our images here. 

The first picture I did was our Marcia Crocker Noyes. As you might know, we like to pose Marcia for the holidays. But when you've got a black and white Marcia on a bright sunny beach, it doesn't look right. So, she needed to be colorized. 

I went down to the Krause Room and tried to channel Marcia, so I could figure out what colors her dress and cape were. I had to guess on some things, but overall, I am pretty happy with the result.

Next up was one of MedChi's early headquarters buildings. This was a lot more of a challenge, as it was on the second floor of the Emerald Hotel on Calvert Street. There were tons of advertisements, windows, brickwork and other details, so it was a perfect job for that odd not-quite-holiday day.

Finally, I played around with a group of physicians from the late 1800's. They're a dour bunch, clearly posing for the camera. I am not sure if that's a room at an early HQ building of ours, or a backdrop set. 


Half of this picture is in color, so you can see the contrast.
And here's the fully colorized version. 

I looked at old advertisements for men's clothing in the late 1800's to come up with the color. I picked hair and eye colors based on closely looking at each of the men and making educated guesses. I have portraits of Drs. Chew and Donaldson, but Chew's hair is white, and Donaldson's hair is a close approximation to this. 

I realize that there are a lot of people who hate the idea of colorizing images, but it's not like the original people or places were in black and white. We are just giving them life again.